Episode Archives

#57 – Dana Wang on Pakistan

We speak to someone not actually from Pakistan. She’s not of Pakistani descent either, yet she has built a connection to the country. Our guest is Dana Wang. Dana is a travel enthusiast, photographer, and food addict from Australia. She also studied Law and recently graduated and got her first full-time job in Sydney. She’s visited Pakistan twice and made several friends there. A lot of her posts and stories on Instagram are related to her experiences in Pakistan. We get to know Dana a little more as a person. We ask her questions including: how she got into traveling, what lead her to Pakistan, what was her favorite city in Pakistan, her favorite food, does she prefer tea or coffee, how much Urdu has she picked up so far, how does she budget for her travels, etc.

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#56 – The Foodie!

Meet Arifah, 22 year old from England. She’s here to talk to us about various things, but mostly about her most passionate subject: Food. She even wrote her dissertation on food!

Arifah was born in England, moved to Saudi Arabia at a young age, then Italy, and then back to England. Although she’s never lived in Pakistan, she says she has a ‘very desi family’, and is very well connected with her desi roots. Tune into this awesome, fun conversation and discover a wonderful person!

Quotes

"My mom brought us up Muslim separate from Pakistani culture. She taught us the things she loves of Islam and it was really empowering. She said, [with this knowledge] we would not feel the peer pressure of drinking when growing up. I found Islam empowering in those ways.⁣ ⁣ If people ever asked me, 'oh, you don't drink?' I would say, 'I never have and never will.' I've never been curious, and will never do it. And they have so many questions, it's funny! I find it sad that when I ask most people, 'why do you drink?' they often can't give an answer. The most they'll say is, 'I like to relax / it's a social thing' and I can say, well, I can socialize and relax without drinking. ⁣ ⁣ I grew up in Italy - there weren't many Pakistanis or Muslims. I've always grown up around goray, and all my friends have always been non-Muslim. A lot of my friends were people who didn't want to be drinking at such a young age, actually, and going to parties and stuff. And my friends would use me as an excuse, as empowering them to get out of peer pressure. So if someone asked them to go to a party, they'd say 'Oh no, Arifa can't go, so I won't go.'⁣ ⁣ In school, we'd see American movies and TV shows showing these crazy things happening when kids partied, and I think there was pressure to create these memories as teenagers. So the kids would have these parties, but they would be really lame in England, not the same as America. They felt the need to come up with these stories, and say like things like, 'George got so drunk or whatever and did this...' And I started noticing - it didn't seem like anyone really had that much fun. I'd rather just sit at home and eat good food. Or invite my friends around for a sleep over."

"I never cooked for me alone. Every single meal I cooked at Uni, I cooked for another person. I don't think there was ever a time I cooked just for myself - maybe breakfast when I had oats, but even that I would make for my flatmates.⁣ ⁣ "I think I just had that desire to show other people Pakistani culture, growing up in a western country... and i think food is a really easy way to share that, without it being political or heavy. This street food kabab is not my culture, it's not just your drunken takeout, it's actually this - a home made kabab, taste it. And everyone loves it. And I must have fed easily 200 people at Uni. It's just so nice.⁣ ⁣ I think it was more for me, because I grew up eating every single meal with my family. It was only us five in every country, and we would have every meal that we could, together everyday. And I needed that when I went out - my sister got married, my brother left, and I was at Uni, so I did it more for me. I had people around, we ate together, and it was so nice - we didn't need anything to tlak about, I'd just be like, "Here's food!" And the topics really come out of food, when you share food with someone - random topics and stories come out. It's so fun."

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#55 – Can you count in Urdu?

We speak to a number of Pakistani youngsters from Islamabad, Karachi, U.K., and U.A.E. to ask them : can you count to 100, in Urdu? Turns out, it’s not so easy, and as we collectively become more efficient with English, it seems we are losing the edge on our native tongues (Urdu, Punjabi, etc.) overall.

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“Studying Arts? Haw Haye!”

"Studying Arts? Haw Haye!"

By Noor Jamshed Khan

The subcontinent is a macrocosm shrouded in mysticism, spiritualism and bountiful springs of creativity. Surprisingly, we stand on the Earth that has witnessed a tsunami of cultures, languages, history and arts! Regardless of our blind eyes; those of us who reside within the blankets of our mother land, are aware of the traditional beauty which flows within the loose Earth which is in a constant battle for dominance against war, technological advancement and the impeachment created by ignorant figures who are far too focused on the corruption caused by a crusade that is far ancient than their own bones.

As the daughter of a proud military father and an educated mother, I too have been a target when choosing to dedicate my life to the Arts.

“Aagey kya karo gee?”

“Log kya kahein gei? Koi shaadi nahi kare ga tumsei?”

“Yei amreeki khayalat yahan nahi chalte. Zyada gori bannei kee koshish mat kar!”

”Tumhara moun zyada tou nahi chalna shuru hogya? Bas yei jo tum arts parh rahi ho na, sar par charh raha hai.”

“Aap kya ghar kei deewar bhi paint kar sakti hain?”

Despite all these claims on my character, I was determined and consistent for my future. According to the philosophies of our revered poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Khudi! Khudi my friends goes beyond self-preservation! How many times have you heard a hippie friend go on about ‘look deep within yourself to find yourself!’ as much as it makes no sense, there is a sliver of truth to it. As a fine artist, who are rumoured to be manual labourers (a bit of truth in there as well, I won’t deny), will it be surprising for you to learn that I also dabbled a lot in philosophy, research writing, poetry and other fields of advanced literature? I take what I have learned as tools to look within my faults, pinpoint them, recognise them thus, establishing the principle of Khudi that our dear Allama speaks of.  I look past the sticks and stones, past the sour expressions of disappointed rishta aunties to something more meaningful…..

Like any other passionate scholar, educator or artist! Each step begins with a bit of ridicule, its natural!

Don’t be afraid or ashamed when somebody, who doesn’t even know the definition and the history behind, the chiaroscuro light or the famous murti (statuette) of Venus of Willendorf attempts to derail you from your ambition. These kind of people would only distinguish a naked, fat lady who has a chubby face and no arms! They are unable to think behind the tangible form or even recognise that the Venus represented fertility and the divine feminine! How this travel sized statuette changed the lives of our ancestors and we, as the next generation, can only spit at something that has held within its tiny clay form prayers and wishes of so many people who have passed away with time.

Venus of Willendorf, est. 30,000 B.C.

Understand that people, especially those of our culture, are afraid of change.

Whether be a house, a family or even something as simple as a pet! We tend to see change as a form of coup d’etat to our daily routine and rituals therefore, can you imagine being asked to change your entire life or even your thinking for something not worth your time?

Your ancestors has followed a consistent pattern for centuries. It has prevailed due to this circle within which your blood has been confined within. It’s safe. It has assured a happy and prosperous life for generations! Until one rivulet decides to trickle out of this boundary much to the chagrin of aunties, mamoos and naanis. My dear readers, I speak on the behalf of that drop of blood that has dared to flow out of that boundary, it is ok!

Things are hard at first for sure but you will get used to the, presumably subtle, kannakhio kee glare (peripheral glare) or the sarcastic quips aimed at the lack of your IQ for something as grand as MBA that your cousin has done from Cambridge or Harvard. (But we all know that your phuppo is making that on the go but you let it slide since you are far too tired of comparisons at this point, am I right?)

I have no rights to guide your thinking or hold your hand, I am just a simple human being who can pat you on the back and tell you of my truthful experience so you may be assured that your choices are yours alone to make.

Nobody is responsible for you but yourself my friend therefore, why allow someone else to make that choice for you?

It’s not like your khala will be your first patient if you are a struggling doctor who is afraid of blood. Or your father has forced you to become a businessman when he doesn’t have a clue of your anxieties when facing the corporate environment. When you make your own choice, you are at peace with yourself, you know why?

Because YOU as an independent individual has made that decision thus, are responsible for it. Therefore you cannot complain about your daily woes to someone who doesn’t understand your plights in the first place but hey! You will find new friends that do understand you. Or are willing to help you in achieving that goal when the ones whom you have lived with your whole life did not even attempt to understand you.

Now now, don’t go rebelling in your young adult life because I have said that.

My dear readers! Be elegant, mature and mindful when making your own decisions. Be the bigger person when the other barks at you. I say that as someone who has graduated from an Art university because we thrive on human nature, we are the word renaissance personified because we wish to refresh and remind the world of true human nature.

It’s okay to show emotion. It’s okay to love someone. And it’s certainly fine to laugh aloud in public! (Just don’t be that one expressive human being who sits in the theatre and annoys everyone else, yeah?) As artists, we are human beings first. Knowledge is something that we take for granted, it’s something more than rattafying those physics kei numerical or practicing our beautiful handwriting so we can become that one kid who asks for that extra sheet during exams!

Knowledge is something beautiful, something that permeates within our extra and peripersonal space which we are so blind towards! Art has allowed me the space and the power to attempt to breach that veil…..attempt to question that metaphysical reality that many of our Muslim scholars had wished to question. It’s a never ending cycle of answering rising queries which is honourable and not haram in any sense!

Finally - Remember that the first Surah of the Quran is Iqra.

‘Nuff said.

#54 – Lockdown Madness!

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns across the world, we wanted to catch up with our Pakistani community on Discord and ask them how they’re doing. As you might have heard from previous episodes, we run a discord server which is basically a modern online chatroom service, that allows both text and voice chats. We speak to several people from various places, including UK, Canada, Dubai, Pakistan, and combined their thoughts to create this episode. We ask them questions about their work/school/sleep schedules, how their communities are responding, and what they’re doing to pass the time.

Want to join our discord server? Get your invite links here !

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#53 – Zamana

Guest: Aisha Khan, 19 year old from Toronto, Canada

Aisha is here to talk to us about poetry, among other things. Aisha is a published writer and last year she released a book called Zamana, under her pen name Anaa Gulzar. We talk to her about her inspiration, why poetry is important, what are the habits for creativity, is rap real music, and a dissection of one of her poems.

You can find her book Zamana via Amazon.

Follow Aisha on Instagram:

Here’s the synopsis of the book , on the back cover:

“Zamana is a collection of poetry about time and the world. It is a realization of self told through the prism of time, revealing the multiple facets of existence, love, and culture. It embraces south aisan language and identity through its creative and clever use of Urdu and English.

The words await and nothing is more patient than the world’s clock always ticking forward in the same way.”

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Respect for the Essential Workers

Social distancing and masks are musts right now. Let's not forget to be kind as well!

One of the most difficult jobs I’ve worked was being a cashier. I worked at a busy retail chain store while in University, to pay for my day to day expenses. The reason I found the job to be so difficult was 2-fold: a lack of appreciation (getting disrespected by angry customers was routine), and a lack of fulfillment (what difference am I making to the world?). To be honest, it was also a very lonely job. “How are you today? Did you find everything you needed?” was the line I repeated to hundreds of customers everyday, without any real connection. The majority of my 6 to 10 hour shift was spent standing in the same spot, with a half hour lunch break, ringing customers. I would turn into auto-pilot mode. I didn’t even have to think much to do my job, my fingers and arms had memorized exactly which keys on the register to hit, how to bag the items, where all the cigarettes were, etc. 

One day, it was snowing heavily, and I had to be at work. Schools closed, most offices closed and asked employees to work from home, and many stores closed as well, but my store did not. Retail stores often stay open regardless of the weather. I started driving over to work – a half hour drive – and got stuck in extremely difficult driving conditions on the highway. My car was not equipped for this. It was a poorly maintained second-hand that was meant just to last a year or two so I could save up for a better one. The road had not been plowed yet. Long story short, my car’s tires couldn’t grip the road, kept sliding erratically, and eventually I lost control. My car spun sharply more than 180 degrees while drifting into the shoulder lane (thankfully I was on the far-right lane so I did not hit any cars) and only stopped thanks to the hill of soft snow acting as a cushion. I was safe, but extremely nervous, and the car was miraculously undamaged. There was an 18-wheeler truck right next to me so I knew it could have ended much worse. A very nice police officer happened to be on the highway, saw me, and turned his emergency lights on to make all the other cars stop so that I could turn my car around and get back on the road. I told him I wanted to turn back and get home, but he said at this point, I’m closer to my work so I might as well play safe and just get there. He drove with me for a while just to get me to work. Great guy.

When I got to work, I told the story to my manager and co-workers at the time and I remember seeing unconcerned reactions. “Really? Wow. Anyway, could you make sure you fix the items by the main register?” My experience was considered ordinary, I realized, or perhaps, I was too ordinary and people die everyday, right? But in my shoes, just getting to work had turned into a great risk on that day. Shortly after, I put in my resignation notice.

When I quit my job, I think I felt my reality was that while my contributions weren’t perceived so great to demand more pay, my well-being (or lack thereof) was also not really a matter of concern for my peers and managers. Add to that the harsh treatment from customers, and the snowy winter days which gave me some driving-phobia. It was a cold environment, both literally and figuratively.

Since then, I’ve harbored a great deal of respect for workers that today are being labeled ‘essential’ – retail employees, drivers, police officers, nurses, doctors, and many others – anyone who cannot perform their job remotely, but whose participation is absolutely required to keep the world running. Truth is, these jobs were always essential and most of us already knew that, but it has never been so evident as now.

Cashiers who are still working right now, I feel, are taking risks every day similarly to the risk I took on that snowy day. But their risk is greater, because my resignation was under otherwise normal circumstances; these workers choose to continue working under a pandemic. One of the employees at a nearby grocery store, which we visit often, was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the weekend; it’s a very real threat to them. They are choosing to come in not only for a paycheck, but to keep us alive and comfortable, and they’re putting their health on the line to do so. They can go home satisfied every day that they made a difference, and we are very grateful to them for it, now more than ever before. I hope – and I believe – that we can also keep that sentiment for all types of workers even after this pandemic ends and life returns to normality, because everyone wants to feel fulfilled and appreciated for their job.

One of the side-effects of this terrible pandemic is that it is beating some good habits into us, as well as general concern for others, which we always needed. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds – we should have always been doing so, but how many actually did (I’m looking at you, office Bob who sprinkled his hands for 2 seconds with no soap after peeing at the urinal)? Stay home if you’re sick. Be kind to others. Say thank you to your local store’s employees, and treat them as you would treat a friend, even if your coupon doesn’t scan or an item is out-of-stock. At the very least, let’s admit their jobs are not easy, and they never were. Let’s continue these good habits and carry this renewed awareness to post-pandemic life.

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#52 – PSL 2020 Breakdown

Guests: Sarah Malik from U.S., Hamza Qureshi from U.K., Hassan Raza from U.K., and Hamza Farooq from U.S. All big Cricket fans!

This group discussion features 4 guests, with the topic being Cricket, especially with a focus on PSL 2020 which was suspended on March 17, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We discuss the progression of PSL, the T20 cricket format, the status of the Pakistani international cricket team and memorable moments of victory and disappointment from the eyes of hardcore Pakistani cricket fans.

At the time PSL was suspended, the order of teams by points looked like this:

Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators, and Islamabad United.

The first semi final would be Multan Sultans vs Peshawar Zalmi, and the second semi final would be between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars. Let’s hope that the matches can be resumed sometime in 2020!

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#51 – Desibility

Our guest is 24 year old Adil Ghani from London, UK. Adil is the older brother of our previous guest, Aqil Ghani. He is also disabled, and in this episode he walks us through his life story – being diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy at age 3, not being able to walk since age 9, and going through other very difficult transitions in his life.

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PSA – Coronavirus

There is no shortage of information on the internet about COVID-19; in fact, it’s tough to avoid. Let’s talk about the Coronavirus from our angle, as a Pakistani community, and let’s talk mostly in Urdu. No guests in this episode, just Habib and you.

  • Status update from Habib and his life dealing with the Coronavirus situation in the U.S.
  • Should you be worried about this virus, and how much?
  • Are the measures being taken by the government effective?
  • Is this virus a ‘punishment’ from God to Chinese people – and other racist sentiments.
  • Is it safe to eat wild animals? Where did the virus come from?
  • What about the Pakistani students stuck in China at this time.

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