At the northwest edge of Peshawar is the Khyber gate and Jamrud Fort that marks the beginning of what we in Pakistan know as Ilaqa Ghair, or ‘ungoverned/lawless territory’. This is Khyber agency, one of several agencies that comprise FATA, or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. — Read More —
I spent an evening with a group of teachers who were struggling with the implementation of a new style of teaching, one where subject boundaries were blurred and classwork had to be activity-based. They were teachers from my mother’s former school—where she was a teacher for 15 years—trying to make sense of a classroom without delineations between language and math and science and art.
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A new online friend, Teagan Kearney, has nominated me for a work-in-progress blog challenge. As with most of these lovely activities, the process includes revealing something about my work-in-progress (duh), linking back to the referrer, nominating four bloggers/writers onwards to keep the chain going, and, specific to this challenge, sharing the first lines of the first three chapters of my next book. — Read More —
Pakistan’s film industry may be languishing in a pit of despair, but our TV industry is flourishing, despite all odds.
Back in the eighties, under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq, restrictions on the Arts were similar to Iran under Ayatullah Khomeini. The once vibrant culture of the country, along with the casinos, wine shops and nightclubs, had been clamped shut under the guise of ‘Islamization’, imported directly from the Wahhabi/Salafist Saudi Arabia. Celebrating the new year (a Western new year, therefore incompatible with our ‘culture’—but not to the extent that the country switched from the Gregorian to the Islamic calendar) was a matter of great secrecy, and being caught with any kind of alcohol or Western music would have meant extended prison sentences. — Read More —
I think Facebook and Twitter were created by aliens.
Hear me out. I think aliens have found a unique way to tap into our brains, allowing them two significant victories with one phrase: social media. They get, simultaneously, a repository of our ideas and knowledge, and a captive audience too immersed in ephemera to resist when they finally invade.
It’s been less than a week since the end of Ramzan and I’ve been able to eat and drink through daylight hours with complete freedom. I’m still waking up at 3.30 am, however, as hunger pangs hit me, a belated memory of a month of fasting. A regular fasting day starts just before sunrise, so our breakfast, or sehri as we call it, is normally an hour before, mostly to ensure that we get the time needed to drink bucket-loads of water before the sound of the azaan (call to prayer) (when I was working full-time, I’d rarely sleep after sehri, working through the whole day and falling asleep well before 10 pm. Now that I’m self-employed, I tend to nod off around 5.30 am and wake up again at 8. It’s been very disorienting, because I was sleeping later, and not getting more than 3-4 hours of sleep at one stretch). — Read More —
One of the first, and possibly sanest, pieces of advice I read about promoting my book was to stay away from politics, religion and controversial topics. I say sane because, regardless of the tenet of free speech touted by the free world, artists and writers that take a stand tend to be ostracized, judged and found to be wanting. They stand alone or with a tiny minority, and the downside is a drop in sales or a lack of distribution (of books, films, music and even art), and often an ignoble slide into poverty. — Read More —
When I read The Vampire Lestat for the very first time, I was in college. A friend had lent it to me after I raved and raved about Interview with a Vampire. He suggested that my ecstasy at the first book would pale next to the divine sequel, something I had rarely come across. Sequels always sucked. I had already learned that the hard way with Love Story and Oliver’s Story (which should never have been written). But he was a trusted book friend (yes, I had those—friends whose taste I relied upon for good books, but with whom I had little else in common), and I decided to bite the bullet and settled in for a long night of reading. — Read More —