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.

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?


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😤.

The Desi Trollers

We as a nation have a lot of problems. Lack of education, poverty, inferiority complex (thank you colonialism), lack of understanding of religion and intolerance.

Now imagine, if people with these characteristics get their hands on a device and internet.


Behind the safety of their screens , they think they are propagators and best ambassadors of their faith. Bullying , shaming and giving visuals of fire that await all the infidels consumes them and becomes their full day job.

So confident are these keyboard jihadist, that they can even tell by looking at your display picture whether some of us are headed for hell or not . I guess there is some scientific formula that involves variants like length of the shirt combined with subservience which can calculate where we stand with God.

Add Hijaab and Gol roti and Voila ! you have a direct entry to paradise. Please note that this formula only applies to women.

You must be wondering why I am linking religion to online trolling . All countries have them . No . Ours are a very special kind. Condescending and dipped with their so called understanding of religion . They shame you and appear righteous at the same. It requires a special skill. Not all of them have it. A normal troller will say ” U suck” , our desi troller would say you “You were raised badly , hell awaits you and no wonder you suck !

A week ago , there was a fatal crash of PK-8303. In this flight was a model named Zara Abid who passed away. And it was heart wrenching to see that some of them, didn’t even spare her. Her Insta page was flooded with hell filled sermons just because her lifestyle was not something they could digest.

One of the thing that worries me most is the intolerance in our country and how unacceptable it is to have a different view.

And this sometimes makes me a stranger to my own country.

PIA Crash – PK 8303

Sorry been MIA throughout Ramadan. Was zombie during the day and an owl by night. The past week has been extremely tragic with the PIA flight crashing in Karachi . The flight was hardly a minute away from the runway .

There are 2 survivors and remaining 97 passengers have all died. Just imagine , they were all travelling to reunite with their loved ones during COVID. It was a stressful flight as it is . But the thought of spending Eid with family together was worth the pain. While embarking on this flight, COVID must be one of their biggest worry. Must have taken all kind of precautions, prayed for everything to go well and the least expected thing happened.

Dying in a crash is a very painful death . We cannot even comprehend what they must have gone through in those last few minutes. Charred and unidentified bodies, missing remains, the families of the victims are tormented forever.

It turns out there were few people on this unfortunate flight who were friends with our friends. One of them is one of the survivors. He was seated towards the front exit, which saved his life. He says when the flight crashed, he blacked out. He landed on top of a car on his flight seat with his seat belt fastened. He was rushed to the hospital and was able to call home within an hour of the crash to tell his dad he had survived. He is home now and recovering from fractures.

There was another family who was returning with three kids. I have been told that at one time they were considering a road trip from Lahore to Karachi but then decided otherwise. The entire family passed away in the crash.

There is this video on Facebook which is going viral . A father lost his wife and 3 kids on this flight and he is begging the authorities to expedite DNA testing to identify bodies of his two children so they can rest with their mother. My heart just broke.

The father has just received a call from the authorities that they have identified the bodies of his two children. The father was so happy and jubilant and thanking everybody who supported him. This was literally heart shattering . I pray so hard to give this dad strength and to ease his pain. How can anyone sustain and survive so much pain?

My heart is getting heavy writing this. Why is life so difficult for some ? How can one even find a will to live after experiencing this kind of shock . One thing this pandemic has taught us how helpless we all are and how transient this life is. It is my faith which gives me hope and strength , otherwise I might have fallen into despair a long time back.

If you are reading this , please say a little prayer for the victims of the crash and their families. May they rest in peace.

Ramadan and the Nostalgia it brings…

The holy month of Ramadan is here. I pray this month is just not about fasting but also learning to be a better Muslim. I have so much to learn and yet get distracted by things that do not even matter!!

I worry that I am not setting the right example for my child. Sure, she sees me fasting and praying , but is it enough ? As a parent, it is such a big responsibility to pass on the right values and I feel kids learn most by observing . Seeing is believing.

I have grown up in a liberal enviroment yet with strong religious values. Ramadan was celebrated in a big way. Not big in terms of number of dishes on the table but spiritually. For instance, there was always someone dedicated to whom my mom sent an Iftar tray to . During the last 10 days of Ramadan , I would see both my parents silently praying and reading Quran in different corners of the house all night until Fajar and the regular things like charity and so on.

Now looking back , what I miss the most is when we all gathered near the TV at the time of Iftar dua and break fast together. My brother bringing samosas or something equally mouth watering on the way back from his office. The comfort of food, the banter and love for each other. What I wouldn’t give to have those times back. To have my parents healthier and younger.

This is the biggest ordeal of growing up. To see our loved ones age . No matter where you are and how comfortable you maybe, but seeing your loved ones getting older or sick and leaving for eternal abode takes a piece of you. I yearn to be a child again when I didn’t have to face this reality. Losing my dad , my mamoo( Uncle) and Khala (Aunt) in a year’s time , I feel a deep sense of loss each time I think about them, especially when I fly back home. I know it will never be the same again. But life goes on and you learn to cope with grief.

Now that I am a grown up, have my own family, it is my responsibility to make Ramadan as memorable as my parents did for me . Pass on the same values. And it is not easy. I pray that I have the strength and determination to make most of this blessed month and I carry it’s essence for the rest of the year . Ramadan Mubarak to all of you !

Home away from home #CoronaDiaries

Karachi is going under lockdown. This is a much needed step and I wish it was taken atleast a week back. Our people despite the media outrage and government pleas are not understanding the gravity of the situation.

While I am stuck in another continent, experiencing the initial panic of Corona , I am worried about my family back home . My mom, in-laws , uncles and aunts who are in a very vulnerable age bracket. My heads screams at the stupidity of our nation who have been brazenly socializing in spite all the warnings, and then feeling helpless about the state of healthcare of our nation . How are we going to overcome it ? May Allah has mercy on us . That’s all I can say right now.

The worrying thing being stuck in Nigeria is what If I get it ? The health care here too is very fragile and being in an unknown land, the thought of getting treated here seems like being sent off to jail.

I am trying to trick my mind and think positive but I just needed to express how I am feeling right now. I guess I should watch some Friends and life will be good again . It always does.

Small World – Nigerian Expats give back

To be born in a rich family is a privilege. Similarly, being born in a rich country is no different. However, one thing is constant regardless what your circumstances may be, the love for your mother and your motherland.

When people go to the foreign countries for better opportunities, it is easy to judge and believe you forgot your home country or love it any less. Trust me, no matter where you are , the love doesn’t go away. You get happy when your country prospers, sad when a tragedy strikes, frustrated when you see hopelessness and ecstatic when you win in any international sport. One experiences these extreme emotions only when there is a deep connection.

Small world is an annual charity event hosted by expats in Lagos. There are over 30 countries participating. The proceeds of this event go to charity. I had an opportunity to experience this event and was amazed by the patriotism of all the people there. Small World gives opportunity to expats to represent their countries , their culture and most importantly showcase their cuisine. There are live performances , music, overall a lively carnival which stretches all evening till around midnight.

Sampling food of countless countries and drinks is a sweet deal especially when it is for a good cause. So once you have bought the ticket to this event, everything inside is free which includes your food , drinks and entertainment. I can proudly say I tasted brownies of at least 3 countries 🙂 and they all tasted great . My personal favourite was an Israeli Chocolate dough like ball.

What really amazed me, is how my friends representing Pakistan worked tirelessly to put our best foot forward. They spent money , time, sweat and utter dedication to represent Pakistan in the best possible light. They prepared food for 100’s of people, decorations that they started preparing weeks in advance and organized everything from A-Z. Their generosity and hard work is commendable to say the least. And this goes for all the other nationalities as well. They were all proud ambassadors of their countries.

Small world (Established since 1996) is a great initiative to bring people together . It reminds us that we are all global citizens and how wonderful diversity can be. So if you are in town around this time next year, do come and show your support. You will not be disappointed.

Don’t Judge a Samosa by its Cover

Cravings and expat life goes hand in hand. We all have grown up with a certain style of food and flavors that we like and associate our memories with . Wherever we go , we try to find places that hits closest to home. So please don’t hate me if my taste buds don’t agree to your version of it.

We visited a desi restaurant this weekend and was quite happy to see samosa on the menu. Indian samosas have peas in it which I don’t like but being greedy, I had even made peace with that. After all beggars cannot be choosers!

So the samosa finally comes. It is hot and crispy from the outside and accompanied with a coriander chutney. Sigh, It is so instragram worthy!! So I am officially salivating inspite of the green peas which I am expecting inside.

So the big moment comes, I dip my crunchy samosa in the green chutney and take a bite. I taste potato and something else …. It is sweet… it is mushy…it is a RAISIN! I dropped the samosa like a hot potato. (Pun intended). Taking another bite was unimaginable. Almost like a betrayal to all the samosas I have ever eaten.

What I experienced then, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So next time you are causally snacking on a samosa or just grabbing it from a random bakery , please don’t take them for granted. It is a blessing denied to many.