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FEBRUARY 9-15 2014



Canine love is on the rise and may make better human beings out of us all

FEBRUARY 9-15 2014


The lark in training While Cyra Asli has already shared the stage with The Rolling Stones at an early age, many more dreams await



The Battles for Karachi A visual record of a city at war with itself

Cover Story

Puppy Love Canine love is on the rise and may make better human beings out of us all



36 Regulars

6 People & Parties: Out and about with beautiful people

40 Review: Books and movies 46 Society: Shahtoosh: Tibetan antelopes become fashion victims

Magazine In-charge: Sarah Munir and Sub-Editors: Dilaira Mondegarian and Manahyl Khan Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Essa Malik, Jamal Khurshid, Samra Aamir, Kiran Shahid, Munira Abbas, S Asif Ali & Talha Ahmed Khan Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi For feedback and submissions: Twitter: @ETribuneMag & Facebook: Printed:



Ashal Mujtaba exhibits her Cleopatra collection in Karachi

Sara Sarfaraz

Anum Mansoor and Fizza

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Anoushey Ashraf and Somaya


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and Marjan


Farwa, Anum Qureshi



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Satti , Seemi Ali and Samina

Fatima Ahsan

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Canine love is on the rise and may make better human beings out of us all BY SAADIA QAMAR PHOTOS BY AYESHA MIR AND SARAH MUNIR DESIGN BY SAMRA AAMIR

In ancient times, dogs may have been used as guards to warn their keepers about potential intruders and as an ally for hunting, but the bond between dogs and their owners has increased manifold since then. Studies show that the most widespread form of interspecies bonding exists between humans and dogs. It may be due to this that the population of dogs increased exponentially after World War II and there are currently around 400 million dogs worldwide.

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COVER STORY Very few can resist the molten eyes, the soft nuzzle, the unconditional love and comfort that dogs bring to a household. The trend seems to be picking up in urban centres in Pakistan as well, with more and more families keeping dogs as pets. Inadvertently, this has also led to an increase in awareness about animal rights. Even though the country is yet to formulate concrete laws to ensure animal protection, individual responsibility towards the right care and treatment of animals seems to be on the rise.

The average age of dog buyers ranges between 18 to 25 years, including a large number of couples. The most enthusiastic ones are the first-time buyers who want to get everything from bathing to feeding absolutely right

A ‘tail’ of two cities Twenty seven-year-old Shan Saleem, the man behind the Rude Plannet Kennel in Karachi, is at the forefront of this change. For Saleem, breeding and selling dogs is more than just a hobby. He traces his passion back to when he was 12 years old and saw his eldest uncle raise a bull terrier. Soon enough, he developed an equal amount of fondness for these canine creatures. Saleem recalls his first purchase being a German shepherd that he bought from Empress Market in Karachi only to find out that he had been tricked into paying additional money for an ordinary stray dog. However, that did little to discourage him and he soon had more dogs than his house could accommodate. It was not until he moved to a bigger place in 2003, that he could really nurture his passion. But breeding, maintaining, grooming and training animals on a bigger scale required money, says Saleem. “My family wouldn’t support the animals. So I took up a job in a call centre from where I started earning Rs20,000 a month and started taking care of my animals.” By 2009, he joined a construction company as an accountant and it was the same year that he registered his kennel with the Lahore-based Kennel Club of Pakistan and officially entered the breeding market. Till date, he has bred countless breeds of dogs and reared as many as 10 litters of pups; seven of which are registered with the Kennel Club of Pakistan. With each new addition to his pack of dogs, space was once again insufficient, forcing Saleem to hand over some of his puppies to a few close friends and family. But the lack of proper care and attention took a toll. “A few of these dogs fell ill. Nine of them even died!” he says with a tinge of sadness that gives away his immense dedication to animals. Eventually, he left his job and bought a place in Korangi where he now keeps his animals, which include dogs, roosters, goats, sheep and deer. “I have two trainers who look after these animals. I personally dedicate eight hours a day to this place,” he adds. Currently, the kennel has 16 different breeds of dogs including regular breeds such as American pitbull terrier, German 28 shepherd, Staffordshire terrier, great dane, labrador, rottweiFEBRUARY 9-15 2014

A pure-bred Malteser from Rude Plannet Kennel.

ler, pug, poodle, German pointer, English mastiff and American bull along with rare ones such as the Italian mastiff, Siberian husky, English bull terrier and dogo argentino. Although every customer has a different specification of what they are looking for in a dog, the easiest ones to maintain are labradors. Others like great danes and mastiffs require space and a proper trainer to look after them. Similarly, poodles are difficult to maintain because of their hair coat while Neapolitan mastiffs are also challenging because they are slow and may have skin problems. Breeding dogs is not easy on the pocket and Saleem’s current expenditure amounts to nearly Rs70,000 per month. He admits that he was under a lot of financial pressure once he quit his job but could not continue due to his time commitment to the animals. For now, he re-invests whatever money he makes from breeding and selling the dogs back into the business. However, he says it’s a shame that a lot of people have entered this market solely for the purpose of making money without knowing much or caring about the animals. Keeping dogs as pets is as expensive as breeding them, restricting the trend to middle class and upper-middle class households. “It is impossible to keep your dog healthy unless you feed him right and invest time and money. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of doing that,” says Raza Ba-

A Saint Bernard in Karachi with its caretaker.

Karachi-based dog breeder Ahmed Ali with his pit bull

bar, who owns three dogs. According to Saleem, the average age of dog buyers ranges between 18 to 25 years, including a large number of couples. The most enthusiastic ones are the first-time buyers who want to know every detail about their dog and want to get everything from bathing to feeding absolutely right. “It’s al-

most like having a baby. You can’t take it lightly,” says Nashmia Tariq who bought an eight-week-old labrador last year. On the other hand, for Lahore-based Nighat Bukhari, breeding cats and dogs is more of a personal indulgence. Love for animals is in her blood as Bukhari’s grandfather was also a pet enthusiast. And the lack of regulations around owning and breeding animals in the country has made it much easier to pursue her passion. “It is pretty easy to raise a pet here in Pakistan as compared to the UK. Over there, you need to register your animal with a clinic and proper records have to be maintained. In Pakistan, there are no such systems in place, which is sad” she says. Bukhari confides that up until a few years ago, awareness regarding dog breeding was minimal. “People could be fooled into buying ‘original’ breeds. One would find so-called dog breeders on the streets selling strays as pure pedigree.” However, with increasing awareness, people have become far more cautious about purchasing their dogs from reliable sources. According to 27-year-old Karachi-based dog breeder Ahmed Ali, one can tell a pure pedigree by its line, length, colour and coat. However, he adds that it is not easy for an ordinary buyer to tell the difference. The rates for the dogs also vary ac- 29 FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

COVER STORY cordingly. While a pedigreed dog can cost anywhere between Rs45,000 to Rs75,000, a pure breed ranges from Rs25,000 to Rs40,000 and a mix breed can be bought for up to Rs15,000.

Barking up the wrong tree Even though his own love for animals is unparalleled, Saleem complains that the state of animal rights in the country is extremely dismal. “There are hardly any vets or clinics where the [dogs] can be treated properly. Anybody can open up a clinic and claim to be a vet, without any qualification, and no one gives a damn,” he says. Apart from proper institutions, Ali also criticises the cruelty that animals are subjected to on an individual level. “It is common to see people kicking or throwing stones at stray animals. We need to develop compassion towards animals on a societal level,” he says. However, Bukhari feels that with increasing media attention, dog shows and more people taking an interest in keeping pets, things are gradually improving. “Previously, people would resort to home remedies for every problem. Now, they are conscious enough to get the right care for their animal in case of a problem or disease,” she adds. The influx of people into the dog breeding market has also commercialised the process. “Earlier, only people who really loved pets would raise and then breed them once the time came. Now, a lot of people are getting into the business because it is the ‘in’ thing to do,” says Bukhari. She says that the maximum breeding time for a female dog is seven years, but most people usually get tired of the older dogs and do away with them. According to Saleem, proper diet is another hugely neglect-


A Siberian husky during a dog show organised by Rude Plannet Kennel. FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

Six-week-old pit bull puppies.

ed area by pet owners which leads to diseases and deaths in dogs. When that happens, the buyer blames the seller for giving them an unhealthy dog. “Keeping a pet is not child’s play. You need to know your dog’s breed really well and care for it accordingly, otherwise mishaps are bound to happen,” he says. Bukhari also emphasises the importance of taking personal care of animals. “If you look after your own pet, there is a shine in their fur. You can easily tell a wellloved and well-groomed dog from one that is left to domestic help,” she says. Both Saleem and Ali claim that their link to the dog does not end with its sale. They like to stay involved in the dog’s grooming and are always available to their customers in case of any problems. “My clients are more of a family to me, so I make sure I keep them updated on vaccinations, breeding, grooming and training of the dog. They are a part of Rude Plannet Kennel and they stay in touch with me throughout the process,” adds Saleem. Bukhari on the other end has a much less hands-on approach. She says she is choosy about giving her dogs away and will not do so unless she is absolutely sure that the buyer will take good care of the animal. However, once she has screened and sold the

Shan Saleem at his kennel in Korangi, Karachi.

animal, she allows the owner to take complete charge.

Man’s best friend A 1994 study conducted by the University of California in Australia shows that people with dogs tend to get depressed less and even have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels compared to people with no pets. Children who grow up with pets are also reported to have higher self-esteem and lower anxiety levels. Eight-month-old Aneesa who is plopped comfortably next to Alsa, their family’s fifth generation German shepherd is a living testimony to these facts. “ We bought Alsa’s great grandmother for my mother who was suffering from Alzheimers. It [the Dog breeder Shan Saleem dog] took her mind off things and helped her a lot,” explains Aneesa’s grandfather, Major Baig. “Today, it is impossible to imagine our family without these friendly giants.” T

“There are hardly any vets or clinics where the [dogs] can be treated properly. Anybody can open up a clinic and claim to be a vet, without any qualification, and no one gives a damn.”


Saadia Qamar is a life and style reporter at The Express Tribune. FEBRUARY 9-15 2014


The lark in training

While Cyra Asli has already shared the stage with The Rolling Stones at an early age, many more dreams await BY TEENAZ JAVAT

When Pakistani-born aspiring vocalist Cyra Asli decided to sing for a career, her mother imparted some valuable advice: “When you don’t have a back-up plan, you will realise your dream and work hard to make it happen.”

34 Cyra Asli during a concert. FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

The advice can come across as surprising for many, especially considering it comes from first-generation immigrant parents who often want to pave a more secure career path for their children. Usually a career aside from engineering, business, law and medicine is not even worthy of dinner table conversation. But with the Asli family, who immigrated to Toronto from Karachi in 1997, it was a different story. Doing what you loved took precedence over everything else. As 18-year-old Cyra mulled over pursuing a career in singing, she could have never imagined that by the end of a four-year high school programme in Mississauga, Ontario, she would be sharing the stage with the iconic band The Rolling Stones. In the spring of 2013, the band was on its 50th anniversary tour of North America and as per tradition they were selecting a local choir to sing with them. Usually, it is the university choir that is chosen, giving local talent an enormous career and morale boost. Luckily, the chosen group, the ‘Chamber Choir’ was from Cyra’s high school. “I love to sing, be it in the bathroom or on the playground, but I never imagined I would be singing on stage at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre with The Rolling Stones,” she gushes as she shares her story over coffee at a local bistro. Cyra’s singing journey began when her parents enrolled her in the Ontario Conservatory of Music at the age of eight. She cleared the auditions in one go and credits the weekly training sessions for helping her develop a clear focus towards a career in music. “By the time I reached middle school, I knew music was

Cyra and friends performing a cover of Sarah McLachlan’s song Angel during a summer concert. PHOTO COURTESY: CYRA ASLI

Cyra Asli with her school choir. going to play a very big role in my life,” she recalls. Now in her first year of music education at the University of Toronto, Cyra does a lot more than singing. Music history, ear training (or aural skills training) and performance form the core of her classes at college. Since music is a universal language, learning from other cultures is integral. Cyra, therefore plans to learn about contemporary music in French, Korean, Italian, German, and Spanish over the next few years.

But Cyra’s love for music is not just confined to learning and creating it. “I want to teach music at some point and perform whenever I get the chance. I will have to learn how to play many instruments though I may not master them.” The path to music presents its own challenges since our generation is used to free art and music, making the field not particularly financially lucrative. With dwindling state support, finding a paying job for musicians may turn into a never-ending nightmare. The numbers at Cyra’s high school speak for themselves. From a student body of 500 (between grade 9 and 12), only 10 students opted to continue voice training at their new university. “These numbers shed light on the fear of placing all your eggs in one basket. We have nothing but our voice to fall back on,” says Cyra. Despite the shaky ground musicians tread upon before finding a spot on stage, most attune themselves to their inner passion and continue the journey. It helps significantly when you get to sing by the side of a timeless band at the beginning of it all. For Cyra, the glory of that moment will last for a long time. Teenaz Javat writes headlines, news alerts, tickers and tweets for a living. She tweets @TeenazFromTo FEBRUARY 9-15 2014



T he Battles for Karachi A visual record of a city at war with itself TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LAURENT GAYER

Orangi, Karachi’s largest unofficial settlement and the epicenter of criminal and ethnic violence in the city since the mid-1980s. SOURCE: NORIA-RESEARCH.COM

With a population exceeding 20 million, Karachi is one of the largest cities in the world. It is also one of the most violent megacities. Since the mid1980s, Karachi has endured endemic political conflict and violence, which revolves around the control of the city and its resources — licit and otherwise. Karachi was founded by Hindu traders at the beginning of the 18th century and developed mainly around its port, which anchored the city’s economy and polity to the oce36 anic trade linking India, East Africa and the Persian Gulf. FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

The route not only opened up Karachi to trade but also to the turbulences of its distant hinterland. During the early 19th century, Karachi became the gateway to Central Asia and weapons shipments and foreign combatants began disembarking on its shore as the clouds of war descended upon Afghanistan. Since the 1970s, Afghan conflicts have been spilling over into the city, which then became flooded with small arms, hard drugs and battle-hardened refugees. It is in this context that the city’s urban struggles started to revolve around ethnic lines, from the mid-1980s onwards.

Lyari is famed for producing boxers such as Hussain Shah who made it to the Olympics and footballers Umar Baloch, Ghulam Abbas and Ustaad Qasim. The Trans-Lyari Boxing Club, in particular, is much anticipated by the under-13s in the neighbourhood. Shown here, one of the many gyms in the neighbourhood where the aspiring athletes practice from 8am and sometimes even skip school.

This is the site of what is believed to be the historical graves of Moririo Meerbahar and his six brothers. The graves are said to be 700 years old and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai wrote many poems on their life story. According to legend, fisherman Obhayo Meerbahar and his seven sons, including Moririo, used to live in Sonmiani, a coastal village about 60km west of Karachi. Obhayo moved his family to Karachi after taxes were imposed on fishing in their village. One day when Moririo’s six brothers went fishing, they did not return as they were eaten by a big fish. Moririo got an iron cage, ropes and a few horses to net the fish. Once they found it, they cut open its body and found his brothers who were buried at a place near the coast now known as Gulbai Chowk. In 2006 they came under threat over the construction of a flyover.

Clashes between Lyari groups started to make headlines in 2002. The police, pictured here in an armoured personnel carrier, have found it difficult to penetrate and patrol the area. Some of the key figures in this story are Haji Lalu and his son Arshad Pappu and Rehman ‘Dakait’. Add the name of CID police official Chaudhry Aslam to the list as he made Lyari one of his prime targets. Aslam was killed in a bomb attack in January this year


The year 2013 was one of the bloodiest for Karachi and fighting in Lyari claimed more than 100 lives. Armed fighters have left their mark in many of its neighbourhoods, as is evidenced by the pockmarked walls of the building pictured here. The women, children and elderly often go for days without access to medical care and groceries if a particular neighbourhood is in lock-down.

Entrance to a colony contested by the Sindhi nationalists of Jiye Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The banner above the gate proclaims that the neighbourhood is “Altaf [Hussain]’s Fort”. SOURCE: NORIARESEARCH.COM

From political slogans to advertising, the walls of Karachi serve as a canvas. Here a boy cycles past the words “We are peace-loving” scribbled on a wall in Lyari.

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Karachi’s story of civil strife can be traced back to a road accident that cost the life of a Mohajir student in 1985 and led to ethnic riots in Banaras Chowk and its surroundings. SOURCE: NORIA-RESEARCH.COM In recent years, the battles for Karachi have grown increasingly complex. The emergence of new political actors seeking to fill in the vacuum left by the state has added a new dimension to an already complicated landscape. From 2001 onwards, as I drove, rode and walked across the city, interviewing residents, activists or social workers from all ethnic and ideological backgrounds, I started visually chronicling this history of civil strife. For reasons of safety and comfort, I only carried a small compact camera, which fit well in the front pocket of my qamiz, allowing me to pull it out every now and then. The camera became my other notebook, which I used to record the ubiquitous political and religious slogans adorning the walls of the city, the paraphernalia of political parties

and the architecture of (in)security marking the boundaries between contested turfs. The primary vocation of these photographs was sociological: they were first and foremost research material complementing my oral and textual sources. But as these images kept on piling up in my hard-drive, it became obvious that they were telling their own tale, bringing out the dead while capturing vividly the sense of dread and urgency that animates the living in this city which is at war with itself. Laurent Gayer is a research fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, currently posted at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales, Paris. He is working on a book about the armed conflicts and “ordered disorder” that have become the trademark of Karachi, Pakistan’s turbulent megalopolis, over the last three decades.

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Hope for sale Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club — we have drugs, desperation, death and determination to spare BY ZINNIA BUKHARI

Dallas Buyers Club, at a cursory glance, is a film about the HIV/AIDs epidemic that spread through the United States in the mid ’80s. For all those who might be deterred by such a heavy and preachy subject matter, it’s crucial to know that the movie is not a story on disease — not in the literal sense at least. The real plague at the centre of this film is ignorance, homophobia and fear associated with the very word ‘HIV’. What follows is ostracisation and hardships, inflicted on those who suffer from it. The lead characters in this movie don’t just take on the virus that is slowly eating away at their bodies, but also the prejudices and ridicule that they face from those who were once their peers. Alongside this is the opposition from regulating authorities such as the FDA and pharmaceutical companies that are peddling whatever toxic drug will reap them the largest profit, as their cure of choice. Matthew McConaughey is, in one word, irreplaceable as the lead actor Ron Woodroof. This becomes apparent barely fifteen minutes into the film as no other actor could have shouldered this role better. It’s not his 47-pound weight loss that is most striking, 40 but the fact that McConaughey disappears FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

completely into Woodroof. There is almost no acting involved. There is just truth and a heartbreaking and poignant one at that. Woodroof’s Buyers Club is a motley crew of HIV sufferers from all walks of life, who are just looking for a way to prolong their existence. With the government against them, along with hospitals and research companies, Woodroof is forced to find creative ways to smuggle life-sustaining antiviral drugs into the country and exploit legal loopholes to allow those in need to access them. For a monthly membership fee, anyone can join the Dallas Buyers Club, and receive the drugs that they need, free of charge. It’s a brilliant ploy, but grows increasingly desperate as the FDA begins to crackdown on what they consider to be a drug smuggling racket. Jared Leto is a revelation as the feisty, street savvy and resilient Rayon, Woodroof’s second-in-command. Those who have followed Leto’s career closely will know that the actor always had acting prowess to spare (Requiem for a Dream, Lord of War, Mr Nobody), but in this once-in-a-lifetime role of a transgender who is HIV positive, he comes across as nothing short of magnificent. While Leto does provide the few and far between light-hearted moments of the otherwise dramatic film, he does so without ever becoming a caricature of the LGBT community. Rayon is the beautiful, feminine spark at the heart of the film, and the catalyst that gave Woodroof the courage to start the club. And he might as well be the only nominee in this year’s race for the Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. At its most basic level, Dallas Buyers Club is a compelling film about transformation — the transformation of a healthy cell into a sick one, of a woman trapped inside a man’s body, of a bigoted, racist, redneck cowboy into a desperate man, and of 30 days into six years that Woodroof spends defying the odds. It is a beautifully subtle story of one man’s retribution, one that will linger in the mind of the viewer long after the credits have finished rolling. T Rating:

Zinnia Bukhari heads the life and style desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @ZinniaBukhari


Shadows of a


After The War makes you wonder if mankind is doomed to repeat past mistakes BY MAHEEN SABEEH

Reading through the pages of Granta 125: After the War will possibly force you to reassess not just the long unbearable suffering that lingers in the aftermath of a war, but also the decay of humanity that continues for generations. Editor John Freeman has moved on from the literary magazine, leaving many to wonder about the future of Granta but he has left on a high note of sorts. After the War is one of the strongest editions in the magazine’s long, illustrious and controversial history. From the world of fiction, acclaimed author Romesh Gunesekera shares a story from his upcoming book Noontide Toll and captures postwar Sri Lanka in a mixture of skepticism, wry humour and rhetorical questions. The story is told from the view of Vasantha, who drives Father Perera and his sidekick, Patrick, from England to Jaffna for a meeting with a military major. The meeting is a ruse while the actual mission is to find proof on the major who once beat up a woman and then left her for dead in his hometown. Photographer Justin Jin’s Zone of Absolute Discomfort photo essays are visually breathtaking. In the harshest of climate, they document the Russian Arctic and focus on silent faces and greedy governments, as well as the consequences of disastrous environmental policies. Poet Rowan Ricardo Philllips contributes to this edition with Pax Americana, a poem that leaves you feeling vulnerable as he ends with words that ring in your mind long-after: “Thus the poem, your one true savior, loves you.” In an excellent, grim, non-fictive essay, British journalist Lindsey Hilsum describes living through genocide as it first began in Rwanda (1994) in The Rainy Season. She returns to Rwanda after a decade and heads to the capital city of Kigali, where the façade of modernity is simply a clue to all that is left unsaid. In the essay, Lindsey says that the genocide first began in 1994 when extremists from Rwanda’s majority ethnic group, the Hutus, targeted the minority group, the Tutsis. The failure of the United Nations made way for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that consisted of Tutsis, to end genocide and seize power. The RPF, writes Lindsey, also killed thousands of Hutus, a fact that is omitted in the country’s version of its history. No Rwandan can speak the words Hutu or Tutsi or Twa without invoking the wrath of the law called genocide ideology. 42 The narrative of Rwanda, through the eyes of those who survived FEBRUARY 9-15 2014

Refugees cross the Rusumo border into Tanzania from Rwanda in May, 1994. PHOTO: REUTERS

Image from Hari Kunzru’s Stalkers. genocide, is filled with a sense of loss, grief and even hope. This is particularly evident in Rose Birizihiza’s story, a survivor of multiple violations, beginning from spousal rape to the murder of her husband and toddler daughter and sexual slavery for three months. She comes out strong, only to face life head-on as she founds a community for women who have been raped. In Stalkers, Hari Kunzru reports on the forgotten Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986 and how the abandoned space in Ukraine is simply known as ‘Zone’. Kunzru sets the narrative apart with a courageous and eerie tone. With this edition of Granta: 125, the subject of war will be hard to banish to the dark cornerstones of our minds. It is uncomfortable, ugly and will possibly rob you of your sleep, for a little while anyway, and maybe that is its biggest success. The magazine edition is available at The Last Word for Rs1,250. Maheen Sabeeh is a freelance journalist. She tweets @maheensabeeh


A woman on the edge There are only so many traumas a person can endure until they take to the streets and start screaming BY AMNA IQBAL

Blue Jasmine can easily be added to Woody Allen’s string of successes but it is a difficult one to watch. It blooms because the characters, especially Cate Blanchett as the lead, manage to capture the hysteria of a woman whose world is spiraling out of control. And it is the same brutally realistic portrayal of a falling socialite that lends the film its gloom. The film revolves around Jasmine Francis, a New York socialite whose life implodes after she is left bankrupt and widowed by her fraudulent husband, Hal Francis (Alec Baldwin). Stripped bare, with no money or direction, Jasmine moves in with her sister Ginger in San Francisco. What follows is a series of illmaneuvered attempts at social climbing and a woman’s desperate bid to reclaim her lost glory. The highlight of the film is Blanchett and her finesse at creating Jasmine — a sophisticated, beautiful lie, too enthralled by a world that does not even allow her the freedom of self-respect. She is too rich to afford walking away from money and even questioning her husband’s fidelity is tacky. She holds a fragile sense of grace as he goes through a string of affairs and dubious financial dealings. Jasmine is also not allowed sincere remorse or affection towards her sister, Ginger. Sally Hawkins’ character as Jasmine’s non-biological sibling is both a reminder and a clever element used by Allen to shed just enough light on his

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main characters back story. In line with Jasmines tastes, we get a pastel, effervescent picture of a past that is neither. Ginger is garish, loud and honest. As the film progresses — in a nonlinear arc, obviously — we see Jasmine clutch at her remaining threads of sanity and 100% Egyptian cotton silk, when she moves in with Ginger. Broke and homeless, her fractured mind is further strained as she battles between a pungent distaste and an almost protective admiration for her sister’s lifestyle. As Jasmine tries to rebuild her life, the fatigue that is evident from the beginning starts to catch up, until it outruns her. The beautiful Jasmine talking to an old woman in the plane at the beginning of the film is seen sitting on a bench talking to herself at the end. Blue Jasmine may not be Woody Allen’s best work but it is one of his braver pieces. Nearly all his characters in past films carry a shade of Allen — moving at a certain neurotic pace, talking without punctuation and exuding enough nervous energy to make you reach out for a relaxant. What sets Blue Jasmine apart is its characters, each molded in their own space, especially Blanchet. It seems like Allen is brave enough to finally let go and shape something organic. T Rating:

Amna Iqbal is the creative head at The Express Tribune. She tweets @amna_iqb

PENNED Shahtoosh being smuggled out of Nepal. PHOTO COURTESY: WWF NEPAL

Shah-who? Shahtoosh, or the ‘king of fine wools’ in Persian, is the fine, natural fibre that forms the underfur of the Tibetan Antelope’s winter coat, commonly known as Chiru, that traverse the harsh Himalayan terrain in China, India and Nepal. Once found wild and free in large numbers, the Chiru would shed their underfur during spring which was gathered by residents and spun into beautiful shawls. From the royal courts of the Persian Empire and the subcontinent to the rich commoners, the popularity of the shahtoosh spread far and wide. As demand for the shawls increased dramatically, supply began to lag. And eventually market pressure led to the mass slaughter of the animal for fur. Activists have since campaigned for the protection of the Chiru whose critically low numbers have set off alarm signals across the globe.

Tragedy of trade With Indian-administered Kashmir a hotbed for the spinning and weaving of shahtoosh shawls, a nation-wide drive has been initiated to stomp out the trade. Jacqueline Lundquist, wife of the US Ambassador to India in 2001, was questioned by authorities for possession of a shahtoosh shawl which was later reportedly turned over to the authorities. According to a report in the Times of India published on April 5th, 2003, anyone in possession of an ‘heirloom’ shahtoosh shawl had to present it to the authorities working under the Ministry of Environment to be stamped and recorded with a unique serial number for official records. A certificate of possession was then issued, barring the owner from effectively selling or ‘gifting’ the shawl 46 that could only be passed on as inheriFEBRUARY 9-15 2014

tance. BBC News, on June 25th, 2007, reported that microchip tags were being used for all registered Tibetan antelope products by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir in India under a scheme to kill the shahtoosh trade. Anyone in possession of a shahtoosh shawl without the certificate of ownership and a digital tag, could reportedly face up to six years in jail. According to conservationists, the shahtoosh trade doesn’t just impact the antelope population but also fuels exploitation of the skilled and often poor artisans who weave the shawls. It has also triggered crossborder smuggling and illegal trade of animal parts like ivory and rhino horn, and the poaching of other endangered species like tigers.

Vanity quite unfair Critically endangered Tibetan antelopes become fashion victims


The shahtoosh ‘sham’ To escape the burden of responsibility, many trading with shahtoosh today claim that real shahtoosh is no longer available in the market and whatever is sold as shahtoosh is ‘shahtoosh’ only in name. This false claim comes with the recent seizure of 1,000kg of genuine shahtoosh fur in Nepal by the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police from Gorakh District on January 6th, 2013. The seized fur was reportedly worth millions of dollars.

Unnecessary and unethical We live in a country where apart from a limited area in the North and North-West, the weather mostly remains warm and humid rendering fur clothing unnecessary. Millions make do with knit jerseys or lint-free sweaters, setting a precedent for others. If a brilliant designer like Stella McCartney can rock Chloe, Adidas, Gucci and her own fashion labels without using an inch of leather or an ounce of fur, then so can our talented fashion designers in Pakistan.

The Tibetan antelope is listed in the Appendix-I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora featuring the most critically endangered species, and Pakistan is a signatory to it.

Nuzhat Saadia Siddiqi is a Lahore-based writer and book hoarder. She tweets @guldaar

The Express Tribune Magazine - February 9  

The Express Tribune Magazine for February 09th 2014

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