Some Girls…

By Sonya Rehman Some girls protect their treasures, With padlocks and keys, While others in tinted cars, With rich city boys, Some girls protect their treasures, In hijabs of fine silk and lace, Tucking away their crowning glory, Some girls, their sapphire virtues, Neatly nestled, chest-deep, Some girls never knew they had treasures to begin…

Everyone Needs A Master Shifu

By Sonya Rehman Tele-surfing earlier and caught a bit of Kung Fu Panda (such a fan). That cartoon is profound. Saw the part where Master Shifu invites Po to sit down to a meal of dumplings after an intense kung fu training session. With each dumpling that Po attempts to put in his mouth, Master…

Is There A Name For Such A Thing?

By Sonya Rehman Is there a name for such a thing? To feel generations older, frayed and worn in, like your grandmother’s slippers, beckoning to well-wishers as if they are children to protect and nurture, is there a name for such a thing? To feel as if you’ve traveled to each corner of God’s glorious…

Emo Ode #33 to Lahore

By Sonya Rehman Lahore you have broken my heart. Obliterated it. Since 1983 and counting. You are in the poorly-lit Cantt street where the neighbor’s cook carries a bottle of flat coke in a Rahat packet, in the chilli yellow lights arranged in a wreath on an old pre-partition home (same street), that looks like…

A Tiny Bit Of Compassion?

By Sonya Rehman The images were gruesome and heartbreaking: hundreds of corpses of stray dogs were flung off garbage trucks and lined up on a road to be disposed off in August, in Karachi. Poisoned in a bid to curb the stray dog population in the city, the move by the municipal authority was cruel…

Halwa Poori Is Spicy, Sweet, Deep Fried Goodness

By Sonya Rehman If you’re hoping to polish off a plate of halwa poori, the spicy-sweet, deep fried goodness that’s also the most popular breakfast in Pakistan, make sure you’re ravenous. The Muhammad Ali of all Pakistani breakfasts, halwa poori, conceived in the Indian province of Punjab, is a traditional meal passed down from the…

Deradicalizing Pakistan Through Comic Books

By Sonya Rehman He was an unassuming ninth-grader when he was radicalized years ago by a school teacher to join a jihad training camp. Gauher Aftab, one of the co-founders of CFx Comics, a Pakistani comic book start-up, recently wrote a tell-all article about his brush with Islamic extremism and how his experience led him to wage a different…

Our True Test

By Sonya Rehman A day before we picked her up, her brother was killed by a speeding vehicle. He was too adventurous and had strayed from the pack. With her remaining three puppies, the emaciated mother dog had lucked out – she had sought refuge on a green belt near an army check point in…

Discomfort

By Sonya Rehman Privilege can be a strange curse. Removing you from a rawness, a raw, basic kind of living. Privilege can make you cruel, if you aren’t careful. Staring out of your car, with those sad, unfulfilled eyes, you look at the gypsies, their naked children playing with rot, garbage, as the women look…

Lahore

By Sonya Rehman That’s what Lahore does, Lifts you up amidst the old and the new, Qinchis and ricks, Reels in 3D downtown, Flash n’ pomp, the disoriented fake-blonde, Home, hell, Street food whipped in love and grime, Hearts so heavy, Crowns of magnanimity, Streets dogs with God in their eyes, Break, broken, A fat…

Notes From July

By Sonya Rehman In their 40s and 50s, my older colleagues tell me I should have strapped on the old ball and chain in my 20s. The older you get, they say, and the more set in your ways you become. I understand that now. But if you maintain your feminine grace, what is wrong…

A Spoonful of Sugar

By Sonya Rehman There’s nothing more soul-satisfying than slicing your spoon through a perfectly round, wobbly-soft gulab jamun set in a sizzling little katori filled with sweet syrup, piping hot. Scrumptious. Decadent. The combination of powdered milk, ghee, sugar, love and heat gives rise to little bites of heaven, and if it were up to…

Pakistani Music: The Road to Revival?

By Sonya Rehman While the Pakistani film industry has made quite a comeback thanks to the rise of a new branch of alternative, local cinema, brought on by independent filmmakers keen to break free from typical, formulaic Lollywood, the local music scene also seems to be following in its footsteps. But wait, we’ll get to…

Eulogy for Sabri

By Sonya Rehman There goes the neighborhood, There goes the phony sense of calm, There goes our disillusionment, There it goes, Revived again, They killed a man of God, A grand man of love, A mighty voice, That would spread out like silver doves, Into the hands of the Beloved, Reverberating in broken hearts, There goes…

Cher Pushes For The Release of ‘Kaavan’ – Islamabad’s Loneliest Elephant

By Sonya Rehman From a change.org petition that garnered thousands of signatures, to immense pressure from animal lovers and animal rights activists both at home and abroad, Kaavan, the 29-year-old maltreated elephant in Maraghazar Zoo, in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, was recently unchained after 27 years in confinement. Gifted by Sri Lanka to Pakistan in the 80s, Kaavan’s only…

Postcards From Pakistan: Can Local Tourism Be Revived?

By Sonya Rehman Nishat Mummunka’s love for the aviation industry was almost instantaneous when she began working at American Express’ travel department in 1973 in Lahore, Pakistan, as a fresh graduate. Soon enough, her passion for all things travel led her to lucrative offers from Swiss Air and British Airways, the latter of which required…

The TV Serial That Got Pakistan Talking About Child Abuse

By Sonya Rehman Udaari, a popular new Pakistani television drama serial that highlights a pressing social issue, child abuse, was recently served a notice by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) this month for its “unethical” and “offensive” scenes. A collaboration between a well-known private channel, HUM TV, and a local microfinance institution, Kashf Foundation, the TV serial…

Documenting Pakistan: Preserving A Past

By Sonya Rehman Dressed in a bottle green T-shirt and jeans, the young Pakistani author and researcher, Haroon Khalid, comes across as an unpretentious, easygoing guy when I meet him at a local café in Lahore. Currently working on his third book, based on the life of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, Khalid states…

Documentary On Extremism Banned In Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Having been screened in over twenty countries and subsequently picking up numerous awards, Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s hard-hitting documentary, Among The Believers was recently axed by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Pakistan. In a notification issued by the CBFC, it stated that “the [production] contains dialogues which project the…

The Classic Car Collectors of Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Although you’ve probably never seen a news report where a procession of classic motor glide through the streets of Lahore, there is in fact a thriving community of vintage petrol heads in Pakistan. Here are three of the men at the heart of that group. With a cigarette dangling from his mouth,…

A Fast Car And No Road Map

By Sonya Rehman I made a very difficult decision in December 2015, when I decided to give up a flashy job in a flashy city for a new career that was beginning to quickly pull me into an embrace. Teaching. Academia. My younger (immature) self would’ve balked at the idea of a career in education…

Bending Towards Justice

By Sonya Rehman Having won an Oscar this year for her documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s production follows the story of Saba Qaiser, a young woman who survives a brutal honour killing attempt by her very own kin. In an exclusive interview, Asad Jamal, the Lahore-based lawyer who…

Wall of Tolerance: Lahore Diffuses Terrorism with Community Art

By Sonya Rehman The terrorist attack last week on Easter, at Lahore’s popular Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, which left scores dead and hundreds injured, was nothing short of horrific. Since the attack, the stories of loss and devastation have begun emerging across social media platforms; one in particular was the that of a little girl, now an…

The Curious Case of Taher Shah

By Sonya Rehman Much has been said and written about Taher Shah, Pakistan’s very own internet superstar, who gently slipped into the ‘scene’ after the release of his first single, Eye to Eye in 2013. Dressed in a white suit and swaying with his long, curly tresses, Shah crooned into the camera – the country’s biggest Romeo…

Rekindling The Indo-Pak Connection Through Poetry

By Sonya Rehman Released over Youtube last month by Delhi Poetry Slam, an Indian poet, Shivani Gupta, speaks from the heart in a thoroughly sensitive spoken-word performance that touches upon India, Pakistan and a desire to know and understand ‘the other.’ “Look I’m not here to start a fight,” Gupta speaks in the video, “I just…

Self-Preservation

By Sonya Rehman I think God tells you it’s time to change in very subtle ways. It’s never direct. It could be by way of a thought, a vision, a random conversation with someone, or an observation – something that jolts you awake. I’ve been foggy-headed for months; dragging my feet through a routine that…

Trains Over Planes

By Sonya Rehman I miss taking the train every weekend (or every second weekend) to your sweet little home in New Jersey. A small back-pack and a book and my thoughts. The way concrete would blend into shiny greenery, meticulously manicured lawns, wooden rocking chairs outside sleepy porches, fresh air, a slowed down homey pace,…

The Karachi Whiz Kid and Pakistan’s First Hand Drawn Animated Flick

By Sonya Rehman In 2012, a young, unassuming Pakistani musician from Karachi created waves after being selected as a TEDGlobal Fellow, following the success of his brilliant composition, Fire Fly, which went viral a year before. Sharing stage space at TEDGlobal – a conference that brings together trailblazers from across the world to deliver inspiring talks – with…

Filmmaker Takes on Honor Killing in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman With the 88th Academy Awards taking place today, Pakistani documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-nominated documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, brings to focus the gruesome practice of honor killings in Pakistan. Having taken home an Oscar in 2012 for Saving Face, a documentary about victims of acid attacks in the country,…

The Rise Of Lahore’s Biscuit King

By Sonya Rehman Past shops selling glittering party decorations, silver and gold tiaras, cricket bats, plastic toys for children, netted pouches filled with sea-green, azure and multi-colored marbles, local Pakistani sweets, dried fruit, spicy pickles and fresh kebabs, the narrow, claustrophobic streets inside Mochi Gate, one of thirteen historical gates constructed by the Mughals, in…

Bibi And The PIA Connection

By Sonya Rehman Thought of my grandmother early this morning. Not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with this ongoing, horrible PIA issue/tragedy, or the fact that her birthday is tomorrow on the 13th of February… Raffath Aziz (known as Bibijoon by my brother and I) was the Deputy District Manager at PIA…

The Struggling Devotee

By Sonya Rehman I’ve always had a bit of a shaky relationship with faith. While I don’t come from a very conventional family, I do remember this one particular Qari saab who’d visit our house a few times a week to teach my brother and I the Quran. We would call him Maa Saab –…

‘Bachaana’ And The Rebirth of Pakistani Cinema

By Sonya Rehman 2015 was an incredible year for independent Pakistani cinema. With the release of a number of productions such as Jawani Phir Nahin Ani, Bin Roye,Shah, Moor, Manto and more, the new year seems to be kicking off to a great start in terms of local cinema. Currently being screened across cinema houses in the country, the drama, Ho…

An Old Path, A New Beginning

By Sonya Rehman With the onset of the new year, I’ve decided I’m going to devour atleast two books a month. Frittering away the hours on social media makes me feel numb and dumb. Currently, I’m reading two books simultaneously: the first is a work of fiction, A Strangeness In My Mind by Orhan Pamuk,…

Portals

By Sonya Rehman Down roads and dark, narrow streets, how lovely to peer into windows from afar: a portal into another life, another heart. Who sits on that wicker chair set close to the window? Is someone awake, dreaming and longing for what is out of reach? A dog barks incessantly, throaty, commanding… a few…

The Last Letter From 2015

Dear Reader, The new year is here – how surreal. Did the year whiz by for you, too? I’ve never really written a year end note, I’ve always wanted to, ever since I began this blog/online archive in 2007…gosh, has it really been that long? Anyway. I’ve been sitting on this note for days now,…

Beauty Beyond Borders

By Sonya Rehman Mahira Khan lights up the screen – be it on the small screen in a drama serial or on the big screen, in a feature film, she’s a complete natural, an earnest star, the eternal girl next door with an unshakable earthy vibe. A loveable artiste who embodies each character given to…

Bollywood Legend Visits Pakistan Encouraging Indo-Pak Artist Collaborations

By Sonya Rehman Kicking off with much fanfare this month, the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop’s three-day International Film Festival in Lahore showcased a number of Pakistani and foreign productions, in addition to bringing together renowned Pakistani and Bollywood A-listers, film critics and movie buffs on one dais. But perhaps the highlight of the evening was the attendance…

Of Nargis and Other Demons

By Sonya Rehman As if we don’t have enough issues to kick up a storm about in Pakistan, a Mobilink print advertisement published in a local Pakistani daily publication featuring Bollywood actress, Nargis Fakhri, was denounced by members of the moral brigade for corrupting an unadulterated (!) society and spreading vulgarity in the country. After a…

Foggy Reverie

By Sonya Rehman The fog tonight is thick and surreal. No matter how difficult things may get in Lahore, in one’s birth place, it is moments like these which make one recollect old memories, past dreams, one’s youth and innocence – everything raked up again…reminding you of who you were, who you’ve become, reminding you…

Airports

By Sonya Rehman The Dubai airport is freezing as hell. I’m so glad I’m wearing a blazer and a light scarf (midnight blue with tiny blue sequins – bought it in a rush because it caught my eye, looked like the night sky painted across a roll of fabric). Even though I was sweating through…

Fatherless Daughters

By Sonya Rehman Fatherless daughters, Don’t constantly seek validation, Or approval from a phantom man, Allow masculine energy to steer the reigns of your life, Call upon it, But don’t be so brazen and hardened to let your dreams die, No, Let them be nurtured with every ounce of your feminine, sensitive being, Allow a…

The Politics of Art

By Sonya Rehman Divided by religion, marred by violence, Bollywood’s King Khan weighs in on the current debate in India… With the culmination of the Masala! Awards this year, perhaps the biggest talking point about the event was how it brought together both Indian and Pakistani artists on one platform to further promote the cross-cultural…

An Unsung Hero

By Sonya Rehman Initiated this year, the social media initiative, Pending Meal, spearheaded by the young advertising professional, Sarah Rizvi, has garnered immense popularity. This week, Masala! chats with Sarah about her social welfare project and the importance of paying it forward. How does Pending Meal work? The idea or concept behind Pending Meal is…

Music Has No Borders

By Sonya Rehman Pakistani documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, known for her big Oscar win in 2012 for Saving Face (a documentary about acid attack survivors in Pakistan), has once again brought a spellbinding story to the fore – Song of Lahore. Highlighting eight incredible Pakistani classical musicians, who go by the name of Sachal Jazz…

Defending Digital Freedoms in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman This year, one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, Nighat Dad, a young Pakistani activist and lawyer based in the city of Lahore, is one of the most significant voices in the country in creating awareness amongst Pakistani women about cyber crimes and cyber harassment. Having founded her not-for-profit, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)…

The Cantt-Jumeirah Postcard

By Sonya Rehman Hi, Hope you’ve been wonderful. A quick note, some musings: Home is where people who care about you are. Not happy about leaving Lahore this week, but have to. It’s imperative to take time out for yourself now and then, to pause and just do simple household chores: wash the dishes, iron…

Lessons from a Budgie

By Sonya Rehman Z had packed up her apartment within a week. She, the kids and her husband were leaving Dubai after years to start a new chapter in another country. I wasn’t too happy knowing she was going to leave. After all, here was one person who I’d grown up with, who represented ‘home’…

“Music Was a Secret That I Hid From My Father”

By Sonya Rehman Hariprasad Chaurasia needs no introduction: he is a living legend in the field on Indian classical music. In an up close and personal interview with the maestro, he tells Masala! Magazine about his journey to becoming one of the most celebrated flutists in the world today. Panditji, is it true your father…

The Katti Batti Diaries

By Sonya Rehman Recently in Dubai for the promotions of their film, Katti Batti, Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan speak about their roles in the upcoming Bollywood movie and dish out advice on love and relationships… Could you tell me a bit about your character, Payal? Kangana: I can’t really reveal everything about the character…