Frieha Altaf, in her last GT diary, reminisces about Manhattan
Iâ€™m back from my swanky vacation, and back into the swing of things. After a ten-day stint in Italy, I retired in good old Surrey for some much-needed R n R. How much can a girl party after all? Well, I flew to New York for the weekend to spend time with my buddies. Going to the US is a feat. I mean, isnâ€™t everyone paranoid about Immigration in the US? The horror stories of people being interrogated for hours, some having to completely strip at arrival were made only too familiar by movies like â€œThe Reluctant Fundamentalistâ€ and â€œMy Name is Khan.â€ After watching the â€œWelcomeâ€ video on American Airlines, I noticed that the same video ran at immigration. The Americans are really trying to ease tensions by presenting their â€œsoftâ€ image.
The video features a variety of Americans smiling and welcoming everyone to the US. It even has a hijab lady in it! Yours truly was equally nervous but I guess the Canadian passport worked magic. What did upset me was how my hand-carry bag was opened and a desi immigration officer randomly picked me just before boarding the aircraft. (Have you noticed that most immigration officers in London are desis?) She gave me a lecture on smoking but was most interested in my attire and shopping!
Now, there is no city like the Big Apple and one canâ€™t do New York without a visit to the Metropolitan museum. I had been waiting to see the roof painting by Pakistanâ€™s very own Imran Qureshi, and finally I got to see it. After lying down and posing on his painting I proceeded to see the â€œChaos to Coutureâ€ exhibition. A low-key lunch at Bryant Park followed, after which I ran to dinner with Saqib Malik, Annie Ali Khan, and Mehreen Jabbar, downtown at the Bowery.
The next day I decided I had gone too long without detoxing. I took to the gym and decided to take advantage of the gorgeous view of the New York Palace hotel (made famous by the Gossip Girl episodes where it was used as their high school) and its view of the St Patrickâ€™s church. More museum visits to the Guggenheim and Moma followed, after which I headed for rooftop drinks with Omar Rahim, my Guatemalan friend Douglas, Julia, and Saqib. I also squeezed in a play. â€œSleep no Moreâ€ was a treat. Set in a warehouse, it was one of those modern, interactive plays: one followed the actors and dancers through a series of rooms and halls!
The horror stories of people being interrogated for hours, some having to completely strip in arrival were made only too familiar by movies like “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and “My Name is Khan”
Sunday was spent at Saks Fifth Avenue where I purchased my first Prada and Stella McCartney dress along with six other things. Maxing my credit cards, I took a flight to Toronto.
There is nothing like family. Seeing my brother, mother, niece, and daughter was a delight. My son had decided to spend his month in Scotland training for athletics. My poor brother was keeping 18-hour fasts and I found my mother addicted to â€œWheel of fortuneâ€ and â€œThe price is right.â€Â The weekend saw me check into Trump Towers. The annual Caribbean parade was spectacular and the evening was spent with friends Anu and Omar at the Prava club. The purely RED Russian-inspired club had pictures of Lenin and Stalin, they played the Russian national anthem and sang on top of the bar and tables. But, unlike New York, Toronto shuts its doors at 2am! The Louboutin Exhibition the next day, however, made up for Torontoâ€™s general anemia compared to Manhattan.
Heading to London I changed Parishesâ€™ flight and took her to my friendâ€™s place in Surrey. We dined at Ping Pong and spent the next day with my old friend Beena and her daughter. Finally, arriving in Pakistan I found my cell phone blocked! It appears the idea to put my cell-phone on roaming, from Europe to the US, took its toll. Deepak and Syma took me across to my friend Sadaf â€˜s 40th birthday, which was done in style. I then ran to Feeha Jamshedâ€™s wedding party and back to Sadafâ€™s for nashta: New York may never close down at night but neither does Karachi. After that, the jet lag kicked in and there was little sleep. But Feehaâ€™s mehndi was fantastic. I dished out a 22-year-old Faiza Samee sari, and gauging from the complements, it looked as good that night as it did more than two decades ago.
I dished out a 22-year-old Faiza Samee sari, and gauging from the complements, it looked as good that night as it did more than two decades ago
This has to be the season of birthdays. I spent a lovely afternoon with Maria Wastiâ€™s at CafÃ© Flo. I canâ€™t get over how handsome Sikander, Florenceâ€™s son, is. Methinks I could produce a show like â€œthe Bachelorâ€ and put all the handsome guys of Pakistan in it!
GT friends, my tenure at the social diary is over for now. I hope youâ€™ve enjoyed my rants, raves, flights of fancy, and of course, updates on the lifestyles of the rich and famous. You will still see me in GT as I intend to keep being photographed and event-planning. Adios for now and remember to live it up!