An open letter to my one-year-old brother

Dear Zaroon,

Today you have turned one. I remember last year, I thought I would not be able to see you come into this world but somehow it was destined and I made it. Then there begins the hardest part, leaving you after ten days of your birth. Back then we had not spent much time, I was not attached to you, also it was new for me having a brother who is 21 years younger than me but then again as the days passed I started missing you. I felt something was missing but could not decide was it; I felt a longing I had never felt before

Time passed, my semester ended and there I was back home for winter vacations, those mere 10 days. They were just 10 days, they did not feel like vacations but what I found was a connection with you. You were 5 months old; you had grown so well and no one could get enough of you. You were beautiful, cute, silent and shy. You were different from other babies, our other siblings. Another thing that was astonishing for me was that you had learned, how to hold your own milk bottle, all on your own. I found it so new but also that saddened me because everyone was talking about all the new things you have learned, how you have learned when you have learned. Everyone knew, all the small details about you except me, I knew nothing. I was not ready to come back but the vacations were over and I had to go back.

I did not even realize when the connection built up and how deep it was but now I had a thing for you. I missed you, a lot. I kept on asking for videos of you, what new thing you have learned, what clothes you wore, what hair cut you got, I just could not get enough of it. I wanted to know, everything, I wanted to see everything. I had never felt this thankful to technology; I received your videos smiling, laughing, and doing new things you had learned. I wanted to hold you, feel you, even sometimes I would think how better it would have been if we could touch someone through the phone but that did not seem possible probably not in 2017. I would video call home just to see you spilling your food over your clothes, making faces, crying, laughing, and trying to sit and then fall back.

I pulled through another semester and was excited this time to go home cause I knew what’s there waiting for me. The night before my flight felt so long, it felt like forever, an unbearable one. And then there I was back home excited, the first thing I wanted to see was you but when I reached for you cried and went back to mom, you could crawl now. I felt sad, I rather knew that would happen but I just could not believe that I was that much of a stranger to you. I knew you are my brother but you did not who I was. I just sat there watching you crawl around, throwing stuff, and playing. You were holding on to something, you were trying to get up but it seemed hard. I wanted to help but I knew you would not let me because I was a stranger to you.

Days passed, everyone knew about your likes and dislikes, they knew your language, you knew them, and you both knew what you like about each other. I was just an alien there I knew nothing. I remember the first few days when you would wake up in the morning, you would give me that look ‘when will this person go back’. However, with days I think you just got the idea that I was there for a long time. Nevertheless, for me, it was only one month but this time I knew how to get the best of it. I started spending all the time with you, waiting for you to accept me, I started thinking of ways to get your attention and I am glad I did find them.

We became friends now, you would come to me; I knew what you were asking. Playing your favorite song on my phone or playing your favorite cartoon. When you found sitting next to you, you would climb my lap and put your hands around my neck, which meant you wanted me to pick you up. I learned how to get you to sleep. I was so happy when for the first time you slept in my lap as if I had achieved the highest marks in the final project (well these days marks are sort of everything (Hehe). This time I knew when I leave, I do not want to be Stranger anymore. So since when I came back we have been video calling every then and now. I say all those names I call you with, I sing your favorite poems, you smile and squint your eyes in front of the camera, which means you like them and you do all the new things you had learned after I am back.

It has been two months since I am back but this time at least I know that I am no more of a stranger to you and although I am sad that your memories of me will always be blurry at least you would have them in bits and pieces. I missed all the celebrations and events since your birth but among them, I hate staying away on your birthday the most. I hate that I missed your birthday sitting in my square white-painted hostel room while writing this letter to you. I know that I will miss more of it, I will not be there when everyone would be cheering for you on your new learning when you will learn to walk, talk, your first words; you will have a new name for everyone but except me. It is painful and it will hurt that I have missed everything especially watching you grow up. It scares me that I might miss it again sitting in the same white room apart from you but then again all you need to know is that I love you and I will love you forever.

Link to YouTube video:
An open letter to my one-year-old brother

Digital Youth of Pakistan

Digital media is rapidly changing lives of people, influencing the youth all around the world. Providing a platform to showcase their talent and productivity. The new digital media has provided the place where you can live a second life doing what you want pursuing to be the person you always wanted to be. This digital world might be blamed for keeping people in a delusion of having a new life but at the same time it has its positive side, it has explored the creative side our youth has to them about which parents usually fail to recognize. In Pakistan where you are normally supposed to become a doctor or engineer and pursuing your passion related to arts, a subject is something rare, there are only a few people who turn their passion into their profession.

Social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress are the platforms which have a big role in becoming the stage for the youth of Pakistan who has a different side to them besides their normal day life. They are the people who have taken advantage of these social websites and have achieved success through these platforms and build their careers with high paying through their accounts. These websites have pushed the youth to break their boundaries and utilize their creativity. These rising stars showcase their Photography, writings, poetry, paintings and many other creative concepts through the new medium portals.

Here are the 7 Pakistani passionate youngsters who transformed their dreams into reality through the digital media.

Ibrahim Zauq
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Ibrahim Zauq is a 22-year-old young undergrad student of Space Sciences hailing from Peshawar. Who within no time gained popularity over Instagram with his skills of photography and videography. “Four years ago when I was in 11th grade, I had a little idea that I have liked photography and then a friend suggested Instagram to me. The rest is hard work, experiments, self-learning and passion.” Says Ibrahim.

His passion includes travel, film-making, and photography but as the all the youngster of Pakistan Ibrahim is also studying something else, which he thinks is an obstacle “but I am still pursuing my passion and working online.”

Another important thing is his captions which are usual in an unusual way, that compliment his pictures well and shows another side of Ibrahim.

“I have learned many things about photography and videography and I do professional work too which I have learned on my own while working in this field. I have found confidence and skill to compete at different levels and competitions,” claims Ibrahim.

“My family could not understand my passion for film-making and photography so they did not support my choice of pursuing this as my studies and career. Hence I am not where I should have been.”

“My family is not stopping me now from my passion while I am doing it alongside my studies. The appreciation and acknowledgment from friends, fans other people in the society have been very supportive to me.” Zauq Further exclaims.

With 7k followers, Zauq has one of the ruling photography accounts on Instagram.
Khadija Kiran
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Khadija Kiran is an arts and craft blogger at WordPress from Islamabad, she also has a Master’s degree in Education along with Post graduate diploma in Textile & Fashion Design. “I think I am good in making things easier to others by explaining. So I tried to polish my teaching skills.” Says Khadija. She started her blog in 2010 by the name Creative Khadija.

“I started a blog for sharing my art but later I realize I should be sharing art tutorials instead. Now it’s been 7 years I am blogging & sharing my crafts tutorials. Luckily, I am Pakistan’s only craft blogger who is sharing art & crafts regularly since 2010.” Says Khadija.

She is one of the professional bloggers of Pakistan, who proved that you can earn while sitting at home. “Blogging was a passion at the start but later it turned into a profession. I started selling my art projects & than tutorials post too. With the passage of time, my blog ranked well in Google. So I was contacted by some good brands to spotlight their shops/ business via my blog & social media networks. This is how I started earning through my blog & business online step by step.” Claims Khadija.

Kiran is one of the risk takers who took the initiative to work online when the platform wasn’t known enough. “Sometimes things work for us in a different way but we realize later. As I am Masters plus B.Ed. but even after A grades, I was unable to find a good job as an art teacher in any school. So I thought to give it a try online. Today I am thankful that I was not able to get any job. Otherwise, this online venture might not be a part of my life.”

Kiran talks about her hardship exclaiming that “Like every other business or job, I too faced a lot of obstacles. But by the grace of Almighty, everything fixed well with time. As a blogger, I was the first ever blogger of my family & in friends’ circle. Nobody was familiar with the word “Blog” even. I can’t ask anyone for help then. I learn each & everything by my own. From blog design to blog SEO, from photography to writing skills etc. 7 years back there was not social media networks influence as much as it is today. Big bloggers never share their tips & tricks with newbies as well. Google was the only helping hand. Besides blogging in online business, I face issues like shipping matters of products, the Payment system for international clients as PayPal is not working in Pakistan yet. And one big thing, there are a very few people in Pakistan who understand the importance of Art. Mostly thinks it’s just an activity to pass some time. Even at the start, my family was not appreciating me at what I am doing but later when they saw me doing great successfully, then they finally appreciate.”

As Khadija talks about opportunities she explains “Alhamdulillah there are a lot of ventures I have successfully done. I am always open for opportunities, my major field is blogging, arts making & selling along with brands marketing through my online influence. But I grab other opportunities on & off as well. I have been working with a British Fashion Designer for a Lehnga design project. I did some fabric painting project for a local brand. I also sold my designs for ceramics printing in the USA. Besides artwork, I am into digital marketing, I had a project with an online marketplace where I spotlighted their store on 50+ Pakistani blogs. I sold my crafts making tutorials to an international magazine too. Besides Pakistani magazines, I have been published & featured internationally in 100+ magazines, E-books,
websites & forums etc. I had a project with Europe’s best crafts network where I was featured as Crafty City Guide from Pakistan.”

“To be very honest, When I started blogging, my family was not appreciating my art, they suggest me to find any day job & better stay busy there instead of sitting in front of computer screen. Even I thought to stop this online venture few times but an appreciation of my wonderful readers worldwide keep me continuing all this successfully.” Says Khadija explaining the hard times of her career.
Fajar Ajmal
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Fajar Ajmal is an Activist, Motivational Speaker, Social Entrepreneur, Blogger, Poet and founder of Voice Up. She is also a member of Pakistan National Youth Assembly and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She lives in Lahore and studies at Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore. She is the first Pakistani young female who took the initiative to raise awareness about Transgender and Intersex in Pakistan.

“when I started my work, I started writing articles and requested several magazines to publish them or to consider them. They said that these are very bold topics and no one even knows about intersex and its very inappropriate as it had the word ’sex’ in it, and it’s surprising that you are approaching this subject being a girl, as many people are against it.” Says Fajar.

“When I couldn’t find a proper platform I thought, why not create one for myself. I made a blog and started raising my voice there.” States Fajar.

Talking about her obstacles Fajar explains, “The first obstacle was that people were strictly against it and more repulse was there because I was a girl. The second one was that I had no support. Another reason for no support was that people didn’t know what to do or how to act regarding this topic. There was no support from my family either. And it was hard for people to accept that what I’m saying and if presenting it is actually right. It was hard because it was a new thing, and without any knowledge people only portray and visualize it as negative and ask if one is okay in their senses. I bore all of this for three days and out of nowhere, I clicked this link of 13 incredible geniuses of Pakistan, and my name was there, on the top of the list.”

Talking about her opportunities Fajar states, “With time I got recognition.  And then obviously, when I got recognition, the behavior and attitude of people towards me. More ways started to opening up and the hurdles decreased. I had various opportunities to grab. My career started just from writing online. People say the internet has many disadvantages but if one uses it with the right mind and motive, you can touch the sky. My links with so many renown people were built up due to the internet and my struggle by using it. Internet gave me the platform that none did. Many politicians have already approached me that they want to work with me and help me with this initiative.

“The basic criticism that I received was that I was a girl, and girls don’t talk like this or on a topic like this. People think it it’s only trans community and it has nothing to do with sexuality. First, I was using the word, ‘hermaphrodite’ but nobody took it seriously because it was too formal or scientific. Then I choose the word, ‘intersex’ because Pakistani public is much attracted to anything that is related to the word, ‘sex’. As they always consider this word in ‘intimacy sex’ not the gender sex. The clicks started to increase gradually. The first motive was to create awareness, which was unbelievably hard.” Further, explains Ajmal.

“There was no support from my family even when I started to wear hijab, and they thought someone has brainwashed me. So, getting to know that I am writing about such bold topics and raising my voice to create awareness, the support was out of the question. But with the passage of time, my mother started to support me a lot, a lot more than my father.” Says Ajmal.

Hira Nazir
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Hira Nazir is a full-time medical student and a part-time writer from Peshawar, also a blogger and a poet. “I want to be known as someone with a diverse array of passions.” Says Hira.

She loves the sunset, books, pretty socks, stationary, long walks, green tea, empty corridors & early mornings.

“I have written for 14 years till now & have always been secretly wishing to be New York times’ bestseller author. I own a book club; a spoken word organization & I am a part of many writing forums including Dastaan & YWWF. Medicine is my profession & literature (writing) is my passion, I have not yet learned the art of talking about my own self.” Explains Nazir.

“Poetry & Instagram are not connected for me. I have been writing since the age of 7. I joined Instagram around in 2013. However, Instagram proved to be a good platform for having larger viewership & reaching out more people.” States Nazir

She says “Online world is a strange place. It has its pros & cons. Where at one side, the newcomers have to struggle a lot to make an impact, the old ones/already familiar ones are not ready to share the stage & help others & hence so, the element of jealousy & unhealthy

competitive air would increase. Moreover, the mishaps of getting your work & ideas stolen, all copyrights are broken & not being credited enough are also very commonly faced.”

Talking about her opportunities Nazir says “I got many opportunities while being in the virtual world and all of them helped me to improve my skills and polish my abilities. I got to collaborate with so many other writers, be a part of many events, mentor the young coming ones, give fellowship programs, do freelancing & so many other exciting opportunities came my way.”

“Well, criticism for the sake of criticism kills a writer’s creativity, however, healthy criticism always helps you improve your work. There are certain people who would always find ways to bring you down however constructive criticism helps you learn and grow. We just have to get benefit from the good one and have to ignore the bad one. I improved a lot based upon the critique that I received.” talking her experience about criticism Nazir States.

“My family has always been supportive towards my endeavors especially my mom & my sister; both of them have always pushed me so much even though none in my family is remotely related to writing & literature. However, the unconditional support & encouragement that I got from them has always kept me moving. My social circle has been always encouraging including my friends, it is their constant motivation that makes me do bigger things in life!” Claims Nazir.
Shah Zaib Anwar Siddiqui
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Shah Zaib Anwar Siddiqui is a Media Sciences student from Karachi, He is an amateur Photographer and an Instagrammer.

“When I was 12, I started using the Internet, I made a Facebook account, it’s my habit to fulfill all the requirements which are needed to make an account, I started checking every option which made me happy. Then I made an Instagram account and started following some random accounts, I saw a lot of good images on Instagram, that’s how it was possible to take all the images. I kept on searching on the Internet and learned from there.” States Anwar.

Explaining his journey of becoming an amateur Photography Shah Zaib says “I have done a short course in photography, then my vision was becoming clearer day by day, When I hear a single word that I don’t know what it means, I spend hours to learn about it from the Internet. From there I thought I should make short videos/films, I started searching where to learn I took the admission in Iqra University, which now I’m a proud media student and want to be a photographer and filmmaker, there are a lot of things that I still don’t know, this process of learning will continue till I die.”

“At first when I started taking pictures nobody liked my pictures, people just come and point out a minor mistake on my images, they don’t look what I have taken in the pictures, but I keep on looking, searching, learning, I became pro at phone photography, then I realized that a phone can’t take you to a professional level, it took me 5 years to save money and buy a high-end camera.” Anwar Further Stated.

“Family always supports me, especially my mom, she believes in me as a good person, that’s enough of I want right now.” Says Anwar.

 

Saher Touqeer Abbasi
Saher Touqeer Abbasi

Saher Touqeer Abbasi is a professional Animator and a Photographer from Islamabad. She currently works at Orenda as an animator. She is one of the famous female photographers from Pakistan on Instagram. She Joined Instagram 5 years ago getting inspired from many other female photographers.

“I was fascinated by the fact that you can really make ordinary things look extraordinary through your unique perspective. I didn’t have a camera at that time so I started taking pictures from my phone and started posting them online. The feedback I got was amazing so there has been no stopping ever since.” Says Abbasi.

Talking about her hard times Abbasi says “There are a lot of people out there who will appreciate your work but there also are some who discourage you and make fun of you. There were people who stole my pictures and posted them without any credit or appreciation. That used to be a big disappointment in the beginning but I soon realized that people can steal your pictures but they can’t your brain or ideas. They can never be you or think about things the way you do. So you should keep doing your thing and not care much about negative people.”

Talking about social media and her recognition through Instagram Abbasi states “Social media is a very vast space and really connects you with the rest of the world. I got to work on a lot of animation as well as photography projects for not only local start-ups and businesses but have also worked with a Dubai-based company. I made stop-motion animations for them. They discovered me through Instagram.”

“Alhamdulillah, I feel very lucky to have faced very less negative or destructive criticism. Most of the time people leave very kind comments on my work and that is what really keeps me going. A little kindness goes a long way.” Claims Abbasi.

“My sister and my best friend have been my biggest support and appreciated me throughout. I have always aimed to stay away from negative things and focus more on the positive and as a result, I always got a positive response from almost anyone who has seen my work whether it be family, friends or people who don’t know me in person but follow me on social media.” Further states Saher.

Azeema Ilyas
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Azeema Ilyas is an amateur photographer from Peshawar, Pakistan. She uses Instagram to showcase her work, as well as is the co-founder of Instagram Community, Peshawar. She is a State Alumna and is studying Defense and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University.

Talking about the beginning of her journey Azeema Says “I always had a passion for photography. Back when we had reel cameras, my sister, who was pretty self-obsessed would buy reels and ask me to take photos for her. We would use the whole reel clicking away photos in super filmy poses. In 2007 one of my cousins sent us a digital camera, I would take it around all the time and take photos of random silly things. My laptop was full of such photos.”

“In 2011, my father bought us our first DSLR because my sister was taking photography as her minor. After that, I became the official photographer at the family events. In 2013 during my entry tests days, I made an Instagram account to kill boredom. But I would use it to post random photos. I never had the confidence to share my photographs there because, to be honest, every photographer I followed was so good, when I would look at their work I would think about how bad my photography skills are.” Explains Ilyas.

“I befriended Ibrahim Zauq through Instagram, he saw few of the photographs I had taken and encouraged me to start posting my work on Instagram. It started from there. I started clicking more, got to meet all the Instagrammers I was inspired from, learned A LOT from them and improved my photography to the level that today I can confidently say that I am a photographer.” Stated Ilyas.

Talking about her Instagram experience Ilyas says “Through Instagram, I found people who inspired me in many ways and help me become a better human. However, what I dislike the most about online spaces is that how some people think that since you are out there, they have the right to pass judgments on you, mock you or harass you in any way. It is severe in a case when you have a certain standing among people. I get many DMs with people calling me names because I didn’t reply to their comment or accepted their friendship request or have the conversation with them. People think just because someone has a public account, it means they are free and available for everyone and that they owe them something. It gets on my nerves sometimes like nothing and then I just distance myself from Instagram.”

“I got to work on projects with esteemed organizations like Archaeology Department of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, World Bank Group, Peshawar 2.0, Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. I got to represent Instagram Community Peshawar at the first Art Tech Festival. Instagram basically opened a lot of doors for me.” Claims Ilyas.

“When you are posting your work online, you get people from very diverse backgrounds with very diverse perspective to critique your work and it is what helped me in improving my work. I have faced a lot of criticism with things like someone telling me that they don’t even consider me a photographer. Initially, it broke me but I believe it was important for me to face such harsh criticism because it is what made me who I am today.” Explaining the criticism Says Ilyas.

“My parents especially my mother has always been very supportive of me. Even though I belong to a Pukhtoon family, I did not face the problems that normally girls in Pukhtoon families face. When I took to the streets for photography, my mom was always there by my side, go around the city with me while I clicked photos.” Says Ilyas.

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Everything has its pros and cons but the internet is the platform that has provided the place for many youngsters of Pakistan to showcase their talent and prove their identity around the world.

“You can make a building out of hay.”

Bohri Bazar- The Classic Vintage

Bohri Bazar is a famous marketplace situated in the Saddar Town locality of Karachi, Pakistan. The market traces its origins before the partition era and stayed at its place while the time around it evaluated into something more. It was used to be one of the most popular and busy places for shopping in Karachi and reflected as one of the few historical spots of the city. Commodities sold in the Bohri Bazar range from condiments, Home decor, Kitchenware, to stationary material, fabrics and party favors.

There is no exact date of when the market was established but old folks remember it from the era of 1950’s, which makes some of these shops more than a 100 years old. The market back in the time was one of the most famous for its shops and merchandise, which left the customers in awestruck. The market is situated alongside of Empress Market one the British relics left behind in Karachi. Though Empress Market was one of the most famous and architecturally beautiful but Bohri Bazar had its own charm and kept its loyal customers attracted to itself.

Karachi has had a great change since Pakistan came into being, the market has shifted to the area Clifton by the beach and so has the residents but places like Bohri Bazar never let its populace forget about the old belonging and memories they had shared together. It even mesmerize the new comers and make them come again and again. The bazar continues to evoke romanticism and is visited by hundreds of customers and visitors daily for shopping, despite its location in one of the most congested areas of the city. The market is a one-stop shop for everything needed to run a household.

But just like a city, a market is defined by the people who run it and Bohri Bazar has its own share of unique characters. As you stroll through the alleys sidestepping sunrays piercing through the tattered tents, you see narrow shops with dimly lit openings into winding alleys full of shoppers. The shopkeepers not less than magicians impeccably dressed in shalwar kameez, reading newspapers and passing a smile, a sign of welcome to their shops; The books sellers on the footpaths with the piles of books laying in front of them grinning and cleaning the dust from the books, time to time. The beggars strategically positioned at the entry points to make the buyers handing out charity before they run out of money. A tea vendor delivering chai to all shop keepers in the bazaar can make anyone dizzy, an art in itself, the chai wallah expertly weaves in and out of the bustling streets, handing out teacups around ensuring smooth supply of caffeine.

Bohri bazaar is also very famous for decorations and other important ornaments to make your parties go lit. Here you can find an array of artificial flowers as decoration prop, mehndi decorations and other props to make your wedding filled with all the bling and sparkles. Along with other shops, you will also find those related to beauty such as shops selling toupees, wigs, artificial hair, cosmetics, and jewelry including a wide range of Hyderabadi Bangles. Another famous rang of shops are the shoe shops selling zari Chappal, naagra shoes and other types of sandals with a wide range of variety originated from Lahore to Jaipur(India), which are equally popular in Karachi.

The Bazar is home to one of the oldest Nimko shops in Karachi, while others similar snacks like samosas with daal & other fillings, which is still very popular in Karachi. Other than kulfi from, the bazaar is famous for its numerous chaat houses and ice-cream shops selling faluda. A trip to Bohri bazaar would be incomplete without this. As night approaches, the small streets inside the bazaar are surprisingly glowing with the lights set up inside and outside the shops by the owners. Showing another view, one different from the day light. Shops remain open well after sunset, sometimes even busier than it is during the day.

Just like every historical place Bohri bazar has had its history of tragic incident that affected the Shops and residents of the area. The bazaar has witnessed two horrific disasters, one of which was in 1958 when a huge fire broke out in a fireworks shop. The shops were burnt beyond recognition and caused a great damage to the building. The second incident took place in the 1980s when two bomb blast claimed dozens of innocent lives. The Bohri community played an important role in reconstructing the market and didn’t lost any hope. The area is still in need of the attention from the government to improve the electrical wirings, fix the drainage system and other bare necessities.

Bohri Bazar from its beginning is helping people to earn for their families but in past few years due to unauthorized usage of market, this building is now under threat. The Bazar is our heritage, culture, and the core values of our society, a hope for the authorities to get in their senses and preserve this city’s heritage and make something out of the bountiful architecture that is found all around Saddar. we must strive to preserve these places and provide adequate services to the shop owners as it reflects our history.