Blogs

We Take Our BISCUITS VERY Seriously

PEMRA: People can not digest the idea why one needs to dance like that for a biscuit ? This is absurd. What kind of creativity is this ! But dancing otherwise for legit reasons is still acceptable and not frowned upon.

My (imaginary) interview with PEMRA ( Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) amidst the gala biscuit controversy.

Me: So PEMRA has banned Gala biscuit ad. What can be so controversial about a biscuit ad?

PEMRA: Mehwish Hayat, the model was dancing senselessly.

Me: Was the dance really provocative or vulgar in nature?

PEMRA: Hmmm ,in deep thoughts, not really, I would say. Infact, she was decently dressed, though a bit too influenced by Bollywood . There are dozen similar Pakistani ads around the same theme, but then it is 2020, this year people think more.

Me : So what really hit the nerve ? The dance ?

PEMRA: People can not digest the idea why one needs to dance like that for a biscuit ? This is absurd .What kind of creativity is this ! But dancing otherwise for legit reasons is still acceptable and not frowned upon.

Also we are working on a list of products where advertisers can accommodate a dance sequence. We are not so conservative after all.

Me : I see. So dancing should strictly be limited to the nature of product. BOSE music surround, yes but milk whitener, no .

PEMRA: Exactly.

Me: One last question, what are your views on banning skin whitening cremes or showing regressive content on dramas. Most dramas have similar plots based on infidelity of men and weak, traumatised women. There seems to be very little content on strong women who people can look up to.

PEMRA : * Uncomfortable cough* That’s also on the table. It’s on our agenda.

Me : I see PEMRA takes biscuits very seriously.

The Social Dilemma

With a business model to drive up engagement, even at the expense of our mental health being , these are all the consequences which has grown exponentially post 2011.

Netflix has recently put up a documentary on the dilemma and havocs of social media. People who have worked in leadership teams of Facebook, Google, Instagram , YouTube are now warning how of the evils of social media and how it manipulates our daily life.

This show scared me. The influence of social media is strong and it can mess up with our heads. What we are already experiencing around us is extremely polarising opinions, extremism, anxiety, vanity-ism, depression , isolation. There are many other “ISMS” and “IONS”, I might be missing some out.

With a business model to drive up engagement, even at the expense of our mental health being , these are all the consequences which has grown exponentially post 2011.

No one can deny the beauty and wonder of these technologies. But when it becomes an addiction , which it was designed to , it is a serious cause of concern. We are literally pawns in the hands of these tech giants, and they sell our vulnerabilities to the advertisers, the highest bidder. The content that you see is altered as per your interest. This is how the algorithm works. It recommends videos and topics of similar interests which leads you to believe one type of narrative instead of a neutral perspective. This is dangerous and it can be/has been exploited.

For eg, The Like button, a stroke of genius. It was developed to create positivity and love but what it become was a source of validation and a popularity contest. Growing children, teenagers who are emotionally vulnerable are now suffering from low self esteem, depression and isolation. And ironically as someone on the show said, the more likes you get, the more empty you feel.

We need to remember, these apps were all developed by IT professionals and marketeers to drive up engagement with their app . We are not their customers, the advertisers are. We are mere subjects and they make money on their knowledge of us.

I don’t know how long the effect of this show will have on me . But I know if I don’t do anything about it for myself and family, It will be my responsibility. Please watch the show and act on it.

Nostalgia and the Circe of Life

How many times have you heard your parents say ‘in our times things were so good’ or the ‘good old days! When they reminisced about the simplicity of life and how wholesome and uncomplicated life generally was

How many times have you heard your parents say ‘in our times things were so good’ or the ‘good old days! When they reminisced about the simplicity of life and how wholesome and uncomplicated life generally was. I didn’t understand then, but I can now understand where they were coming from. Penny for a loaf of bread, 100 pennies for a carat of diamond! It seemed exactly as crazy then as it seems now.

Fast forward to our childhood , we still have the wholesomeness of climbing a tree followed by gradual introduction to internet. We rode bikes , played all sort of outdoor games and most of the things our parents did as children. Then our world changed. Internet, Nokia 3610 and rest is history. Yes, we are the generation that watched pictures download pixel by pixel and files download page by page. So a word of advice, do not test our patience. We used to worry about our 30 hour internet package finishing which was supposed to last us all month long.

Then comes the current generation, which can also be labelled as I am bored generation which needs constant simulation and is spoilt for choices. While kids still do enjoy the outdoor things, but more often than not it is a result of mindful parenting and persistence. Keeping them away from the screen is a constant battle similar to how I battle my addiction with desserts. But no matter how many times we complain about the internet, no one can deny how much it has contributed to our quality of life . Each time I have a video chat with my family, I send a prayer of gratitude to those who made this possible. Made the distance seem so less. I still remember the era of TRUNK call and how expensive it was to have even a 3 min conversation. Now my mom puts me on hold if even a remotely interesting thing comes her way. My value of calls have depreciated so much. 🙂

Sometimes I cannot help but wonder how much has changed with each generation. I am almost scared to imagine how different things will be 20 years down the line. But one thing which is constant, is change itself and it is only if we adapt to the changing times especially in terms of mindset, we can really connect with the next generation.

Lahore Motorway Incident

Will the Women in Pakistan ever be safe from harassment?

Will the Women in Pakistan ever be safe from harassment?

The sun sets and their fangs come out👹


As a girl in Pakistan, we all have been conditioned to behave a certain way. We have in-fact adapted our life around the perpetrators so much that they they now think it’s their birth right to tease any unaccompanied woman.

All girls have been harassed and felt vulnerable at some points of their life if not frequently or even daily. I personally became numb to it to deal with my surroundings and stayed in my bubble and played along the unwritten rules of our society aka back by sunset or go with a male chaperone or not go at all. Never walked alone anywhere unnecessarily. Learned to ignore the constant stares. It is these small things which become so suffocating that makes most women , whoever can manage, want to leave country and enjoy simple pleasures of life.

Like go for a dinner date with friends without worrying about how late it may get, go for a long walk or hike or use public transportation without the ogling eyes. Small things but yet so liberating. Perhaps that’s what you mean by quality of life.

While in Karachi, I had the privilege to be able to take the cautious measures which the society dictated but a-lot of women can’t. Their circumstances don’t allow it. I feel things have only deteriorated with time. Our parent’s childhood was better than ours and our childhood was better than our children’s. And this can’t keep going on.

What I desperately want is the same fear in the perpetrators of being caught that we have of them. Is it too much to ask? In today’s time and age, so much can easily be implemented. SOS signals to the nearest police station, snapshot of harassers and more. Even the knowledge that details can be shared at a click of a button can deter so many crimes. Only when there is fear of accountability, the movement will take a step in the right direction. While this is only part of the solution, the bigger problem would be to instil the right values , education and curb the culture of harassment, which can take years, if not decades to fix.

What do you guys propose? How can we systematically change the system?

https://www.dawn.com/news/1579054

Expat Life : Saying Goodbyes

As an expat, you are used to saying goodbyes to your friends/loved ones and welcoming new ones. While based in Dubai, we were fortunate enough to have our closest friends and family living here. So Dubai was REALLY home for us. When most of our friends relocated to new assignments, we were naturally sad but still very grateful for having spent quality time in a foreign land with our childhood friends.🙏

As an expat, you are used to saying goodbyes to your friends/loved ones and welcoming new ones. While based in Dubai, we were fortunate enough to have our closest friends and family living here. So Dubai was REALLY home for us. When most of our friends relocated to new assignments, we were naturally sad but still very grateful for having spent quality time in a foreign land with our childhood friends.🙏

Our move to Nigeria was very sudden. There was a lot of anxiety. A place so far away, new norms, culture, way of life etc etc. But once we started looking around, we found out links and connections and everything unfolded and then it was not scary anymore😊.

We were welcomed in Nigeria with open warms by the Pakistani community. People we never knew welcomed us into their homes with so much warmth and hospitality. We were really overwhelmed. The sense of loneliness and feeling lost quickly evaporated.

Its been almost a year in Nigeria and we are bidding farewell to a 4th couple since we are here. Who knows when we will meet and if we even meet in this pace of life which pulls us in different directions of the world.😕

Due to pandemic, we could not give a proper send off to these lovely couples but a social distant meet up and good wishes is all we could manage. 😷

And yes, tea was served, incase you were wondering ☕️ . I hate using this word but in it seems to have become a vital part of the vocabulary now😤.

Finding Ellen

I am/was a big fan of the Ellen show. So was obviously quite taken aback when the allegations of toxic workplace environment started coming in. So far, Ellen has passed on the responsibility of the workplace toxicity onto the producers of her show and only taken responsibility and apologised for her ignorance of the happenings. But Is it enough?

Just imagine, you walk in to a room , and you feel a hushed silence. Wouldn’t you feel that ? Wouldn’t you feel people being terrified of you or walking on eggshells around you ? Of coarse you do! Silence speaks volumes. And I really do not believe that you can ignore this for years unknowingly.

A brand which is built on openness and kindness, these allegations come as a big blow. Its like all these years you were fed a lot of meaningless crap. Everything was a facade. And it hurts.

Who would had thought this would blow up now after all these years during a lock down. When she is not even going to the studio. Does it make you think how Karma works ? Does it make you think how quickly your world can come tumbling down in the least expected manner?

This pandemic has only made me realise how powerless we are in the grand scheme of things. Regardless what your faith it, it is our acts of kindness, humility and goodwill which sustain us and for people to remember us by. I am sure if Ellen had reacted to the hostilities in the work place environment and had been more approachable and gracious, this situation would had never come. Meanwhile as a fan, I hope Ellen replies to some of the allegation against her and clean the air.

https://pagesix.com/2020/08/04/behind-ellen-degeneres-spectacular-fall-from-grace/

Just Another Night

Days are long but nights are longer. Everything goes seamlesslessly during the day. It is around midnight when they usually strike.

I turn restlessly in bed. I close my eyes but the images are just too real for me to sleep. I get up and start walking around the house. I eventually make my way to the kitchen. There is some sound of creaking and clanking. And finally I face my fear staring tauntingly and proudly at me. It knows what kind of affect it has on me. I am totally hypnotized.

The chocolate ice cream stared at me in all it’s glory, tempting me, seducing me. I hurriedly helped myself two scoops and then some more to avoid going again for seconds. I headed dejectedly towards the TV.

After indulging in a bowl full of ice cream, I promised myself once again “I will not give in to my cravings tomorrow”.

Review: The Hate You Give #BLM

There are books that you read to unwind and relax. Like your typical rom-coms, feel good books or a genre like horror, mystery or suspense. You enjoy those and the story becomes a part of your world until you reach the end of it. You get a certain closure and satisfaction in knowing the end but also a sense of loss after finishing a good book.

But there are some books which are more than stories. They entertain and educate and gives you a peak through a character’s life and gives you a perspective to experience those things. Some books which really made THAT kind of an impact on me, to name a few are; The Help , alot of Jodi Piccoult’s books such as My sister’s keeps, the Nineteen Minutes, Handle with care, The Americanah & books of Khalid Hosseini. The latest book to the list is “The Hate you give” by Angie Thomas.

It basically sums up the #BLM movement. The story takes you to the world of Starr, who is the lead female protagonist. She is not your average girl in the black hood. For one, her parents are doing what they can to send her and siblings to private school, where they are the only few African Americans; adding a bit of pepper to a whole lot of whiteness. Starr had a tormenting childhood as she saw her best friend murdered in a drive by shooting accident in her neighbourhood. While the nightmares and pain eases with time, but losing a friend in a senseless crime with little to negligible investigation pains her. Her neighbour hood is a typical ghetto, dominated by violence, gunshots , drugs and gang wars.

The story takes a turn when her friend was killed mercilessly by a cop in front of her when their car is stopped over a broken tail light. Though Khalid, the victim, didn’t resist but he is still killed over suspicion. Killed over a hair brush lying on the passenger seat that the cop confused for a gun . Killed because the cop assumed the worst of him. No different than what happened to George Floyd.

The book sheds light how the black minority is designed to fail by the system. Sub par schooling which does not give the same playing field as the more affluent schools, hence less opportunities and unemployment, easy access to drugs and eventual jail. A vicious cycle.

Starr was leading a double life. One for her school and white friends and another for her black neighbourhood where she had to constantly prove her loyalty. At school, she was expected to behave JUST right or be stereotyped a violent,angry, black African American. She spoke in a different way , listened to Taylor Swift and avoided conflicts. It was almost as if the weight of the entire community rested on her shoulders.

Things changed after Khalid is killed. Starr’s conscious compels to stand for her friend and countless other Africans who are victims to injustice, prejudice and racism. Though the verdict is not in her favour despite the evidence , but it is a start of a new beginning. In doing so she embraces herself and becomes the voice for her community.

This book is a must read in the current scenario . The book was published in 2017 and 3 years later #BLM has become a global rage. The death of George Floyd has changed the world and was the last straw for institutional racism. We are now standing at a point where people are finally taking responsibility and hopefully will make a change in the system and behaviour. It is a long road but at least it’s a start .

Coming from Pakistan , Racism is very much applicable in our part of the world. Mocking and ridiculing someone over dark complexion is extremely common. The society idolises white complexion and multinational companies mint money by instilling lifetime worth of insecurities by promoting all kinds of whitening cremes.

But you know what ? This movement has made them stop and forced them to reposition their brands. It’s a victory no less! The society and media meanwhile is trying to be mindful of their choice of words . And finally, these are the baby steps in the right direction!

Binge Worthy : Jeffery Epstein

Recently came across an article on Ghislaine Maxwell and her subsequent arrest. So few days later, when I came across the documentary on Jeffery Epstein on Netflix, my antennas went up and I started watching.

It has limited number of episodes so it will not stretch endlessly. The documentary is quite an eye opener and keeps you hooked till the very end.It features some of the survivors where they share how they got lured and trapped by multi millionaire Jeffery Epstein and were then physically and emotionally abused.

What is interesting is how he was able to pull his rank and connections to get away from the authorities for decades. Yes, Inspite the countless charges made by the victims, he kept getting away from law, as early as 2005!

He mingled with rich and powerful and was especially close to Harvey Wienstein and Prince Andrew. No surprises there. Epstein was arrested on 6th July last year and committed suicide a month later prior to his trial. The victims did not get the satisfaction of seeing him serve his punishment and it may seem he took the easy way out.

Now that his ex girl friend /employee/close friend is also taken into custody as an accomplice , it will be interesting to see what secrets will be revealed of the rich and powerful.

I will definitely recommend you to watch this one!

Netflix & Binge Watching

During the pandemic we are all binging unapologetically. Minutes turn to episodes and episodes to season. Before you know it , you have binged 4-5 hours on Netflix. I am not sure I would call it a time well spent or a day wasted . But considering the current scenario, cannot be more grateful for the distraction.

Unfortunately, the excess screen time has taken a toll on my body. Headache and watery eyes to start with. It became so bad that I decided to give myself a break from the screen. Besides calls and whatsapp messages, No TV or phone. And it helped. Immediately.

After 2 -3 days my eyes seemed well rested and the perpetual headache was gone. Meanwhile, I took solace in my books and it was so refreshing. I missed reading. Have always been an avid reader but had been putting it in the back burner for quite some time. I guess it’s now time to reconnect with my books . My body has certainly made that clear. !

PS : Serves me right for being a hypocrite and hiding my daughter’s Ipad. Also Friends playing in the background does not count. It is like Kenny G for my soul…