A Tale of Harassment

Harassment is one issue which most of us ladies have experienced one way or another..
This blog is about harassment episode which I faced three years ago

Find link below for further reading:

Our Company said if he didn’t touch you, it isn’t harassment

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/42465/our-company-said-if-he-didnt-touch-you-it-isnt-harassment/

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Photo: Express Tribune Blogs (Online)

Book Review: The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

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Whenever you pick a book you never know exactly what are you going to get. Same happened to me with ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

Background of buying Bastard of Istanbul: I would not have read this novel if the author was not Elif Shafak. My love for Shafak started after reading Forty Rules of Love (FROL). It was a story about a desperate housewife who was not happy in her married life. She worked at a literary agency where she was given a book to review name as Sweet Blasphemy written by Aziz Zahra. The book is about a wandering dervish Shams of Tarbaiz who is a mystic Sufi and he sees the vision of his death and he need to find someone to whom he can deliver his knowledge to. For this purpose, Shams travelled to Konya where he met Jalaluddin Rumi, a famous Islamic scholar and a Sufi. After meeting Shams, a drastic change was observed in Rumi due to which people including Rumi’s family start hating him.

I know I have deviated from my review but the reason to include synopsis of FROL was to make you people understand my preference for this novel 🙂

I remembered I bought this book during last year’s book fair that held at Expo Center, Karachi. Before this fair, I had already finished FROL so when I reached liberty book stall and start searching for some good novels, I got hold of this novel ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’. I only saw the spine of the novel as it was in between other novels on the rack. Reading Shafak’s name raised my guard and as soon as I took it out I was just in love with the cover of the paperback. I decided instantly to buy this novel.

For one whole year I thought to read but due to job and so many other books in my reading list, it took me a while to start with this novel (and probably that’s why I am dragging it over here too) Jokes apart…

Précis: Let me trudge through the story which showcases three cultures in one story-Turkey, Aremina and America. The story is set in the United States and Turkey, concerns two families-one Turkish, living one in Istanbul and other is Armenian, living between Arizona and San Francisco

A young girl Armanoush, an Armenian- American, had a split family as her parents were divorced. Her mother married to a Turkish man, Mustafa whereas his father who was an Armenian, never remarried.  Armanoush decided to go to Turkey and stay with her step-father’s family.

Mustafa’s family based in Istanbul is a house of five women where Asya Kazanci is the youngest of all. Asya’s beautiful and a rebellious mother, Zeliha run a tattoo parlor. Asya never got to know about his father and her mother never mentioned to her of course at the end of the story.

Both Armanoush and Asya were young and didn’t know much about their past however, the former who came for a search of her identity, the latter didn’t even attempt to find about her father. According to Asiya, “Memories are too much of a burden” whereas Armanoush had different opinion and following lines might be easy to understand her perception. “Despite all the grief that it embodies, history is what keeps us alive and united.”

Review: I was really shocked when I got to know that Shafak was prisoned for three years for writing this novel. The story talks about Armenian genocide that happened in 1915. Shafak kept a neutral approach for this genocide. Armanoush tried to reason with her cousin Asya about Armenian genocide as she was appalled to find a city and a country in denial about the genocide, and she attempted to make her cousin understand how much the past conditioned the present.

What I found troubling is Mustafa’s character, whose actions are central to the plot, remains an enigma. It was quite a revelation when I got to know that Asya’ on whom the title is based, was a daughter of her uncle Mustafa and he was the culprit who raped his own sister. I think nothing justifies rape and putting on the complexities in the past is not enough reason to do such horrendous act. But then the brought up of the family do matter in the development of the personality.

Overall there’s plenty of plot in this novel however, there is no doubt that the book is clever, thick with ideas, themes and politics. But then reading through the pages I realized that it would be more interesting with fewer characters and rather less quirky description.

On the positive side, the highlight of the novel is some of the beautiful lines which really hook you to the novel till the end. Some of the lines I am sharing below in this post.

Excerpts from the Novel

Life is coincidence, though sometimes it takes djinni to fathom that.

-Language was only a reeking carcass of hollow words long rotten inside

-Literature needs freedom to thrive. For Asya, fiction was her main connection with the entire world

-Mourning is like virginity, Aunty Zeliha heaved a sigh. You should give it to the one who deserves it most.

-When women survive an awful marriage or love affair, and all that, they generally avoid another relationship for quite some time. With men, however, it’s just the opposite, the moment they finish a catastrophe they start looking for another one. Men are incapable of being alone.

-Family stories intermingle in such ways that what happened generation ago can have an impact on seemingly irrelevant developments of the present day. The past is anything but by gone. If Levent Kazanci hadn’t grown up to be such a bitter and abusive man, would his only son, Mustafa, have ended up being a different person? If generations ago in 1915 Shushan hadn’t been left an orphan, would Asya today still be a bastard

-“All these rich people! Huh! They stockpile money all through their life, what for? How foolish! Do shrouds have pockets? It’s a cotton shroud that we are all going to wear in the end. That’s it. No chic clothes. No jewelry. Can you wear a tuxedo to the grave or a ball gown? Who holds the skies for the people?”

-Imagination was a dangerously captivating magic for those compelled to be realistic in life and words could be poisonous for those destined always to be silenced.

-For the Armenians, time was a cycle in which the past incarnated in the present and the present birthed the future. For the Turks, time was a multi-hypenated line, where the past ended at some definite point and the present started anew from scratch, and there was nothing but rupture in between

-Collectivities are capable of manipulating their individual members’ beliefs, thoughts, and even bodily reactions. You keep hearing a certain story over and over again, and the next thing you know you have internalized the narrative. From that moment on it ceases to be someone else’s story. It is not even a story anymore, but reality, your reality!

Happy Reading Everyone!

 

Book Review: Dance Upon the Air-a tale of love, friendship and mysterious ways!

dance upon the airLove story isn’t my cup of tea and Nora Roberts is famous for writing love stories. I remembered buying her novel in last year’s book fair where I accidentally bought this one.

Dance Upon the Air is the first ever novel which I read out of her so many novels and I must say she knows how to grasp the reader’s attention. This novel is a treat for all those readers who are into romance.

Helen Remington is the main protagonist of this novel who died so she could live. She was married to the media mogul Evan Remington. On the outside they both looked a regular happy couple but nobody knew that this was just a facade to conceal the physical torture which Helen was going through in her marriage. Evan was a control freak person who used to abuse his wife, Helen for everything. She eventually realized that if she wanted to survive she had to leave, however, as easy as it seem; it was not easy for her to leave this man. Not because she had an affection for him but because he was an influential person and could twist situation easily in his favor. Hence she had to stage up her death to escape away from her psychotic husband.

After her fake death, she changed her identity and became Nell. She reached to Three Sisters Island where she met Mia who owned a cafe in this small island and on that day her chef left the job.  So fortunately Nell got a job as a chef and also a place to stay.

Living in this island was a dream come true for Nell. She also discovered that she was a witch with the help of Mia. She also learnt that she is part of an ancestry of the three witches who formed the island as a hideout from the Salem witch trials three hundred years ago. Now, with impending doom, the three witches alive must do what their ancestors couldn’t. Ripley Todd, the deputy sheriff also lived in this island who is the third witch in this scenario.

During her stay, Nell got close to Ripley’s brother, Sheriff Zackary Todd but when he proposed her she was not ready to get married only because she hadn’t got divorced from her abusive husband.

Evan got to about Helen when his sister told him about her acquaintance who assumed to see Helen’s lookalike in the Island. He knew at the moment that his wife tricked him and he got furious. He is not only now an abusive man, but he is also being possessed by the evil spirit bent on destroying Nell.

Meanwhile,  Nell finds the courage to trust Zack, and contact authorities that would protect her from her psychotic husband. Nevertheless, a week after  Zack and Nell engagement, Evan lands on the Island, and starts searching for his wife. He did find her and went to her cottage with the intention of murder.

In the end, Nell with the help of her witch sisters Mia and Ripley saved herself and Zack who got wounded by Evan’s violent stab.

Dance Upon the Air reads more like the journey of a damaged woman who tried to run away from abusive relationship. The mark of such relationship leaves an acerbic impact on victim’s life. Just like for Nell, it took a year for her to regain her self-esteem. She realized after coming to this Island that this is the life which she thought she should have lived.

The novel is the first series of the trilogy which are followed by other two series, Heaven and Earth and Face the Fire.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Details:

Genre: Fiction

Publishing Date: June 2001

Pages: 386  

Paperback

 

Time to Speak Out and Break the Taboo

 

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Need of the Time

Menstruation, also known as Periods is a regular natural cycle that occurs in the female reproductive system but girls particularly in Pakistan dread getting their periods. Unfortunately in Pakistan, menstruation is a hushed matter due to cultural constraints. Therefore, many girls face a lot of obstacles when it comes to sanitation.

According to UNICEF report, only 20 percent of girls have access to sanitary napkins in school whereas most of the girls reported that they can’t go to schools if they can’t find pads to wear or a toilet in which to change them in the school premises.  Girls also reported a lack of adequate facilities in school bathrooms while some schools don’t have running water so that girls can keep their hands and bodies clean while menstruating. There is a dire need to break the silence on this topic, so that millions of young girls every year don’t see their period as a disability, but a natural, normal part of their lives.

In a bid to break the stereotype associated with menstruation, the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign was launched by the MHM working group to increase awareness about sanitation and menstruation hygiene environment.

The day is observed on May 28 every year across the world aims at creating awareness to break taboos and myths around menstruation and to encourage women to overcome their hesitation about menses.

Every year, the theme is different and this year, the global theme of the day is “Menstruation Matters for Everyone, Everywhere.”

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Time to Speak Out

In Pakistan, a panel discussion was held which focused on how the health, education, and sanitation of adolescent girls are impacted by lack of proper MHM was organized. Panelists included government representatives from across the country that explored the much-needed solutions to tackle the taboo and associated problems that females’ especially young adolescent girls face.  The event was organized by the MHM Working Group, a coalition of humanitarian organizations working to champion menstrual hygiene rights in Pakistan.

Menstrual Hygiene Management remains a taboo in Pakistan which affects a woman’s self-esteem, health and education.

Young girls in Pakistan bare most of this brunt as they lack the knowledge and services to manage menstruation which in turn affects their learning experiences. Research reveals that marginalized girls can miss up to two to four consecutive days of schools every four weeks due to their periods. This of course has serious implications on their learning.

Women are the bringer of new life into the world, and periods are a part of that process. This is an attitude that we need to bring back into our conversations, but also our attitudes, towards all matters related to sexual and reproductive health. It is time that all sectors come together to break the silence around MHM by supporting strong policy implementation across all state levels.

 

 

Technology Makes Life Easier for Working Women in Today’s Era

technologyResearch reveals that working women have to bear so much stress because they have to juggle between two jobs. On the one end they have to look after their family and on the other, tension for their work. Therefore these women have to maintain a balance between the two.

Back in the times, it might be a challenge for working women to bring up children and focus on their career due to far less technological advancement. However, now with the aid of modern technology the women of today can stay organized and prepare their routine perfecting the balancing act between work and family life.

Gone were the days when these working women used to come back home from work and gave themselves away to the kitchen and household chores for hours at a stretch.  Now they have more technological facilities to falter on and hence seem to manage their household efficiently by using modern-day electronic home appliances.

Now working women do not have to compromise on the health of their family. Microwave ovens, regular ovens and other modern home appliances have made cooking easy which means one do not have to drudge long in kitchen. The hardest part of getting meals on the table is what to cook with the ingredients on hand. But with different recipe apps or cooking shows online have helped women to sift through millions of recipes from leading sites all over the Internet. The best online recipes often include step-by-step photo tutorials or even instructional videos, so it’s easier than ever to step out of your comfort zone.

Furthermore, today’s technology empowers these working women to stay connected with their children and their family through mobile phones or even social networking. Keeping a family organized and all on the same page is no small feat.

 

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Stay Connected

One of the other perks of technology that women enjoyed most is the flexibility to work from home. One doesn’t have to leave their sick kids home with a relative or maid and worry about them the entire day at work. Thanks to laptop and the internet they can always stay connected and on the go in terms of their work, without missing out on the lives of their kids.

Managing time is a big task for the working women. In the past, one has to wait in a queue for long hours to pay bills. However, in today’s times with online banking and online transaction, it has made lives easier for working women. They can pay their bills without missing the due date.

Similarly online shopping is prevalent in today’s working women.  One does not have to roam around the malls to shop for their favorite dress or for any household item. You are just one click away to buy your sought-after item. This is one of the best ways to shop for your clothes, accessories, gadgets and even groceries. One of the advantages of online shopping is that women can save a lot of time while investing their precious time to their family.

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Juggling their Way Out

Juggling different roles from being a caregiver, home financier and sometimes a chef is what women have been trying to do for centuries. The only difference is that today women have more facilities which probably women of yesteryear didn’t have it.  The technological advances of this age enable working women the opportunity to maintain their status as competent and effective employees that contribute to the business’ success, without neglecting their offspring or household duties.

#UnfairandLovely: Breaking Dark Colour Stereotype!

Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder not in the skin tone.

Dark skin is not a taboo and we need to break this stereotype

Click the link below to read my write up on the recent campaign #unfairandlovely..
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/33624/unfairandlovely-being-attractive-should-not-be-synonymous-with-being-fair-skinned/

Standing against Wrong!

What happens when you finally voice out your opinion for the unbearable harassment that you have to face for around three months? You are ridiculed, you are blamed for having filth in your minds; you are indirectly under suspicion in everyone’s eyes and all this for what? Only because you stand for something and you do not want to endure anymore.

I used to work in a private company that provided van service to the ladies; a facility which is a need of almost every working lady. I was the first one to be picked by the van driver, and as it was my first job so I did not have any idea of how to deal in professional way. Soon I realized that the van driver talked aimlessly without any reason with me. I tried to ignore even when he talked ill about some of the senior members of my office. I preferred to be quiet only because I knew by my experience in university that if you tried to complain of anything, it comes all on you.

This is the commonly practiced principle used over here. Later, he made the big issue of not greeting him and I quote his words: ‘If no one greets me so I will not pick any female from next day even if I have to leave the job.’ He started misbehaving with me.  I remained quiet and only shared with my mother because I had this presumption that if I did, no action would be taken or maybe it was only my fear at that moment because from our younger age we are being told to remain silent at the face of wrongdoing.

However, after few days it just got out of my hand and I decided to take a stand by talking to my other van fellows. When I discussed with my other van colleagues, so I realized how wrong I was! He used to behave badly with every other female. At that time we decided to take a stand against his reckless behavior.  I and my other van fellows wrote an application against the driver’s conduct. Once the complain was submitted, he was called in by the administration of the company and was severely warned. But instead of rectifying his mistake, he got offensive. Next day, he started picking the ladies according to his wish and sometimes if he didn’t want to so he would not pick any of the lady. It became unbearable, and again we complained regarding his behavior but instead of taking action against him, we were suggested to compromise. We did not let it go away easily and therefore in order to validate our point, we initiated the silent protest in which we abandon the van facility and took public bus instead.  Unfortunately, what stunned me that the only solution to this problem, the company found out was to end the van facility completely. I mean they could have change the driver but no they went for the easy way-out!

However, what astonished me more is the behavior of other female staff in our office that had not gone through the horrible experience, they begun to blame the other half of the affected females, I was really appalled that how easily these few women targeted on our characters without even giving a second thought.

We always stress on the fact that the workforce is dominated by men and that’s why they try to pull down the women. We also heard that men do not give due position to the women as these women deserved. If women face any wrongdoings so men are the first ones who try to mock and blame the women. This incident made me realize that it’s not always the men who try to blame women but at times, a woman is the actual foe of other woman and instead of providing support to their own gender they are the ones who try to pull each other down.