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

 

 

 

Living Your Dream Life

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.

ayesha ehtesham 1“I believe that everything happens for a reason but if you really yearn something, it definitely comes your way,” says Ayesha Ehtesham, a renowned face in the news industry.

She is the most admired news anchor of the program. Unlike her presence on the screen that comes out as a strong and a confident person, there is a naivety in her personality off-screen.

Whether it was by coincidence or destiny, Ayesha joined the media industry during her university life. It was not a pre-planned decision, but as J.K. Rowling says: “What we are today is not a reflection of our abilities but the choices we make,” thus Ayesha is fortunate enough to make the right choice for her career.

During university days, she proved her ability as radio presenter in FM channel of University of Punjab Radio. However, before joining Geo News, she has not only worked as an associate producer in one of the former channels but a broadcaster as well.

She hosted a program known as Geo Extra that airs on Geo News. It is a one hour slot based on news and events where the style of the news is different from the other run-of-the-mill news presentation. Ayesha talked about the latest news by adding an extra zing to the news bulletins.

Geo Vision brings you up-close and personal with lovely Ayesha Ehtesham who believes in making the right choice at the right time.

MADIHA AKHTAR: Why you choose to be a news anchor?

AYESHA EHTESHAM: During my childhood days, a part of me always wanted to do something in front of camera though I never had any plan of being a newscaster, but it seems that my luck played its role. I had two options in my university life, the first was Clinical Psychology and the other was Communications. Interestingly, my fate chose the latter one for me and I accidentally bumped into this profession.

MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?

AE: Foremost one need to have sharp senses because a single mistake means you are out of the game; secondly confidence and finally knowledge. I believe that these are some of the significant components that a news anchor should possess.

MA: Do you think that looks are given more importance than knowledge for being an anchor…your take?

AE: Personally, I disagree from this statement. Before one could give importance to the looks over knowledge but after the inclusion of private channels, anchors are required to be well-prepared. However, there are two reasons of my disagreement; firstly you have hourly live news and breaking alerts one cannot survive until and unless one is not well-informed. Secondly, one needs to be camera-friendly – any sane person can lose confidence while facing camera, though for a newscaster you need to have confidence for your mental alertness.

ayesha 5MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?

AE: Faiza Dawood, former Geo newscaster Nida Sameer and Hala Ghurrani of CNN.

MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?

AE: I think the positives are good package and limelight (giggle), whereas the drawback is the compromise of the personal lives.

MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?

AE: There are several occasions when you come across funny or embarrassing situations; which include munching words during bulletins or doing lisping so on and so forth.

MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?

AE: (Thinking hard) I guess it is yet to come!

MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?

AE: Well, to be honest it’s not a good feeling at all to present bad news to the viewers, I really feel bad from inside. The assassination of Salman Taseer and the recent Malala issue – these were the times when I felt crying. But this is the job of us as anchors to control ourselves. At a glance, it might seem insensitive but this is a part of our job to avoid showing any lines of emotion on our face.

MA: What has been your favorite news that made your day?

AE: Once a batman entered a news studio where a presenter was sitting and giving her bulletin. She shrieked at the sight of flying creature, it was one of the news that really brings a smile on my face. My reason of amusement is because of my association with the profession. I am a newscaster, so definitely any news related to your contemporaries is hilarious.

MA: Among noted personalities at Geo News, who is your favorite one?

AE: Najam Sethi – he is the man of masses and his style of explaining things is very casual which I find it interesting.

ayesha 3MA: In our present lot of politicians, who do you think is the rational one?

AE: For me, Imran Khan all the way!

MA: Other than you, who is your favourite anchor in Geo TV?

AE: Danish Anis Sheikh-the attribute of being involved in every show is commendable. The peppiness and an interactive style of his anchoring are his strong points.

MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?

AE: I am not a planner, I live at the moment. Though my goal is to excel in the field of media and I am just hoping for the best.

MA: How has been your experience working with Geo?

AE: So far, it’s been a good journey. In my opinion, Geo is one such organisation that provides you a family environment to work at your comfort.

MA: To your fans, what you want to say?

AE: Nothing is impossible, yes nothing is! I never thought I would land into news anchoring, but destination paves its own way. It’s not impossible to achieve what you want; the only means is to have a firm belief on God and one’s ability.

 

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.

 

 

 

Quiet By Day, Bustling By Night

On May 3, 2018, my review of Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi Pakistan was published in Dawn Newspaper. Below is the article which was printed and also I am adding link of the article as well as the snapshot (if you want to see how this place looks)IMG_20180504_175729

A decade ago, Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal was a quiet neighbourhood characterised by large houses, tree-lined roads and a handful of grocery stores. Over the years, things have changed; plenty of apartment complexes have been established there, in addition to restaurants and commercial pockets.

A serene neighbourhood… If you drive through Block 7, you will see plenty of well-maintained houses built along quiet lanes. Several educational institutions, such as schools and training institutes dot the neighbourhood, as do commercial pockets where grocery stores and banks have a presence. Recreational avenues are limited to a few parks; these include Shaheed Inquilab Family Park, which has walking and jogging tracks, as well as a football pitch. The lesser known Jamshed Ansari Family and Al-Huda Parks are equally popular.

An emerging food street… In addition to apartment buildings, several supermarkets, retail stores and dining avenues have been established along Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani Road recently. Al Jannat Zaiqa and Jan Shinwari Restaurant are the go-to places for desi food such as chicken tikkas, malai boti and karahi. Other popular restaurants include Sizzlers Café & Grill, which is especially well-known for its steaks, burgers and sandwiches, and ChopSoy, which specialises in Chinese food. Several fast-food joints have a presence, including Bovi Chic, KFC and Pizza Hut. Their presence ensures that Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani Road is bustling with activity in the evenings and at night.

The real estate take… Block 7 is completely built-up; vacant plots are not available. Residential property options include apartments and houses. Houses on the main roads are increasingly being repurposed to serve as commercial enterprises such as schools, salons and fitness centres. Commercial property options include standalone shops and retail space in low-rise buildings. Property is in high demand; prices increase by 15 to 18% every year while rentals go up by eight to 10%.

 In a nutshell… Despite increasing commercialisation, Block 7, for the most part, remains a tranquil neighbourhood, mainly because most of the recently established stores and restaurants there are located along the major thoroughfares it is surrounded by.

Link: https://epaper.dawn.com/Advt.php?StoryImage=06_05_2018_808_003

https://epaper.dawn.com/?page=06_05_2018_808

Meat One Campaign ‘The Meat Experts’

Writing in one of the finest magazines of marketing and advertising, Aurora, has been a great experience. The article which I am sharing here is my second one for the magazine. It is about the campaign that Meat One, the premium brand of Al Shaheer Foods, launched in July, that aimed at repositioning the brand.

Below is the link of my article that I wrote for this campaign. The article is based on an interview with the brand and agency teams.

http://aurora.dawn.com/news/1142377/for-the-love-of-meat-one

 

Desi Beauty Remedies For Hair And Skin

For a glowing skin or lusty hair, go for the desi beauty ingredients.

Ubtan, sandalwood are a few of the ingredients that add radiance on your face.

Amla, reetha and shikakai are best for your hair as it not only makes your hair shiny but also add volume to it

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To read, please click link below:

http://epaper.dawn.com/Advt.php?StoryImage=13_08_2017_816_002

http://epaper.dawn.com/?page=13_08_2017_816

Happy Reading!