The first time we locked hearts was over China Town’s Beef Chilli Dry and Delicatessen’s Nutella Crepe. We had stared at food in unison with googly eyes and subsequently stumbled upon the realization that we had found our respective companion. It’s been three years now and we celebrated the date of his birth with s’mores and homemade mac n’ cheese this weekend. Needless to say, I’ve smothered him and now feel akin to that extra dose of maple syrup drowning a beautiful golden French toast in all its sappiness. Am I calling him a beautiful golden French toast? I embarrass myself at times. I embarrass him too. And before I tell you that tonight I plan on shaking off that nauseating smitten self, I will let you in on a secret.
You don’t need to start a bonfire to enjoy s’mores, neither do you need special equipment. Find a terra cotta pot in your backyard. If you’re feeling a little giddy, paint over it. If not, just line the pot with aluminium foil, throw in a bunch of coals and get the party started. You’d need marshmallows, chocolate, digestive biscuits and lots of nauseating sappiness before you give up on the idea and realize that you’re going to suffocate him and yourself. Till then, keep looking at him googly eyed. He’s worth it!
Call me frugul but I window shop at Habitt and do the actual shopping at a landa. Don’t get me wrong, Habitt is all dreamy and glitzy but I’d rather shell that money out on food and technology than spend it on plates, pans and fondue pots. Oh! Wait! Habitt doesn’t sell fondue pots. A shop at the Haji Camp Landa does.
My first year in Pakistan, K and I located three shops at the Haji Camp Landa that carry old telescopes, vintage suitcases, buddha statues, cutlery, crockery, paintings etc etc. We went there week after week, sometimes for curtains, sometimes for mason jar mugs and sometimes for Ikea lamps. Since then, we have discovered the Daroghawala Landa, the Mayo Hospital Landa and the used stock piles at the Pioneer store in Main Market, Gulberg.
If you can buy it cheap and good, why give into all the drama of great packaging. By shopping at the landas, not only do you get a chance to support small shop owners, you also get to buy good quality items that have stood the test of time. And yes, all that jazz is from Europe. Think about it, landa shopping or London shopping?! One and the same, my love. One and the same!
Gourmet Bakery maybe all glory but trust me! I’ve had enough of it. When I first landed in Lahore to live by myself, it was during Ramadan. A mutual friend, K and I would scour the city looking for suitable housing and Gourmet was our prince in shinning armor. Suprizingly enough no real estate agent earned that title until Shauki Boy sauntered into our lives a year and half later.
The thing about Shauki Boy is he’s got no office and he’s no real real estate agent. He’s someone’s guard who looks up housing for people like you and me – the outcasts. The boy doesn’t judge. Tell him you want your freedom, friends from the opposite sex staying over, separate entrance, the life, the works! He won’t bat an eye. He’ll just get to work. Out of the 100 houses he will show you, you will only like 2 to 3 but know that he’s got your back. And no, he isn’t a boy boy. He’s an old man!
Shaukat Real Estate Agent: 0300-4156691
Note: Always ask for a separate electricity/gas meter when renting a space for yourself. Real estate agents get half of the rent as their payment and the landlord gets two months rent as advance and one month’s rent as security when you finally settle upon a place. Come out clear early on. If you’re going to have parties, be honest. At the end of the day, its your house. You’ve got to be able to live on your own terms.
Note: I wrote this piece a while back for ‘The Lookout Journal’. Etching just a snippet of it piece on the blog today. You can read the full piece here.
“There is a moment sandwiched between the last breath of electricity and the first hum of the generators. That moment is mine. The city stands still. It freezes. In that moment. For that moment.
And then a second comes to completion, clocks tick, fans start turning, candles start melting.
That moment when reality hits, when air conditioners stop and the prospect of heat seeping inside closed doors starts haunting others, I look at Lahore and smile. That’s the only honest moment the city gives me…”
You know the feeling that someone is hammering you down there, under? The feeling that you and I try to cloak with painkillers and the shopkeeper with brown paper bags? Well our friends over at Angry Girl are here to rant, complain and start an open conversation about it! And today I’m talking to them about talking about it. Confused? Read on.
NewGirl: Period talk! When did you decide to take the brown bag off it and start talking about Aunt Flo out loud?
Angry Girl: When the team realized that the only hygiene essentials that are not being sold online in Pakistan are sanitary napkins, we knew we had to be okay with talking about menstruation openly as a society, something had to be done. And so Angry Girl came to life to start a conversation, change a perception.
NewGirl: Talking about perceptions, is the Angry Girl only angry about menstruation?
Angry Girl: One step at a time. Angry Girl is angry about period non-versations today. Tomorrow she might pick up another topic. But until she makes sure her voice is heard on one platform, she cannot jump to another. We cannot let an issue be lost amidst the clutter of others, especially when it means so much.
NewGirl: Will the issues only be women-related?
Angry Girl: The thing is, we never considered what Angry Girl was talking about to be a ‘woman-related’ issue. It is a community issue. From the conversations we initiate, we don’t want them to be considered girl-to-girl, but rather person-to-person. So yes, Angry Girl will speak about issues and they will be community related.
NewGirl: I’m curious as to how people are taking this. How has the response been like so far?
Angry Girl: We have gotten great feedback from people we were least expecting it from. Our inbox has been flooded with period confessions but there is still some hesitation. People want their identities hidden. What has shocked us though is that people we considered enlightened enough weren’t willing to talk about menstruation openly or even okay with a conversation being started around the topic. But hey! That is precisely why we are here.
NewGirl: I love how casual the tone of the whole dialogue is! Who is behind the design, the idea and its conception?
Angry Girl: We’re two guys and a girl. The design came about as a result of research where we came up with color swatches and reference images. We already had the name by then and all we needed to do was put a face to it. We wanted the Angry Girl to talk like her counterparts. She needed to talk local to be heard and understood by locals.
And when we finally wrapped up our conversation and I asked them if they had any additional comments. Here’s what they had to say:
Usually when I look at a blank space, I chatter. I fill it with words and stories that I house in my heart. I give it some inhabitants, I make it a home and then I visit it often. These days it is a different story. Writer’s block has been in town for a long time now but I’m forcing this blog post out. It has become a tradition for me to jot down my resolutions here after a quarter or almost half a year has passed and I want to keep it alive.
So here it goes…
I’m grateful for the apartment I have now. And I finally feel I’ve found that one place I wouldn’t want to leave for as long as I’m in Lahore. Now I’m on the lookout for a job like that. I plan on joining a new work place and sticking to that job for as long as I’m in the city. Too boring for my standards? Naah. I’ve waltzed around a lot, discovered what I do best, gathered a lot of experience and learned even more but now its time to settle down, apply that learning and grow within an organization. I’ve sent out my resume, have my eyes fixated on one particular organization and just need to update you on when I start working there. I’m ambitious like that. That reminds me of sugar. Yes! Sugar.
Last year, I quit sugar for almost two months. Just two months but only two months changed my attitude towards all things sweet. I have had zero midnight sugar cravings since. The idea of over indulging in desserts nauseates me and coffee with sugar is a big no now. Even I can’t believe myself! Sugar was my life line, my constant. I will have to write a full blog post on how going sugar free for two months changed my eating preferences. But first, I’d need to shake off that writer’s block holding onto me from the back. I write extensively for work but I miss being able to write here. This year I want to blog more regularly, write better and truly get this space bubbling with fun and Lahore-esque content.
And before you buzz away, judge me for quitting sugar, let me tell you I want to hold onto you my readers, the plants I’m growing and the people who brighten up my days. Some bonds are too special and I want to work towards keeping them in harmony. By the way, did I mention I want to grow my own food? Well some of it! More to come on that later.
Lastly, I want to spend more time grounding, meditating and learning more about the universe we inhabit.
What are your resolutions for this year? Do share! I’ve a feeling jotting down resolutions here makes us stick to them. Trust me I’ve stuck to almost of all the resolutions I published on the blog last year and the year before. Can I call it my lucky space?
Conventionality skipped my household. It hopped over the multiple houses we changed, not even stopping to squat for a while. If I was breaking a fast (a rare event for the family members, save our cook), my father would sit across me explaining the law of diminishing marginal utility in relation to the number of glasses of water I was gulping down. If I re-arranged the furniture in my room and emailed a detailed account of the new setting to my mother, she would reply back with a long essay on Feng Shui. So when I told my father, it was about time I got some salwar kameez stitched, we discussed the effects of peer pressure and internal identity crisis on my dressing sense.
No, his intent wasn’t to save me from peer pressure as much as it was to keep me from wearing the pieces of garment he abhorred, wore only when he visited his father’s grave in Multan or on Eid if we happened to be in Pakistan, that too in his father’s memory. I never really found out why he disliked the garment so much. After all, Pakistanis all over the world think of freedom in relation to a light cotton salwar. I exaggerate a little. Okay, I exaggerate a lot. People don’t vouch for salwar so much anymore. In fact, it is now making a comeback after a few years of absence from the fashion arena. But this blog post isn’t just about the conventional salwar kameez alone anyway. I’m my parent’s daughter, after all. Redundancy, my eighth grade teacher had written with a green sharpie fine point in the margins of my SOL essay. It still hurts. So does shopping for kurtas/kameezes. I haven’t figured out the difference yet.
All I know is that the long tunics that I buy off the rack are tricky. Saunter into a Sapphire or Khaadi outlet and tell me if you aren’t nauseated by the number and types of flowers creeping up the tunics. While the world embraces clean lines, we stick to vines, flowers and digitally printed images from Chinese gardens. A mumbo jumbo on our shirts! Shirts designed for rectangle cardboard boxes instead of real women with pear shaped bodies. Maybe it is just a handful of us in Pakistan, us hour glass, apple and pear shaped women.
And yet when I don even clothes with the right cuts, I still feel like a rabbit hopping around in a burlap sack rather than Mahira Khan on the sets of Humsafar. Not that I believe my beauty matches hers.
Perhaps her ease with the garb comes from years of practice for the only feeling I get is that of a rabbit in a burlap sack race when I don it. On most days, the shawl falters at first, then skids off my shoulder and wraps itself around my legs. I bend down to pick it up and then forget to pull down my shirt when I finally straighten up. I resume walking, my shirt flapping against my back, the lace smacking my knees. The light weight salwar moving like a flag swaying from left to right, plays peek-a-boo with my feet. I hop instead of tread, carrying out conversations with my father in my head. Why?
Perhaps, he wanted to save me from this harassment at the hands of the traditional garments for as long as he could.