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Ms JANUARY 27, 2013 ISSUE NO. 32

Couples who go the distance



Sweater weather Warm up with stylish knitwear



inside he said, she said — Turkish vixens versus mild mannered Pakistani heroines

domestic goddess — Take a bite out of Burma

Section In Charge: Batool Zehra Send your feedback to



Danish Taimoor



the buzz


The long and short by Sara Ahmed

Making it work despite the thousands of miles between them

“The best thing about my relationship being long-distance was the breakup,” says graphic artist Kinza. For the five years she spent studying in the UK, Kinza kept up a long distance romance with her high school sweetheart Rahim in Pakistan. But when the realisation came that the relationship had to end, the distance that had made communication so excruciating over the past 5 years, that had robbed them of physical intimacy and plain old companionship, was exactly what made it so easy to disconnect herself from him completely. “There were no reminders of him scattered around my city, no mutual friends who needed to be told,” says Kinza. Whether they’re high school sweethearts separated for the sake of a foreign degree or a nikahofied husband and wife waiting for their paperwork to come through, couples in long distance relationships face the unenviable prospect of living without their better halves, of being miles away from the one they would be closest to. And in lieu of the bitterness of separation, the distance gives them the important lesson of emotional independence. “Long distance relationships aren’t for everyone,” says media professional Zareen who has kept the fire burning despite the fact that she and her boyfriend of three years are rarely on the same continent, much less the same country. With education and dynamic careers keeping them peripatetic, the couple has relied on Skype and phone calls to keep the relationship intact. But, as Zareen would readily testify, it has not been easy. “If I had met Asim in my early twenties, our relationship wouldn’t have lasted a day,” she says, talking about the emotional clobbering one takes at the hands of long distance love. Amna agrees. Now married to her long time boyfriend Arif, she still remembers the ache of being thousands of miles away from him with bitterness. She first met Arif, the son of her father’s friend, when she visited the US as a teenager. The connection was instantaneous and the two kept in touch. As the adolescent crush blossomed into a full on relationship, the difficulty of separation was aggravated by the growing pains of young love. “I hated him for living so far away,” Amna says. While her friends went on double dates and performed other coming-of-age rites, she would always be sitting in front of a computer screen, chatting with Arif, or simply praying for the internet connection to work. The worst she remembers from those days is when she told Arif to go to his prom with a female friend, not wanting him to miss out on such an important high school experience, though it stung that she couldn’t she be the one going with him. Reema had an equally difficult time when she and Abbas decided to stay together after high school because they knew they had something special. As they separated for university — Abbas in Toronto and Reema in Lahore — each had the gumption to realise that the other would grow into a different person. Still, with the distance driving a wedge, it was often hard to come to terms with their partner’s choices. “I couldn’t understand why Abbas had picked up smoking and other substances in Canada,” says Reema, speaking about an issue that became a serious threat to the relationship at one point. Not being there in the moment, environment or country meant that one half of the couple could not understand the cultural norms by which the other had to adhere to. This was the case with Kinza’s boyfriend Rahim who felt uncomfortable if she went clubbing with her friends in the UK. For Kinza, going to the pub or clubbing was a normal way to hang out and


of relationships "" If you have real chemistry,

being together as a couple in real life never feels strange no matter how long you’ve been apart Graphic artist Kinza

have fun with her friends, a position that was often difficult to explain to Rahim. While technology often plays the card of a villain in these relationships — power outages and internet interruptions can leave both boy and girl antsy and fractious — dramatic differences in time zones make things considerably worse. This is what happened with Mifrah who had secured a Fulbright scholarship to the US before she married Waqar, who himself was studying in Germany. Their long distance relationship was compounded by the fact that it was also their first year of marriage, when a couple is working out all the chinks in communication. “I had to follow a really weird schedule to be able to talk to Waqar, who used to get back home at nine. It screwed my sleep cycle,” says Mifrah. When one of them was going through a particularly busy time, the other would inevitably end up feeling neglected, something they learnt to deal with over time. “Whether I was cooking, studying or working on the computer, I’d keep Skype turned on all day. Sometimes we would even fall asleep talking, and wake up the next day to find each other still online,” says Mifrah. But nothing at all can make up for missing milestones in each other’s lives and not being there in person for life’s ups and downs. “It would always seem unfortunate that Abbas wasn’t ever physically present on my birthdays or at my graduation,” says a wistful Reema. On the flipside, after so much independence, it is being together that can feel strange. “You take time adjusting to so much togetherness. Then, you feel this euphoria that you’re finally together as a couple. Then, before you know it, it’s time for him to leave and you have to adjust to being alone again,” says Zareen. Kinza disagrees. “If you have real chemistry, being together as a couple in real life never feels strange no matter how long you’ve been apart,” she says. Despite all those hours of talk time, the long emails, the chat marathons, there are many things left unspoken and undiscovered in long distance relationships and togetherness can bring its own surprises, some milder than others. “I didn’t know that Abbas liked to clean so much, and he was surprised that I wasn’t as enthusiastic as he was about picking up after myself!” says Reema. Kinza faced a somewhat bigger shock when she and Rahim got together. “When I met Rahim’s parents in real life, I realised that we had completely different backgrounds,” says Kinza, spelling out the reason why her long distance relationship did not work out. Some things are just not communicable through Skype and Google Talk. While many relationships stand the test of time, it takes something extra to weather both time and distance. “Distance is a great way to test a relationship, grow independent of your partner, and develop your friendships with others,” says Reema. Couples who do stand the test of distance can claim with some credibility that their love is stronger. “You have to give each other blinding trust as there just isn’t any place for drama,” says Zareen. At the end, despite all the highs and lows, both partners must have a strong will to make it work. “You eventually learn not to be envious of couples who are physically together all the time and really enjoy your small bouts of togetherness,” says Mifrah.




en vogue


Coordination: Umer Mushtaq Label: Exist Hair and Make up: xxxxx Photography: Azeem Sani Model: Tabis Oza, Huma Khan

There’s nothing like slipping into a soft, cosy, warm sweater on a wintry morning Coordination: Umer Mushtaq Label: Exist Hair & make up and photography: Azeem Sani Model: Tabish Oza, Huma Khan



Sexy sweaters

knotted knitwear




he said, she said


Bihter Trumps Khirad Any Day of the Week by Saif Asif Khan

What kind of heroine would Pakistani audiences rather see on TV?


or the past three months, my mother was vigorously rooting for Team Behlul-Bihter, the adulterous couple that graced our television screens in the 9-10 pm slot, along with images of the scenic Bosporus, pixellated cleavage shots, and lots and lots of orange juice for breakfast. A regular homemaker, my mother has the typical middle-aged Pakistani woman’s outlook towards television soaps: she sympathises with the doormat underdog heroine of local television dramas, and heaps copious anathema upon the western-styled English-spouting husbandstealing vamp who stalks ingenuous men. And yet, when it comes to these Turkish dramas, her stance takes a 180 degree turn. Things are no different in living rooms across the country. Such is the power of the tidal wave of Turkish dramas sweeping across our TV channels that aunties, grannies and spinsters have swooned over the charms of Behlul and wept bucket-loads when Bihter finally commits suicide when her cowardly lover refuses to elope with her. What explains the popularity of these poorly-dubbed shows among our audiences? Of course, the new faces, the European lifestyle and exotic locations in a sleekly produced package are a big draw. But beneath the glamorous surface, don’t these soaps follow nearly the same plots as local shows, with the same family politics, the same rivalries, and the same penchant for eavesdropping to move the story forward? Aren’t the women still pining away after men they love, while domestic violence is still at hand, if somewhat rarer? But look closer, and you’ll spot a crucial difference. Whereas Pakistani drama ratings are famously proportional to how much the heroine cries, the strong, liberated woman of the Turkish soaps who sets out to get what she wants topples all notions of what a heroine beloved of the Pakistani audiences must behave like. The Turkish heroine is not the ideal woman, but she certainly has a spine and is a far cry from her Pakistani counterpart whose weapon of choice is tears and who cries harder and harder in each subsequent episode to win the audience over. On the other hand, the heroines in the Turkish dramas aired so far in Pakistan pretty much tend to make their own decisions. They don’t need men, parents, society or their own children to affirm what they do with their lives. There are no status quo-reinforcing characters telling women what kind of behaviour is expected from them “for their own good”. Another difference is that in these shows, there is no idolisation of men as some kind of unerring, out-worldly deities who are above sin and transgression. No man will parrot the “I am male and therefore I will womanise incessantly” line with bravado. There are thankfully fewer images of the crying woman left at home, while the man philanders around. If anything, women are as actively involved in extramarital affairs as the men. While this is not necessarily an indicator of women’s emancipation, it does break the stereotype that fidelity is a given when it comes to women, while men have a wildcard to be ‘men’ and get away with it, like they do in local soaps. Most refreshingly, there is

no internalisation by the female characters of men as some kind of demigods who must be pleased, whose favour must be won, and whose word is the Final Word. There is no wronged woman, who must suffer in silence, and can only redeem herself by winning the favour of some central male figure. Thankfully, Turkish dramas, by and large, bin the concept that whoever has the ‘man’ on her side is the queen of the world. This is how they do away with the doormat heroine who is used, abused and rises above all by finally winning her husband’s heart. While Turkish soaps do often feature violence, in all the Turkish soaps that have been aired in Pakistan so far, I have yet to see a woman hit by a ‘nice’ guy. On the other hand, it is quite common to see even the upright hero in Pakistani soaps strike the doormat heroine if she is suspected of infidelity (or, worse still, if she errs in performing her housework ... intolerable!). There is no bashing of women without consequence, and in contrast to what happens in local soaps, men do not just slap and shove women, and get away with it by mouthing a measly apology. Then, there are no women being nasty witches just for the heck of it, simply to make the lives of other women in the household miserable. Rather they have real, tangible motives which makes the plot more credible. If a woman is being evil, it is safe to assume that it is to a purpose (like greed for money) than just winning a man’s affections; or worse, some kind of botched reverse Oedipus complex, a la Humsafar. Very crucially, there is no depiction of polygamy as a perfectly acceptable, religiously-sanctioned arrangement in Turkish dramas. Rather, Turkish soaps show love triangles involving one man and two women to be serious, irreconcilable problems. In our drama serials, the ‘one man-two wives’ scenario is treated as something almost normal and quite common, which is resolved by the old wife coming around to the new wife; the debate is usually about how well the women come to terms with the arrangement. Also, in Pakistani dramas, polygamy happens when the ‘good’ boy is lured by the ‘bad, western’ girl. If, on the other hand, a married woman has feelings for someone else, then she has to be a ‘bad’ girl to begin with. The same is not true for men: married men may initiate affairs without being ‘bad’ by default. While debate on the Turkish dramas currently raging across Pakistan focuses on the skin show and alcohol consumption, I think it is actually the empowered woman of Turkish serials that secretly scares our men. I say this because most of them seem to be okay with bare midriffs and more in Indian soaps and films that promote the retrogressive mindset where the good girl/bad girl demarcation is very black-and-white. On the other hand, Turkish soaps with their liberated (yet Muslim) women challenge our social insecurities and push the boundaries. They might be a fad, evaporating by the next season, but they will hopefully raise the bar for the portrayal of the ‘ideal’ woman from homely doormat to a more emancipated individual. Maybe the sequel of Humsafar will feature a Khirad who takes a few notes from Bihter, and walks out on her husband next time he shoves her to the floor in a fit of rage.

"The "  Turkish heroine is not the ideal woman, but she certainly has a spine and is a far cry from her Pakistani counterpart

domestic goddess 7



Burmese Khao Suey Shafia Agha works as a PR consultant and runs a food blog: gobblemywords. She loves trying out new recipes. Follow her on GobbleMyWords and @shafiaagha

I first tasted Khao Suey a couple of years back and since then, my love for it has made me test and re-test various recipes and come up with my favourite version. Contrary to popular belief, Khao Suey is not a ‘memoni’ dish but a Burmese one which is served widely in northern Laos and northern Thailand. It’s a full meal, made with boiled noodles, various condiments, curried meat and coconut-flavoured broth. I usually serve Khao Suey mixed together but to cater to different palates, it’s best to serve the condiments separately.

method For the condiment: Chop boiled eggs into bite-sized pieces and mix finely chopped scallions, coriander and green chilies together. For the chutney: Coarsely chop garlic and sauté in oil. Add boiling hot water and turmeric and let it simmer until the garlic turns soft and mushy and oil surfaces. To prepare the chili oil: Heat oil in a pan and add red chilies. Cook for a minute or two and set it aside. Cool and blitz in a food processor. For the curried chicken Slice meat into bite-size pieces. Blend tomatoes and chilies with a cup of water and set aside. Sauté onions in a heated pan with oil and add whole cumin seeds, ginger/garlic and the tomato-chili paste. Cook for 2–3 minutes and add salt, black pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, all-spice and turmeric. Cook on low heat, stirring and adding a bit of water until oil separates. Then add meat and cook on low heat until the meat is tender and oil surfaces. Set it aside. For the coconut broth Blend gram flour with coconut milk and add water, salt, garlic and turmeric. Boil the mix and then lower heat and cook for an hour. Finally adjust seasoning and ‘bhagaar’ with 10 whole red chilies, 10 — 15 curry leaves and a teaspoon of cumin. Layer noodles in a bowl, top with curried chicken and coconut broth and add condiments to your liking. Serve with masala papri, Slims, crushed peanuts and Thai 7-spice powder. Preparation time: 45 minutes Cooking time: 1.5 hours

ingredients For the condiments: Boiled eggs 6 A bunch of fresh coriander A bunch of fresh scallions Green chilies 6-8 Lemons cut into wedges 3 For the chutney: Cooking oil 1tbsp Bulb of garlic Turmeric 1/2 tbsp Boiling water 1/2 cup For the chili oil: Cooking oil 1/2 cup Red chilies 15-20 whole For the curried meat: Breast of chicken 2 Beef 750 g Onion chopped 1 Cumin seeds 1 tbsp Ginger 1 tbsp Garlic paste 1 tbsp Tomatoes 2 ripe Green chilies 3-4 Salt, Black pepper, Ground coriander, Ground cumin, Red chili powder 1 tbsp each Turmeric 1/2 tbsp Oil 2 tbsp For the coconut broth: Coconut milk 250 mls Gram flour 1 cup Salt 2 tbsp Turmeric 2 tbsp Garlic paste 1 tbsp Water 1.5 pints One whole packet of egg/semolina noodles — cooked as per instructions on the packet

hottie of the week 8


Status Born


Karachi, Pakistan




February 16, 1983



Who is he? As soon as model-turned-actor Danish Taimoor comes on the television screen, whether as the boy-next-door or a man involved in a love saga, he instantly turns our boring black-andwhite world into a multicoloured frenzy of emotions. Give him any role, fun or serious, and he’ll prove his mettle without fail!



Why he is droolworthy Danish’s acting chops have earned him not only our respect but also meaty roles in some of the most popular television plays in a short span of time. The boy also comes with an MBA degree from Karachi University, and it is that mixture of brains and brawn that makes us all giddy. He might seem like a smooth operator on screen, but this Aquarian is a typical introvert at heart. So like all introverts, don’t expect him to open up completely and tell you how he really feels. But even if he keeps his own heart locked in a box, his ‘you can trust me’ face makes us feel that he can easily mend our aching heart and fix our daily issues even if they’re as trivial as the leaking faucet. He brings to mind tales of old-school romance, and our daadi ka zamana when lovers were subtle and genuine, unlike the contemporary Russell Brand-wannabes we find everywhere in Pakistan now.

What you didn’t know about him They say our hottie was involved in some high intensity, hotand-cold tango with another actor. They were committed at one point, but their soaring careers created problems in their relationship. However, Danish is very much single and available now.



Total Pakage


On talent: “Always follow your heart. If you are not gifted, then work hard to be called gifted.” Warning: Danish has an actor’s ego and may need a little flattery from you every now and then.

Danish Taimoor


The Express Tribune hi five - January 27  

The Express Tribune hi five for January 27th 2013

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