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JANUARY 23-29 2011

Blissfully Bankrupt Are we breaking the bank in our quest to have the wedding of a lifetime?


Of Illegals and Your Cheating Officials 26 Heart 36 THE HATER





JUNE 13-19 2010

JUNE 13-19 2010

JANUARY 23-29 2011

Cover Story 14 Blissfully Bankrupt Are we spending too much money on our weddings?

Portfolio 30 Elseworlds A journey into the dreamscapes of fantasy art

Truth or Dare 36 Your Cheating Heart Frieha Altaf on cheating...and being cheated on



38 The best of the silver screen and the written word

Up North and Personal 42 Water Woes There isn’t a drop to spare up in the mountains this season


Regulars 6 People & Parties: Out and about with beautiful people 12 Tribune Questionnaire: Huma Amir Shah on impulsiveness 44 Horoscope: Shelley von Strunckel on your week ahead 46 Ten Things I Hate About: Getting married



Editor: Zarrar Khuhro. Sub-Editors: Batool Zehra, Hamna Zubair Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Jamal Khurshid, Essa Malik, Anam Haleem, Tariq Alvi, S Asif Ali, Sukayna Sadik Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions:

JUNE 13-19 2010


Power Lunch Important women (and a few men) in business, publishing and entertainment attended the LADIESFUND速 Women of Inf luence Luncheon in


Ameena Saiyid

Dr Mahnaz Shah

Nasreen Jalil

Dr Ishrat Husain and Rafique Dawood

JANUARY 23-29 2011



JUNE 13-19 2010


Nilofer Saeed

Saira Saigal


Rabia Garib JANUARY 23-29 2011

Robert Gibson and TU Dawood

a Rizki


Sheema Kermani

JUNE 13-19 2010


Madiha Sultan

Souriya Anwar


Leon Menezes JANUARY 23-29 2011

Amin Gulgee


a Khali


Zahida Habib

JUNE 13-19 2010

“If I had another life, I’d like to come back as Han Solo.” Morning show host Huma Amir Shah on impulsiveness, humour, and the one thing she can’t live without. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Where would you most like to live?

Nothing beats great food, accompanied by some serious hunger.

Right at the edge.

What is your greatest fear?

What is your most treasured possession?

Losing my taste buds (more than losing my mind)!

My Macbook (and its charger).

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Sometimes I can’t, or don’t, see the obvious.

Abject poverty.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Who is your hero of fiction?

A bad temper.

My alter ego.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Who are your heroes in real life?

I talk, and I listen... I guess that would be it.

People who stay ‘together forever’.

What is your current state of mind?

What is your greatest regret?


Not having enough faith.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

What’s your favourite quote?

Being too agreeable.

‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’ — George Eliot

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

What kind of super powers would you like to have?

Nothing really... I’m easily satisfied.

The ability to ‘pause’, ‘rewind’ and ‘fast forward’ life.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What scares you more: lizards or cockroaches?

Confidence. This shouldn’t be confused with overconfidence.

Lizards — they’re faster.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

If you had a time machine, where would you go?

Confidence and humour.

I would travel to the past or 10 years ahead.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

If you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the one thing you’d

“Tu lay ja world cup!”

take with you?

When and where were you happiest?

The directions back home.

Thankfully there are too many incidents to quote.

If they made a movie on your life, who would you want to play your

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?


My impulsiveness, perhaps. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I’d like to come back as Han Solo... for his wit and his knack of turning out to be the accidental hero!


What would the movie be called? ‘Humarella’ (in technicolor, with subtitles). What’s the last really good movie you watched?


127 Hours. a JANUARY 23-29 2011


blissfully bankrupt The days when a simple ‘qabool hai’ would suffice are long gone. Today, wedding festivities are becoming flashier and pricier. But are we breaking the bank in the quest to have the wedding of a lifetime? BY BATOOL ZEHRA

JANUARY 23-29 2011

JANUARY 23-29 2011

COVER STORY Amir and Sana had a decision to make. The two had been going out for more than a year and were ready to get married, but Sana had not yet completed her university education. Amir had saved enough to either have a grand wedding or finance Sana’s education from the prestigious Indus Valley School. The choice was now between a lavish ceremony or a better future. In the end, the couple calculated their savings and, after set-

ting aside the funds for Sana’s schooling, had a simple function

with the leftover money. While the trade off between a secure

future and a lavish wedding ceremony may not be as clearly defined for many other couples, for many people, expenditure on wedding celebrations constitutes a lifetime’s worth of savings.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” says ace event planner Frieha

Altaf. “People believe they ought to spend on it.”

Some certainly do. At a wedding of a close acquaintance re-

cently, Raania was stunned by the opulence on display. The

pre-wedding festivities alone included a qawwali night at

which Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed, and more than half

a dozen dholkis including a musical night. At the mehndi, guests were plied with alcoholic beverages while the catering at the reception was from Sakura. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a marriage between the scions of Pakistan’s aristocracy.

But according to Raania: “These people are well off though not

really very rich. Guests at the event were speculating that they had taken loans to put up such a grand display.”

Over the past ten years, wedding expenditures have been on

the increase and, despite the economic crunch, they show no signs of abating. Expenditures which were unheard of a decade

ago, are now de rigeur: imported fresh flowers, elaborate giveaways, sit-down dinners, personalised photography, jacquard

tents custom made to reflect the theme of the event. . . the list is endless.

Nor is it any longer a simple mehndi-shaadi-valima triad of

celebrations anymore. A paradigm shift has taken place as far as the number of events go. Separate shaadi and valima functions

have been replaced by a joint reception and separate mehndis

have been replaced by joint mehndis. But this has little to do with simplicity, as the myriad of pre-wedding dholkis and the skyrocketing expenditure taking place at a single event show.

“You should budget to spend seven to eight lakhs for each event,”

says Shayan, an investment banker who got married recently. Arsalan, a financial economist who got married this month estimates

that the joint reception cost a total of five lakhs while Samia, a TV producer who has hired a professional to do her event manage-

ment, says that the wedding will cost her family 10 lakhs. In fact,


people willingly spend anywhere between half their annual income to thrice their annual income on their shaadi. JANUARY 23-29 2011

For the sake of perspective, let us remind ourselves that 10

lakhs is also the tuition fee for bachelors programs at the most

Fifty years ago, the marriage ceremony itself was relatively unsophisticated; the bride and groom sat on a crude takht and dinner was a basic affair, a far cry from the seven course meals and elegant lounges that are now expected at a wedding.

prestigious universities of the country, and the down payment

for a small shop, both of which are long term investments which

generate future income. Wedding expenditure on the other hand is pure consumption spending, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone that such a massive amount is splurged on a single night. Least bothered of all are the financial institutions that

happily fork out loans for this. A few years ago, massive hoardings advertised a personal loan facility from a local bank. The bill-

boards depicted a bride at the moment of rukhsati; the personal loan was marketed as a shaadi loan. Others have tapped into

this need in a more financially responsible way. Insurance com-

panies routinely offer ‘marriage plans’ to policyholders — these ‘marriage’ plans, of course, are no more than funds for wedding

expenditure. Now banks have started offering account holders insurance plans based on when customers anticipate they would need to give their offspring a ‘dream wedding’.

Where does the pressure to shell out this kind of money on a

social event come from? Is it embedded in the subcontinent’s cul-

ture or driven by capitalistic marketing? Or do the nouveau riche, eager to display their newfound wealth, up the ante?

JANUARY 23-29 2011


COVER STORY The subcontinent does have a strong tradition of the dowry

for which finances and jewelry are painstakingly accumulated over a lifetime. Still, this is distinct from the spending now being witnessed. Traditionally, the bulk of the expenditure was on the jewelry the bride wore or took as dowry — now the focus has

shifted away from the dowry and to the event. Fifty years ago, the marriage ceremony itself was relatively unsophisticated; the

bride and groom sat on a crude takht and dinner was a basic affair, a far cry from the seven course meals and elegant lounges

that are now expected at a wedding. Now, given a choice between a small apartment (the equivalent of yesteryear’s ‘dowry’) and a lavish ceremony, couples tend to choose the latter.

“The perfect wedding now entails all these other things, de-

tails that people don’teven notice anymore. No one is shocked by

an extravagant ceremony but if anything is missing, it is shock-

ing. For example, you are expected to have valet parking, it’s a tiny detail that no one remarks on but if you don’t do it, people will talk about it,” says Marium, a marketing professional.

Taimur, who comes from a prominent business family, echoes

the same sentiment: “I wouldn’t want to do something cheap.” But the question of course is, what is cheap?

“A few years ago the dulhan wore a pretty jora and that was

that. Now people ask you who the outfit is by, so you feel com-

pelled to go to a designer. Of course, anything less than Bunto Kazmi or Dr Haroon feels like a compromise,” says Inaya.

Similarly, certain venues are popular for no reason other than

that they are coveted by others. “The elite don’t have their weddings in shaadi lawns,” says Taimur. “They only have them at

Karachi’s DHA Golf Club.” In Lahore, the Royal Palm Country Club is a sought after venue.

Despite her claim that she just wanted the ceremony to bring

warmth and be interactive, Inaya’s wedding ended up being a

spectacular affair, with the bride making an entrance in a flow-

society wedding had a three-storey bar, with each floor offer-

and floral designer, and a sumptuous dinner. Could it be that in

it comes to weddings, it’s not just alcoholic drinks that one can

er-bedecked doli, a wedding stage by Lal Majid, the chocolatier the eagerness to follow what they perceive to be the new ‘norm’, people are collectively raising the bar?

Almost everyone agrees that though they start off with a bud-

get, they end up veering from it, some more so than others. Most

often it is the bride, the bride’s mother or the mother-in-law who push for the expenditure. It is these people to whom the concept

of the perfect wedding and the perfect bride are relentlessly marketed — by beauty salons, event managers, designers, photogra-

phers and banks. The resulting social pressure is overwhelming. Of course, those who do have the money, constantly find

creative ways to distinguish their wedding functions. Destina-


tion weddings are the new trend, with the couple flying their

guests out to spectacular locations like Bali or Goa. A famous JANUARY 23-29 2011

ing a choice of beverages that went with its theme. But when blow one’s money on. A family with a religious bent chartered a plane to Madina so the guests could assemble for the nikah at

Masjid-e-Nabvi. While it is common to have celebrity guests at

weddings in India — even Kanye West has made an appearance as a wedding guest — in Pakistan this trend is also catching on

and Atif Aslam is one of the popular celebrity wedding guests here. But almost everyone agrees that the least one can do to

make one’s wedding memorable, is to have a strong theme — a colour or motif that is reflected in the couple’s clothes, the

invites and the decor. For the dulhan to make an entrance in a doli laden with imported hydrangeas, calla lilies, white roses and chrysanthemums is no longer novel. But guests were

slightly alarmed when at a recent wedding in Karachi, the

The pre-wedding festivities alone included a qawwali night at which Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed, and more than half a dozen dholkis including a musical night. At the mehndi, guests were plied with alcoholic beverages while the catering at the reception was from Sakura.

bride arrived in a helicopter that landed smack in the middle of the shaadi lawn, where a space had been cleared for it.

BREAKING THE BANK Bride’s gharara by Bunto: Rs300,000-500,000 Makeup by Shahmain: Rs25,000-35,000 Photography for two events: Rs100,000 Catering and decoration: Rs500-2,000 per head Invites from local printers: Rs25-100 per card Invites from India or Dubai: Rs500-1,000 per card Venue: Rs150,000 for DHA Golf Club Alcoholic beverages: Rs500,000 Celebrity Appearance: Rs1,000,000-4,000,000

Though grooms generally foot the bill for the reception from

their own pockets, brides — despite the fact that many of them have secure jobs and independent incomes — are given the wedding by their parents, a fairly traditional arrangement. The savviest couples, however, talk about their finances and agree on

medium-term goals. “We have career goals, and we’ve agreed to

save a certain amount on a regular basis so that we can both go abroad for our PhDs,” says Arsalan who married Rabayl recently.

But sometimes, even the frank financial discussion is not

enough to prevent marital discord and regret later on. Rauf had already taken a massive home loan when his wedding came up and he spent over 15 lakhs on it. Now that he’s paying fines for

being behind on his loan, he says: “I wish I had some of the money I spent on my wedding.” a

JANUARY 23-29 2011



the lunacy of the pakistani wedding Why our entire culture of nuptials is financially unjustifiable BY FAROOQ TIRMIZI

‘Tis the season of weddings in Pakistan, the time of year when relatives fly in from all over the world to gather at the gold-dipped, henna-encrusted, week-long dance-fest that is almost mandatory for anybody seeking to tie the knot in the land of the pure. Given that fun seems to be generally illegal in the country, weddings seem to be the only excuse for people to escape the drudgery of their boring lives. Yet from a financial perspective, this culture of 20 over-the-top nuptials could not possibly be more ruinous. JANUARY 23-29 2011

The old canard about financial folly is especially applicable to Pakistani weddings: people spend money they do not have to buy something they do not need to impress people they do not like.

Having worked as a financial advisor in Karachi, I’m all too

be more bejewelled than display cases at Saks Fifth Avenue. If

to plan out their financial future. Yet the few who are list their

the women, who must go through all of the gruelling stress of

familiar with the fact that most people are not smart enough children’s wedding as one of their major life expenses, alongside

infinitely more justifiable investments such as buying a house, saving for their children’s education and perhaps even their own

retirement, are just plain unhinged. And unfortunately, there

there is any human cost to the weddings, surely it is borne by preparing for the wedding, choreograph the dances, manage

many of the events and still look stunningly beautiful while doing it all.

Yet it is the women who seem to love the traditional, and very

seems to be no movement in the works aimed at striking the

expensive, wedding format the most. Of the several men I spoke

cultural behaviour.

nificant amounts of money or even having more than one event.

conspicuous consumption of weddings off the list of acceptable So just how excessive are Pakistani weddings? One can judge

through a set of comparisons. An American friend of mine recently got married and had what constitutes a reasonably elab-

to about weddings, hardly any was supportive of spending sigThe women, on the other hand, were a completely different story.

They all tried to hide behind the shrivelled cloak of cultural

orate wedding in upper middle-class America: with around

legitimacy but most women who chose to discuss their nuptial

perspective, that is less than three months of the combined in-

of the world considers an elaborate wedding.

500 guests, the event cost her around $50,000. To put that in comes of the couple and less than the average per capita income

plans made it very clear that they wanted to have what the rest The phrases used to justify the extravagance ranged from

of the United States.

“people will talk if you don’t have an elaborate wedding,” to “I

ding that was deemed somewhat low-key by upper middle-class

ing built at weddings.” But the bottom line was obvious: these

By contrast, a friend who got married in Pakistan had a wed-

Pakistani standards and yet still managed to cost more than 40 times the average national income of the country. If the couple

each had an income equal to mine, the bill would equal more than a year and a half worth of salaries for the two of them com-

just want a traditional wedding” and “there is social capital be-

women have never paid a bill in their life and, despite many of them having jobs, they never will. Cost just does not seem to be factor in their thinking.

Not all women had that attitude, of course. A woman from


the Dawoodi Bohra community, for example, seemed to value

tion for spending that much money to entertain a whole host of

women from Karachi and Lahore want small, intimate wed-

From a financial perspective, there is absolutely no justifica-

people, most of whom only love to bicker and complain rather than act as a genuine support network. The old canard about

financial folly is especially applicable to Pakistani weddings:

people spend money they do not have to buy something they do

her community’s emphasis on simplicity. Several professional

dings attended only by people who matter to them and their spouse, rather than their father’s prospective clients. But these brave souls are the exception rather than the rule.

By and large, women in Pakistan love big weddings and the

not need to impress people they do not like.

men had better foot the bill or else there will be hell to pay. This

reason: a Pakistani wedding has multiple events that typically

nor that many women are not in favour of extravagance, nor

Why do we spend so much on weddings? The most obvious

stretch over a week, as opposed to other cultures that have just

one reception. That alone ratchets up the costs considerably. And while having multiple events does have a basis in tradition,

the recent surge in the importance of hitherto side-events like

is not to say that the men do not enjoy the festivities, of course,

even that some women do not help pay for their own weddings. But, on balance, what the woman wants is usually closer to what happens.

Take for instance, Khalid, an engineer who wanted to have

the mehndi has its roots in other phenomena.

a small, simple wedding. His wife is American-educated so he

weddings remain one of the few culturally acceptable venues

her foot down. She was going to have an old-fashioned wedding

As Pakistani society has grown more overtly conservative,

for men and women to meet without restriction and even dance

with each other. In other words, a mehndi is simply a substitute

thought she would be supportive of the idea. But the lady put with all of the bells and whistles, and he had to go along with it.

If there is any hope for sanity amidst the financial absurdity

for a nightclub.

of Pakistani weddings, it must come from the growing class of

the nature of each event. There are elaborate decorations for

or energy to spare from their careers to have a traditional series

The number of events is not the only problem; there is also

each, the food must be exquisitely catered and the women must

urban professionals, people who may simply not have the time of ceremonies. Here’s hoping the workaholics take over! a

JANUARY 23-29 2011



If one examines Islamic guidance on various aspects of our individual and collective lives, one realises that believers are called upon to adopt a life of moderation, avoiding all extremes. This attitude is expected in all aspects of the individual’s life, including the celebration of marriages.

a call for moderation Is ostentation at wedding ceremonies embedded in our traditions? BY KHALID ZAHEER

Generally speaking, Islamic teachings have certain rules for

conducting one’s life. However, considerable flexibility is al-

lowed in the manner in which we behave in our individual and collective lives. This truism is also applicable in the case of marriages. There are certain essentials which must be followed in Muslim marriages: free consent of both the bride and the bridegroom to live as husband and wife, the groom agreeing to give

a dower (Mahar) commensurate with his and the bride’s status,

announcement of the marriage before a group of relatives and friends, and, ideally, a sermon (Khutba) delivered by the one

solemnising the marriage reminding the couple about their obligations towards each other for their benefit as well as the benefit of those who have assembled on the occasion.

Other than what has been mentioned above, nothing is bind-

ing as far as the question of formalities of Muslim marriage is concerned. There are no clear instructions given on how marriages should be celebrated. The Prophet (PBUH) arranged marriages and conducted them in accordance with the prevailing

customs of his times. Indeed what he did on such occasions

epitomised the true spirit of Islamic teachings. However, other than what has been mentioned above, he never made anything religiously binding on the believer in celebrating marriages.

It should not emerge from what has been mentioned above,

however, that we are free to conduct marriages in any way we

choose to. While we are at liberty to conduct our affairs in accordance with society’s customs, as Muslims we are always bound

by the basic rules God has desired us to follow. He wants us to avoid all acts that come within the scope of polytheism, snob-

bishness, extravagance, and obscenity, and we should also avoid wasting time, consuming intoxicants and placing a burden on others.

Snobbishness and extravagance very often find expression in

marriage ceremonies, especially of those who are affluent. This JANURY 23-29 2011

desire to appear superior to others is so hateful in God’s eyes that

His messenger (PBUH) is reported to have said that the one who had even a slight hint of arrogance in his heart, will not enter

paradise. On being asked as to whom an arrogant person was, he responded by clarifying that he was the one who didn’t allow

himself the opportunity to accept the truth that came to him and the one who looked down upon others as inferiors.

Extravagance is a close relative of arrogance. The former can

very easily lead to the latter. If one spends more than the accept-

able limits one invites God’s displeasure. “Indeed the prodigious spenders are the brothers of the Satan and the Satan is ungrateful to his Lord,” says the Qur’an. The reason for condemnation

of extravagance is that the wealth we possess has been granted to us by God to spend on ourselves within decent limits and for

the rest to be spent on the needs of the poor. If we spend more on ourselves than what we normally should, we are eating up what was given to us to share with others. While celebrating

our functions, therefore, we should avoid extravagance. What constitutes extravagance, however, is a subjective matter; it var-

ies from individual to individual. The ambiguity in this matter seems deliberate. This will allow individuals the opportunity

to voluntarily check their spending. If society doesn’t stipulate any maximum limit on spending, the individual should bind himself to a limit and guard himself against transgressing that limit.

There are no clear instructions given on how marriages should be celebrated. The Prophet (PBUH) arranged the marriages and conducted them in his time in accordance with the prevailing customs of his times.

Sadly, our marriages are quite often an unnecessary financial

burden on the bride’s family. It is the bridegroom and his family’s duty to convince the bride’s family that there is no need to

spend prodigiously on the ceremonies and assets which normally accompany the bride to her new home in the name of Ja-

hez. The latter is not just a silly practice but a cause of lifelong worries for a large number of parents and brides. The sooner

our society rids itself of this un-Islamic expectation of the bridegroom’s family the better. It is the groom’s religious obligation to meet the financial needs of the bride and the family.

To sum up, Muslim law on conducting marriages is very sim-

ple and there are no detailed expectations on how to formally

conduct our functions. We have been given liberty to go about celebrating our marriages in accordance with our customs and

tastes. However, in no way should our marriages violate the basic principles of simplicity, decency, moderation, piety, and concern for the welfare of others. a

The writer is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Central Punjab. JANURY 23-29 2011


for the love of money A sign of the times? The most expensive weddings in recent history have been hosted by Indians and Arabs.

1 2

Who: Seemanto Roy’s wedding to Chandni Toor, and Su-

shanto Roy’s wedding to Richa Ahuja. This was a double wedding, held between February, 10th 2004 and February 14th, 2004. The father of both grooms, Indian industrialist Subrata Roy of Sahara, is estimated to have a net worth of over $5 billion.

Where: The double wedding was held in Sahara, in Lucknow.

London-based Indian-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s

daughter. Mittal’s net worth at the time of wedding, held in 2004, was estimated to be approximately $6.4 billion.

Where: The wedding was held in France, and the festivities were spread out over at least five days.

How much: Subrata Roy pushed out the boat for his sons’ wed-

How much: The wedding was estimated to have cost over a

up to a whopping $128 million. Guests reportedly feasted on

in Paris, and Mittal hired the 17th century Vaux le Vicomte

ian, Mongolian, Lebanese, Chinese and American fare, with

Nicolas Fouquet, King Louis XIV’s finance minister.

dings, spending at least $64 million per couple, which adds

whopping $55 million. Guests were put up at a five-star hotel

over a 100 different types of entrees including Indian, Ital-

for Vanisha’s wedding. The chateau was originally built for

the food managed by Chef Hemant Oberoi and his team from the Taj Group of Hotels. Guests were also treated to live music played by the British Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra also played over 20 Indian songs. Artistes from the UK performed

Flamenco dance, classical ballet and tap dance, and noted Bollywood Director Raj Kumar Santoshi filmed the event.


Who: Vanisha Mittal’s wedding to Amit Bhatia. Vanisha is

$128 million JANUARY 23-29 2011

$6.4 billion


$45 million

Who: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s wedding to Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum in 1979. Sheikh Mohammed

is the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab

Emirates (UAE), and absolute monarch of Dubai. Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum is his first cousin.

Where: The wedding was held in Dubai. Since there was no

venue large enough to accommodate the 20,000 guests invited, the sheikhs’ family reportedly built a special hall from scratch.

How much: The wedding allegedly cost around $45 million,

which would amount to over $100 million today. The festivities lasted over seven days, during which time Sheikh Mohammed road his horse to every village in the UAE and fed everyone.


$30 million

Who: Russian billionaire Andrei Melnichenko’s marriage to

former Miss Yugoslavia and Serbian model Aleksandra Kokotovich.

Where: They celebrated their marriage in Cote d’Azur, France in 2005.

How much: The couple spent an estimated $30 million on

their nuptials. The businessman and former Miss Yugoslavia invited Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston to perform

at the wedding, and the stars were reportedly flown in on private jets and paid $3.6 million each. a


$44 million

Who: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is on the list again, but this time, in 2004, he married a different

woman — his wedding to Her Royal Highness Princess Haya

of Jordan was only slightly less lavish than his wedding to first wife, Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum.

Where: The wedding was held in Dubai, like his previous marriage celebrations.

How much: The festivities were said to amount to around $44

million. Once again, a special pavilion was built to house the

thousands of guests that attended. Interestingly, it is said that the amount spent on the wedding is enough to feed the people of Dubai for several years.

25 JANUARY 23-29 2011


of illegals and


From illegal immigrants to visiting Presidents, it’s all about Pakistanis in America this week. BY SHAHZAD RAZA

Here’s an interesting puzzle for you: Aslam works 70 hours a week washing cars at a small garage in Washington DC and earns $1,200 a month. His colleague Gonzales, who also washes cars, works only 40 hours a week but earns $2,400 a month. Care to guess why?

26 JANUARY 23-29 2011

Because Aslam is an illegal Pakistani immigrant, while his col-

league Gonzales is a naturalised American citizen.

Although the estimated number of illegal Pakistani immi-

grants varies from state to state, their situation doesn’t. They live in constant fear of being caught and deported. Playing hide-andseek with law enforcers and immigration authorities is a daily

routine. They cannot open a bank account, have health insur-

ance or enjoy any of the social services their legal counterparts take for granted. Their employment opportunities are scarce and

risky in a blue-collar job market — and even if they get a job, they have no safeguards against inevitable exploitation.

As political temperatures in the US rise, researchers, politi-

cians and the media have all loudly debated the issue of illegal immigration. A case in point is a recent report in The Washington

Post purportedly revealing the involvement of many illegal Latinos in traffic accidents. Latinos also happen to be the largest illegal ethnic group in America.

Even though their numbers are much larger, Latino illegal im-

migrants enjoy a distinct advantage over Pakistanis: they do not have the stigma of terrorism associated with them. Following

9/11, American law enforcers have been especially wary of illegal, and thus untraceable, Pakistanis living in the US. There are

fears that such Pakistanis may fall victim to jihadist indoctrination. Much-criticised sting operations following 9/11 also mostly

targeted Muslims of Arab and Asian origin. And following Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to bomb Times Square, illegal Pakistan-


is are law enforcement agency’s favourite targets.

JANUARY 23-29 2011

WASHINGTONDIARY A recent introduction of The Pakistani Temporary Protected Sta-

tus (TPS) Bill of 2011 to Congress is apparently a positive and very

smart move. Sponsored by Democratic Congressman Al Green, the Bill has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

sible. In fact, Ambassador Haqqani is known for his ability to make many things possible… not least of which was President Zardari’s meeting with President Obama last week.

It seeks to designate Pakistan as a TPS-eligible country and sets

Great games

presence in the US since July 22, 2010. If endorsed, the Act shall

capital was symbolic in nature. He came to attend late US Special

forth related TPS eligibility requirements, including continuous

President Zardari’s recent visit to the world’s most important

remain in effect for 12 months. It is another question if Congress

Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke’s memori-

will in fact finally endorse the bill and thus risk a backlash from increasingly powerful conservative voters.

The TPS would help the authorities keep track of the illegal

Pakistani immigrants. It would make it difficult for illegal Paki-

stani immigrants to escape from the radar screen, once they report and register their presence in the United States with the

al service. Earlier, it was unclear if the Pakistani president would

be invited to the Oval Office. The two presidents, in the presence of a few others, met for 30 minutes and discussed issues ranging from the ailing economy of Pakistan, the perennial problem of terrorism and the controversial blasphemy law.

President Zardari held another less symbolic but perhaps more


important meeting with CIA Director Leon Panetta. The interest-

issued a statement praising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood

Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who was not part of the president’s entou-

As the Bill was tabled, Pakistan’s embassy in Washington DC

Qureishi and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani for making it pos-

28 JANUARY 23-29 2011

ing part of the meeting was the presence of ISI Director General rage. It was probably a signal to the vociferous opposition back

home that Zardari and the Army are not on a collision course and that the Americans support their union.

But of course, the Pakistani predilection of looking to foreign

shores for domestic legitimacy isn’t new.

Back in 1950, when the Cold War was young and the world was

choosing sides, we threw in our lot with the US. Since that fateful moment, the Pakistani military establishment and the civil-

ian political leadership have developed a certain mindset, which has been effectively transferred to the citizens thanks to con-

spiracy theorists and propagandists. It is now almost universally believed that the US is behind every major event and catastrophe in Pakistan. And that no one can rule the country without the blessings of Washington.

Doubts about the legitimacy of the electoral process creates uncer-

tainty. This state of ambivalence distracts both elected leaders and

dictators from the ground realities. It’s true that the influence of foreign powers is significant, but it cannot be accepted as the only

factor in the rise and fall of the societies or nations. Nonetheless in Pakistan both the leaders and the led seem united in their apparent belief that they are not the masters of their destiny.

Some common perceptions about the role of Americans in Pak-

istani affairs are interesting and should be noted:

When political turmoil was at its peak in 1977, Prime Minister

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made a whirlwind tour of several Arab countries to prove his popularity in the Arab World to his right-wing

political rivals. Despite Bhutto having reached a compromise

with his rivals, the seemingly harmless General Ziaul Haq im-

posed Martial Law. It was widely believed that the Americans

hated Bhutto — an ardent advocate of pan-Islamism — and had thus played a part in his removal. But the cool relations between

Even though their numbers are much larger, Latino illegal immigrants enjoy a distinct advantage over Pakistanis: they do not have the stigma of terrorism associated with them.

General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorial regime and US president Jimmy

Carter’s administration told a different story. It was the obvious antagonism of Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan against the So-

viet Union that helped General Zia perpetuate his rule. But then, as the Soviets were on the brink of defeat in Afghanistan, General Zia lost his utility and was removed from the scene... with sus-

picion once again falling on Washington. Benazir Bhutto formed her government in 1988, again with supposed American blessings. Nawaz Sharif reportedly managed to save his skin from General Musharraf only after President Bill Clinton persuaded

Musharraf to let him go. The Americans used General Musharraf till the end and then found a better replacement to continue the War on Terror and attempt to build a favorable public opinion about the Americans in Pakistan.

Clearly, America’s interest in Pakistan is due to the latter’s geo-

graphically strategic location and thus isn’t likely to diminish in

the next few years — and certainly not before the proposed with-

drawal of American troops from Afghanistan beginning in 2014.

Until then the tone and tenor of Washington and Langley would


be closely watched by Islamabad and Rawalpindi. a

JANUARY 23-29 2011




Fantasy art is not something

that is widely appreciated in

our country. In fact, it is a genre that is still obscure in

Pakistan where people are still used to seeing work from old

masters like Chughtai, Mirza and others.

To me, fantasy art is a whole

new world that I enter into when I want to connect with

myself. What I draw helps me

connect with the world around me.

I draw spontaneously. My

creations can stem from a

real life experience, a random

thought, or a dream. And that is why my work truly defines

me. I just latch onto a scenar-

io, pick the trail of thoughts and start weaving an image.a

30 JANUARY 23-29 2011

Eat This!


Oye Mekboy! JANUARY 23-29 2011



32 JANUARY 23-29 2011

33 JANUARY 23-29 2011


Beast Man

Lock N Stock


Face JANUARY 23-29 2011

Die Die Die!

Rising Earth

Submit your artwork and photographic portfolios to magazine@ 35 and get published and paid! JANUARY 23-29 2011

TRUTH OR DARE If there is one great truth in life that you need to accept, it is this: people cheat! Cheating

starts early on in life, when you pretend

to have tidied your room to dodge your

your cheating


Everybody does it — but discovering you’re the one being cheated on isn’t much fun. BY FRIEHA ALTAF

parents’ wrath. Then you begin cheating in

school, sitting next to the brightest child in your

class and peeking into their exam paper. You cheat when you scribble your mother’s signature on your abysmal report card. And later, cheating takes dif-

ferent forms: you cheat on your diet all the time, you cheat when you don’t give your work your all.

So am I speaking from experience? Of course — I’m guilty of

all the above! The idea, of course, is that as long as you don’t be-

come a major cheater, embezzling millions of dollars from your country and company or stealing your best friend’s husband… you’re forgiven!

Unfortunately, I have had quite a bit of experience with deal-

ing with extraordinarily daring cheaters, and know all the forms this particularly destructive sport can take.

First, you have your one-time cheaters, people who actually

fall in love with ‘the other woman/man’ and can’t help themselves. These poor souls usually get caught. Then there are cheaters who are so slick they never get caught and have the game down to a tee.

The worst thing about cheating is that someone always gets

hurt. The pain is especially excruciating if you, the victim, are

The second time someone cheated on me, the affair came as a relief. The marriage was essentially over and the affair was like a godsend that ended a false and pretentious relationship. I even caught the fella red-handed.

madly in love with your spouse and think you are living in a

fairy tale until you discover it was all a farce! Your life really

does come crashing down and when you finally recover, you are

more upset at your own foolishness than at your partner’s infidelity.

That’s how it was for me. I was young, deeply in love, and

ended up badly shaken and broken. I couldn’t eat or sleep. The

first cut is truly the deepest. The second time someone cheated on me, the affair came as a relief. The marriage was at its end

and the affair was like a godsend that ended a false and preten-

tious relationship. I even caught the fella red-handed. He had convinced me to take a road trip and much to his dismay I arrived a day early, ready to catch him at it as my suspicions were

fully aroused at that point. And catch him I did — no, I didn’t

find them in bed together, but he was getting ready to go out

and meet her and, when I confronted him, he admitted it. Sud-

denly, the receipt I had found for two Billy Joel concert tickets made sense.

My mother says that one should always keep things in per-

spective, she tells me that cheating destroys not one but two

families. I saw her point when my husband’s lady friend’s

spouse called me to say: “Your husband is having an affair with


my wife.” But to me, all this talk of ‘broken homes’ is old fashJANUARY 23-29 2011

ioned. As far as I’m concerned, if either partner finds that he or

she feels the urge to cheat, the relationship obviously has issues and the home has already been broken. I know a lot of you won’t

agree with this and I may well be wrong, but let’s also accept that we often live in denial. But anyway — let’s move on to other types of cheating.

I can’t not mention the whole other world of cheating that

people rarely talk about: cheating yourself. When you choose to

pursue a career you aren’t passionate about, which in most cases is what your parents want you to do or your spouse thinks is appropriate, you are cheating yourself.

Similarly, the wife who knows her husband is cheating on her

and continues to live with it is cheating her own happiness. I too cheated my dignity and self-respect while I was in an abu-

sive relationship. You’d think one philandering husband would

be enough, but two? Yes, I could practically write a book about my experiences with cheaters. You may find yourself wondering

‘what kind of loser marries twice only to have both guys cheat on her?’ Trust me, I asked myself this question many times. After

the second time I did seek professional help. I wanted a crash course on ‘how not to marry a loser’.

Since, we are on the subject, let’s also discuss what people say

the king (of pakistani tennis) and i Aisam is one of the few sportsmen who don’t cheat their fans and themselves. The epitome of good, his work for peace and harmony has made Pakistanis proud.

to cover up cheating. “I’m working late,” is a perfect first excuse,

which is often followed up with “darling, I have to extend my business trip a little because there is just so much to do.” As time

goes on the excuses become more far-fetched and less believable:

“that message wasn’t meant for me, somebody must have sent

it to the wrong number.” Or how about “oh, that woman was a colleague, we were having a working lunch!” This is when you

start going through your partner’s phone messages, hack into their personal email, hire a detective and begin spying on them.

Of course, extramarital affairs may not seem like a big deal

to a lot of Pakistanis because, let’s face it, so many of our celebrities and politicians play the cheating game quite success-

fully. I mean, most of the boys on our cricket team are cheaters! Is there anything worse than cheating on your country? I’m just glad that we can still boast of a few (yes, you can count them

on one hand) upstanding, talented individuals who don’t cheat

themselves or their fans. Aisam ul Haq is one such young man. Like the old Imran Khan, Aisam is the epitome of good. He be-

friended the Indians and the Israelis and made statements for peace and harmony at the US Open and continues to strive to do good for the country.

So why do people cheat anyway? Is it love? Is it sex? Is it ro-

mance? Is it the thrill of getting away with it? And what about

our politicians, what kind of cheating do they get up to? We’ll talk about all that soon — but not today. a

37 JANUARY 23-29 2011


featured review of the week

book the rise of ‘churnalism’ BY KHURRAM BAIG

Journalists are more used to dishing out criticism than taking it. And Flat Earth News, written by Nick Davies, is one book that most newspaper owners will wish had never been published. Essentially about the British media, the book also takes a look at some aspects of the global news industry. In a recent discussion I had with some colleagues, a senior journalist said journalism was all about the numbers now, and all that mattered were the number of copies of a newspaper sold, or the ratings a television channel got. I disagreed, and he told me to go read Flat Earth News. I’m glad I did. Focusing mostly on news-gathering, Davies paints a portrait of an industry that is institutionally geared towards making the seeking-out of real news very difficult. In the “news factory”, as he calls it, reporters are tied to their desks by poor budgets and time constraints. He says they are forced by circumstances to rely on “the suppliers” for their leads, recycling information placed in the public domain by others and producing not journalism but “churnalism”. More generally, Davies goes to great lengths to emphasise that it is journalists themselves who are the primary victims of the changes he documents. He suggests the problem with the media is that the industry prioritises corporate needs rather than public duty. But a more disturbing aspect that he highlights is how skilled PR companies are able to get their agenda through, by cleverly feeding newspapers information. As he mentions in the chapter `The Private Life of Public Relations’, PR firms inject falsehoods into the British media so surreptitiously that weekly columnists are completely oblivious to their true intentions. For instance, he cites the case of Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips who wrote “a series of outspoken columns denouncing the whole concept of man-made climate 38 change”. Davies goes on to mention one of her articles in the Mail JANUARY 23-29 2011

the inside story Davies suggests the problem with the media is that the industry prioritises corporate needs rather than public duty.

Five other must-reads about journalism: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Losing the News by Alex Jones The Political Economy of Media by Robert McChesney We the Media by Dan Gillmor The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyer Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sells Disease, Famine, War and Death by Susan D Moeller

It is both illuminating and depressing to realise that even the most trusted names in journalism have become victim, like so much of our media, to the forces of moneymaking, fastturnaround and nonsense PR.

in February 2002 which said “the latest evidence is provided in a report published today by the European Science and Environmental Forum, in which a group of the most eminent scientists from Britain and America shed light on the theory.” Fair play to Phillips for doing her research, but was it researched enough? Davis gives us the pleasure of looking deeper into the roots of the story and writes “the forum whose work she {Phillips} was quoting was, in truth, yet another pseudo-group, created with the help of two PR agencies (APCO Worldwide and Burson-Marsteller) with the specific intent of campaigning against restrictions on corporate activity.” He also mentions how the report “Phillips referred to in such glowing terms was recycled work which had been funded by Exxon.” This is one of the many examples he quotes, and not just from the tabloid press. It is both illuminating and depressing to realise that even the most trusted names in journalism have become victim, like so much of our media, to the forces of money-making, fast-turnaround and nonsense PR. The book is not perfect. Davies begins with that “defining value of honesty”. He despises the facile cop-out of “un-named sources”. But turn a few chapters and you find that he scatters page after page with quotes from anonymous persons criticising their bosses. But I would still recommend Flat Earth News to aspiring journalists, and even to those well entrenched in the profession. It is an eye-opener. But this book is also a startling education for anyone who reads or watches news, and wonders if its really news that’s being produced or just noise.

39 JANUARY 23-29 2011


film jury, justice, and jessica BY MUTTAHIR AHMED KHAN

Looking to watch a typical Indian movie? Then it’s better to give No One Killed Jessica a miss. You won’t find your usual Romeo here who, in true Bollywood fashion, falls in love with a pretty girl, struggles to make her accept his love and then, after winning her heart, enjoys the dances she performs in his honour. Oh, and along the way hew also fights his parents, society, a gang or two of goons and the local small businessmen’s association. No One Killed Jessica is an exceptional venture which will impress audiences who are fed-up with watching decades of melodramas, orthodox romances and run-of-the-mill Eastern tragedies soaked in morbid sentimentalism. The film is based on a true story and in this case, the director did not have to pad the script out with artificial thrills, mock fights and exaggerated emotions. He decided to present the highly publicised murder case of an Indian model very simply, which is why No One Killed Jessica works. The story goes something like this: A relatively low profile but vivacious Delhi-based model, Jessica Lall, who was serving as a celebrity barmaid at a crammed party was shot dead on April 29, 1999 after she refused to give her murderer a drink after closing time. Scores of people at the bar witnessed Manu Sharma, son of Venod Sharma, a cabinet minister in Haryana, committing the crime and fleeing from the scene. However, because of the killer’s influential background, Sharma and a number of others were acquitted on February 21, 2006. Following intense public pressure, the prosecution appealed and the Delhi High Court conducted proceedings on a fast track with daily hearings taking place over 25 days. The lower court judgment was found faulty and Manu Sharma was found guilty of having murdered Jessica Lall. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 20, 2006. Credit has to be given to director Raj Kumar Gupta for dramatising this story using real names, places, locations and incidents. He hasn’t sacrificed facts at the altar of filmmaking, which is commendable. 40 As far as the actors are concerned, Rani Mukherjee, once again, JANUARY 23-29 2011

dark side of the moon No One Killed Jessica is memorable because it strips away the glitz and glamour of upper class Indian society and shows you the seedier side of the celebrity scene. has proved that she is one of the most versatile and talented actors that Bollywood can boast of. Mukherjee plays Meera, the sassy journalist who jolts Indian society out of its sated slumber by doggedly pursuing the story. She is at once flirtatious, sensitive, a tomboy and a brave leader. Vidiya Balan, who plays Jessica’s sister Sabrina, pulls off playing a grave and grieving sibling so well you can’t help but get wrapped up in the story from the start. Though the movie’s theme doesn’t leave much room for levity, the music composed by award winner Amit Trivedi is really an additional jewel in the film’s crown. The cutting-edge, out-of-the-box tracks are definitely worth a listen, especially “Dilli,” which will give you goose bumps. The film features six tracks, all written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. All in all, No One Killed Jessica is memorable because it strips the usual glitz and glamour of upper class Indian society away and shows you the seedier side of the celebrity scene. And scandal, of course, is always in vogue.

film it takes two to tango BY NADIR HASSAN

Forget The Social Network and put all your money on The King’s Speech for this year’s Oscar pool. If you put together a committee of Academy Award voters, this is the movie they would design. The King’s Speech is a period drama about a member of the British royal family. He has a disability that can only be overcome with the help of a surly man who turns out to have a heart of gold. Had director Tom Hooper been able to shoehorn in a Holocaust reference the game would have been over. Despite being shiny and polished to an almost suffocating degree, the resolutely middle-brow The King’s Speech still has enough charm to make you forget how manipulative it really is. In 1939, as Britain was entering into a war with Germany, King George VI (Colin Firth), who had reluctantly assumed the throne after the death of his father (King George V, natch), is forced to take to the airwaves to deliver stirring speeches and rally the beleaguered country. His elder brother Edward (Guy Pearce), who would have been a far more suitable choice for king, had already renounced the crown to marry a serial divorcee. The problem, as alluded to by the title of the film, was George’s ineloquence. He suffered from a hideous stutter, and stammering his way through rousing pieces was hardly going to put the fear of God and Country in the Nazis. This is George’s moment of reckoning. The King’s Speech tells the story of how George got to the point where he actually had a chance of successfully delivering speeches that, if not matching Churchill for eloquence, wouldn’t make him the laughingstock of the dying Empire. More than even George, the film is the story of roguish Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by perennial Oscar contender Geoffrey Rush. The dance between George and Logue is a familiar one. It starts with instant dislike. Logue prefers calling the monarch by his nickname, Bertie. Predictably, relations thaw as they get to know each other and progress is made in controlling the king’s stutter. Mostly, The King’s Speech plays like a retread of My Fair Lady, but

three’s a crowd The interaction between the Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush dominates the film, and that is the only reason for its success. It’s a shame there are no Oscars for Best Duet. without any hint of romantic connection between teacher and pupil. The music swells just as it seems a breakthrough might be achieved. Changes in George’s and Logue’s relationships conveniently coincide with political developments. It is all rather predictable. The film is saved primarily Colin Firth’s performance. His is anything but a one-note portrayal. Firth slowly unpeels layer upon layer of the king’s character. His speech impediments, we soon realise, are the result of a toxic mixture of envy, wrath and self-hatred. This is a king who may possess the requisite British stiff upper lip, but Firth shows what a façade that really is. Rush, meanwhile, playing the good-humoured, expansive Aussie has a far meatier role. Bereft of any subtlety, the character allows Rush to show off his acting chops. And he doesn’t disappoint. The interaction between the two dominates much of the film, and that is the only reason for its success. What a Shame there are no Oscars for Best Duet. a 41 JANUARY 23-29 2011

UP NORTH AND PERSONAL Hitler’s Wife looked hard done by as she toiled up the steep track with a huge basin of washing balanced on her head and three children in tow, the youngest howling as he held onto the back of her grimy kameez. It is unseasonably warm for January, yet the tiny tot’s hands were blue and mottled with cold, from playing in the water, I surmised.

three tanks holding about 500 gallons — are generally more than

The eastern sky is a faded misty blue where it slides towards the

anywhere near this particular mountainside, I resorted to hauling

horizon beyond snow-capped peaks and jagged ice-covered crags. To the west, where a watery sun slides down behind bottle-green

the garden and orchard. But the five-month-long drought of late 2009 saw me hauling endless buckets of water from the rainwater tanks into the house when Zafar’s springs — he has at least two —

dried up. It was hard, heavy work but at least I had water until the

rainwater tanks too ran dry. As it is impossible to get a water-tanker water by cab from miles away until, thankfully, the weather broke.

Since then I am more careful with water than ever. Washing up

pines, the heavens are a translucent, powdery pink streaked with

water is recycled for the garden; I shower standing in a huge ba-

movements of my smallest dogs, both of which he fancies for

water is also recycled, washing machine water is reused until it is

pewter grey. Overhead, flies a solitary Steppe Eagle, tracking the supper.

The sight of Hitler’s Wife has worried me: she only resorts to

doing the laundry in the rather suspect stream — ‘suspect’ as it


is contaminated with sewage — in times of desperation. The water situation is obviously worse than I had imagined it to be. Ol-

ive Oil’s spring must have run dry otherwise her daughter-in-law

sin and the water collected is used to flush the loo; hand-washing

astonishingly filthy, at which time it goes to irrigate the orchard; clothes are worn until they really must be washed; in times of stress, the number of showers taken per week is drastically reduced

A smattering of snow on the mountain tops. and, when at all feasible, shower water is first used to wash floors before being used to flush the loo.

These stringent methods have, over time, become part and

would not have resorted to this back-breaking task. If her spring is

parcel of everyday life and they mean that, largely because of the

break out.

run out — which is when repetitive hammering on the gate can be-

dry, others will not be far behind and water wars will, once more, My own spring, once located conveniently behind the house, mi-

grated elsewhere as a direct result of the October 2005 earthquake

and since then, I depend on ‘Zafar water tank’ and families further up the mountain to supply me with household water through the

500 feet of extremely vulnerable plastic pipe strung through the trees. This spring water, paid for monthly, is in addition to the efficient rainwater harvesting system my late husband installed some

years ago. The rainwater tanks, all six of them, hold a total of approximately 1,000 gallons but none of them are directly linked to


adequate for household use, with the rainwater being reserved for

the household supply. They will be, once I figure out how to use

the recently purchased pump or get a plumber. The spring water — JANUARY 23-29 2011

fallback rainwater tanks, I still have water when everyone else has come an annoyance! Being generous, I used to happily fill people’s

buckets and containers from the rainwater tanks when they asked but I did draw the line when they demanded my carefully hoarded spring water. The other problem was that they went through my

rainwater at the speed of light, wasting it terribly and expecting my supply to last forever. When it didn’t, I was left to fend for my-

self without other family members to assist me, as the neighbours

have. I learnt my lesson the hard way, yet, still feeling sorry for their plight, I advised them on how to install their own rainwater

harvesting systems at very little cost so that they could be prepared

for the next time… which, apparently, is right now. Of course,

not a single one of them took my advice and I now realise why ‘Fat

warded with two dozen oranges and three huge lemons and was

ing when she spots me out and about in the garden. She has her

over at least thrice every day, encouraging them along. But a few

Wifey’ has suddenly decided to make a point of calling out a greeteyes on my water reserves!

Fat Wifey and family only acknowledge my existence when they

want something. Otherwise I am invisible to them, even if we pass

each other walking. I automatically salaam them but they don’t

respond, suddenly finding something so magnetic to focus on that

really looking forward to picking them. I went and checked them days ago, when I came to check on them in the late afternoon, they

were gone and Fat Wifey’s son and his cricketing companions were running for their lives, clutching my oranges in their hands. The lemons were left behind unnoticed.

“My children wouldn’t ever climb into your garden,” he said in

it deprives them of the power of speech. Fat Wifey’s husband, a

mock astonishment. He knew that I had had problems with them

ring to simmer malevolently in the dark recesses of their house.

would also need to have a plinth built for it, and the blocks and

brooding, untrustworthy character, is rarely seen outside, prefer-

He did, to my utter shock and consternation, come banging on my front gate all of three weeks ago… and he was not alone. “I’ve

brought these mazdoors to put my water tank in your garden,” he told me. He built his house all of six years ago and did this without

any provision for water. Since then his children perpetually wan-

before, but I would need to check on my water tank, of course. I cement would arrive in about an hour, I would close up the sides too and have a roof put on it to protect it from the weather as these plastic tanks don’t last if not covered properly. . .

Good grief, the cheek of the man! He wanted to build an eyesore

on my land rather than on his own.

The precious oranges before they were stolen.

A miserly one day of snow so far. der around hauling a length of hosepipe to connect to someone else’s tap for an hour here, half an hour there or, when someone is out, to an outside tap for as long as possible without so much as

“No” I firmly told him. “You can’t put it here.” “But…” he started.

“No,” I cut him off, and left him and his work gang to find an-

a by your leave. Investing in a water tank was a major step, but no

other mug to take advantage of.

tanks. Not always being as stupid as I may appear, I knew full well

either. Now the horrible tank, inside its block and concrete shack,

way was it being set up in my garden, right next to my own water who was expected to keep the damn thing full.

“Why not put it on your own land?” I queried.

“The children will interfere with it,” was his pat reply. “We need

Apparently the other two people he approached weren’t taken in

is on his own rooftop where it stands in empty splendour as no one has any extra water to fill it up!

The single day of snow and rain at the end of last month birthed

to put it on yours where it will be safe.”

a surge of hope that the weather guys had got their forecast wrong

him. “He and his friends stole my oranges, which means my gar-

ice that formed at the top of this particular link road managed to

“One of your children climbed into my garden last week,” I told

den is not secure either.”

Oh those oranges! It breaks my heart just to think of them. Or-

anges do not grow at 6,000 feet up in the hills of northern Paki-

stan. Neither do lemons but, after experimenting and nursing a handful of citrus trees along for years now, I was finally to be re-

but within 24 hours it was back to being dry. The thick layer of

halt vehicular movement for five days. Now I, along with everyone else in the area, desperately scan clear blue skies along with

daily, weekly, even monthly, weather forecasts in search of salvation. Hopefully, something wet will have arrived by the time you read this. a

JANUARY 23-29 2011



Aries March 20 - April 19 Last Saturday’s move by the expansive Jupiter into Aries begins a cycle of amazing growth, some expected but as much in completely unanticipated directions. The trick,

therefore, is to pursue what interests you, yet ensure you explore

absolutely everything. Because the actual situations you’re deal-

ing with are changing, your priorities could shift, as could the way in which seemingly unrelated plans will, ultimately, work together — and superbly.

Taurus April 20 - May 20 In many areas of your life decisions sim-

ply aren’t yours to make. Accept that and instead of struggling Shelley von Strunckel is an internationally acclaimed astrologer who created the first horoscope column for the London Sunday Times in 1992. A frequent lecturer, she writes daily,

to regain control, you’ll go with the flow. This may seem unwise

now. But you’ll soon discover that those in charge are better informed than you thought and, bizarrely, even seemingly random

events are actually breakthroughs. Begin exploring them now and you’ll soon realise how promising they are.

weekly and monthly horoscopes in publications around the world including South China Morning Post, The Gulf News, Tatler, French and Chinese Vogue and now The Express Tribune Magazine.

Gemini May 21 - June 20 Once you understand that what seem

mere arguments are actually informative, if contentious, ex-

changes, you’ll pay close attention to what’s said. Tempting as it is to deal with issues as swiftly as possible, especially as some

could turn into lengthy debates, they could prove amazingly informative. Besides, with both Mars and Jupiter just having moving into new signs, even seemingly solid situations could change — and swiftly.

Cancer June 21 - July 22 Because the recent Cancer Full Moon will have both raised unsettling personal issues and triggered discussion of potential changes, you’re betwixt and between. Ordinar-

ily you’d try to get things organised, mostly to boost your spirits. If you must make plans, view them as tentative. This ensures you feel free to eliminate what doesn’t work and, more importantly, explore the coming weeks’ intriguing new developments.

Leo July 23 - August 22 Pressing as decisions that involve certain

partnership arrangements seem, rush things and you’ll only need to begin again. The trick is to discuss various ideas with the

individuals in question then do something which is out of char-

acter for you - back off, leaving them to handle these themselves. This frees you to tackle those situations you say you never have time to deal with.

Virgo August 23 – September 22 You’re being asked questions, and

some are putting you on the defensive. That isn’t the problem, it’s that others’ tone or attitude seems so critical. Challenging as it may be initially, discuss this frankly, recognising that feelings that you’re being analysed or judged are just that, feelings. What

you learn from this could bring more lasting benefits than deal-


ing with the actual issues in question. JANUARY 23-29 2011

Libra September 23 – October 22 Hopefully, you’ve already re-

alised that discussions regarding the issues you usually do all you can to avoid aren’t just worthwhile, they lead to an exploration of far more appealing topics. Still, this is all about who you meet

and what you can learn. Try to avoid making any fixed commitments until late next week, when your ruler Venus moves to accent decision-making.

Scorpio October 23 – November 21 Sometimes disputes are mere

differences. However, complex and often unsettling as those

you’re facing now may be, each is exposing you to new ideas and potentially worthwhile encounters. What’s more, once you’ve

actually discussed certain issues frankly, you’ll feel so relieved that you’ll be prepared to talk about others you’ve previously

regarded as strictly private. What you learn, about others and, even more, yourself could amaze you.

Sagittarius November 22 – December 21 While it’s true that your ruler Jupiter’s recent move to accent love and life’s pleasures is

beginning a brilliant period of your life, existing dilemmas could testify to the contrary. Tedious as they are, each will be in some

way informative. Knowing that, rather than dealing with issues swiftly, delve into them. You’ll soon discover why they’re worth the bother, and what’s to be learned from them.

Capricorn December 22 – January 19 Few things irritate you more

than those who don’t take their end of responsibilities seriously. While problems may be mere misunderstandings, it could

be that either the individual in question were actually trying to cause problems or, alternatively, the source of difficulties was your own mistakes. Whatever the case, make clearing this up your priority and by next week, life will look a lot brighter.

Aquarius January 20 – February 18 If life seems to be more about

getting rid of what doesn’t work and unrewarding relationships,

that’s as it should be. You’re in the run up to the Aquarius New Moon, which is on February 3 and begins a new cycle. The fewer

burdens from the past you’re carrying, the more swiftly you’ll be able to respond to the inspiring developments that come your way then.

Pisces February 19 – March 19 There’s a skill to discussing conten-

tious issues, yet avoiding getting drawn into the actual conflict.

Master that and you won’t just sail through this week’s often

tense exchanges, you’ll learn a huge amount about the actual situations and the individuals involved. While interesting at any

For more information, to order personal charts and to download & listen to detailed audiocasts, visit

time, you’ll soon be making pivotal decisions, and the insights


that come your way will prove remarkably helpful.

JANUARY 23-29 2011


10 things I hate about ...getting married

1 2 3 4 5

The bliss — happily ever after begins now. The man of your dreams is finally going to be yours forever. So

what if you only met him a month ago over weak tea and greasy samosas? You’re getting married; you must be walking on clouds, smiling as if you are the keeper

of delicious secrets. The groom’s receding hairline is not something that should be considered.

The build-up. It’s five months before D-day and your

mother bursts into emotional tears. Your father looks at you misty-eyed when you ask for extra cash. You try

to explain that you aren’t dying of a terminal illness. You’re only moving five blocks away from where you

had previously lived. But your mother cries again, and you wonder if marriage is a terminal illness after all.

The cold feet. All of your ex-es, even the ones you had

written off, are now successful bankers. They were just

waiting for you to begin to settle down — this is obviously the perfect time to tell you they never got over you. You smile and tell them you’re getting married in three weeks. You die a little inside.

The advice. Aunty Qudsia tells you the key to a suc-

cesful marriage is treating your mom-in-law’s friends well. Nina aunty from London calls in to tell you she kept her husband from cheating by cooking lamb biryani. Everyone, from your maasi who gets beaten up ev-

ery day to your closeted gay uncle with three kids and a secret boyfriend will enlighten you with their wisdom. The family. Weddings are when you realize the worth

of mass epidemics that wiped out entire civilizations. The tide of family that rains down to be a part of your

joy day is enough to make you run off to Outer Mongolia to live out your days as a nomadic hermit.

46 JANUARY 23-29 2011


6 7 8 9 10

The friends. Everyone, from the kid you used to beat up in sixth grade, to the receptionist you nod politely at every morning wants to be your best friend and be

a part of the million dances that are being prepared by your ‘friends’. Say ‘bye-bye’ to mulling over possibly the biggest change of your life because you, unfortunately, had an active social life and now its pay back time.

The trousseau. You now have a plethora of overworked clothes that you will only ever wear once and that cost

enough to feed a family in Africa for decades. Doesn’t matter, you are getting married which means that you will sleep in a benarsi saree, go to the loo decked in your

grandmother’s diamond set and have enough gold in your locker to pay off Pakistan’s national debt.

The events. Let the festivities begin! Thirty six weeks before the day itself, of course. Between your friends

and family, your wedding now consists of thirteen pre-

dholkis, seven mehndis, five post-dholkis, a few thousand dance practices, sixteen bachelor/bachelorette

parties and so on. Your dad will most probably get an aneurysm when the bills finally start coming in.

D-day. This is it, the day you have been waiting for ever since your mother first made you watch Cinderella has arrived. You will spend it hyperventilating or in a state

of numbed oblivion depending on how you deal with stress. By the end of it nothing registers and all you want on the most special day of your life is a valium, or twelve.

The now-what. The circus is over. You are exhausted, alone and disoriented with a mountain of unpacking and settling in to do. Welcome to the rest of your life. a

JUNE 13-19 2010

JUNE 13-19 2010

The Express Tribune Magazine - January 23  

The Express Tribune Magazine for January 23rd 2011