Book Review: The Temp by Michelle Frances

temp 1Looking for suspenseful stories with strong female characters who are not breathing down each other’s neck all the time, Michelle Frances’ The Temp is for you.

For me, the main attraction of this book is its cover (a lady working on her laptop at a workplace) and the title. Not only that, I also like the synopsis. (Side note: I always go through the synopsis to get a little insight about the story before purchasing a book.)

Apparently, it appears a thriller with undertones of domestic drama where talented young woman is looking to replace a successful older woman. The narrative is told from the perspectives of two women: Carrie and Emma who have different views of each other but there is one constant in their life, Adrian, of course for different reasons.

Carrie, in her 40s, has a successful career as a producer of television programmes. She comes across a very strong, confident and smart lady in her domain. Her husband Adrian is also an award winning screenwriter in the television industry. They are content in their professional and personal lives but life takes an unusual turn which completely jolts them.

As a couple, Carrie and Adrian decide not to have children; primarily because they both want to focus on their career. However, fate has something else stored for them; Carrie gets pregnant and the problem arises when she chooses to keep the baby, and this puts her relationship with her husband off balance.

Moreover, they are prepared to start a new show which needs time and with this pregnancy, Adrian and her friend as well as managing director of Hawks Pictures Liz suggest to hire a replacement for few months. This is where Emma enters as a temp who is intelligent; and despite coming from a well off family, she has always struggled to be the daughter on whom her parents can be proud of. What is interesting is that Carrie never wants Emma to be employed as her replacement.

the tempBeing pregnant, Carrie cannot stay in the office for long duration due to pain and dizziness. Insanity and jealousy run rampage on Carrie’s part especially when Adrian, Liz and everyone in the office are all praise about Emma’s work.  The last nail in the coffin for Carrie is the birth of her newborn baby boy Rory. Her baby keeps her busy all the time and since she has no support from Adrian, she begins to drift away from her husband and her colleagues. As a consequence, she feels isolated and subconsciously put all the blame on Emma. Carrie does not realise that this is all work of her creative mind (pun intended).

British-based author Frances has established herself as a mature, knowing and new voice in the genre of psychological thriller with her bestseller The Girlfriend. Her debut novel took on the issues of unforgiveable lies and twisted relationships. Her second book deals with the relationships caught in the crossfire of all scheming and manipulation.

I do understand that the author has shown some sort of conflict between two female protagonists. Also, the book cover gives an impression to the reader of Emma being conniving who wants to usurp Carrie’s life, which is why both women will compete over Carrie’s husband Adrian. Clearly, this is not all! The book offers much more to the reader’s delight.

If you want to read full review, the link is https://www.dawn.com/news/1471385

 

 

 

To-do or not to-do

to do listMonday is start of the week. And after weekend, this is the day we all dread for different reasons; be it work, university, school or household chores. For past few days, I was all over the place and it is because I was doing everything on an impulse.

Therefore, I have decided to write a to-do list which will help organise my day. I used to follow this ritual before but then I left it.

Several studies have revealed that people perform better when they have written down what they need to do. This is because once you write down the tasks that you need to do, you are clear in your mind.

The best part is the internal satisfaction you get when you cross them one-by-one.

According to psychologists, writing a to-do list lessens anxiety, gives you a plan that you can stick to and is proof of what you can achieve that day.

To-do list is different from time table. You are not bound by time. You do things according to your own convenience. This is easy to follow compared to time table.

Here is to a new start and hope this will help structure your day as well as your life.

What do you think about to-do list? How much does this help you in organising your day? Share your answers in the comment section.

Jealousy Can Ruin Healthy Relationship

othelloOthello is one of the classics of William Shakespeare. What I like most about this play is the theme of jealousy depicted in the play, and is still relevant in the modern world.

Othello is a great and wise man, except for his blindness of thought and the rashness of action caused by his jealousy. He becomes angry when he sees a very small possibility of his wife, Desdemona’s infidelity.

Also, Roderigo is jealous of Othello’s marriage with Desdemona and he is blinded by his obsessive passion for Desdemona. However, it is Othello’s jealousy that brings about the destruction and tragedy in his otherwise happily married life.

The other theme more prominent is the psychological manipulation of Iago. He is the one who instigates Othello against his wife and loyal friend Cassio.

The foundation of healthy relationship is based on trust and sincerity. There is no room of jealousy in a stable relation. Jealousy is powerful. It can ruin relationships and make good, well-meaning people act in ways they never imagined like the heroic character of Othello.

Jealousy can make spouses abusive or in extreme cases, a killer. It’s important that partners should have open communication so that no one dares to sow the seed of jealousy or create misunderstanding in their relation.

Ready To Take That Leap?

life hope 1

At times, we hold on to people for so long; not realising that this may be suffocating the relationship. The fact is what is meant for us will not go away and what is not, let it go. Set yourself and them free so that you may see the bigger plan that Almighty has made for you.

We do know that this is going nowhere but we keep on lingering because we hope that one day things will turn in our favour. We pray and still see no result. We feel disheartened and want to shout and cry. I reckon there is nothing wrong to feel sad. It’s normal. However, nobody can understand our tears more than Almighty Allah. Indeed He is Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing, The Omniscient). He is aware of all things, even before they happen.

It’s true that brokenness and desperation lead us to finally let go to Allah and admit powerlessness. Faith is the only way that can bring us out from darkness. Believe that He can heal all wounds. We only need to embark on the journey for true surrender to the Will of Almighty Allah. It’s not an easy path. We may falter and lose. Knowing how difficult this may be, the question is, are we ready to take that leap? Am I ready to take that leap?

Talib Haider: “News is my passion”

This interview I took when I was working in Geo TV in 2012. This interview was posted on Geovision website. I am sharing some chunks of the interview over here for my readers.

talib 2The passion of doing something new every other day landed him in the field of Journalism. A go-getter by nature, Talib Haider is a television journalist and a news presenter who loves every bit of his job.

Haider has joined the broadcast industry of Pakistan since 2004. Initially he started off with the business and finance news coverage; his specialty in business studies was the main support for his in-depth knowledge about the subject. There are lots of achievements under his belt.

In the span of time, he got an opportunity to be a part of special news coverage which varies from USA elections (2004 and 2008), UK general election (2010) to live reporting the aftermaths of Balakot and Muzzarafabad districts after 2005 earthquake. Apart from Business news, he had also co-hosted cricket world cup (2007) and football world cups (2006 and 2010).

Haider also presented main news bulletins featuring political, current affairs, sport, business and local news at Geo News.

With his suave demeanor and a twinkling passion in his eyes, Geo Vision brings you up close to Talib Haider who believes in planning ahead in his life.

Madiha Akhtar: Why you choose to be a news anchor?
Talib Haider:
Any job in a news channel is extremely dynamic, be it a producer, editor, reporter or a presenter. One has to be ahead of the clock, ‘all the time’. News presentation is just one end of it which viewers get to watch. I love it because of the very nature of the job; providing information to people. And doing something new every day, every hour, every minute feels extremely rewarding.

MA: How did you enter the field of news anchoring?
TH:
I guess it was something that developed on the job. As a business graduate from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), one of my strengths is presentation which helped me in getting into this field. Also, interest in the news and better general knowledge provided me off the screen support. But it was the curiosity of knowing everything that was undercurrent, which really developed my journalistic skills.

MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?
TH:
Firstly knowledge, secondly one should look presentable and lastly voice of the person. Two skills are pretty much; however, possessing three is a bonus.

MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?
TH: Jeremy Paxman, Larry King and Riz Khan.

talib 3MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?
TH:
It is good to tell news to the viewers but the drawback is likewise; informing people about bad stories as well.

MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?
TH:
Being a newscaster, it’s one of the essentials to avoid being emotional. However, we are not inhumane and of course sometimes it’s hard to control your emotions. I remember once there was a terrorism activity because of which many innocent children were killed—while giving the news, the female newscaster started sobbing continuously therefore I was called in immediately. But she was crying so badly that just by looking at her, my voice also got choked during the bulletin.

MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?
TH:
Every day, all stories are important and can make any person speechless, yet we survive. There are some which when we think about, do make us speechless for some time though. For instance, the decisions of sacking of the Prime Minister by Supreme Court of Pakistan or the death of Osama bin Laden or the crash of Air Blue plane in Islamabad.

MA: What has been your favorite news that made your day?
TH:
I love the time when Pakistan cricket team wins any match or especially the stories in Eid – these are some of the stories which beams my face with joy while reading the news. The recent ‘save’ by the PIA pilot of flight PK787 going from Karachi to Islamabad carrying 167 passengers where the left engine stopped working but luckily, the pilot landed the plane safely.

talib haider 1MA: Among noted personalities at Geo News, who is your favourite one?
TH:
Kamran Khan because of his well-researched news analysis with focus mainly on the News.

MA: Other than you, who is your favourite anchor in Geo TV?
TH:
Danish Anis Sheikh; he is versatile and can present different formats.

MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?
TH:
When Captain Wasi of MV Suez was released from the Somali pirates and he didn’t arrive in Pakistan yet; we arranged a telephonic conversation between Captain and his family especially his daughter; it was an extremely emotional moment.

MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?
TH: I have always planned in life; otherwise it will be like driving on a road with no destination. Even after two masters in business and journalism, I want to study further.
I plan to do research to help mankind (haven’t decided which field). I also plan to write what I have learned in life, met people with great wisdom yet many do not know about them, and also share my travel experiences through my writing.

MA: How has been your experience working with Geo?
TH: Amazing, amazing, amazing. I love Team Geo, there are good days, bad days, yet every day is extremely dynamic. Each day is a new day with new challenges. Every person gives his/her best which is the best in the industry; so if you want to be the best and continue to be like that, this is the place.

MA: What you want to say to your readers?
TH:
A person’s goals are mainly divided into career/money, social/family, and dream /to be something/someone or to achieve something etc. Try to correctly define what you want to do in life and go for it. If you continue on the same path as you planned for a few years; you will or will be very close to achieving it.

 

Sibling’s love-hate relationship

This article has already been published on Geo Vision website. I wrote this article for the website and now sharing a few chunks over here on my blog so that my readers can read. This was a different drama of its time produced by Pakistan Television Industry. 

meri behan maya“Our women are strong but in our serials, they are depicted as fragile and connivers,” states Hasina Moin, an acclaimed writer who has also written some of the epic dramas including Tanhayein, Ankahi and so on. After taking a long break, she started with the serial ‘Meri Behen Maya’; a story of two sisters where you saw the bond of love and support which unfortunately lacks in our dramas now-a-days.

So, what was the main concept behind writing Meri Behen Maya (MBM)? According to Hasina Moin, I feel really hurt to see women cry and wallow over petty issues, and unable to stand up for their rights, this is one of the significant reasons that compel me to resume writing again.

Women face domestic violence, they are harassed outside their homes and are treated as suppressive beings. Hasina Moin asserts that this is not the true picture that we see; she is of the opinion that these women have the potential and strength to uphold all the hardships with courage.

x1080-LeSMoreover, the other idea behind the serial is to defy the wrong depiction of sisters’ relation that promotes only hatred and nothing else. Hasina Moin believes that sisters do not deceive each other; rather they protect each other against the world. In her serial, she projected the positive side of sisterhood. One of the primary reasons to resume writing was to clear misconceptions regarding women, Moin adds.

MBM promoted the love-hate relationship between two sisters who at one moment were seen fighting with each other and at another moment they were sharing interesting stories while munching popcorn.

The portrayal of sisters in this serial was played by two female protagonists who are fearless and lively, and believe in living on their own terms. Annie Jaffri played the character of a younger sister Maya; she is upfront and bold, also expressive and does not conform to anything that she cannot relate to. According to Jaffri, the character is more like me, I am outspoken and love outings, even her family relate to her role.

Whereas Neelam Munir played the role of older sister Zarmeena; she is sensible and tries to cover Maya’s mess. Munir is the complete opposite of her character, and therefore she had to work on her body language, style and the behaviour. Munir shares her experience that to perform it accordingly, she observes her elder sister which helps a lot in understanding her character in the serial.

meri behen 5In replying to the question regarding the ‘look’ in the serial, both Munir and Jaffri say that western attire was more preferred for their characters, the decision was made after having a thorough discussion with the team.

However, when asked about the atmosphere on the sets and how did they find working with each other? Both female protagonists spoke highly of their team and they found it very helpful. Though Jaffri’s association with Azfar Ali is not new as she has also worked in Dreamers with him, so far it’s been good for her. Moreover, the teasing which was seen onscreen of both sisters was only for the serial, quips Munir and Jaffri with a smile; nevertheless on-set they both had a very congenial relationship.

The script was a refreshing one and every actor had performed well. Moin is all praise for the team. She had a very good working relationship with Iqbal Ansari who is also the Project Head of MBM; overall it had been a good experience.

untitledMoin signifies the importance of making children bold and confident, so that no one sabotages their rights and fight for themselves.

Seconding Moin’s opinion, Jaffri also says it is important for young girls to be strong in these times and do not give in. Munir on other hand believes that fathers should avoid second marriage and do not try to impose step-mothers on their children, it leaves a bad impact on the minds of the kids.

In a nutshell, dramas are always a revelation of our society, whether it’s good or bad but these days, where every other drama emphasises more on negative side of our society, Meri Behen Maya highlighted the ups and downs of familial relations.

 

 

 

Stand Out From The Crowd

This interview I took when I was working in Geo TV in 2012. This interview was posted on Geovision website. I am sharing some chunks of the interview over here for my readers.

beenish saleem 1“Each day in the world of news makes you a strong person,” says chirpy, quick-witted Beenish Saleem.

Since she used to come in the night time bulletins, it’s save to say that she was the nocturnal face of Geo News. She is co-operative, humble and knows her work very well. Beenish started her career as a sports reporter from Lahore but before she realized, her luck played wonders with her and she became a news-anchor.

Geo Vision brings you up-close to Beenish Saleem whose outspoken and casual nature defines her true self.

Madiha Akhtar: Why you choose to be a news-anchor?
Beenish Saleem: Well, it was by chance. I was into reporting before and maybe because I used to speak well, therefore I landed into this profession. But I would still say that it was just a mere coincidence. However, people watch you on television and gradually you earned face-value by becoming a house-hold name.

MA: How did you enter the field of news anchoring?
BS: I graduated in Journalism studies from Beacon National University Lahore and joined the field as a sports reporter. It was my previous channel that gave me an opportunity to divert my career into news-anchoring. Later I become a part of Geo News as a full-fledged newscaster from July 2009.

MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?
BS: For me, firstly one needs to be well-versed; one should also look presentable and finally to be extra alert as even a second’s distraction can cost more than you can imagine.

MA: Do you think that looks are given more importance than knowledge for being an anchor?
BS:
Unfortunately, it’s a dilemma that our newscasters are mostly looked as newsreaders, our news audiences are wide and they cannot be fooled. It’s true that presentation matters but it’s not the only criteria to rely on. Change is inevitable nevertheless, but at the same time I want to add that we (news anchors) are the people who register the reporter to the minds of the people. In fact we are also the ones to bring story to the public.

MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?

BS: Barkha Dutt and Poonam Sharma from India; they are my inspiration only because I can relate to them as they have also started their career with reporting. They had to face more or less same struggle as any Pakistani female journalist has to go through.

beenish

MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?
BS:
To be precise; you earn screen value as people recognize you which is the brighter side of being an anchor. But this is also one of the downsides because people relate to you and if any news disturbs anyone, so the news-anchors are blamed and ultimately they have to bear the brunt of the viewers’ revulsion.

MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?
BS:
Yes, once a housefly entered the news studio and alas! In the entire place, she found my nose to sit on! I was giving my OC (on-camera) that time and therefore I had to be static for around 30-40 seconds. I cannot even remove the fly from my nose (sigh). It was an awkward moment for me because it came out very bad in front of camera.

MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?
BS:
(Thinking hard) for now, there is none I think it is still to come.

 

MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?
BS: There are many issues including the assassination of Salman Taseer, and even Malala issue that grabbed the attention of International community; these were some news that really gave me goose bumps. However, it was the death of veteran actor Jamil Fakhri which really made me speechless and I started weeping but then with the help of my control room, I collected and composed myself soon.

MA: What has been your favourite news that made your day?
BS: Shoaib-Sania wedding ceremony, an interesting story as the bride was from our neighboring country and it was nice to be part of something like this. Furthermore, the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a treat to watch. Even though these kinds of news are not implied to journalistic ethics but they spread happiness.

bwenish

MA: Among noted personalities in news channels, who is your favourite one?
BS: Najam Sethi, he is not bias, his views are balanced and he presents an informative program.

MA: In present lot of politicians, who do you think is the rational one?
BS:
Former President Asif Zardari… I reckoned him as a true politician who knows what he is doing.

MA: Other than you, who has been your favourite anchor in Geo TV?
BS: There are two anchors that are my favourites, first is of course Danish Anis Sheikh. He is one such anchor who has the potential to do everything. He is basically a character anchor (she grins widely). The other one is Muhammad Junaid, who is also very good at his job.

MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?
BS:
I have to learn a lot because learning is a life-long process for me. It’s just the beginning and more work needs to be accomplished. My aim is to make my own individuality, simply to stand out from the crowd.

MA: How was your experience working with Geo?
BS
: Overall, it’s been a rocky and bumpy road, but a great journey so far.

MA: To the readers, what you want to say?

BS: Stop being judgmental please! There is some heart-wrecking news which also sends shivers down to our spine as well. Don’t judge us from outside because at the end of the day we are also ordinary people who are just doing our jobs.