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AUGUST 19-25 2012

Cover Story

18 A Star Among Us What happens when you put Shahid Afridi in the midst of his biggest fans?


28 Shouting ‘Howzzat’ in Houston Baseball is bigger and Football is more famous. But for these Houston desis, Cricket will always be king!

33 To Give is to Receive How many of us dedicated our Ramazan to helping the helpless?

38 Patchwork Island In a country seemingly intent on stamping out its diversity, the island of Manora holds on to a more peaceful past




6 People & Parties: Out and about with Pakistan’s beautiful people 40 Reviews: Wanderlust wanders off the comedy track 42 End Of The Line: Watergate



Magazine Editor: Zarrar Khuhro, Senior Sub-Editors: Batool Zehra, Zainab Imam. Sub-Editors: Ameer Hamza and Dilaira Mondegarian. Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Jamal Khurshid, Essa Malik, Maha Haider, Faizan Dawood, Samra Aamir, Sanober Ahmed. Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions: Printed:


Debenhams launches in Karachi


Ayesha Omar


Mishi Khan

Nadia Hussain with her husband

Wardha Saleem and Nobain Sehrish

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Rizwan and Omar Shahzad PHOTOS COURTESY TAKEII

Nabila with a friend

Shehla Chatoor

Huma Sana Khan

Dr Ishratul Ibad Zavera

8 AUGUST 19-25 2012

Ayesha and Naeem

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Almirah launches its first outlet in Karachi

Anita and Maryam


Tara Uzra Dawood with a friend

Faraz, Zeeshan and Mahmood

Ali and Zara


10 AUGUST 19-25 2012



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Saima launches her multi-brand store, High Street, in Karachi

Iffat Sadaf Kanwal

Naheed Ansari

Anum, Uroosa and Hira Zeba Bakhtiar

Jiya and Junaid

12 AUGUST 19-25 2012

Sehar Sheikh


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18 AUGUST 19-25 2012

Tagging along with the Express Entertainment team gives our very own Zainab Imam a chance to meet her favourite cricketer BY ZAINAB IMAM LOCATION PHOTOS BY JIBRAN KHAN The token Arabs in my enclosure at the Dubai cricket stadium gawked at us Pakistanis in amazement. Shahid Afridi, Lala to his fans, had just been called in to bat and all Pakistanis in attendance — and I suspect some Indians and Bangladeshis too — began screaming their lungs out before he had even walked out of the pavilion. We ended up losing that match — the second Pakistan versus England Twenty20

International in February — but Afridi’s knock of 25 off 23 balls gave me all the enter-

tainment I had needed to make that trip to Dubai worthwhile.

Such is the charisma of Shahid Afridi. Whether or not he performs to expecta-

tion — and expect stability from him at your own peril — he can be relied on for one thing: from the moment he steps out onto the pitch, the match, and eventually the day, is all about him.

And that was exactly how it was on July 26, 2012, the day I finally got to meet him. “Follow the noise,” our driver told us as we got off the car. The noise he was refer-

ring to was the cacophony of screaming kids that we could hear from half a kilometre away and it was loud and clear enough to guide us to our hosts’ house.

19 AUGUST 19-25 2012


“Since the 1st of Ramazan, she’s been badgering her father to prepare for the day that Afridi comes to our house for Iftar,” said Raeesa, Bisma’s grandmother. “She is insistent that she will hug him.”

20 AUGUST 19-25 2012

“I hope Afridi hasn’t arrived already,” I muttered to myself, as

with pink, purple and light green walls, sporting posters that

make it on time!” I continue my not-so-inner monologue, per-

pose: arms and legs stretched out triumphantly. All the furni-

we hurried along the road. “It’s barely 530pm yet and stars never plexing my colleague, who is obviously amused at my child-like excitement at the opportunity to see Lala up close. By now, he has grown pretty tired of listening to me go on and on about my unconditional and unwavering dedication to Afridi during our drive from Korangi Road to Quaidabad.

Never before had I been this appreciative of television chan-

nels’ compulsive need to compete with each other and to go to

showed Afridi high-fiving teammates and one in his signature ture had been moved out and clean white daris had been laid out on the floor. There were only two floor cushions. “I can’t believe he is coming here to

house!” Raeesa, proba-

bly in her 60s, squealed almost like a young girl. Amazed, I asked

her if she watched cricket. No, she admitted, but of Afridi she said: “Hum to bohot baray fan hain.”

Her granddaughter Saba chimed in. “The men [of the house]

often ridiculous lengths for ratings. Express Entertainment, for its

get to watch the entire match; we are usually too busy helping

show in which he visited various families in Karachi, joining

we abandon everything and are in front of the TV in a flash. Even

Ramazan transmission, had managed to rope in Afridi for a them for Iftar at their houses.

Bringing a renowned celebrity to an ordinary neighbourhood

around the house or studying. But when Afridi is on the pitch, the men make sure we get to watch him play!” she said.

Bisma, the 10-year-old girl whom Afridi had come to visit at

is tough enough, and doing so while managing a live broadcast

their house, was too excited to say a word but couldn’t stop smil-

On the street where the house of the lucky hosts stood, some

wearing an oversized green Number 10 Afridi jersey, ran outside

is even more challenging. Naturally, stress was in the air.

Express TV guys manned a DSNG van while others were franti-

cally coordinating with the studio staff through their mobile

phones. All of them were crowding the street we needed to be in. Of course, 40 other kids from around the neighbourhood had

decided they needed to be there too and I was almost bowled over by how many children there were! They came in all shapes and

sizes. It was as if the street had transformed into a playground in a matter of a few hours.

ing. “She’s both excited and nervous,” Raeesa told me as Bisma, the house to join the kids playing cricket in the street. “Since the

1st of Ramazan, she’s been badgering her father to prepare for the day that Afridi comes to our house for Iftar,” she said, laughing. “She is insistent that she will hug him.”

Does she love cricket as much as she loves Afridi, I asked. “Yes!

She plays all the time, at home and in school. But she gets very, very tired because she’s unwell,” said Raeesa.

Bisma is battling Thalassaemia, a genetic and hereditary blood

Harried Express staff tried to make the kids stand in neat lines,

disorder that results in the excessive destruction of red blood

towards the house. I felt a little like a star myself, albeit only

tougher as she is suffering from Thalassaemia major which oc-

unsuccessfully of course, as we tried to cross the street and walk

by association, as I walked past the kids who looked at me with sparkling eyes simply because I accompanied the TV crew that

cells, eventually leading to severe anaemia. Her fight is even curs when a child inherits a mutated gene from each parent.

According to her uncle, a doctor himself, her chances of sur-

had promised them a look at the Shahid Afridi.

vival are so slim that the family had decided to shower all their

umpteenth time. The boy, barely over 12, was holding a ball and

and Humaira, are determined to give her as normal a life as they

“Beta, side pe ho jao!” a colleague told one of the kids for the

rubbing it against his shorts ala Wasim Akram, preparing to de-

liver that perfect reverse swing to ‘Mehmaan Ka Ramazan’ host Ayaz.

“Main bowling kara raha hoon,” he retorted, impatiently. “Cam-

eray main nahin aao ge,” he was told. He shrugged. Obviously, bowl-

ing was way more important to him than the 15 seconds of fame any television channel could offer him.

I, however, obediently moved out of the frame only to jump

into another one. One camera was stationed outside the house’s

gate while the other was placed on the balcony of the house right

opposite. A woman looked out of the window in anticipation,

attention and love on her while they still can. Her parents, Nasir can, despite repeated reminders of her fragility in the form of the regular trips they have to make to her doctor.

Suddenly, we heard loud cheering. He must be here, I thought

as I quickly made my way outside. False alarm. It was just the

children, entertaining themselves by deliberately annoying the Express staff.

“Is he here yet?” one Express team member shouted to another,

a burly man who was taking care of the unruly children while simultaneously keeping an eye on the road that led into the street. “Yes, he has arrived!” he shouted back.

Instantly, a wave of excitement passed through the crowd and

but wiggled out of sight when I waved at her.

the occasion seemed to metamorphose into a wedding ceremony

and sit inside the house and talk to the family until Afridi ar-

by the family, despite requests by the TV crew not to do so —

After being ordered out of several frames, I decided to just go

rived. On my way to the living room, I walked past a cosy room

as girls of the family — at least 20 other people had been invited

brought out plates filled with fresh rose petals. Bisma’s brother (Continued on page 26)

AUGUST 19-25 2012


COVER STORY held a garland to put around Afridi’s neck. A young boy, Bisma’s cousin,

stood at the gate carrying a handmade poster saying ‘Boom Boom Afridi zindabad’ with a photograph of a smiling Afridi wearing a sleeveless red training suit.

I strategically placed myself next to the gate so that as soon as Afridi

walked in, I could shake hands with him. I had to try my luck despite being told that, since his religious awakening, he lowers his gaze in the presence

of women and does not shake hands with them. I briefly thought back to 2004, when I went to watch a Pakistan-India match at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium from the ill-fated bilateral series that came to an abrupt halt after the dastardly 2008 Mumbai attacks. Afridi was fielding at long off and a

group of spectators from my stand playfully started cheering “Sab behnon ka ek hi bhai, Shahid bhai, Shahid bhai!” The rare hybrid of superstar and boy-

next-door that he is, Afridi turned around and waved at them, causing many of the girls to swoon and boys to shout.

I was jolted back to the present by someone shrieking, “I see him!!!”

There he was, Shahid Afridi wading through the crowd, looking as in-

credibly handsome in a black shalwar kameez (probably designed by his

own brand) as he does in a green national cricket squad kit, even the one

with the strange white spots on the sleeves. The two rows that the Express staff had finally managed to divide the children into had broken down as

the kids clambered over each other for a chance to shake his hand or even just see his face from up close. As she’d promised, Bisma hobbled over to hug him as the television camera tried to catch the moment, and the girls

— Maria, Sana and Saba — started showering him with rose petals. I thrust

my hand in his direction, was heartbroken for a second as he ignored it, but then felt a rush of emotion as he bowed his head to let Raeesa welcome him into their home.

Within five minutes of being in their house, Afridi had spread smiles

and put everyone at ease, even the TV crew. “He’s fantastic with the crowd,” Shakeel Rana, a member of the Express Entertainment team, told me as we stood outside observing Afridi interacting with the family during a commercial break.

“Even in Lyari, he was very comfortable. Considering his [public] stat-

ure, he hasn’t made many demands [of the TV channel].”

The only other celebrity who receives nearly as incredible a response as

Afridi is actor Aijaz Aslam, says Rana and the programme also brings actors Ahsan Khan, Adnan Siddiqui, Nauman Ijaz and Shahood Alvi to peo-

ple’s homes. Interested families are required to send an SMS to 247, stating their name, address and who they would like to invite.

An Express Entertainment team then visits the families who are short-listed

to confirm details and carry out a technical appraisal. When they came to

visit Bisma’s house and heard of her illness and her interest in cricket, they knew they had to bring Afridi to meet her.

I went back to take my place in the room from where the transmission

was about to resume. Bisma’s cousin Sana, who had been waiting impatiently to present a bouquet that she had made herself for Afridi, tried to

ask my colleague to take her photograph while she gave him the flowers


but he was already trying to handle two cameras.

Her face almost sagged at his refusal, so I immediately volunteered, un-

AUGUST 19-25 2012

He’s fantastic with the crowd. Even in Lyari, he was very comfortable. Considering his [public] stature, he hasn’t made many demands [of the TV channel],” said a member of the Express Entertainment team

leashing a flurry of excited ‘thank yous’ from her. She requested me to take a ‘nice’ photograph as she adjusted her dupatta and

checked her make-up. “My friends are waiting to see this photo on Facebook!” she explained.

Sana hurried back to her place and was immediately asked to

come forward as Afridi and the family finished praying.

“I am so nervous I don’t know what to say. I’m just such a huge

fan,” she blurted out, after she finished an incoherent speech.

“But you’ve already said so much!” Afridi said, as the family laughed. “Actually, I am usually a lot more talkative,” Sana replied. “Oh acha. Aap ki shaadi hui hai?” Afridi asked her. When she re-

plied that she was single, he said, “In that case, now let’s all pray for your future husband” leading to another round of laughter. I

couldn’t help but notice that despite his newfound religiosity — he didn’t look at Sana even when she was giving him the flowers or when he joked with her — he hadn’t lost the ability to charm women.

“I have been his fan since I was 10,” she told me after Afridi

had left, flicking through her camera to select the best picture. “I used to call 17 [phone inquiry] every day until they finally gave

me his home number from when he used to live in Gulshan-eIqbal.” She still remembers the number, even though Afridi has switched homes and the phone number has probably expired by now.

We thought things would settle down as Iftar ended and Afridi

drove off in his black Premio after signing several hundred autographs, posing for about a million family photos and distributing gifts from his shops. We were wrong. As word spread that

Afridi had been in the neighbourhood, more and more children

gathered outside the house, screaming his name in the hope that they might still be able to catch a glimpse of him.

“These kids refuse to believe that he has left,” Bisma’s father

Nasir told me, as I stood at the gate of the house trying to get out.

“Go home, it’s past maghrib!” he again told the kids, who only started calling out even louder for their hero.

As I said goodbye to our wonderful hosts, I asked Humaira how

she was feeling. She had been smiling from ear to ear before Afridi came, but at the end of the day, there was a twinkle in her

eye as if she’d checked off one of the items on her “things to do for her baby girl” list.

Nasir was also beaming as he came back in after having finally

convinced the crowd gathered outside that Afridi had in fact left the building. “They assumed he would go in one of the TV crew’s cars!” he said.

How I wished that were true. I had been unable to get an auto-

graph from him, let alone a photograph with him. But in many ways, I got a memory better than those mementos. I saw Shahid Afridi being the star that he truly is and leaving in his wake, a

bright spot of light in the lives of a family struck by a tragedy I hope they will have the strength to bear.T

AUGUST 19-25 2012




howzzat in houston

Baseball is bigger and Football is more famous. But for these Houston desis, Cricket will always be king!


In a country like the US where sports such as baseball, football and basketball have massive fan followings, cricket may not register in the minds of the people as more than a garden insect. In Houston, however, home to a vibrant South Asian popula-

says. “We started exploring and found out that there were a few

people here playing night cricket. Riaz has been in touch with them ever since.”

Riaz shows off the different types of balls his team uses. One,

tion, things are different.

in particular, is lighter than the regular tape ball used by cricket

teams on the outskirts of the city, where players are kitted out in

the regular, heavier ball is physically too taxing for players in the

We’re standing in a field used for playing cricket by various

white uniforms, and the calls of “good shot” and “out!” resonate every now and then. This is where we’re meeting the Karachi

players on the streets of Karachi. He explains that playing with month of Ramazan,

The KCC was born when a team of Indians began organising

Cricket Club (KCC), a team that started out nearly six years ago

tournaments and the Ahmed brothers decided to form their own

cricket crazy.

so that’s why we kept that as the name,” says Saifuddin.

and has garnered a reputation for being the go-to group for the

Riaz Ahmed, a Pakistani expat settled in Houston for the last

team to enter the events. “Most of the players were from Karachi The men come primarily from different localities in Karachi —

15 years, is the man behind this team. When he arrived in the

Gulshan-i-Iqbal, North Nazimabad and Clifton — with only a few

in the streets and playgrounds of Karachi. His brother Saifuddin

settling in Houston — many of them from cricketing nations —

US for his education, he sorely missed playing cricket like he had


night cricket in the area. “I knew Riaz really liked cricket,” he

Ahmed, who is now the captain of the team, was living in Dallas at the time and introduced him to people who were playing AUGUST 19-25 2012

from outside the city. But given the large number of immigrants others have expressed their interest in joining the club and use

the KCC website as a resource. “We’ve had people contact us from

“There are more cricket grounds here than I think even Karachi has!”

other countries,” says Saifuddin Ahmed, “and we have managed

are surprised when they hear about the sport being played here.

Currently, the KCC participates in two major tournaments held

the Caribbean, it is not surprising that cricket is followed here

to play 20-25 people so far.” in Houston every year.

Cricket in the US has failed to take off at the international lev-

el. Even while there is an official US cricket team that consists

But given the diverse group of communities from South Asia and

with a passion. “There are more cricket grounds here than I think even Karachi has!” he exclaims.

He may be right, given that Houston has at least 10 major

of Pakistani and Indian players settled in the US, it has been un-

cricket grounds, where teams of different nationalities practice

ing radar: it has failed to qualify for the World Cup, and has only

But what worries Riaz is that cricket may die out if the game

able to register so much as a blip on the international cricket-

and play against each other.

played two international one-day matches so far.

is not followed with the same fervour by the next generation of

Houston is not the only city where itt is played. In the state of Vir-

sure this doesn’t happen and his young son and niece practise

Nevertheless, cricket thrives in desi pockets across the US, and

ginia, also home to a large Pakistani expat community, Pakistani

cab drivers often boast about their on-field cricketing prowess to desi passengers. Cricket is also played, but on a much smaller

scale, among Pakistanis in many other states. None of the fledg-

American desis. As for him, he’s certainly doing his part to make their cricket skills while we chat in the field. The young boy seems to have a natural hold on the bat, despite the fact that it seems almost his equal in weight.

“I’m coaching my son, and some of my friends’ children have

ling teams, however, are as organised as the Houston-based KCC.

also started playing,” he says. “We have to keep cricket and our

Karachi and regularly plays cricket, says his family and friends

play this game.”

Armaghanul Jamil, who moved to Houston 11 years ago from

legacy alive, and we hope that the future generation will also AUGUST 19-25 2012



to give is

to receive

Jamie spent most of her young life in the world of high fashion and event management, but this Ramazan she dedicated herself to helping those who can’t help themselves TEXT BY MIFRAH HAQ PHOTOS BY AMEER HAMZA AHMAD

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, residents of Darul Sukun recognise James Nadiya S Abidi, better known as Jamie, right away as she enters their building. A woman wearing a headband over her short cropped hair, beckons excitedly with the playfulness of a child. Another woman on a wheel chair, who has short grey hair and a toothless smile perpetually pasted on her face complains, after the usual niceties, that Abidi still hasn’t snapped a picture of her with her iPad. For her part, Abidi seems completely at ease and comfortable as she greets the residents offering a smile here, a hug there. She is equally comfortable with Morris Khurshid, the caretaker

who sits in an office and who has himself been a resident of Darul

33 AUGUST 19-25 2012

FEATURE Sukun since 1992 when his family deserted him. She drops by his office and asks him to say hello from her to Sister Ruth Lewis, the

administrator of the facility who isn’t in her office at the time.

She continues with the ease that comes from a frequent visitor, someone so familiar with the organisation that she is welcome around the kitchen and in the wards that house the residents.

Abidi has spent her Ramazan collecting donations for Darul

Sukun, a home for the mentally and physically disabled, which was established in 1969 by Dutch nun Sister Gertrude Lemmens.

The home, which started off in a small donated house with only eight disabled children as residents, now has a modern building

and a pleasant garden — thanks to donations by the Australian

Hockey Federation. Darul Sukun takes in children who are left at its gates, found abandoned in hospital beds or sometimes even found chained in their own homes and elsewhere, punished by

those who should have been caring for them; punished for the crime of not being born ‘normal’.

“I started coming here in the first week of Ramazan,” says

Abidi, correcting my assumption that she is a regular volunteer.

Darul Sukun wasn’t her first choice when looking for a place

to help out. “I first went to another, very well-known charity

organisation and was disgusted by the state of affairs there. It was dirty and smelly. The chain of command is so vast there that

problems and complaints don’t even reach the middle manage-

ment, let alone the people at the top.” Then her aunt, Iffat Rizvi, herself an avid social worker, asked her if she would accompany her to Darul Sukun. Abidi consented.

It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, recalls Abidi, it was down-

right frightening. Women and children, many physically disfigured and some with serious psychological problems, freely walked through the corridors unrestrained and approached her.

But soon Abidi realised how warm these people were if one got

close to them, and she noticed how clean the place itself was. She points out the nice smelling pink washrooms, unmarred by even a hint of dirt. She was impressed by the children who wore

clean clothes, were bathed regularly and sprinkled with talcum powder. She was also quite taken by a wheel-chair-ridden wom-

an who asked her, “Hello! Can I give you a hug? You look like a doll.”

For Abidi, Darul Sukun fills what she felt was a void in her

life. By the age of 24, she has walked the red carpet at dozens of fashion events, partied with the who’s who of Pakistani society, launched her own western prêt line, modelled for shoots, painted and will soon even get her collection of poems published. She thought she had lived life to the fullest.

But despite this impressive list of accomplishments,

there was always the feeling that something was missing. “I don’t want to become like other models and have my


face on billboards everywhere. I enjoy spending time with

people who get something from me, even if it’s just a smile. That AUGUST 19-25 2012

Abidi says that every little bit counts. Anything from toys and used clothes to even bangles or a slightly used mehndi cone, she says, would go a long way in making the residents of this home happy

is something that makes my day.”

And so, she has been making regular appearances at Darul

Sukun, decked in chunky jewellery, sunglasses perched on top

cause, and to spread the message further. What followed were streams of ‘likes’ and supportive comments.

“Everyone is going on liking my status. If you go on my Face-

of her head and wearing clothes fit for a true fashionista. But

book page, you will see 50 odd likes,” she says. “I then changed

hidden or otherwise, to broadcast her efforts to the world. With

don’t mind me being a bully, but stop liking my status and actu-

this isn’t some kind of publicity stunt and there are no cameras,

only her Facebook page to help spread the word, Abidi launched a charity drive aimed at collecting donations for Darul Sukun.

my status, saying ‘I appreciate everyone liking my status. Please ally commit to donating!’”

With Eid just round the corner, Abidi says she actually had to

And she doesn’t want cash. “I am only asking for supplies for Da-

resort to bullying — even if it meant posting repeated remind-

through money,” she says. When it comes to what kind of items

phone every time they did not pick up her call.

rul Sukun because people are not very open about giving charity she’s looking for, Abidi says that every little bit counts. Anything

ers on people’s Facebook pages or leaving a text message on their

She says that while friends and family living abroad have taken

from toys and used clothes to even bangles or a slightly used

pains in making donations — a cousin from Malaysia is shipping

dents of this home happy.

providing rations — it is disappointing that people in Pakistan

mehndi cone, she says, would go a long way in making the resi“After the ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ scandal, I went abroad and heard

things from people that hurt me as a Pakistani,” she says. She found that foreigners and Pakistani expatriates alike were wary

of making donations to any local cause as they thought it would be fraught with fraud and corruption. Abidi had fierce debates

with them, arguing that an entire country would not be tarred with the same brush of suspicion just because a few people broke their trust. “Do you know they [western charity organisations]

her donated items while a friend in Singapore has committed to

have been so indifferent and slow to respond. “They say ‘Yeah,

yeah, we will look into our closet. I have to ring them back repeatedly and say: ‘Have you looked into your closet yet?’” she complains.

But while people may fail to match Abidi’s own enthusiasm

about the cause, she is still optimistic that “qatra qatra darya ban jata hai [drop by drop a river is formed].”

After all, she also used to be ignorant of the plight of the very

no longer take Pakistani volunteers abroad?” she asks, exasperat-

people she is now helping. But now she wants to keep going at it:

She then turned to social media and good old-fashioned net-

through her newly established Hajra Begum Not-for-Profit Or-


working to promote her cause, looking largely to family and

friends for support. Abidi posted her appeal for donations as her Facebook status, urging her friends to give generously for the

she is planning to launch another charity drive for Darul Sukun ganisation, named after her maternal grandmother, and is also

planning to teach these children how to paint. Certainly, this river of hope has only just started to flow. T

AUGUST 19-25 2012





In a city that roils with conflict, Manora refreshingly retains its age-old diversity BY ADIL MULKI

Standing atop the seaward wall of an ancient fort, a soldier licks off the salty vapours carried by the dawn mist to his lips. The Talpur rulers of Sindh had built this fort to fend off foreign ‘adventurism’ and it served that purpose faithfully till the arrival of the British. The bellows from a container ship’s horn reverberate in the tranquil morning air doesn’t seem to distract either him or the flocking seagulls, who seem well accustomed to manmade disturbances in their natural habitat. Turning back, the soldier brushes his hand over the cold barrel of a huge gun facing the sea. Perhaps he wonders if The Guns of Navarone was shot here. It certainly looks the part.

by development nor religious extremism. Free from the taint of

This is Manora, a part of Karachi that is connected to the main-

lachee’s city from disaster. His holy presence is credited with mi-

land by a narrow stretch of land running through the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is thanks to this little land corridor that Manora cannot be called an island; it is in fact a peninsula that

nevertheless has the soul of an island. Because just as life on is-


lands is preserved through isolation and evolves without external

influences, the aura of Manora has neither been contaminated AUGUST 19-25 2012

the mainland, it has managed to retain its old monuments and disparate cultures to this day.

Across the street from where I stand, a choir enters St Paul’s

Church (built in 1865) in preparation for Sunday Mass. The priests

enter just as the Imam exits the mosque next door for his morning walk towards a Hindu temple nearby. Close by, a qawwal party leaves the shrine of Sufi saint Ghazi Yusuf Shah after a night of spiritual music.

Local fishermen pay their respects to this saint on their way

out to sea by bringing their blue boats near the shrine and praying for a safe and bountiful journey. And while Abdullah Shah Ghazi may be better known, Ghazi Yusuf Shah is also one of the

four saints credited with protecting the four corners of Lady Koraculously thwarting enemy attacks and diverting countless ty-

phoons that created havoc elsewhere but left Karachi unscathed, even when the first lashes of coming storms were visible from Manora.

Towering above all other buildings is the famous Lighthouse.

A testament to British engineering, it still functions on the origi-

nal wind-up mechanism put in place over 120 years ago. It may be unnecessary to draw a compari-

son with modern Karachi, where something installed just a month back will tend to go kaput with frightening speed, but I can’t help but gaze at it in wonder and envy. Of course, the kerosene lamp

which originally illuminated the waves now desolately gathers dust in the warehouse, replaced by a made-in-China fluorescent bulb. This is how, in Manora, the mystical and the scientific have joined forces to guide sailors to safety through many tempests.

Walking down from the shrine and along the beach, our party of two — my foreigner friend and I

— comes across a bazaar. We evade a merchant selling mirrors decorated with cowries and ashtrays made from oyster shells. A little boy invites us to taste his father’s freshly fried fish at their café and we decide to give it a try. Moments later, our fish — the most overcooked we have ever had — arrives

beneath thick coats of an orange batter and aromatic herbs. The woody-tasting fish is as fresh as the lighthouse, we joke to ourselves, and comes with a cup of hot liquid which the boy calls tea.

One sip of the nauseatingly sweet tea, and my friend decides he knows exactly why there is a sugar

crisis in Pakistan.

I share my wooden bench at the café with a jogi snake charmer and his traditional patchwork bag.

He is here in Manora for his weekly expedition, looking to earn an extra buck or so from the throngs

of visiting picnickers. The boy discreetly points us out — his urban and foreign customers — to passers-by as if to endorse to them the popularity, and palatability, of his father’s fish. And while

he is at it, we sit mesmerised by the beauty of the centuries-old stone temple built just where the Arabian Sea kisses land. The exotic vision, the chewy fish and the hot, ultra-sweet tea, the blaring

Indian music from the pan shop next door mixed with the prayer calls from the mosque, and the choir chants still resonating in our heads from earlier that morning, make for an unforgettable experience.

From the tea shop, we reluctantly make our way to the jetty from where a ferry would take us

back across the polluted channel to the main city that sadly seems to have lost the diversity that still thrives in Manora. As if corroborating my impressions, our boat arrives overflowing with creatures of all castes and creeds. A group of burqa-clad women covered in black overalls is teased by a

monkey, a goat and a dog, all belonging to a gypsy performer on the boat. Equally irritated by the unwanted animal advances are Hindu women in multi-coloured saris and over-sized crimson bindis, returning from a visit to the temple. Children from a large family giggle at the predicament of both

sets of women, while our amused smiles are returned by sheepish glances from the troubled ladies. Like the gypsy’s signature patchwork bag, Manora’s diversity is reminiscent of Karachi’s multi-

cultural past — and all that is sadly in stark contrast with its increasingly monochromatic present. This piece was originally submitted for the British Council’s creative writing competition.

AUGUST 19-25 2012




Wanderlust is a funny sort of movie. By ‘funny’ I don’t mean the kind of film that would have you laughing out loud and sharing jokes with friends for weeks to come. Its humour, if that’s what we can call it, lies mostly in poking fun at the anachronisms of 1960s-style hippies and the situations that arise when a ‘modern’ couple find themselves in their midst. It’s not really a new formula, nor does Wanderlust add any new twists to what is pretty much a ‘been there, done that’ genre. Starring Jennifer Aniston as Linda Gergenblatt and Paul Rudd as her husband George, the film begins with this somewhat dysfunctional couple investing in a studio apartment in the West Village. But then the economy turns around and bites them right in the bank account and the newly unemployed couple have to relocate. It’s on this ‘journey’ that they come across a commune of vegan, free-love practicing, latter-day flower children. Down on their luck, Linda and George decide to give living on the commune a shot, with entirely predictable results. Alan Alda, in his role as Carvin, the somewhat disillusioned founder of this community, is the real treat to watch. Well known for his role in the classic TV series M.A.S.H, Alda seems to have aged considerably and makes you wonder if he will be acting for much longer. Then there’s the commune’s de facto leader Seth (Justin Thearoux), and Eva (Malin Ackerman) — here becoming the proverbial Eve tempting Paul to surrender to the siren song of commune life. While the cast members have defined roles that should have given them the opportunity to deliver great performances, all of them seriously disappoint. The jokes are sporadic, stale, strange and at times completely disgusting. Even though this movie is labelled a comedy, the comedic timing is completely off, and the jokes seem so obscure as to be incomprehensible. It’s as if director David Wain was enjoying his own co-written script so much that he failed to yell cut. In the role of George, Rudd is loud and obnoxious and changes his mind so often and without any real justification that it is very hard to feel any sympathy for either his character or his situation. Aniston, as Linda, is another mystery — the biggest being why such an experienced comic actress would pick such a weak role. Linda is shown to be a person who changes careers every other month, which explains her temporary fascination for the hippie lifestyle but it does not explain exchanges like this one:

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Seth: “You know you can really get trapped in that web of beepers and Zenith televisions and Walkmens and discmens and floppy discs and zip drives, laser discs, answering machines and Nintendo Power Glove...” Linda: “Wow, you know so much about technology.” I am sure there is a joke somewhere in there but I just can’t seem to find it. And yes, the rest of the humour, when it’s not rolling around in the toilet, is in much the same vein. Wanderlust takes a good cast and forces them to crack jokes that can barely be described as juvenile, making what could have been a hilarious farce into terrible, hopeless parody.


Are you capable of drawing a straight line? Do you have a comic or doodle that you think will have us rolling on the floor with laughter? If you’ve answered yes to all those questions then send in your creations to

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The Express Tribune Magazine - August 19  

The Express Tribune Magazine for August 19th 2012