Gt Opinion


Influencer Sophiya Khan tells us her take on social media, mental health and more

On social media
For me it’s a very positive tool which revolutionized the digital marketplace and created a lot of opportunities for home based workers. At the end of the day it is just a tool which can be used to do good like connecting people, making marketing for small businesses easier and more cost efficient. However, it can be used for the bad. Such as using the platform to spread hate, target individuals, promote negativity etc. So just like any other tool this new age world may give us, it’s up to the individual on how they make use of it.

On family
The most important word in my vocabulary. Family for me is not just a bunch of individuals. It’s also a feeling, a sense of own & belonging. I have found family in some of my friendships and in some of my work relationships. My family is the most important theme in my life, which I’m sad to have started valuing a little later in my life. Be it the family you’re born into or the family you choose – or maybe even a little bit of both – they give you a sense of belonging no other relationship can.

On mental health
It’s the most important version of health that one must take care of. Every morning begins with a thought, just like we end every night with certain thoughts. The first step would be to recognise the power our own thoughts have over our realties and how detrimental they are to shaping our long term lives. Regardless of your own assessment of your mental health, it is absolutely essential to have healthy mechanisms in place to process our thoughts in a productive manner so we can therefore improve our quality of life seamlessly. As well as the role we play in others.

On marriage
Like any other partnership, it’s a choice you make to embark upon a journey with another. If the partnership is able to adapt through tests and trails, improve and grow, I would say it would be worth investing more of yourselves in. However, it’s very common and totally ok if the partnership doesn’t seem to be working out. As an experience on it own, I feel it is a beautiful chapter to embark upon, as we only discover ourselves more in relation to others.

On pets
To be able to care for and receive love from a being so pure and innocent is one of the most rewarding experiences in my opinion. In total I have been privileged and lucky enough to have cared for 5 cats & most recently 2 dogs. Each one of them brought their own unique personalities into my life and made it a better place.

Entrepreneur, wife and actor Rehmat Ajmal tells us her take — on art, mental health, marriage and more. She reflects on how these things have shaped her life

On mental health: Mental health to me, is extremely important. It’s on top of the list. It helps me make the list! Taking care of my mind is cleansing, rejuvenating. It’s an aid that helps me manage the intangible. If you take care of your mind you can take better care of everything else around you.

On art: Art, is fluid. It’s forever flowing, a timeless expression. It is the stamp you leave behind. It is the biggest part of me. The romance between Art and the Artist has a distinct scent. One, that lasts forever.

On social media: It is important to tune in and tune out in a balanced way otherwise it can be really overwhelming. Imagine exposing yourself physically, in an environment that has so much going on: positive and negative. You are bound to exhaust yourself with an overdose of either energy. Similarly, if you overstay your welcome mentally, it can take a toll on you then, too. It’s also important to gage when and when not to interact/participate. It is not just a website, it is a basket filled with experiences. So, it’s important to pick and choose what you want to partake in to bring a positive change or to make an impact that inspires.

On marriage: It is not something you find, it is something you choose, something you make. A concept of sharing your life with someone, an experience you nurture. Something you grow together, something that fills your life with both ease and challenges. It is a sculpture you chisel with just the right tools. It is strong and binding but also fragile, a precious something. For some it is a chapter, for some a book and for some a page. Whatever the length, it is individualistic. For me it has been a force of change.

On lessons learned: Patience. To sit back and watch it unravel. Admire the beauty with which it unravels. Acceptance of the complicated dance of life, learn the steps, sometimes follow, sometimes make the steps.

How to thrive in the post-vaccine age

Picture this: you arrive at a venue, confused about keeping your mask on or taking it off, decide it’s fine to do without (you’re all vaccinated so it makes sense, right?), enter (but the mask is still in your hand—just in case) and then wonder how to greet the host. Do you shake hands? Do you hug? Perhaps the elbow thing? Once you’re over the awkward formalities, you find your place in a corner and spend most of the time looking at a phone screen, barely making eye contact, while simultaneously chatting up a storm, unloading a year’s worth of conversation in one evening.

Sound familiar?

If, like me, you spent a major part of last year actively distancing yourself socially and trying to isolate as much as possible before getting the vaccine, then your first forays back into the real world were probably like this. The few gatherings I had to attend during the year, pre-vaccination, didn’t prepare me for this re-entry into society. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing myself in social situations and I appear to have become a neanderthal exiting a cave to encounter civilisation for the first time. All social cues have been lost and several priorities have been changed.

I must force myself to maintain eye contact during a conversation and must practically beg myself to resist the urge to scroll on my phone while around company. Most of my social interactions now comprise of showing my friends all the memes I’ve stored in my phone over the year. Speaking to others about this made me realise that I’m not alone in this. Many of us feel that we need to re-educate ourselves when it comes to socialising.

Man truly is a social animal. A few months of isolation and we’ve forgotten how to behave. I always used to wonder why people marooned on islands in movies (Castaway, Robinson Crusoe, etc.) would always end up acting oddly. This past year gave me the answer. I’m pretty sure someone somewhere is already doing a study to analyse our behaviour during the pandemic.

In case you’re struggling with these social cues, then ease into your interactions. Meet up with a smaller group of people first; go out on walks (when the weather permits); make a conscious effort to put your phone on the side and have real conversations; dress up (it’ll make you feel good, trust me!); don’t feel guilty if you need to cancel on someone; and most importantly, make sure you’re checking in on your mental health.

Not all of this has been bad though.

While spending time removed from society has temporarily diminished my ability to be my usual gregarious self, it has also allowed me an invaluable opportunity to truly be comfortable in my own company. Last year a wise friend of mine proclaimed, “Social isolation will be hard for most people, because they can’t stand themselves.” I saw this play out on social media repeatedly. Many flouted strict curfews just to escape being alone. Author Jules Renard once said, “Being bored is an insult to yourself.” And I agree whole-heartedly. Coming out of isolation I have learnt that there are depths inside me I have yet to explore and ideas I have yet to uncover. However, it has also taught me another crucial lesson that is going to form the mantra for my ‘social animal 2.0’: putting myself first.

It seems simple at first, but this basic tenet of well-being is one that we frequently dismiss out in the ‘real world’. Granted there are times when you must put the needs of others before you but finding joy in focusing on myself is one thing I’m not letting go of. Time to reflect inwardly has shown me what my priorities in life are and what they ought to be; who I want to spend time with; how I want to live my life; what I want to expend energy, time and money on.

The pandemic is not even close to being over—with the Delta variant on the rise and the disparities in vaccination rates across the world—yet it appears that the time has come to venture back into the world, lest we forget how being ‘human’ feels like. Restrictions are being lifted, even as caution is recommended. Re-entering into the folds of society brings back with it all the anxieties and stressors from the time before our world changed; it also brings opportunity to change who we are and emerge as a new kind of social animal.

Dear reader, I urge you to join me in personal introspection and truly understanding what that means for you. Last year when we shut ourselves indoors, we were bombarded with statements telling us to grab this opportunity and slow down, to enjoy things we didn’t normally have time for. Now, as the fog of the year rolls out, it’s time that we make conscious choices of who we want to be. I’ve made a little checklist to help you with that:

  1. Relationships: Are you happy in your various relationships? Do you need to build bridges or rebuild them? Or will simply letting go of toxic ones be in your best interest?
  2. Work: Does it serve your needs beyond just the financial? Are you fulfilled?
  3. Purpose in Life: The grand question, I know, but if you’ve been lucky enough to survive a pandemic, this question deserves some serious consideration.
  4. Bucket List: Make a list of all that you planned on doing and now get started with it.
  5. Health: Focus on your mental and physical health—I cannot emphasise this enough.

The Social Animal 2.0 should be someone who puts themselves first, is kind and empathetic to others, is focused on their own goals and can reduce the pessimistic noise around them. The Social Animal 2.0 is one that truly understands the ‘social’ aspect of being human and leads with compassion. It’s one life, and if we’ve been lucky to survive the worst of the pandemic, we owe it to ourselves to make it count.

How do you even begin to write about a year that was unlike any other? A year that challenged notions of time and tore through the veneer of constructed reality; a year that confronted us with our place in the world. How do you fully encapsulate in words all the fear, the panic, the crippling anxiety, the mistrust, the personal awakenings and the heartaches? How do you collect fragments of shattered dreams and dashed plans, and give meaning to them again? In fact, how do you even start to examine a year that, in many ways, wasn’t really there even.

Tracing the year back to its roots is a place as good as any, I guess. My own isolation began exactly a year ago, a full week before everyone else was forced to withdraw into themselves. It’s almost surreal to think that this week last year we were optimistic that flattening the curve was achievable in a short amount of time. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I imagined us to be going down a rabbit hole. Have we emerged from it? Or are we still trudging along? I do, at times, feel that we’re stuck in a loop. When we hunkered down last year, Pakistan was lodged in a fierce debate over Aurat March in Pakistan. A year later, we’re still there. Did we even learn anything?

I find myself in an odd stasis though. I didn’t buy a 2021 planner; it seemed that I’d be inviting the ire of the Fates by doing so. Funnily enough, this year has reached the date when my 2020 planner stopped being useful. There are pages upon empty pages, waiting to be filled in, with only a handful of appointments sprinkled here and there-most of them Zoom calls. I pick it up and continue to scribble in it, it seems frivolous to throw it away. But somehow, it seems as if I’m reliving the year that wasn’t, injecting life into it posthumously. Do I think that filling in the pages of my 2020 planner will somehow create memories that ought to be there? Possibly.

It would be unfair, though, to completely disregard last year. Perhaps where we can begin when we talk about an impossible year is the new vocabulary we imbibed. ‘Unprecedented’, ‘flatten the curve’, ‘the new normal’, ‘work from home’, ‘Zoom calls’, ‘distance learning’ and many more immediately became commonplace. Or we can recap it in the number of Zoom calls we had to attend, the banana breads we baked, the dalgona coffees we made, the flowers we planted, the books we bought and thought we’d read, the memes we laughed at, the books we actually read, the calls we made or the podcasts we queued up (and didn’t listen to).

Maybe it would be more accurate to record the year in the numbers of tears we shed, the hair we pulled out, the hugs we missed, the masks we bought, the bottles of sanitiser we drained, the friendships we let fade away or, sadly, the people we lost.

There are many ways to record the past, but in a break from my personal tradition of nihilism, I choose ‘hope’ as the one thing that defined this lost year. Hope sprung up unexpectedly in unlikely places—like the flowers in my garden that I thought would never bloom again. These pockets of hope are the ones that I keep going back to. Those blissful moments that pierced through the darkness, like sunbeams through drawn curtains. The ambient sunbeams that even illuminate the motes of dust floating, suspended mid-air, like time itself.

Whether it was a cool breeze on a summer day, while I was sprawled on the grass in my garden, or videos of the kindness of strangers—hope was there. Or in the night sky full of stars that I hadn’t viewed in ages. It was also in the clean air we finally got to breathe in Lahore, signalling to us that the change we desire is within our reach.

Hope was in the gut-wrenching concert of Andrea Bocelli in front of the Duomo di Milano, as all of Italy wept and we wept with them. Hope was in the brave protestors across the world who declared ‘Enough is enough!’ and took to the streets to reclaim the dignity that was denied to them.

Hope was in the live sessions on Instagram that were determined to keep the arts alive; hope was in the laughter of babies born in the oddest year of them all; hope was in video calls with friends across time zones; hope was in the small gestures of love witnessed over Zoom weddings, when the mere visual of human touch was beauty itself. Hope was in every drop of watercolour that spilt from my paintbrush; it was in every travel plan made and every new item added to the bucket list. It was also in the rekindling of old friendships and the forging of new ones and ironically.

Hope is the vaccine that promises that we can go back to the ‘before times’. But will we really? Is it even possible to go back to how things used to be? Unlikely. The scars from this year will remain with us for quite some time, prompting us to do better. They’ll urge us to change the way we interact with the world, with nature, with each other. They’ll continue to haunt us and insist that we learn from our mistakes. Over time they’ll fade, as all scars do, leaving this time but a bump on our journey. And that’s when our true reckoning of this year will begin.


Photo Courtesy: Author










Dr Greene explains to Mahlia Lone why umbilical cord stem cell therapy is so revolutionary as a regenerative medical treatment that’s now available in Pakistan.

Please note that Good Times Magazine doesn’t support any one medical treatment over another; this content is merely informational. We recommend consulting your physician before embarking on any medical procedure

Who doesn’t want to avoid and minimise chronic illnesses? So, when I found out that Dr David Lawrence Greene, Founder and CEO of R3 Stem Cell, based in California, was bringing his groundbreaking FDA-approved treatments to Pakistan at affordable prices, I wanted to help get the word out to as many as possible.

“The root cause of no less than seventy diseases can be mitigated by stem cell therapy, whereas traditional medicine only manages the symptoms of most of these diseases, while offering no permanent cure,” Dr Greene said during his recent visit to Lahore. Stem cell therapy options are available for musculoskeletal degeneration of joints and cartilage, neurological diseases like Bell’s Palsy, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis, cardiac problems such as peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and even erectile dysfunction, amongst many other serious illnesses.

“We’ve conducted 16,000 procedures worldwide with no adverse reactions. Stem cell therapy is a safe and effective treatment that makes your body function better. Our patient satisfaction rate after 1 year from treatment is 85 per cent”
—Dr Lawrence Greene

However, it should be noted at this early time in stem cell research, it’s used as a supporting treatment on top of traditional medicine. Moreover, it should not be confused with embryonic stem cells, derived from aborted foetuses, which is an ethically questionable practice, illegal and is proven to cause tumours in patients.

Dr Greene explained the procedure, “Donated umbilical cords after caesarean sections, which’re otherwise medical waste, are collected at the Umbilical Cord Bank in California, a state of the art facility, where the cells are first tested for communicable diseases. From some of these stem cells, exosomes are derived that’re 4 times smaller in size and used for aesthetic improvements in face and hair, as they can pass through tiny needles. Stem cells can repair and regenerate damaged tissue anywhere in the body and can be administered in a variety of ways depending on the illness. For example, they can be injected into the spine to combat neurological diseases, at joints for arthritic issues, intravenously for organ disease, like liver or renal failure, and even intramuscularly with the number of cells needed depending on the severity of the issue and the weight of the patient. The average minimum effective number is 50 million stem cells at a time. The treatment has to be followed up as degeneration of the human body is a part of ageing.”

“A positive side effect of the treatment is that apart from the issue we aim to deal with, other functions of the body and organs improve as well. For example, patients have reported that after receiving stem cell treatment, any macular degeneration of their eyes they may have also shows improvement.”

“We’ve conducted 16,000 procedures worldwide with no adverse reactions. Stem cell therapy is a safe and effective treatment that makes your body function better,” Dr Greene said emphatically. “Our patient satisfaction rate after 1 year from treatment is 85 per cent.”

“We’re extremely selective with whom we work, and in Pakistan we chose to partner with a first class team of doctors at the London Aesthetics and Rejuvenation Centre with branches in Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad (the Karachi branch to become operational in the summer),” he added, satisfied with the level of care at the Pakistani centre. “Additionally, we have an export license in the U.S. and registered with the Pakistani government as well.”

“Most of the existing treatment options offered in the country are based on using a patient’s own adipose fat to derive PRP (platelet rich plasma). What we’re offering is the much more advanced umbilical cord stem cell treatment. This is not just beneficial for older patients by injecting young stem cells into them, but even for children with developmental issues, like Autism. After a course of 50 to 100 million stem cells administered three times a year, autistic children have shown remarkable improvement,” pointed out Dr Greene.

“Being an expatriate doctor in research and development, I wanted to make a significant contribution towards medical treatment for the Pakistani public,” said Dr Tauqeer Ahmed, International Director of London Aesthetics and Rejuvenation Centre.

“Stem cell regenerative therapy is the biggest breakthrough in medicine in the last 100 years… With this partnership, R3 has become the largest stem cell provider to Pakistan”
—Dr Tauqeer Ahmed

“Specifically for women,” Dr Shaila Anwar, Lahore’s only Aesthetic Gynaecologist, who also consults at the Centre, said “non-invasive treatments, such as lasers and stem cell therapy, can be used most effectively for female issues, like weak bladder control and to alleviate menopausal dryness by increasing blood supply and boosting collagen and elastin. Earlier, more invasive surgeries were required to deal with severe incontinence issues women suffered from after normal deliveries and the passage of time. Furthermore, stem cells can even be injected into the ovaries to help conception.”

“While at this time, we don’t offer stem cell treatment for cancer, umbilical cord stem cells offer anti-inflammatory properties that work as prevention against forming cancers in the future,” said Dr Greene. “We even offer effective treatment for lungs post Covid-19, by easily administering stem cells to the patient through a nebuliser.”

You want to scare a Pakistani man? Say the magic word: feminism.

Credit: Nazuk Iftikhar Rao from Aurat March 2020

Over the years, this innocuous word that stands for the equality of all human beings has been equated with moral depravity and the decline of society. We see this more prominently in patriarchal societies, where women rising up to demand their rights is seen as vulgar, propagandist and even calamitous (women in jeans are the reason why earthquakes happen right?).

However, I’m not here to reiterate common knowledge. It is not news anymore that the word feminism and its basic meaning has been turned into something filthy—a plague that all ‘good’ women should avoid. We all know that we live in a society entrenched in myopic views and we are all aware of the slew of hatred and abuse that women receive on a daily basis. Whether they’re organising the Aurat March, or reporting harassment at the workplace, their demands are contorted and twisted. In the case of sexual crimes, the victim, mostly the female, is slut-shamed and victim-blamed. This isn’t the worst of it though—the worst are the supposed allies, the performative woke men and the ones with who carry the mantle of #notallmen.

Barely a second after a woman, fed up of the system that’s continuously stacked against her, decides to voice her opinion of men, relay an incident that she’s experienced or bash a man for his atrocious behaviour, a barrage of #notallmen is offered up. This is where the problem lies. Cisgender, masculine men are the most privileged of our society, yet are immediately threatened when someone exposes one of their lot. They run to defend the entire group of them, but for what? Many it seems, want to provide hope for the victims; that there is a world of decent people out there. But, how does this help a person who’s been through the worst at the hands of a man? What men should be doing is stop feeling so insecure and own up to the gross failings of other cisgender men; they should hold them accountable and actively encourage a relearning of their behaviour towards women. Sadly, the majority of the #notallmen crowd is a long way from that sort of reformation.

I, therefore, would like to focus more on the ones who are woke because it’s cool, the performative allies, whose allyship remains on the surface at best. Additionally, there are many who label themselves as feminists, but are always looking towards others to guide them along. So if your feminism as a man is a bit suspect, here’s a refresher on how to fix it, in no particular order (I’d like to thank writer, comedienne and radio jockey Sabah Bano Malik for her input):

  1. Educate Yourself: the burden to explain what feminism is about, the problems women face and the road to a reformed society isn’t on the affected party. Don’t expect them to sit you down and expend emotional labour to explain to you what you need to be doing. Do a simple Google search. There are plenty of resources out there that will inform you of the issues at hand.
  2. Listen: when women are talking, it is imperative that you listen to them without judgement. Believe them when they tell you about their problems or the abuse they’ve experienced and then listen to them when they tell you what needs to be fixed. Do not, for the love of God, try to minimise their trauma or lived reality and do not offer any other variation of #notallmen.
  3. Use your Privilege: It’s not enough to simply show up to feminist rallies and tweet your opinion on the matter, feminism starts from home. Look around you, see what’s happening with domestic staff and their rights, see if you’re being given extra love due to being a son, observe your friends and call out their misogynist behaviour and educate them. If you can’t use your privilege to create opportunities and a safe environment for the oppressed, then your feminism is futile.
  4. Follow their Lead: Never mansplain. If you think you’re in fact more informed or educated about a certain topic, then find a courteous way to highlight that. Do not talk down to women when they’re discussing solutions to problems they face. If they say x is a problem, then it is a problem—even if you weren’t previously aware of it. Let the ones affected by the patriarchy define what change they want to see.
  5. You’re Not Always Required: There will be times when a feminist discussion or forum will be held where you, even a well-meaning individual, will be excluded because you’re not a woman. Do not complain, do not fuss and remember: it’s not about you. Women need spaces where they can feel safe. So don’t impose on such gatherings.

A few other things to keep in mind are:


l               Do not expect a badge or medal for your efforts, or even a reward

l               Be intersectional in your feminism (look it up)

l               Being a feminist to get a girl’s attention makes you the opposite

l               It’s not about you

l               Constantly analyse your own behaviour


I spoke to friend, journalist and fashion stylist Haiya Bokhari and she stated that the first thing men should do is to learn empathy. She says, “It’s difficult to empathise with anyone else if you’re suppressing your own emotions. Before men can embark on a journey of becoming allies, they must be able to look inside and have difficult conversations with themselves.” This is incredibly true. Men need to realise that the patriarchy is also damaging to us and our own development. Learning to be in touch with our own emotions isn’t weakness; toxic masculinity and fragile egos must go.

And as Sabah said to me, “Acknowledge that a divide exists, acknowledge that the world is different for women and girls and non cisgendered males. Acknowledge your privilege and don’t make excuses.”

Because the fact of the matter is, till the patriarchy survives and cisgendered men reap its benefits: #yesallmen


The recent protests in the United States following the extra-judicial killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of the police have reignited the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the conversation on race in America. Granted this conversation never really went away, as the equality and justice that was demanded of their government was never provided to the Black community.

Donald Trump’s term in office continued to see a rise in violence against coloured people in the USA, propagated by the police or white Americans, with it largely being against African-Americans. George Floyd’s murder, which was captured in a horrific video, is just another in a long line of murders committed at the hands of the American police. Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Aubrey are all names we’ve heard and read in the news and yet, the cycle just doesn’t seem to stop.

Police brutality is sadly not the only culprit here, as many regular American citizens continue to condone this behaviour and in fact partake in it themselves. Every day there’s a new video floating on the Internet where a white person is using their privilege to racially profile a Black person. The ‘Karens’ or ‘Kevins’ of the Internet, as they’re now being called, display their white supremacy and white privilege for the entire world to see, yet apart from them losing their jobs or being dragged online, nothing much happens in the way of substantial institutional change.

You might be wondering what this has got to do with us. Living tens of thousands of miles away with our own problems, why should we care about what’s happening in the USA? The simple answer is: humanity. More than that, I believe this is the right time to check our own endemic racism and colourism, in order to carve a better world for the generations to come.

It’s no secret that colourism is rampant in our society; darker skin tones have always been less desirable than their fairer counterparts. We grow up cracking jokes at the expense of those darker than us and these are invariably racist in nature. Using derogatory terms we compare darker people to Africans, as if being an African (which is not a nationality) is a bad thing. The worst part, these jokes go unchecked and unchallenged. And why wouldn’t they be? That’s what grown ups around us engage in as well: girls with duskier skin tones are told they’re undesirable and are admonished for not using the array of skin whitening products available to remedy this. While this is a lot more nuanced than this article can focus on, I bring this all up due to the inherent links with anti-blackness that the brown community, whether in South Asia or the Diaspora, continues to promulgate.

People around us continue to take from the Black community without lending support when it’s required. We obsess over music produced by Black artists, think we have some innate right to use the ‘N’ word (please don’t), try to adopt African-American accents and mannerisms, but remain performative in our protection of their rights. Be honest, how many of you have heard the following—or similar—from those around you:

“Yeah, but I would never want my child to date a Black man”

“I’m not going to go watch Black Panther, too many Africans”

“Habshi lag rahay ho”

“Trump is right, they’re all criminals”

“You’re my N——”

Sadly, the above are all real conversations from people I’ve had to argue with and persuade to see their racism. The “I’m brown I can’t be racist” argument is the most ignorant response ever. Now, this article doesn’t mean I absolve myself of any prior racist or anti-black attitudes; I’ve had to identify my own anti-blackness over the years and methodically rid myself of it. The point is, to continue to learn and recognise one’s biases, in order to defeat them. A few steps that you can take:

  1. Recognise your internalised anti-blackness: are you fearful of Black people? Do you associate the same negative attitudes towards them that white supremacists do?
  2. Educate those around you: notice who else is being overtly or inwardly racist. Talk to them about the injustices faced by Black people globally and how systems continue to be biased against them.
  3. Call out: whenever you see a person, company or brand being anti-black, call them out. It’s imperative that you do.
  4. Donate: if you can, then donate to organisations that are fighting for racial equality.
  5. Ask: there were many instances where I was unsure of whether my behaviour constituted racist undertones, or if someone else’s did or didn’t. The easiest way was to call up a friend and ask them. With the Internet, you don’t necessarily need to have Black friends for this to happen, just ask on a relevant forum and you’ll be answered.

It should be clear as day that racism can’t exist, yet it isn’t so. Recently, I’ve read a bunch of books dealing with racism and slavery, as well as watched shows and documentaries that have narrated the effects of these on the lives of modern African-Americans. It’s been an eye-opening, blood-boiling experience. Some of them that I recommend for you:

Read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Read: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Read: Any essay of James Baldwin

Watch: When They See Us on Netflix

Watch: Selma (a movie on the life of MLK Jr.)

We’ve all heard a version of the phrase that those who turn a blind eye towards oppression are complicit and that’s true now more than ever. We might have our own problems here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lend our support to others subjected to systemic violence.

A couple of weeks ago I woke up feeling I was on top of the world. Little did I know that my elation would be short-lived and that I was about to plunge into a 24-hour anxiety attack. Just as I sat down for breakfast, I opened up my emails. Saying that I had a mini heart attack after that would not be an overstatement.

Right on top of my inbox was a seemingly innocuous one sent by someone called Geoff Easton.

“I know xxxxxxxx is your password.”

That simple phrase was enough to kill my appetite, because as it turns out, the password was one that I was using for a blogging website.

“I require your 100% attention for the coming 24 hrs, or I will make sure you that you live out of shame for the rest of your lifetime,” it continued.

I hate to admit it, but in retrospect the only shame I have is not noticing the obvious grammatical errors in the sentence and recognising it for what it was: a phishing scam (fraudulent activities aimed at gaining a person’s data). However, the email was from what seemed like a proper address (especially considering it landed in my inbox and not spam) and the password was actually in use. It was the perfect recipe for entrapment and panic.

Geoff proceeded to warn me that he had access to a lot of my data and private life, along with videos recorded using spyware that activated my camera without my knowledge—all from the past 184 days. He concluded with the threat that unsavoury details of my life would be periodically released to random recipients chosen from my contact list (of which he claimed access to), unless $2000 in bitcoin was deposited.

By this time the colour was definitely drained from my face and a cold numbness was descending on me. I did what anyone would do: rang up my best friend. When someone threatens to release your secrets, reaching out to the one person who knows you inside out is a definite source of comfort. Thankfully, he had his wits about him and immediately reverse-searched the email address, identifying it as one that’s been reported to be embroiled in phishing scams. He then listed all the irregularities with the email text and rightfully pointed out that having that much data on someone would require a lot of storage space; in conclusion, that this was likely spam and I should chuckle and toss it in the junk.

My paranoid self was definitely not satisfied. Especially, and I reiterate, due to the password being real. I immediately proceeded to change all my passwords, reviewed all the saved ones and cleaned up my social media links to apps; I set up two-factor authentication everywhere and reported the incident to the email domain, along with filing a report with the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF). However, I didn’t feel calmer until I did my own search and found out that this was just a newer form of a phishing scam that’s been in place for quite a few years. Shortly thereafter, the DRF reached out to me and assured me this was fake and I had already taken the necessary steps to protect myself. The only thing left was to delete the email and move on.

Further research showed that my password was uncovered as part of a security breach of a blogging website. My supposed blackmailer in fact had no idea what it was used for, but could only trace it back to the email associated with the blog. The threats were empty. (Although, it turns out many people did in fact click on the email links and get their actual data stolen).

Suffice it to say, I did wait with bated breath for the twenty-four hours to end. Once they did and my privacy and dignity was intact, I finally relaxed.

Ever since, I’ve been a lot more careful of the way I use the internet and how my data is protected; the ordeal was instructive for sure. Below you can find a list of ways to protect your identity, privacy and dignity while being part of the online world.

  1. Review passwords periodically: it’s essential to do so; make stronger passwords and use a secure password storing service in case you don’t want to type them every time. Or, write them down and keep them somewhere safe. Don’t reuse passwords and don’t be too obvious.
  2. Set up two-factor authentication: platforms and websites with sensitive information and email addresses should definitely have two-factor authentication. You can connect to a passcode on your phone, another email address, code generators or simply, secret questions.
  3. Cover up your camera: the biggest fear I had was wondering what had been recorded on my camera. Covering it up with a sticker or tape when not in use is old school, but effective.
  4. Install reputable virus/malware detectors: for your emails, it’s generally enough to have your junk filter set up to high, but for your computer, do some research and install software to counter such attacks.
  5. Don’t share info with others: this is a no-brainer.
  6. Report suspicious activity: always keep a check on suspicious activity logins (there are ways to set them up for various social media) and immediately report to relevant authorities. In case of cyberbullying, the DRF and the FIA are just some avenues you can approach.
  7. Double check privacy settings: do this for all current platforms you use, especially social media. Also ensure you review third-party app permissions associated with your social media.
  8. Secure websites and VPNS: always check if the website is secure. This is generally mentioned in the address bar of browsers. It’s also recommended not to open sensitive data on public wifi. If you must access it in public, use a VPN or set up your own hotspot.
  9. Be responsible: post online what you won’t fear coming out in a hack. Same goes for what you store in the cloud.
  10. Don’t be fooled: I know this is easier said than done. When I received the email, I felt as if the ground beneath me had given way. But there are easy ways to check if you’re being phished or not.

The above are just some guidelines; do your own research, be responsible and keep yourself safe. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes about the digital age:

“You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it,” Scott McNealy

To say that the last two weeks have been a rollercoaster ride will be a profound understatement. Coronavirus or COVID19 has drastically changed our lives, leading us to grapple with our changed reality. While many continue to argue that the virus isn’t nearly as fatal as other diseases we’ve battled in the past (such as Ebola), it’s still being compared to the deadly Spanish Flu Outbreak of 1918. The sheer rapidity with which Corona spreads, the fact that symptoms aren’t always visible and underprepared healthcare facilities around the world are what make this novel strain a formidable foe of humanity. Before I go any further, I’d like to thank the healthcare workers who’re tirelessly fighting this pandemic. True heroes certainly don’t wear capes!

Despite working around the clock themselves, they urge the general public to assist them by simply doing one thing: staying at home. As threatening as the virus may be, all it requires are the following basic actions to reduce the spread — or at least get it to a level that’s manageable for healthcare institutions. These are:

  1. Social distancing: even when at home, remain at least a couple of metres apart from others; if you must go out (while abiding curfew rules), ensure you’re not in close physical proximity to anyone.
  2. Wash your hands: this can’t be said enough; wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after eating or drinking and intermittently throughout the day. Hand sanitisers also help.
  3. Don’t touch your face: the virus can enter your body through your mouth and nose.
  4. Protection when out: masks, gloves, sanitisers and social distancing.
  5. Isolate: if you feel symptoms, immediately quarantine yourself and stay away from family members; contact your doctor and see if a test is required.

All of this seems rather simple; however, people have had issues adjusting. Sometimes, a disease with seemingly basic precautions isn’t taken seriously by people. But I hope that by the time you read this, we’ll have made considerable efforts to #flattenthecurve. I exhort you to go online and look up this concept. In short, social distancing is an immense help in lowering the infection rate to a point that medical professionals can respond effectively.

Those who have adhered to all protocols, especially those who had the foresight to do so on their own before governmental intervention, must now be feeling symptoms of another nuisance: cabin fever. Being cooped up in one place for extended periods of time can make anyone start questioning their sanity. Anxiety, panic, irritability, ennui and a sense of doom — all or a combination of these can start to plague your mind. Since they say, a healthy mind can cope with a lot that’s thrown its way, I’ve compiled a list of things, based on my readings of several articles over the last couple of weeks that will hopefully help make your isolation bearable. These are all the things that I’ve personally been doing since my self-imposed isolation almost three weeks ago.

  1. Adopt a routine: in the new normal, your routine doesn’t have to be the same. You’re most likely working from home, which saves up a lot of commute time. You also get the opportunity to work in an environment that you can create yourself. However, do stick to a schedule, even if it doesn’t match your usual one. This allows some form of normalcy to remain in your life.
  2. Be creative: start painting, sing songs, dance around, write — anything and everything that allows you to express yourself.
  3. Stay fit: make sure staying at home doesn’t stop you from physically moving. While staying in a vegetative state might be appealing, do get up and move around a bit. It could be a full-blown workout, a yoga session, or just a walk outside (social distance is a must and keep the time limited, abiding by local laws). For mental exercises, read a book!
  4. Feel everything: there’s no right or wrong way to feel about this situation. Most of us have never experienced such distress before (hey, at least now the world can sympathise with the plight of Kashmiris and Palestinians). Get in touch with a therapist if you can or keep a journal. Just don’t feel guilty for feeling how you feel.
  5. Talk: reach out to your friends over social media and plan video calls. Talk to others, talk to your family. Don’t mentally and emotionally isolate yourself.
  6. Stay off the internet: don’t stay on the internet for too long. It’s a depressing place — now more than usual. Get your necessary information and then stay off blogs citing the end of the world (unless you’re into that). Otherwise, avoid the negativity. Cute animal videos are fine.

This is what I’m doing, except the last one. I’ve been on Twitter and Instagram a bit too much and hoping to cut back on the negative clickbait. Everything else I’m following on a daily basis and at the time of writing, it’s really helped. Nevertheless, as I stated, there’s no right or wrong way to navigate through this. As long as work obligations are met, you’re free to figure out your own response. Sleep all day, eat whatever you want — just do all it takes to be mentally and emotionally stable during this time. I’m cognisant of the fact that this is more challenging for some than others, especially those with pre-existing mental health issues or who live in abusive households. For those free of these concerns, do check up on your friends. Together — but physically apart — we’ll get through this.

Stay safe and #washyourhands

Spring is finally here and for us Pakistanis that  sadly means just a couple of weeks of pleasant weather before we hurtle straight into summer. (Climate change is real guys!) However short spring may be, it brings with it the essence of rebirth, a chance to chuck out the old and move ahead with the new. Flowers bloom, baby birds are hatched and the promise of new life is all around us.

This euphoric feeling pervades our homes as well. In fact the term spring-cleaning is derived from historic Persian and Jewish practices where the annual arrival of warmer weather meant thoroughly cleaning the house in preparation for springtime festivities. Over time, it’s become a way for winter cobwebs to be cleared, warmer clothes to be packed up and summer-friendly linens, drapery and upholstery to replace their cold weather counterparts.

While there are several ways to go about your annual spring cleaning, ranging from the Marie Kondo method, the Swedish Death process, to simply just packing up everything and storing it in the back of a room to be dealt with later, I would like to focus on a different type of cleaning. The new year and the new season (and this time around the new decade) provide us with an opportunity to self-reflect and sort through more than just our material needs. I firmly believe that every year we should use this opportunity to go through our personal lives and do a bit of spring cleaning there as well.

In this article, I’ll be listing a few areas where I’ve taken to doing so over the past few years.

Personal Goals

By the time spring arrives, our new year’s resolutions are already down the drain. We’ve gotten bored of the new language or instrument we decided to learn, the gym becomes another thing we pay for but attend infrequently, financials are all over the place and the idea of happiness that we decided to chase continues to elude us. So three months down the road from the start of the year is the ideal time to re-evaluate your goals and see where you stand. At the risk of sounding like Kondo, what’s bringing you joy and what isn’t? Grab a pen and paper and make your list!

Career Goals

It’s important to differentiate between your personal goals and your career goals, although they are definitely intertwined. If what you’re doing is causing you to burn out and/or doesn’t seem to bring the sense of satisfaction or elation it once did, then this is high time to start floating your resumes around, or depending on your work environment, have “the talk” with your superiors. Where do you plan on being in the next five years? What sort of work seems worth your while? These are important questions to answer. Sometimes, it’s not the job itself, but in fact the work environment that is pernicious to your personal development and hence must be axed from your life.


Cleaning out closets is a lot easier than this part of spring cleaning. Relationships in any form are complex and carry with them a lot of emotional weight. Despite that, your personal sanity is of paramount importance and analysing your relationships is a crucial step towards achieving a sense of balance in your life. Toxic relationships, whether with your parents, siblings, romantic partners or even friends, need to be identified and steps must be taken to remedy the situation. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but at least being cognisant of the toxicity in your life allows you the space to react accordingly. As they say, acceptance is the first step. I firmly believe that non-romantic toxic relationships are the ones we hold on to the longest, due to the associations we have developed, as well as the way society views them. But, if a friend is dragging you down or if there needs to be a functional shift in the way you interact with your relatives, then let that happen. In the long run, it’ll work out in the best way for everyone involved.


This might be the new year’s resolution you’ve broken already, but taking stock of where you’re at health wise is essential. Schedule an annual medical check up every spring (especially to see what damage wedding season caused) and take it from there. Maybe a hardcore gym regimen isn’t for you, but knowing your health status will at least prompt you to make the lifestyle changes required for living a healthier life. See what needs to be cut form your diet or lifestyle and what should be added. Always consult a professional for this.


Anyone who knows me is aware of the palpitations I get whenever I need to do anything remotely related to finance. I’m uncertain if it’s because my finance professor wasn’t captivating enough or whether it’s the fact that I’d rather not face the truth of my bad financial habits (probably the latter). However, an annual financial cleanse is important and something I’ve been working on. Various software exist to facilitate this process, providing you with data regarding your spending. Observe the areas where you’ve spent the most and what can be cut down. Ensure you’re saving some money every month (once again, easier said than done in this economy, but of the utmost importance). An annual overview of the previous year’s financial health allows you to move forward in a more deliberate manner.

These are just some of the areas I believe should be incorporated in our annual spring cleaning rituals. Reducing toxicity, whether in relationships or the way we live our lives, is conducive to entering the future in a more mindful manner. Happy cleaning!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to talk all things love. Shops are soon going to be filled with over-the-top products that are meant to profess your love for that special person in your life. From those who have just found it, to those who have settled into the companionship that a long-lasting romance brings, everyone is expected to demonstrate how much their partner means to them on the 14th of February. I initially wanted to talk about the history of Valentine’s Day and the commercialisation of this day. But then again, that’s old news isn’t it? Capitalism has taken over every aspect of our lives and whether there is any point fighting it is a discussion for another day.

This time when I was brainstorming for what to write about for the Valentine’s Day issue, I decided to just look around me. My own cynical self would just have yielded a long-winded article on how love is pointless and futile (and I hope many of you would have agreed with it); however, I thought that was going to be too morbid. Last year I wrote about how love and relationships have become quite complicated due to the digital world we live in. I talked about how we’re constantly chasing the next best thing, which hinders us from staying put in one place for too long, ultimately leading us to be dissatisfied with whatever relationship we find ourselves in. It was a reflection of what I noticed around me and perhaps that’s why it resonated with so many of our readers.

Looking around me this time, I began to observe how a lot of people weren’t only hung up on their exes, but in many cases were in active communication with them as well. Ranging from the toxic to the amicable, there were various degrees of ‘staying in touch with your ex’ going around me. So I did what any millennial does best and put it up as a poll on social media.

On my Instagram, I inquired after people’s opinions on staying in touch with their former partners. From the ninety two responses that I received on the poll, sixty five people chose for ‘no’ and the remaining twenty seven went for ‘yes.’ That’s a 71% response rate for not being in touch with your ex at all. Understanding the delicacy of this question and the varied nuances that it accompanies, I encouraged people to send in their views through DMs as well. Naturally, identities of all people involved will have to be kept secret.

I was mostly interested in those who were keeping in touch with their exes or felt that it was harmless to do so. In this regard, I would like to state that I was mostly looking at pre-marital and pre-children relationships. Divorced couples often have to stay in touch when there are children involved and therefore, they weren’t really the subject of this article.

Those who don’t stay in touch cited reasons such as “they’re you’re ex for a reason” and “the past is the past.” A number of people voted no in the poll, but reached out to me via DM to state that if the break up was amicable, they don’t see any harm in being in touch. Others, said they don’t stay in touch, but occasionally keep tabs on their exes. To these people I recommend counselling, as this is very unhealthy behaviour. Obsessing over an ex isn’t healthy at all and certainly doesn’t qualify as staying in touch with them.

Interestingly enough, those that voted ‘yes’ to staying in touch with their exes referenced to this decision as a ‘mature, adult’ one. Unless there was any toxicity and violence involved, this small minority believes that their exes were essentially a major part of their lives and were good friends once. Ending the romantic and intimate part of their relationship was hurtful, but they chose to move on in a healthier way and not let it affect the understanding they had built up with each other.

Sitting down to write this article, I’m as confused as when I began my research for it. Clearly, this is a complex, quite nuanced debate and a simple poll on social media doesn’t yield much. Human emotions and relationships are ever-evolving and intense. How they form and how they progress are unique to every relationship, thus it makes sense that the aftermath of a broken relationship would be equally confusing and not lending itself to generalisation.

However, there are a few stray observations that I believe are pertinent to this topic. Staying in touch with an ex isn’t wrong, as long as you can confidently say it doesn’t impinge upon your ability to move on and form new relationships. The moment it becomes an obstacle, is the moment you need to learn to distance yourself. Staying in touch with an ex, while in another relationship comes with its own problems — taking your current partner in confidence is the only key to success here. Running back to a toxic ex is not equal to staying in touch with them. Learn to empower yourself and get rid of such negativity from your life.

Your ex is essentially just another relationship, but a dormant one. How you choose to deal with it depends on a number of factors that you should be willing to look at before making this decision. I will leave you with this one thought that in my opinion should be irrefutable: calling your ex because you’re lonely on Valentine’s Day is not something you should do.

Happy New Year dear readers! We have made it into the new decade (although there is debate on whether that would start in 2021 or now in 2020, but we’ll go with the majority on this). The new year is always a time for new beginnings, resolutions that we don’t intend on keeping till past February, gym routines that we eagerly begin (but leave shortly after) and constantly writing the wrong year in the date column. With the ’20s decade of this century beginning, many people are gearing up for the roaring twenties to repeat themselves. Let’s hope that if so, these years aren’t followed by the Great Depression!

It’s also a time for reflection and looking into the past in the hopes for a better future. With the world in such turmoil and gripped with strife nowadays, I do hope more and more people decide to pick up history books, begin more open dialogue and work towards global harmony. As a lot of us have been analysing the previous decade, looking for the highs and lows and the best and worst pictures posted on social media, I have compiled a short list of what I hope to see for the next ten years.

Intercultural Tolerance

This might seem a bit heavy-handed, however, I believe it’s imperative that we come together as peoples of the world and strive to leave a peaceful place for future generations to come. This solution might seem simplistic and it probably is, but in my opinion, a deeper understanding of what we categorise as the “other” allows greater empathy that is conducive to building bridges to bypass political boundaries.

Climate Love

I hope most of you are climate change believers, who’re aware of the destruction that will be wreaked upon us if we don’t do something about it. Already we see the effects of the yearly increase in smog and the deteriorating air quality across Pakistan. Shifting weather patterns are also clearly visible now. What needs to be done is to make more people aware of this and make a conscious effort to do better. Lots of resources are available online or you can seek out activists in your area who’re working diligently on this issue.

Future is Woman

Women right’s movements picked up dramatically in the last half of the previous decade; let’s hope they don’t lose steam and continue to spread their message to all parts of the country, as well as around the world through their international counterparts. Here’s to seeing more and more women making their own choices and not boxed in by patriarchal social norms. Here’s to hoping the next ten years bring women more freedom, security, equality and complete autonomy over their own bodies.

Cultural and Artistic Renaissance

For Pakistan specifically, I hope to see a cultural renaissance take place. We’ve already had the revival of the cinematic arts and pockets of music and performance art are rising up around the country. I certainly hope that at the end of the decade, we are back to celebrating our culture and the arts the way they were meant to be. Freedom of expression is essential to the growth of a nation and I pray that this decade brings that to fruition for all those working assiduously to breathe life into the once dying arts scene of Pakistan. However, any such renaissance wouldn’t be complete without due light shed on our minority cultures and artisanal crafts practices.

Return of the Flappers?

Fashion has been quite cyclical, with trends repeating themselves ever so often. What I’m excited about is to see whether we’ll have an official return of fashion from the 1920s. Many collections have been inspired by the flappers and a host of Gatsby themed parties take place every year. Perhaps our perpetual obsession with the ethos of that era will come back full force now that we’re officially in the ’20s for this decade.  Let’s wait and find out. Although I would appreciate it if men’s fashion can keep away from the wide lapels of that era – I can’t pull that look off!

To Infinity and Beyond

Throughout the past couple of decades a technological revolution has been taking place. Those born after 2000 are probably unaware, but those of us born earlier have seen this shift. We might have become a bit complacent with the latest developments in tech; but looking at them closely, one just marvels at how one hundred years ago we probably didn’t even think of things that are possible now. The science geek in me is anxiously awaiting for what is to come. Will we make contact with extra-terrestrial life? Will Mars and the Moon be settled? Will we cure cancer? The possibilities are endless.

The new year, and indeed the new decade is always a chance to start fresh. Even though it’s just an arbitrary marker of the passage of time, it allows us the opportunity to put behind the past and move ahead with renewed vigour. Many of us fail to keep our resolutions and relapse into old habits. The key here is to manage your own expectations and have smaller milestones set for yourselves, so that achieving them is possible. Wishing you all a very happy new decade and the strength to come out better on the other side.

Buckle up folks! It’s winter in Pakistan and that means you’ll all soon be drowning in wedding invitations (if you aren’t already). Although weddings now take place throughout the year, the winter season still maintains a firm grip on festivities. The cooler temperatures allow us all to be decked out in our finest, without having to worry about sweating to death while we wait for the tedium of an event to be over. I for one quite enjoy winter weddings, as they give me the chance to don some of the most beautiful shawls that I’ve appropriated from my dear grandmother. But how many of us can honestly say that we enjoy these elaborate affairs?

Attending weddings has become a chore, one that many continue to crib about as they sit in a corner eating a piece of naan, waiting to go home. Obviously, when it’s the ceremony of a close friend or family member it’s a wholly different feeling. Depending on how close you are to the bride or groom you want to make their special day (days I should say) near-perfect for them; but when it’s just an acquaintance, the long-winded affairs can become quite monotonous. With events getting grander and bigger in scale every year, I’ve compiled a list of wedding “don’ts” that can help  hosts organise a more palatable event for the several hundred guests they’ll be inviting.

  1. #saynotothehashtag

Let’s face it, most of you have private accounts and having a trending hashtag wedding is just not possible, unless you’re a major influencer or person of note (or if you have a bunch of blogger friends). But forcing your friends to constantly use a hashtag that at best sounds like a bad coupon code is not cool anymore. If you’re using the hashtag to scroll through social media to see what other people posted about your wedding, then why bother hiring professional photographers who’re going to document every.single.thing. Do away with the hashtag — period.

  1. Lower the OTT factor

Personally I believe weddings are supposed to be an intimate affair where all those in attendance can feel included and enjoy being there for the bride and groom (or the aunt who invited them because it would have been a social faux pas not to). The sheer scale of weddings, where walking from the dance floor to the food area is a chore in itself, should be done away with for good. Talk to your event planner and come up with something cosy. Also, let’s definitely do away with the theatrics — you certainly do not need to enter inside a cake or create a fake river on which you and your hubby will glide in on a fake boat!

  1. Wedding Invite (Yes),

Itinerary (No)

Talking about over-the-top weddings, please bear in mind that you’re not the only ones getting married. While you should definitely enjoy your special week, there’s no need to force half the city to be there with you at every turn. Your friends and loved ones will obviously show up to the 12-day extravaganza you’ve curated for them, but face facts, they won’t be happy about it. Combine events wherever you can, especially when the purpose of several events overlaps. Inconveniencing your guests by making them run around trying to find twelve different outfits they’ve not worn before is not nice at all.

  1. Dictatorial DPs

Dance practices are an essential part of any wedding, no doubt about that. But they’re a chance for you to have fun with your loved ones, not to boss people around in the hopes of winning a “competition.” Also, if it is a competition, what are you winning? Oops, did I just give another bad idea?

Many brides and grooms turn into absolute crazed individuals, yelling at the top of their voices, frantically messaging in WhatsApp groups, marking attendance and forcing people into the most contrived dances ever. Almost everyone who shows up to a dance practice is there because they want to have fun. Don’t take that away from them and make them resent you.

  1. Sponsored Wardrobes

This one is mostly for my colleagues in the media industry. A lot of us have access to designer wear that we can borrow for attending weddings — and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, don’t be disingenuous and pretend you own all the heirloom pieces that were created in Pakistan. Let your followers know that you’re showcasing a designer’s outfit; many laypeople around me assume that designer wear is the only way to go for weddings and many of your followers probably feel inadequate that they can’t wear such inaccessible outfits to every occasion. Honesty is most definitely the best policy.

These are just some of the thoughts that come to me as soon as the first wedding invitation is dropped off. I’m not against you having fun and celebrating your big day with as much dhoom-dhaam as you want, but please remember to include others as well. Don’t make your big day a burden on others. If you have any further suggestions, please drop me a line on my Twitter or DM us on our Instagram.

Some stray observations:

l               Dowry is still a big no-no

l               Limited prepared dances please, we all want to dance as well

l               Epilepsy inducing lights on the dance floor should be banned

l               Thank all your friends for participating

l               Remember to have fun yourself!

Every fortnight I’m in a bit of a dither, trying to figure out what to write for this column. Something that’s relevant and — hopefully — engaging. My love for procrastination means that many of my ideas get swiped up by other writers and publications and I’m left scratching my head again. (Case in point: wanting to write about millennials and our sudden love for astrology, but The New Yorker beat me to it).

However, this time it was easy. I asked my friends regarding millennial issues that ail them currently. The answers I received ranged from economic uncertainty to global warming, to societal pressures. One answer stood out. My friend Saleha Irfan suggested that we know too much about what’s going in other people’s lives and that that’s a problem. Funnily enough, I was leaning towards this anyway — what serendipity!

A couple of week ago I was binge-watching on Netflix, as one does instead of working. The show in question: The Politician — Ryan Murphy’s latest venture that assembles a cast of almost new faces, tackling many issues prevalent in modern day society, all the while keeping it fun and campy. If you want to debate the merits of this show, find me on Twitter. Despite what the critics say, I quite enjoyed it and cannot wait for the second season. Ben Platt showed creative range and Jessica Lange was revelatory, as always.

One moment from the show, though, stuck with me. Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is having a heart-to-heart with Ben Platt’s (who plays her son), after he’s had a pretty trying week. She talks (and I paraphrase from memory) about how our generation and the ones below us are constantly bombarded with information; our access to what’s happening in other people’s lives and the world at large creates too much noise in our heads. This is the reason why we continue to spew forth every thought on social media, for the world to read and see. It’s not uncommon to hear this sentiment about our generation. I’m sure you’ve heard from many elders that our need to overshare is probably responsible for all the drama we create in our lives.

Since I’ve already written about oversharing, being constantly on social media and comparing ourselves to others, I will not go into that for this piece. You can read up on those opinions in our GT archives on the website. For this piece, however, I want to focus on how access to endless information is detrimental to our well-being.
Growing up, I’m sure you must have come across the adage ‘curiosity killed the cat;’ — it seems that the cat of nowadays is even more oblivious to this fact than ever before. I believe it’s in human nature to be inquisitive, after all this thirst to acquire more knowledge is what landed man on the moon and took him to the deepest depths of the oceans. Even now, countless experiments and research projects are taking place around the globe, endeavouring to know more about the world we live in and how to make it a better place. So, it’s only natural that this curious nature of ours extends to the mundane as well.

I honestly believe that it’s quite plausible to assume that for as long as humans have dwelled together in communities, we’ve always been intrigued by what our fellows are up to. From peeping over fences to know what’s happening in the house next door, to gossiping in private and public, this disease of “being up in each other’s business” is a pandemic.

Enter digital technology and the age of social media and this pandemic spreads like wildfire. Never before has it been this easy to know the innermost details of someone else’s life. One doesn’t even need to work too hard — our need to overshare makes it easy for anyone to have immediate access to our daily routines. From Snapchat to Instagram stories, tweets to Facebook status updates, we’re readily providing material for others. Social media stalking — whether of frenemies or exes — is a common thing now. What was once done subtly and through the grapevine, is now at the touch of a finger.

But what does this excess of information mean for us? Nothing good, certainly.
We’re constantly feeding the curious cat inside us, endlessly scrolling through others’ social media accounts, whether out of envy, jealousy or sheer boredom — it doesn’t matter. The crux of the matter is that we’re amassing an insane amount of information about others that is almost always insignificant. Consequently, we fall into the traps of social media induced envy, spiralling into mental health issues because how our exes are living their lives, or feeling a sense of doom from all the rants people upload.

The barrage of information we upload to our brains on a daily basis reminds me of a scene from ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ In the quest for knowledge, Cate Blanchett’s character ends up dead — her last words being somewhere along the lines of “It’s too much, take it away.”

Perhaps that’s what we need to remember. Feeding the curious cat is only causing us to continue living a more or less accursed life. Melancholy, malaise and malcontent drive us over the edge — in my case it’s mostly because of the amount of data out there. The worst part is, it’s a drug that keeps us hooked and we hope that there’s something more intellectually stimulating out there; like a junkie, we’re on the prowl for the next hit. (In fact, there have been studies that have compared social media’s effect on our brains to using hard drugs).

Our only way out is to go back to our basics and learn that this curious cat is cursed. We must actively teach ourselves to curtail our need to constantly know about others’ lives; social media curfews help immensely in this regard. Minding your own business does the rest. Curiosity will most certainly kill the cat at some point — if not, then it will at least leave it with a plethora of mental health issues and an unfulfilled life.

We’re living in a world that’s becoming increasingly “woke” and quite opinionated — or perhaps we notice it more now due to the ease of access to other people’s thoughts via the internet. Our definitions of social justice and morality have also evolved and continue to do so. Moreover, we constantly expound our beliefs for any and all who’ll listen — or shall I say, for those who’ll read.

Digital media platforms, such as Twitter, have given rise to the social justice warrior (SJW), who champions causes, often quite loudly. Naturally, the capitalist society we live in has caught on to the trend of voicing opinion and often creates products directed towards the socially woke. Nowhere is this more obvious than the fashion industry. Global politics and debate have seeped their way into our daily lives through the most unassuming of channels: clothes.

Political statements and art, have always been intertwined. Many artists and writers have produced works specifically aimed at jolting the status quo or to highlight an injustice. The film and television industries have done this most effectively due to their large viewership and impact.

Iconic moments somehow always occur at award shows. A couple of the most impactful ones for me include Marlon Brando sending Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his Oscar in order to shed light on the status of the Native American community in Hollywood and more recently, Frances McDormand’s resounding speech at this year’s Oscars calling for the industry to be more inclusive. Moreover, the entire #MeToo movement has stirred the entertainment industry out of its slumber.

However, politics and fashion specifically have had a very interesting relationship. Many politicians  and world leaders use fashion to make political statements (e.g. Gandhi wearing his traditional attire at the British Royal Court). Sometimes, what politicians wear sparks debate across the board (Melania Trump and her “I Really Don’t Care” jacket). The Queen of England, in fact, has a whole protocol in place for how to interpret her social needs based on the use of her accessories — a bag on the table signals the end of a conversation and her desire to exit the room. Just last year, several celebrities showed up in all black at the Golden Globes 2018 to support the “Times Up” movement that stemmed from #MeToo.

Recently, this relationship has taken a more overt nature. Celebrities are donning outfits with clear political messaging on them, to either support or bash a politician, or to shed light on a cause dear to them. Designers have also made statements with one-off pieces or by consciously choosing to dress a particular person (Christian Siriano custom designing a dress for Leslie Jones to promote body inclusivity). And how can we forget Rihanna’s body-inclusive lingerie line that has put Victoria’s Secret to shame.

Despite all this, I wondered, is there really a place in fashion for politics? Is the clothing industry the place to make such statements? Should it not only be about just making clothes and leaving policy and opinions to others? Clothes should just be clothes right?

I, therefore, decided to find out what others around me felt. Naturally, I took to Instagram and set up a poll. I simply asked, “Does politics have a place in fashion?” Out of the 48 people who responded (more of you should follow me on Instagram @hassantl — yes, shameless self-plug, I know), 41 clicked “Yes” and only 7 decided to go with “No.”

To further find out people’s opinions on the topic, I put forth the question, “How do you view the relationship between politics and fashion?”

Responses that I received included:

“…now people have really started to look at the story behind each piece which is great.”

“Issues highlighted through fashion. Treatment of karighars/workers, gender wage gap, etc.”

But what’s the value of these relationships and are they important?

“Quite necessary to be honest,” says model Yasmeen Hashmi.

My friend Omaina Aziz wrote in a long, impassioned response. She stated, “It’s art. Art has always been a commentary on the world and the powers that be.” She cited various politicians and their signature looks, including Jinnah and Che with their caps, Marie Antoinette’s excesses at the court, Melania’s infamous jacket and Trump’s “horrendous ties.” She then went on to question, “They’re using their clothes to make a statement, so why shouldn’t the makers of those clothes then be using their art and their product to make a statement of their own?”

Fair point, to be honest.

A quick glance at some of the collections over the past few years, both local and international, demonstrates that designers have actively been portraying such sentiments. However, I’m wary of their execution. Dior, for example sold t-shirts for $860 with the slogan “We should all be feminists” — which by the way is the title of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book-length essay.

Locally, we have had Maheen Kardar create a line of kurtas with Imran Khan’s face on them before the 2013 elections. These were likened to the famous Che Guevara t-shirts (I don’t think he would have approved of such capitalist tricks). Apart from mainstream politics, feminism has also found its way into Pakistani fashion. Hira Ali’s 2018 PSFW collection titled “Woman is Future” had models walking down the runway holding placards crying for social justice (reminiscent of Chanel’s SS 2015 show). Ali Xeeshan has surprisingly been successful in introducing social causes in a bridal show by drawing attention to child brides in Pakistan.

However, these at times remain one-offs, a bandwagon to be jumped on. Karl Lagerfeld in fact has been accused by many of not being a feminist. So how does one trust such capitalist tropes?

Fashion gives a very powerful voice to those behind it and, naturally, a mandate for them to be authentic about what they support. If fashion is allowed to be political, what are the rules? How do we judge someone who’s being real versus a disingenuous design house? I reached out to fashion journalist and stylist Mehek Saeed for her views. She agrees that authenticity is important and that as consumers we definitely buy into a brand’s value proposition. Therefore, a brand that seeks to promote a political statement or social cause should focus on consistency and putting thought into each and every campaign. Zara Shahjahan, in her opinion does a fantastic job of doing so. “Authenticity,” she adds, “comes from a long-term standing of what you put out. Designers should stand by it in the long run and add these causes to their brand values.” I concur; without a brand fully incorporating such messaging into their practices, they run the risk of losing favour (rightfully so) and coming off as pure, capitalist drivel.

Aamir Bukhari, of the popular Aamiriat blog, adds on to this wonderfully. He opines that most designers in Pakistan are just piggy backing off the cause of the moment to gain traction, especially on social media, with ill-thought statements that come off as flippant. However, he believes — and I wholeheartedly agree — that any design house or brand hoping to be political should start from the basics. They should go for deeper impact and inculcate their beliefs in the way they do business. “Maybe hire more women, pay them at par with men … it needs to be a holistic approach in doing business,” he asserts.

In conclusion, fashion and politics, especially nowadays, cannot and shouldn’t be divorced. Fashion is powerful and what we wear is a statement. Therefore, such politically and socially charged collections do have a place. However, for authenticity to be clearly visible, fashion houses need to imbibe what they outwardly project. Otherwise, it’s just another social media gimmick.





The fact that social media runs our lives might just be the biggest understatement of the 21st Century (at least so far). Ever since the invention of the internet, technological integration in our lives has increased rapidly. This snowball started gathering speed with the advent of smartphones and online social platforms. Now it’s become an almost indispensable part of our daily routine. We use social media to not only interact with friends, but also to stay up-to-date with news and trends, to humour ourselves with memes, for entertainment, to shop and to even find love.

Long gone are the days of dial-up internet, where it would take ages to simply log on. We only had access to handful of avenues for digital interaction, MSN Messenger, Myspace and Orkut to name a few. We are currently inundated with a plethora of apps to choose from and every day newer ones are being created to distract us from the monotony of our lives. The power of social media and the connectivity it brings with it is such that even workplaces are being merged with it. Facebook, in fact, has a whole platform dedicated to creating more efficient online work experiences called (quite unimaginatively I must add) Workplace. Moreover, apps such as Slack are now being used frequently by teams to interact with each other online.

What this does is bring about increased access to those around us and the world at large. However, it definitely brings problems with it as well. I’m not going to go into a long-winded debate here about the merits of social media versus its faults; what I’m going to do is talk about how those who wish to take a break from this constant need to be “online” can achieve their goal.
Recently, I find myself repeating the same thing: “I would like to go on a social media detox.” We all know detoxes are all the rage with us millennials. So while we invest a lot of time and energy (and money) in our juice cleanses for a cleaner body, we ignore the most important detox of all: the mental one. We’re all aware of the pernicious effects of social media on our mental health, so it’s only fair that we occasionally try to reboot our systems. However, we’re quite unable to — that is the deep integration of tech in our lives.

Just the other day I was having this discussion with our Editor-in-Chief, Mehek Raza Rizvi, where I once again mentioned my need for a social media detox. She nodded assent, but also pointed out that although this is a thought she consistently has, it’s quite hard to execute. I understood her point; with the extent to which we rely on social media, going on a detox can be daunting. Even when we’re on holiday, we find ourselves on one app or the other. So perhaps what needs to be changed is the way we use social media, rather than abandoning it entirely (and failing miserably at it).

Therefore, this fortnight I’ll be guiding you on ways to make simple adjustments to your lives that can allow for a reduction in your active digital time. The funny thing is that the tools for such a task are built into our phones.
Firstly, we need to gauge how much time we’re spending on our phones or the computer and within that, what chunks of time are spent on idling around on social media apps. Many phones and computers now have software that measures screen time for us. If yours doesn’t, then download apps such as “Freedom” or “Space.”

The second step is to set limits on apps. A few weeks ago, on a very busy work day, I decided to set limits on all apps that had nothing to do with work and where I found myself spending most of my time. It worked like a charm! For five hours, I had no access to my Twitter or Instagram feeds, I wasn’t able to play any games on my phone and there were no random Snapchat messages that needed my attention. Once again, these are built-in features in most modern phones and computers, but other software can be downloaded to help with this.

You just need to figure out what apps are taking up most of your time and aren’t related to your work at all. Obviously, if your work is also heavily integrated with social media, then logging out of your personal accounts can help. Or see if you can use a separate work phone. Turning off post notifications allows further distance from apps. One thing that seems to work for a lot of people around me is to simply delete certain apps. Many tend to delete Facebook and Twitter off their phones, choosing only to access them via a computer. This allows freedom from scrolling during commutes. Instead, you have time to pick up a book!
Another way to reduce endless, mind-numbing scrolling is to put on your “Do Not Disturb” feature at night. This way you won’t get distracted by notifications or the glare of your screen while you’re trying to fall asleep.

These are just some of the things that I’ve been practicing to reduce my screen time and the stress that social media usage inflicts on us. So far, it’s going quite well. But as with everything, sometimes you need a full detox. I’m planning on disconnecting entirely soon and seeing how that goes for me.

What are some of the ways you disconnect? Reach out to us (ironically) on our social media and let us know.

Have you ever felt that you’re not good enough? It’s a creeping feeling that slowly tries to engulf you as you convince yourself that despite all your achievements, perhaps people can see through the cracks in the facade. This uncertainty with one’s own self gets amplified as soon as we factor in the digital interference in our lives. Given social media’s strong hold over our daily lives and the way we project them to the world, it’s no surprise that we fall further down the rabbit hole of self-deprecation and an almost nauseating sense of inadequacy.

You’re not alone in this though. This odd feeling has been given a name: the imposter syndrome.

The phenomenon of feeling like a fraud or an outsider, i.e. someone who’s faking their way through life, despite evidence to the contrary, has been under study for quite some time now. The term was first introduced as “imposter phenomenon” back in 1978 in an article by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. However, at the time it was primarily used to study the feelings of phoniness that high-achieving women felt. Recent studies have shown that gender doesn’t seem to have any major effect on this feeling and that men are as susceptible to this syndrome as women.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a mental disorder per se, but more of a psychological pattern and informs behaviours such as anxiety, stress and even depression. Everyone who has undergone such a behavioural pattern obviously reacts differently. Now, I’ll leave the scientific nitty-gritty to more capable and informed minds (and I honestly suggest setting up a meeting with a therapist if you think you’re going through something along these lines).

Here, though, I’d like to discuss how this syndrome plays out in our daily lives and how I’ve seen it affect many of those around me.

“I’m not good enough”

“I don’t think I’m doing enough”

“I finally achieved my goal, but I don’t think I really deserve it”

“What more can I do?”

“My own clock is ticking and I still haven’t accomplished all the things I wanted to”

These are phrases I’ve heard repeatedly around me and at times have been caught saying them out loud myself. If not out loud, then they’ve always been on the back of my mind for sure. Just a couple of weeks ago when I turned twenty-eight, I thought to myself, “I only have two more years till I hit the big thirty and there’s an entire list of things I still haven’t even embarked upon, let alone accomplish.”

All the while, I keep completely ignoring everything that I have done so far. Any time someone brings up milestones in my life, it seems I take the route of minimising my wins and focusing more on the losses — because how can I actually be deserving of such triumphs. Similarly, those around me are plagued with this malcontent in various aspects of their lives. People I know to be really good writers have shied away from publishing anything because of their fear that no one will read their work and they’ll be caught for their fraudulent behaviour. The fraudulent behaviour being simply to pick up a pen and write. Interestingly enough, writers such as Maya Angelou and Neil Gaiman have reported feeling this way about their own work.

This feeling extends to denying your own self-worth. In Pakistan, I see this largely in women (perhaps it’s an effect of our deeply embedded patriarchal system). Women feel as if they’re inadequate wives, or not worthy of dating, or despite heading major organisations and being in leadership positions their achievements need to be belittled, else someone will uncover their (false) truth and expose them as frauds.

For me, it was heartening to read that people like Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama and even Emma Watson have reported feeling this way. Such people who are in the limelight and their accomplishments are there for the world to see shouldn’t feel this way, right? But they do.

The more I learnt about this concept and the more I dug into it, the easier it became to accept it. I began noticing how for some it’s visible discomfort if they’re publicly praised, while for others it’s avoiding compliments by turning the conversation towards goals that still need to be achieved.

As a millennial, I’m occupied with various projects at the same time, however, it feels awkward telling people about what I do. The creeping feeling comes back and I want to just avoid the spotlight and move on.

My research yielded some basic ways to avoid this feeling: don’t minimise your accomplishments, separate feelings from facts and accentuate the positives in your life. Obviously, this is just what works for me. It’s highly recommended that you see a professional to assuage your concerns and find out the route that’s optimal for you. Remember: imposter syndrome is something that isn’t restricted to age, gender and other factors. You might see it more in one group than the other given your personal surroundings, but everyone is susceptible. The purpose of this article was to highlight this issue so you don’t feel alone or as if you’re losing your mind feeling inadequate. Till then, be kind to those around you, as you don’t know what their struggle is.

Pakistan — the land of the pure — is a nation that has in its few decades of existence seen massive political upheavals, nationalisation, military regimes and wars. Over the past couple of decades it has also seen its global value fluctuate from important strategic partner of stronger countries, to one relegated to the blacklists. However, the nation and its citizens, despite adversity have survived and maintained a fierce sense of patriotism.

But what does this patriotism entail? Is it only just the act of jamming roads on 14th August, waving flags from car windows? Is it only the intense debating on political parties and their merits? Or is it simply the act of defending our sports teams against that of our neighbour to the east? Somehow or the other, what patriotism is has been diluted and relegated to a select few moments throughout the year; at best, this patriotic spirit is merely performative.

Patriotism is defined as vigorous support or devotion to one’s country. However, this support shouldn’t only be reserved for special occasions. When I asked around what Pakistan meant to people and what patriotism meant, the answers I received weren’t exactly encouraging. Most of the millennial generation seems to be disillusioned with the direction the country is taking, they’re holding out hope for a better future, while planning on securing their own futures elsewhere. Despite this, they’re all excited for the 14th August celebrations.

This complicated relationship my generation has with Pakistan prompted me to write this article. I remember when I moved back around five years ago, almost everyone my age felt that I was making the wrong decision. That I should have stayed abroad and by hook or crook found a way to stay there. I’m a firm believer in seeing where life takes you and going with the flow, so I didn’t mind moving back at the time. Funnily enough, moving abroad was less of a culture shock than moving back to my hometown that had changed so much since I’d left (that is a story for another day though).

Every day on social media I see more and more people complaining about the life they’re living here and ironically they’re rallying against those trying to bring actual positive change. While the political side I’ll leave to more informed minds, on the social side I just see unrest at any change that takes place in this country. We reject our national heroes for asinine reasons (sorry Malala and Dr. Abdus Salam), we cry out against minority movements that are trying to shed light on pressing issues (sorry Aurat March) and actively try to derail any such progress under the mantle of “this isn’t Pakistani.” What is Pakistani though? We are a land of myriad cultures and a plethora of languages. We are a people that are as varied as the landscapes from the mountains to the plains and the coastline. That’s always been the beauty of Pakistan to me. However, somehow that beauty seems to be lost on people. Our patriotism has limited itself to only the identity that we associate with. We aren’t able to accept our fellow countrymen with all their diverse beauty – and that is what makes me sad to be a Pakistani today.

Moreover, patriotism for me also entails being a model citizen. Yet, when I see people toss out candy wrappers from their cars while blaring the national anthem on Independence Day, I wonder whether they truly understand what it means to be a citizen of a state. Our love for our nation is so warped that we only find it in actions that rarely speak louder than words. And what’s more, we rarely accept any criticism as a nation. Anyone who highlights problems with the country is immediately labelled a traitor and someone to be distrusted. Yet, we will never stop to pick up that candy wrapper and throw it where it’s supposed to be thrown.

As the country goes through its regular tumultuous political affairs, we must turn to ourselves to fix what’s broken. Relying on those we voted in to swoop in and remedy everything is idiotic. We need to do better. We need to clean up after ourselves in public spaces, we need to respect basic traffic laws, we need to instil a sense of civic duty in our children and we need to remember that this country is only as good as its citizens. It’s imperative that we listen to the heretofore suppressed voices and not be myopic in our thinking. We must allow space for every citizen of this nation to be an equal part of Pakistan.

This Independence Day I urge you to not just paint your face the colours of our flags and go out on the streets, chanting national slogans, but to remember what those slogans stand for. I urge you to pledge allegiance to being a model citizen and upholding the values of humanity and tolerance that this nation was built on. More importantly, I urge you to pick up the candy wrappers and remember that this simple act can go a long way.

Procrastination — a word that almost instantly evokes negative connotations. It reminds one of those who aren’t able to manage their time or priorities and is often associated with laziness and idleness.

I disagree. Those who know me were probably expecting that; even the title of this piece probably hasn’t come across as a shock to you. However, this isn’t just me justifying my biases. I completely arm to announce that there is indeed an upside to procrastination.

Personally, I’ve always had a slightly laid-back approach to deadlines. Whenever anything was assigned in college or tasks set at work, I was never the one to immediately jump on them. I still am that way. I’ve always maintained that I work well under pressure and that some of my best work has been produced that way.

Even with the pieces I have to write for GT, I take my sweet time (I certainly did with this one). Initially, I had a completely different topic lined up and did my research on it as well. However, I found out that it was recently covered in another publication, which meant I was back to square one.

So, I did what any decent millennial would do, I procrastinated. In a classic “me” move, I began to clean. I went through drawers upon drawers of stuff that I hoarded over the years, organised folders, threw out old receipts, shredded unnecessary documents, arranged my books and prepared a big bag to recycle. All of this was done in true millennial fashion — listening to a carefully curated playlist on Spotify, while simultaneously FaceTimeing a friend from college. This entire exercise ultimately gave me the idea for this piece. Sure, my to-do list was still pending, but, while I diverted attention from it towards decluttering my belongings, I ended up decluttering my mind as well.

I went through every scrap paper I came across and reminisced about the memory associated with it. Photographs from college, postcards in both recordings and even my old transcript, planted a smile on my face. I do believe that thorough spring cleaning has a therapeutic effect, but that is a topic for another day.

Observing how productive my procrastination was, I immediately turned to my best friend, Google. Turns out it wasn’t just wishful thinking. I came across a fascinating article in the New York Times by Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, titled, ‘Why I taught myself to procrastinate.’

Grant argues that although procrastination might lower your productivity in the short run, it can serve as a catalyst for creativity. It turns out that when you put off an assigned task and instead choose to clean your room,  indulge in binge watching Netflix or simply listen to music, you ultimately become more creative. Allegedly, it’s because your mind has had a chance to ruminate and you go beyond the conventional ideas that come to you immediately after hearing of the task.

However, this certainly doesn’t mean one should begin a task too late. A rush job is equally as bad as one executed as soon as soon as it’s been assigned. What’s required is a bit of discipline. Let your mind wander, use the time to complete other tasks, but know when to return to your top priority.

This leads me to my second point — productive procrastination. If you have to divert attention, focus on other things you’ve been putting off for a while. These could include things such as cleaning out your closet or sending out emails. The instant gratification from achieving those minor tasks will elate you and you can return to your original task feeling excited. Moreover, you might just learn something new through productive procrastination. For example, if you end up reading articles online, going through a book or watching a riveting documentary as part of your procrastination, you end up intellectually stimulating yourself and exploring new concepts. Whenever I choose this mode of procrastination, I always go through the numerous articles that I’ve bookmarked; I’ve decided I’ll be tweeting a summary of all that I’ve learnt whenever I do this (follow me on Twitter @hassantl to read for yourself).

Now, some of you might not subscribe to the ideas detailed here. Perhaps, for you the sin of laziness is unforgivable and this sounds like millennial mumbo-jumbo, a mere justification for our quirky ways of working. However, like anything in life, it’s your approach to it that defines its value. Of course, I’m no saint — I also waste time on social media and Netflix. But forcing myself to be productive while procrastinating has a charm of its own. You learn new things and just get a lot of boxes checked off the to-do list. Whenever I get back to the task at hand, my mind is decluttered enough to take on the challenge.

In conclusion, what I’ve learnt today, through my procrastination, is that it’s okay to not rush into your task list. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a step back and divert your attention to other matters to clear your head. However, all things are good in moderation. One must know when to go back to work. I implore all of you to try to procrastinate a little before completing your next tasks and see the difference that makes. Happy procrastinating!

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