GT – August 16-31 2017


By Staff Writer



Acclaimed director, Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this historical thriller about the Dunkirk evacuation during the early days of World War II. When 400,000 British and Allied troops ended up trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, following a terrible defeat, a number of civilian boats set out from Britain to rescue them before they are killed by approaching Nazi forces.

Starring Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy and Kenneth Branagh amongst many others, this is a war film without the nationalistic, feel-good trappings so common in the genre and really brings the reality of war to the big screen.

TV Series:


Netflix’s latest original drama starring Jason Bateman is a deeply gripping drama and is a must watch for any crime-TV fans.

As a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, Bateman’s character Marty Byrde finds himself in the crosshairs of his shady employers after his business partner is executed. To try and get out of the danger he’s put them in, he uproots his family from Chicago to a sleepy mountain town in Missouri, Ozark.

The series follows his attempts to get himself out of the mess he’s landed himself, his depressed wife and two teenage kids all the while dealing with the idiosyncrasies of Ozark, where all is not as it seems.


HOT 100


# Song Name Artist
1 Despacito Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
2 Wild Thoughts DJ Khaled Featuring Rihanna
3 That’s What I Like Bruno Mars
4 I’m The One DJ Khaled Featuring Justin Bieber, DJ Khaled Featuring Justin Bieber,  Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne
5 Believer Imagine Dragons



This House of

Clay and Water

—By Faiqa Mansab

This House of Clay and Water, written by Lahore’s own Faiqa Mansab and published by Penguin Random House India, has a stirring narrative that explores forbidden love in the city of Lahore.

“It was difficult for me to stop writing this book,” said Faiqa. “It was difficult for me to let go of Nida and Bhanggi. I’d lived with them for so long, I was afraid there would be no others. That I’d hear no new voices and no new stories would reveal themselves to me. But one has to stop editing or the story suffers. And once I had, once I stopped listening to the whisperings of the ghosts of the old story, new voices clamoured to be heard. The new neighbourhood is quite interesting too.”

The novel has  received warm reviews in many prestigous publications, including including the Times of India “Faiqa Mansab’s promising debut This House of Clay and Water is a mesmerizing tale of three souls in search of love, freedom, and identity. Mansab’s book brings to light a fresh brilliance from Pakistan, with a storytelling so sophisticated, it exudes radiance. The novel, set in Lahore, chronicles the city, its repressed femininity looking for a louder voice, and its aspirations in need of a jovial push.”

1. Classic Red Bridal by Republic 

Wedding season is just around the corner and we can’t take our eyes off this stunningly worked classic red bridal by Republic Womenswear. The immaculate craftsmanship is drool worthy.

2. The Light Blue Jumper

Lahori author Sidra F. Sheikh’s debut sci fi novel The Light Blue Jumper appeals both to young adult and the more mature reader. On one level it’s a comedy of errors set in space and on another it’s an allegory about the political climate of our time. Get your hands on this sold out book published by Mongrel Books from Liberty Books or read it on your kindle  by downloading from Amazon.

3. Garnier’s Moisture Bomb Sheet Masks   

These hydrating sheet mask drenched with Hyaluronic Acid are absolutely amazing. In only 15 minutes, they make your skin fresh, glow and youthful. The application is full proof too. Just cover your face with the nutrient rich mask and a few minutes later, voila, you look like you spent a relaxing day at the spa!

4. Azadi Promotion especially for GT readers

Harley Street Aesthetic & Liefstyle Clinic is offering the Ultimate Red Carpet Package From The Stars of Hollywood at a special discounted rate. It includes:

Thermi Smooth Tightening

with PhotoFacial Whitening

and Glow Skin Peel @ 20,000 only.

Normally valid nntil 14th August only. but for Good Times readers valid  until 31st of August. on first come first served. basis.

Contact: 042 37182090-37182053, 0301 4811107

Frieha Altaf shares the highlights of her South American and Caribbean trip with Fatima Sheikh

Why did you choose this itinerary?

I like to go to places off the beaten path. Machu Pichu in Peru is very spiritual and one of the top surviving man made sites that is included in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Argentina is a wonderful country and Buenos Aires is a magical metropolis. The last place I visited was the Cayman Islands in the Bahamas, which was truly a treat for the eye and the mind.

What is the best time to visit?

Best time to visit is in June because it’s not rainy. Most parts of Peru is a rainforest area and the Amazon is wet throughout.

Where did you stay?

We stayed in six different hotels in Peru. Mila Flores was top notch in Lima, Reserva Amazonia in the Amazon and Ritz Carlton in Cayman Islands.

Five essentials you cannot live without when traveling?
1. Sunglasses
2. Sneakers
3. Backpack
4. Baseball cap
5. Jacket

Favourite Restaurant?

Malecon Larcomar, which was located in Lima

How to get around?

Seriously! 10 flights, trains, boats and by foot. Lots and lots of travelling

Where to stay?

Park Hyatt Palacio Duhaui. It’s a palace and I recommend the old wing.

What did you get up to during the day?

  1. Swam with stingrays
  2. Scuba dove at the Kittiwake Wreck in the Caymans
  3. Canopy walk in the Amazonia
  4. Scaled Machu Picchu, a 15th century citadel in Urubamba province.


Maria Wasti has had a prolific career in showbiz ranging from modeling to producing. A hardworking and professional actress, she has worked with almost all the major television channels and played characters that are challenging and impactful on the audience. her show on Air currently is Dhund playing on TV One. Born on 14th August, Pakistan’s Independence Day, Maria believes in liberation for all. She’s outspoken and blunt on various issues of women’s rights, gender equality and social prejudice. Maria reveals what makes her tick to Sana Zehra

If you posted a picture on Instagram and didn’t get any likes would you delete it?

Not at all

What was your last Google search?

I was looking for the geographical location of a city.

Would you rather Tom Hanks or Tom Hardy?

Tom Hardy

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever made your assistant get for you?

Nothing! And they have been like, “Ma’am you want nothing?” And I said, “yes, nothing. Get nothing for me. Can you do that?”

What’s your room service order like?

My breakfast is usually at 2 PM. I want eggs whenever I get up. I skip lunch. And for dinner I order something spicy, like Thai food.

Describe yourself in three words?

Only three? I thought you’d say write a book. I’m very organized, I like to spend a lot of time on my own and I’m very moody.

When I’m in love I just live it and it’s crazy, believe me it is

If you weren’t an actress you would be?

An actress

Best career advice you got?

Don’t listen to anyone and I’ve given that advice to my own self.

Moment you felt you made it?

No, I never felt like I made it. I try to make it happen every day.

What kind of work you would you do for free?

I already think I’m working for free because passion is the price and nobody is paying for it but you.

Which book left an impression on you?

Forty Rules of Love

Who do you admire the most and why?

I admire everything and everyone around me, not just any one person. I find the whole world is inspiring in every way because I don’t believe in good or bad and right or wrong. I see things very differently, so the awe and the amazement should not go out of your life.

Which movie has the greatest ending?


What’s on your bucket list?

A lot of travel, a lot of free time and a lot of time at home

If you could live in another country where would it be?

Somewhere in Europe

What should every woman try once in their lifetime?

Everything. Before making a decision that you don’t want to do it, I’d say do it! That is very important whether it’s falling in love, falling out of love or all those things, which are said not to do, you should try at least once. Make your own decision. That’s what my advice to you is, live life! This is only life you will get. This is your hell and your heaven, live it and decide for yourself.

Superhero power you’d want to have?

To be able to do everything I want and be able to undo it as well

Favourite Disney princess?

Myself (laughs)

Three qualities you want in a partner?

I’m neither a perfectionist nor an idealist. Being in a relationship is a totally different ballgame and you play it every day. So, I don’t know if I can answer this tbh (to be honest).

Craziest thing you did for love?

Everything I do is crazy. When I’m in love I just live it and it’s crazy, believe me it is. Not the bad kind of love where I’m cutting my veins and all. If love is not intense, it’s not love. It has to be intense and I think that’s the most integral part of being in love. The real love is selfless and it’s not easy. Real love is where you know you have to give without judging and that on its own is crazy.

Why should people be excited about your current project?

Because people should be excited about everything that they are about to watch or experience.

Why people should watch your drama Dhund?

If you have the time, you must watch this drama because such genres are challenging and not a lot of people are willing to take a risk on this. I think the audience will enjoy it.

What does GT mean to you?

GT is always good times that pull us out of bad times.

Canadian abstract/figurative artist, Tyler Tilley has an uncanny ability to capture raw emotions and unconscious thoughts and even paint the impossibly difficult moment of self-destruction. He believes artwork is a personal currency. hailing from Toronto where he got a degree in PR but currently residing in Bangkok, he entered the Art world as a professional in his twenties out of sheer love. When creating expressionistic abstract, much of his energy stems from combining the present moment with his eclectic past: addiction and recovery, amateur boxing, teaching in China…and the list goes on. Tyler takes Sana Zehra through his  journey of raw emotions and expressive art

Icon series

Tell our readers about yourself Tyler? Where do you draw your energy from and what inspires you?

It’s been a long, long road. I’ve invested everything I have into this insane passion, obsession of mine. It’s both my curse and gift. I am usually lost most hours of the day. Lost in the sense that I push everything aside so I can focus on mastering my craft and losing myself in the process. Ideas pour in constantly. I’ve learned to incubate the good ideas and let the others slide. Then, I sort through my choice concepts and determine which ones I want to actually pursue. Ideas come from everywhere. I am super stimulated being in Bangkok, Thailand, for sure. I eat up the insanity and find a way to put it on the canvas.

What genre(s) do you work in?

Currently, I’m focusing on my figurative work. Whether it’s online tutorials or criticism from other artists, I’m constantly studying techniques. I feel like I’ve created and enlisted in my own little private university—considering I am self-taught. But I made a name for myself in Canada with large scale abstract.

The dragon’s nightmare
Red balloon

What moves you most in life?

I feel really blessed that I discovered such an unshakable lust for art. It’s what I will be doing ‘till the day I die. Finding this treasure is a big deal considering most people have no idea what they want to do with this life. So that pushes me big time.

Out of all your work which work do you like the most?

Still searching. But I like my subconscious collage work. I’ve even referred to it as Acid Art. It’s like being on a hard-core trip or at the very least, another dimension. But I do attempt at balancing out each piece. Making sure it has both the beautiful and the ugly. I named the ongoing series both Your Memories Are Lies, and The Waiting Room. Also, I feel fulfilled when I complete a portrait, since they typically take the longest.

Painted skulls

Client: “Can we see if this (painting) will match my carpet and couch?”
Artist cringes

How do you set the background of your figures? There is often a juxtaposition seen in your portraits is that intentional?

I take a lot of photos actually. Usually when I shoot, the idea is it will end up as a painting or some of the subjects will end up in a painting. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, I just pick up a brush and start creating. A clean canvas doesn’t last long in my studio. I suppose to answer you more directly, unintentionally I guess, ha.

1 live round series

If you were to make a sculpture or a painting of yourself, what would it look like?

Lately I’ve found myself painting human skull molds or skull casts. As I think to myself, this could be the closest attempt to a self-portrait that I have done as of late. The skulls obviously represent “death” but I typically painted them in polka-a-dots or fill them with rainbow like colours. Again, I’m trying the balance the ideas of life and death or ugly and beautiful.


Do any of your paintings have a deeper meaning? If yes, what are they?

Yes, deeper meanings and personal stories are always involved. Only because this is all I do. So, it’s easier to put pieces together when I look back on the work I’ve done. My work is very close to a diary. The work makes more sense when it’s reviewed or in retrospect. I can see so much of myself in the completed work. Specifically, with subject matter and concepts. But the meanings and stories vary significantly.

sons of monarchy

What is your most favourite piece of work and why?

Seems to always be the piece I have just finished. Only because it took everything from me—I am serious. Back to the gift and curse.

What do you feel when you let your emotions let loose on canvas?

Abstract art is the best for this. Music brings out some awesome momentum and keeps me engaged. After a good ol’ fight with your partner or someone close to you, there is nothing like spraying a canvas with nothing but pure raw emotion. It’s beyond gratifying plus there is something to show directly linked to an emotion.

Artist Tyler Tilley Raising Colour photo credit: Tara Noelle

Who are your role models as an artist and why?

Love artists that travel and see the world. I feel like they have more stories to tell through their work. I have a long, long list of people that inspire me to be honest. I tend to gravitate to people that hustle. They’re dedication really moves me. Though, my family are my role models and heroes.

Raising Colour is Tilley’s signature series and has taken over four years to create. This body of work is best described as a cross section of emotions and experiences leading up to this point in his life. Like a catalogue of personal history, the myriad of colours reflects the mindscape of the artist as he paints. The application of epoxy resin between layers elevates different sections off the two-dimensional plane—allowing the audience to dissect the work by looking within and through the painting, the same can be done to the individual. Within every piece, each colour represents an emotion; each layer a significant moment and each work a window into the artist.

Does living and working in Bangkok and travelling back and forth to Lao influence your work at all?

Yes, for sure. Bangkok is just plain nuts. It’s so foreign and so upside down that all I can do is pull from it. Love also found me here in Bangkok. Laos is just a retreat from Bangkok, ha.

your memories are lies vi
painted skull

What’s a typical day like for you?

Painting. Boring answer, I know. Usually I paint usually 8-10 hours a day. I lock myself in my studio and generally have to force myself to eat; though, I am getting kind of fat, not sure how that works. Sometimes I sit so long I get haemorrhoids— I’m not joking. At times, it is complete solace and other days it’s just too much.

What is the worst question that you’ve ever been asked about your work?

Can we see if this (painting) will match my carpet and couch?

Do you plan on branching out and opening a gallery in Pakistan?

Would be honoured. I typically go where the wind takes me anyway. Really, if I am well received, I’d go anywhere. But not so much interested in opening a gallery as much as I would be in finding a gallery that loves my work.

If someone in Pakistan is interested in purchasing your work how should they contact, you?

Definitely follow my Instagram. I always post my latest there: @tylertilleylovesyou or shoot me an email: [email protected].

My website is www.tylertilley.com

Any messages for upcoming artists?

Do something with your life!!! Put all your eggs in one basket. Life’s a story, truly. At the end, if you had to watch a movie of your life, would it be boring or award winning? Your choice.

The cast of the comedy Punjab Nahi Jaungi spends a day with Afshan Shafi. In between wardrobe changes for the shoot, they spill the beans in an irreverent and insightful chat

Mehwish & Urwa wardrobe: Ammara Khan atelier

Hair & makeup: Toni&Guy

Styling: Ammara Khan

Photography: Ali Agha & Raza Ali

Humayun & Azfar wardrobe: Design Yard Studio

Jewellery: Karat Jewelry

Concept, coordination & asst. styling: Afshan Shafi

Residence: Amaad Lone

Humayun Saeed

What was the most fun part about shooting for this movie?

Sohail Ahmed is very funny. He used to add lines of his own to the script. He did that many times when in scenes with Ahmed Ali Butt and used to crack us up constantly with his ad-libs and spontaneous behaviour.

Who was the most fun to work with on set?

Ahmed Butt for sure!

What did you love/hate about the character you were playing?

I loved his attitude and his accent. Usually I don’t hate much about the characters I play. I usually sympathize with them. This character in particular is an admirable one.

If you could have one superpower what superpower would it be?

I would like to be a mind reader, and try to see what people are thinking. I wouldn’t mind having the power of mind control as well.

What is one thing that annoys you the most?


You and Mehwish worked together on Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. How was it like working together again?

Wonderful! We always have a great time working together because of our comfort level. We also did a play together after JPNA. People say we have great chemistry together, which is always a plus.

What is one thing you know now about your co-stars that you didn’t know before?

Well, I’m now attuned to Mehwish’s expressions and know exactly when to deliver a pause. There’s an ease in acting with her, which is a huge advantage.

Where would you go if you where invisible?

I won’t disclose that just in case I do one day acquire this power.

What is the worst job you could have?

Any 9-5 office job

Which celebrity annoys you the most?

Wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me to say

If you were stranded on a tropical island what two things would you want with you?

Family and friends

“I would like to be a mind reader and have the power of mind control”

What is the song you hear most often?

Kya yahi pyaar hai

Which is your dream car?

Range Rover sports

What makes you angry?


What’s your favourite country to visit?


Mehwish Hayat

What was the most fun part about shooting for this movie?

The rain sequence was really fun. We were shooting late and I was drenched completely. At one point, I literally felt like steam was rising from my body. It was really funny!

Who was the most fun to work with on set?

Honestly, I’ve been blessed with great co-actors. Everyone is very nice but Humayun and Ahmed Ali Butt are a laugh a minute.

What did you love/hate about the character you were playing?

I hate nothing about the character; I own it. What I love about her is that she’s a sensible girl but at the same time she knows where to take a stand and speak up for herself.

What do you think audiences will be surprised to see in this movie?

They will be amazed, mesmerized and more. It’s a fabulous production and a piece of art for viewers. Our dialogues are amazing since they’ve been written by the brilliant scriptwriterKhalil ur Rehman Qamar who is just unbeatable.

“It was really
fun filming the rain sequence”

What annoys you the most?

People lying about you and making assumptions about you when they don’t even know you.

You and Humayun previously worked together on Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. How was it like working together again?

We did a play called Dil Lagi between these movies, which was loved by audiences. We have good chemistry and I think people like to see our pairing. We look good on screen together honestly. He’s also generally so much fun and such a nice person to work with.

What is one thing you know now about Humayun that you didn’t know before?

That we both eat a lot! Even though we are on diets we still eat and eat.

Cats or dogs?

Always dogs!

What is the most precious thing in your wardrobe?

A few things that purchased in Soho, New York, and some in Turkey.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

Do you really think I’ll tell you that? Haha

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

My mother

Are you a morning or a night person?


Who is your favourite superhero and why?

Wonder Woman or Lara Croft

If you could trade lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?

Lady Diana because she was Princess of Wales as well as an ideal mother and wife

What is the first thing you notice about someone when you first meet?

Their whole vibe or energy

What is the song you hear most often?

(Sings) You just want attention, you don’t want my heart.

Maybe you just hate the thought of me with someone new by Charlie Puth. This song is in my head all day long.

What fashion trend do you just not get?


Beauty must have?

A lot of water and a good moisturizer

Azfar Rehman

What was the funniest part about shooting for this movie?

Well, we were shooting in a palace, and Mehwish thought it would be funny to convince me that this palace was haunted. Actually that wasn’t the case, but I was scared throughout.

Who was the most fun to work with on set?

It has to be Mehwish because she is a dear friend and is one actress who is great on screen and off screen. Director Nadeem Baig was also great fun to work with because I feel that to truly enjoy something you have to have a sense of humor and possesses that in spades. I think it was great working with both of them,

“This may sound sleazy, but I would like to be inside someone’s wardrobe when Invisible”

How would you describe Punjab Nahi Jaungi in one line?

Don’t take away my girlfriend haha.

What did you love/hate about the character you’re playing?

What I love about him is that this guy is natural, he’s not pretentious. What I hate about him is that this guy can be too practical and too stiff at times; he doesn’t really get the emotional side of people. Like you know they say that love is illogical, everything can’t be practical and logical all the time. Wasay, my character is very practical, posh and up to date, but he’s slightly unfeeling.

Where would you go if you where invisible?

This may sound sleazy, but I would like to be inside someone’s wardrobe when invisible. Now don’t ask me why. (Haha)

What is the worst job you could have?

A janitor

Which celebrity annoys you the most?

I think self proclaimed celebrities or people with a very limited body of work really annoy me. Your craft should be the most important thing about you.

If you were stranded on a tropical island what two things would you want with you?

A water bottle and my cell phone

What is your dream car?

They keep changing but right now it’s the Mini Coupe.

What makes you angry?

Superhero power I’d want to have.

What’s your favourite country to visit?

Too very different countries: Thailand and Turkey

Fashion stylist and image consultant, Ehtesham Ansari reveals to Mahlia Lone how he styles the stars of Coke Studio

What’s your background?

I got my first degree from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA) and my post grad from England in Design.

I started working as a stylist in 2006 with The Mag Weekly. My portfolio holds local as well as international fashion shows, editorial feature films, fashion films, music videos, red carpets, TVCs, etc. I have worked in England and in Dubai apart from Pakistan. The biggest celebrity so far that I have styled internationally is a Manchester City Football club player. Others include IPL Kolkata Players and Bollywood stars. I have worked on shows such as London Fashion Week 2007, FTV Middle East as well as editorials for various international magazines. Locally, I have done the styling for feature films, like Zinda Bhaag and Jalaibee. I have also done A-list advertisement campaigns.

Ali Sethi in YSL & Ali Hamza in Munib Nawaz & Republic
Umair Jaswal
Aima Baig Wearing Erum Kham Accessories From The Stylist’s Personal Collection

How many looks have you done for the whole show?

I started with the season 7 and just completed season 10. So far I have been responsible for consulting, developing and evaluating everyone who is involved in the season. This includes house band, lead artist guest musician and string session.

That’s a lot of different looks to come up with. How have you achieved this?

Well that’s what my job is. Haha.

Coke Studio as a show has a certain fusion look and feel to it. The tricky bit is to maintain the soul of the show. Styling and clothing should add to it rather overpower the initial idea of the show, which is music. The very first step is that I listen to every single song, which will be featured in the season, to understand the feel of the song. This helps me to develop style boards illustrating appropriate looks for each artist keeping their personality and the song in mind. Later on I discuss this with Bilal Maqsoodand share the style board with the artist and we take it from there.

Which designers have provided the outfits?

For me, the most important thing is to achieve the look. I am known for putting various brands together (just like in an editorial). It involves calling a mainstream designer to spending hours in Zainab Market. At times, the artist also approaches the fashion designer who they are comfortable with to customize their outfit or a particular article. This season you will see Munib Nawaz, Ali Xeeshan, Shamaeel Ansari, Fahad Hussayn, MNR , Mango , Splash , Gul Ahmed and Mansoor Akram to name a few

Music satisfies the soul, while clothing pleases your eyes

The stars must also have had a say in their looks. Please describe the process.

Yes, everyone has a say. Coke Studio artists are not fashionistas or trendsetters. Some have a very distinct style and some are not at all bothered with their attire. So it varies from artist to artist. It’s not rocket science. As the stylist, I communicate with them which idea of theirs works and which does not. At times nothing works….So I can also be their sounding board in this regard.

For instance, Ali Sethi was very clear about the concept behind his alternative look. It was unique and quite experimental and worked pretty well.

Another example is QB who wanted to go for effortless oomph for one of her songs. I am glad we found the right ensemble for her.

Ali Z in
Fahad Hussayn
Daniyal Z

How do the songs tie into the fashion?

Music satisfies the soul, while clothing pleases your eyes. Clothes and accessories translate music into the colour, cut and mode of the song. They also reflect the music genre and set a backdrop of the song. In my opinion, music and fashion go hand-in-hand but at times one picks alternate looks to contemporize the visual or make it more interesting. For instance, Ali Sethi’s D&G suit in a ghazal may create lot of headlines or Salman Ahmed’s distinct style define his ideology of music. On the other hand, Aima Baig will be seen in different looks, illustrating various approach of styling a song for a live performance in a show like Coke Studio.

What did you turn to for inspiration?

Anything can inspire me from an editorial look from a glossy magazine to street style. It’s just one has to find the right elements to construct the look as per individual personality.

Ali Noor in a Gul Ahmed Man kurta, and in a shawl from the stylist’s collection

“Ali Sethi was very clear about the concept behind his alternative look. It was unique and quite experimental and worked pretty well”
—Ehtesham Ansari

Zaw Ali in Shamaeel Ansari Couture jacket

Has this project been challenging and if so how?

My work is subjective. There is no right and wrong. Coke Studio is not a fashion based show neither do we try hard to make everyone look trendy. It’s about music and the artist. We make them look presentable and give them the required look by keeping it all simple. We all know simple things are bit more challenging. The most interesting and challenging bit is to come up with various looks for the same artist in the ongoing season and find a balance that maintains freshness but is still true to the artist’s personality and vision.

A young mother struggling with work-life balance, impresses Risham Khan with her dedication and effortless charm

As a young girl growing up in Karachi, Sophia Kasim Kasuri lived in a joint family and was almost always surrounded by lots of children. She organized fun play dates with her cousins and enjoyed her early years to the fullest.

Little did she know that her innocent passion for children would turn into something so extraordinary. Now a 38-year-old, Sophia is the leading early childhood education expert in Pakistan known for bringing the global phenomenon of ECD (Early Childhood Development) to the country.

I met Sophia on a humid August afternoon at her office in Gulberg, Lahore. As I made my way through the guarded gates and metal detectors, I found myself at the core of the Beaconhouse Head Office. Sophia’s right hand woman, Quratulain, walked me through the massive maze-like building. “I haven’t seen the entire place in my six years here!” she said as she led me up the stairs to the Gymboree lounge.

We enter Sophia’s office: a comfortable, contemporary space decorated with flamboyant pop art on the walls. When asked about the artwork, Sophia jokingly tells me she stole it from her husband, who loves collecting art and found these pieces in Koh Samui, Thailand. Sophia is decidedly casual – her hair down framing her face, just the perfect amount of make up and wearing cotton pants with an orange blouse that match the Gymboree logo. “I never thought I’d have this much orange in my wardrobe,” she says playfully.

“My mother-in-law is a doer. I remember this (a music class for kids) as a casual discussion between the two of us. She took it up immediately and then there was no shortage of guidance and direction from her. It just felt so easy to do”

Sophia’s beauty does not go unnoticed; her perfect features and enchanting green eyes make it hard to look away. What’s more captivating than her beauty, however, is her effortless ability to make everyone around her feel comfortable and included.

Sophia moved to Lahore from Karachi at 21, after she married Kasim. At the time, she barely knew anyone in the city. She didn’t have much on her plate, and decided to get a few friends together for a casual music class with their children.

Sophia brought up the idea with her mother-in-law, entrepreneur and educationist Mona Kasuri, who urged her to take this up as a project. “My mother-in-law is a doer. I remember this as a casual discussion between the two of us. She took it up immediately and then there was no shortage of guidance and direction from her. It just felt so easy to do”. And there began the story of Sophia Kasim Kasuri, who would later go on to win the award for Woman of Inspiration as a Trendsetter Educationist in Pakistan.

But how did it all begin? How did Sophia decide to introduce the ECD program in Pakistan, a concept alien to the country? It started with a trip to the US where Sophia stumbled upon a Gymboree center, a platform that encourages the emotional, social and physical development of young children aged 0-5.

She loved the idea and started something similar with The Early Years program. But there were challenges aplenty. A few years later, she got in touch with Gymboree about franchising in Pakistan. A couple of trips to the US and some hectic training sessions later, she successfully opened the first Gymboree center in Pakistan.

She talks about Gymboree with a passion. Her eyes light up as she excitedly describes all the different programs. Frustrated with the flaws that lie within our education system, Sophia says, “Asians are very academically oriented. We are obsessed with grades, we are obsessed with teaching our children ABCs and 123s. But the question is, is this all that is important? Or is the rest just as important too? We emphasize play – but play should be done in an academic way as well. That is what we do at Gymboree. We don’t try to structure play, instead we try to create an environment where children are able to bring in their own creativity.”

I steer the conversation towards her family life. Now a mother of three, Sophia spent 21 years of her life in Karachi, a city quite different from Lahore. Reminders of the Karachiite within reveal themselves involuntarily – like hiccups.

“I’m still adjusting to Lahore. I feel like a misfit. People I once knew in Karachi and met regularly, I now see once or twice a year. I feel like I am somewhere in between. I used to travel back and forth a lot initially, but with my kids at school, it’s hard to just pick up your bags and leave.”

She loosens up as she goes on to talk about her home, fashion, children, and favorite vacation spots. Sophia spent the summer vacationing in London with her in-laws, and then visiting her sister in California. “When I travel with just my husband, we like to go to new destinations. However, when we’re travelling with our children, we don’t want to experiment so it’s easier to go to predictable places.”

As a family, whether abroad or in Pakistan, the Kasuris love swimming, binge eating (ice cream and Italian food). Sophia has some elaborate interests too. “I’m a very girly girl. I like clothes, I like jewelry, I like shoes … I love shoes. Everything, actually … it’s a bit of a problem!”

Sophia’s inviting personality makes it is easy to forget that she comes from one of the most prominent families of the country. I am taken by surprise when the seemingly guarded entrepreneur opens up about her work life balance and says, “I feel like a mess (funny of her to say because her neat office, organized schedule and manicured nails give me the opposite impression) I am constantly confused. When I’m at home with my kids, I keep thinking of whether I have forgotten something about work. When I’m at work, I keep thinking of my kids. I kind of feel like I am all over the place. It’s easier to get myself together when the children are at school. I organize myself during that time.”

Sophia’s life gets hectic, managing her children with her busy work schedule isn’t an easy job. But it’s one that she does with finesse. She confesses, “I don’t know how people maintain a work life balance. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still struggling.”

Who? Sonya Hussyn

Why? The monochrome outfit, nude ankle strap pumps and minimal jewellery deosn’t look boring but rather refined

Who? Fahad Mirza

Why? The actor appears fresh and relaxed in a laid back, yet polished look

Who? Areeba Habib

Why? Minimal makeup and accessories, make this model a class act to follow

Who? Rabia Aziz

Why? This more covered up version of the international see through trend is more wearable here

Who? Sadaf Kanwal

Why? Who but a top model can pull off boyfriend jeans so well?

Who? Zhalay

WhY? Her fringe and floral red dress ensure she stands out

By Mahlia Lone

Suleyman was the only son of Sultan Selim I the Resolute responsible for increasing the Ottoman Empire in size by 70 per cent during his reign (1512-1520) by conquering the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and the Middle Eastern heartlands. Selim I became the guardian of the pilgrimage routes to Mecca and Medina and is generally remembered as the first legitimate Ottoman Caliph. Sixteenth-century Italian historian Paolo Giovio who compiled a book on Turkish history wrote it was inconceivable to expect that “the dauntless lion would leave his throne to mansuetto angelo (a timid lamb).”

Another European historian of the Ottoman rulers called Selim and Suleiman: “Patris fortis filius fortior,” (a courageous father of an even more courageous son).

In September 1520, twenty-six years old Suleyman’s carefree life as governor in the Manisa province came suddenly to an end when he was called back to Constantinople after the accidental death of the Sultan; he succeeded his father and subsequently established the classical Ottoman state and society; he made important new conquests in the East and West, including Belgrade, Rhodes and much of Hungary all the way up to Vienna; he overhauled the legal system; he also patronised artists and writers at his court so the arts and culture scene flourished. Thus, with his reign began  the golden age of Ottoman history.

Sixteenth century Venetian chronicler, Marino Sanuto in Tome XXXV of his historical chronicles quoted a report of the Venetian ambassador: “His not being prone, in contrast to his father and many other Sultans, to pederasty (homosexuality) made his majestic dignity and nobility of character shine even brighter.” Rather in his case, it turned out to be the love of a fair Ukrainian slave girl that was to enslave this Sultan for life.

Hafsa Valide Sultan
Sultan Selim I the Resolute
Expansion of Ottoman Empire by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566)
Ottoman dignitaries on horseback during a march
Battle Of Mohács Depiction

Intelligent, benevolent and erudite but also a sound military tactician, Suleyman, in contrast to his father who expanded his Empire to include other Muslim realms, began his rule with campaigns against the Christian kingdoms in Central Europe and the Mediterranean, starting with Belgrade in 1521 that led to a large-scale advance north of the Danube. The Island of Rhodes ruled by the Knights of St. John was conquered in 1522.  In 1526, Suleyman defeated the combined Hungarian-Croatian-Czech forces and took over Hungary. Hungarian King Louis II drowned ignominiously in a bog during the battle. A Turkish historian wrote at the time that “there has never been a battle like this since ancient times.” Turkish soldiers piled 2,000 heads of their enemies (eight heads belonging to bishops) in a heap close to the Sultan’s tent as a tribute to the victor. Suleyman drove the Habsburgs from all of Hungary and besieged Vienna in 1529, but could not sustain the siege. Facing problems with supply, transport, and military organization, the Sultan wisely realized he had reached the limit of possible Ottoman expansion in the West.

Though Ukraine was never conquered by the Ottomans, it became a steady source of white slaves for the Ottoman Empire. Back then just as now, Ukrainian women were highly prized for their fair skin and delicate bone structure. Muslims, it was argued, were barred by the Quran for capturing fellow Muslims as slaves, but non Muslims were fair game.  The Crimean Tartars flourished in this lucrative trade of supplying white Christian slaves. Mykhailo Lytvyn, a Ukrainian diplomat in the service of the Lithuanian government, wrote in his memoirs (1548–1551) that the krymchaky (Crimean Tartars) engaged only in two trades: cattle-breeding and capturing Ukrainians to be sold to the Ottomans as slaves. “The ships that often come to their ports from across the sea, bring weapons, clothes and horses, which are exchanged for slaves who are loaded onto these ships. And all the Ottoman bazaars are full of these slaves who are sold and bought to be used in the households, to be resold, to be given as presents….There was one Jew, amazed at the great numbers of these slaves to be seen at the slave markets who asked whether there were any people left in the land where these slaves are brought from.”

Holy Roman Empire’s Charles V Versus Ottoman Empire’s Suleyman I

From among the countless virgins captured during military raids and auctioned at the slave markets, the rare gem of a girl was handpicked for the Sultan’s harem. One such was the adolescent daughter of a Ruthnian (Russian) Orthodox priest. According to the Polish poet Samuel Twardowski who visited Turkey in the sixteenth century, Roxolana, the girl from Roxolania or Ruthenia, was born in the town of Rohatyn, 68 km southeast of Lviv, a major city of the Ruthenian Voivodeship in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland (today in western Ukraine). Reportedly named either Aleksandra or Anastasia Lisowska,  she was captured by Crimean Tatars during a regular raid who transported her to the Crimean city of Kaffa, a major centre of the slave trade. Then the little slave girl was shipped to Constantinople, where she was selected by Valide Sultan Hasfa Sultan as a gift for her son Süleyman and taken to his harem in the old palace in Beyazit, 2 kilometers away from Topkapi.

The heir apparent’s room

Imperial Room
Stained glass window

The Sultan’s harem was strictly cloistered, guarded by eunuchs and ruled by harem hierarchy and full to the brim with nubile beauties that had “dark burning eyes like black olives, big sensuous lips, and ample, zaftig, curvaceous and voluptuous figures.” The newly acquired slave girls were first taken to the hamam where they were inspected for diseases and flaws, and then deloused, scrubbed, polished, massaged, oiled and clothed. Then, their extensive grooming and training process started. Looks were not enough to ensure success at the harem as there were countless virginal beauties on display. Under the supervision of the kagia-kadin, the top female attendant in charge of the harem, the virgins were trained in housekeeping, gardening, sewing, embroidering, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, manipulating puppets, reciting fairy tales; they were also taught the basics of Islam, literature and philosophy; last but not least, they were given pointers on the essential the art of erotic love. The trainees had to pass through several stages in mastering these skills before they could take part in the final selection: the adjemi (novice), jariye, shagird, gedikli and usta. At this final stage, the Sultan’s mother, the Valide Sultan would carefully pick only the best to offer up to her son at the Topkapi Palace.

Unlike the West where royals married into other royal houses to make strategic alliances, Ottoman Sultans used slaves for procreation so that there would not be any other family to gain prominence or aspire for power in the empire. Moreover, the established imperial harem principle of “one concubine mother — one son” was designed to prevent both the mother’s undue influence over the Sultan and the feuds of the blood brothers for the throne. Once the Sultan’s son reached maturity at 16-17, he was sent to a far off province as governor with his mother and could only return on his ascension to the throne after the death of his father. There was no formally designated heir. Once the new Sultan’s ceremony of girding the sword had taken place, his half brothers were killed. This seemingly cold system ensured the longevity and stability of the Ottoman realm.

Concubines from the imperial harem not chosen for the Sultan were given as gifts to his favourites or high ranking government officials. Some got married to these men and became the head of their own household. Those that had been “promoted” to the imperial harem were given separate rooms and servants. The haseki lucky enough to bear the Sultan sons were clothed expensively in silks, brocades and furs, allowed to publicly kiss the Sultan’s as a mark of high status and received the title bash-kadin. The girls in the harem were ranked as Gözde (the Favourite), Ikbal (the Fortunate), Kad?n (the Woman/Wife) and Valide Sultan (Queen mother). As can be expected, there was intense rivalry between the women of the harem. Additionally, there were strict rules to be followed. For example, if a harem wife was walking from one part of the seraglio to another, heard the click of the Sultan’s silver-studded shoes, she would have to quickly get out of the way and hide as unsanctioned meetings with the Sultan were considered a gross violation of the harem rules and offense to the Sultan. Offenses or violations of the harem hierarchy were punished severely, even by death.

Portrait of Hurrem Sultan titled Rossa Solymanni Vxor, c. 18th century (Topkapi Palace Museum)

Modern reproductions of Hurrem Sultan’s jewellery
Roxolena & the Sultan (1780) by Anton Hickel

After being educated and trained according to palace etiquette, Roxolana was renamed Hürrem, meaning the cheerful or joyful one in Middle Persian, due to her smiling face and good-humored personality. Süleyman met fifteen year old Hürrem the same year that he succeeded to the throne and hit it off with her nearly immediately. She was pretty, but not beautiful and on the short side. “Giovane ma non bella” (young but not beautiful) , “graceful and short of stature,” a Venetian ambassador was told in 1526.

Since her arrival, she had voraciously gathered as much knowledge as she could in Ottoman language, mathematics, astronomy, geography, diplomacy, literature, and history. She was even interested in alchemy. During recent excavations in the Edirne Palace, some of her tools for the preparation of perfumes were discovered. Additionally, the Ottoman Empire’s economy was largely based on textile production and trade of carpets, silks and cottons mainly with Europe to which women confined to their homes contributed by spinning cloth and embroidering. The finest, most intricate embroidery in the empire came from the imperial harem and other harems of high officials. Hurrem’s embroideries, or partly done under her supervision, that was gifted in 1547 to Tahmasp I, the Shah of Iran, and in 1549 to King Sigismund II Augustus have survived to this day and can be viewed at the Topkapi Palace.

La Sultana Rossa (c. 1550s) by Titian
Hurrem Sultan holding court in the harem
Letter from Hürrem to Sigismond Auguste complimenting
him upon his acsension to the Polish throne (1549)

The clever girl with the strong survival instinct transformed herself into a fit companion for the Sultan. It only took a few months from the day that she first met Sultan Suleyman to the moment when she became the most important consort in the harem. This strengthened her position in the Palace so much that she initiated a new order in the harem.

The next year she gave birth to their first son, Sehzade Mehmed. As per tradition, the harem girls who became mothers to Shehzade (a sultan’s son) were given the title haseki (mother of a prince), meaning has gelin (the royal bride). Hürrem too was now called Hürrem Haseki. Loath to part from her, Hürrem was exempted from the rule of one haseki one son and was allowed to give birth to more than one son. Soon after their only daughter Mihrimah Sultan, Sehzade Abdullah, Sultan Selim II and Sehzade Bayezid followed in quick succession. Their last child Sehzade Cihangir was born later and had a hunchback. Mehmed became Süleyman’s favourite child but he died at a young age after contracting an infectious disease. In his memory, Süleyman built the Sehzade Mosque in Istanbul.

One day Suleiman’s jealous former favourite, Mahidevran, also called Gülbahar (Rose of Spring) got into a fight with her chief rival Hürrem and beat her badly. To punish her, Suleiman banished Mahidevran to the provincial capital of Manisa with their son and the heir apparent, Mustafa. Officially, it was not called and exile but was portrayed as the traditional training of heir apparent, Sancak Beyli?i. After this, Hürrem became Suleiman’s unrivalled favourite haseki.

Hurrem was hardly the odd Slav out at court. Due to the expansion, an ever increasing number of Slavs had become integrated into Ottoman life not just as part of the Janissaries (armed forces) and harems but even the ruling elite. Serbian language could be heard spoken from bazaars to the Sultan’s court and was used in official documents in addition to Turkish.  The Polish traveler Strijkowskij wrote that when he was in Istanbul he heard with his own ears kobzari (bards) singing songs in Serbian in the streets and in the taverns about victories of valiant Muslims over the Christians.

Sehzade Mustafa, her son with Suleyman and the heir apparent who was later assassinated

Giovio wrote: “At the court (of Suleyman The Magnificent) several languages are spoken. Turkish is the language of the ruler; Arabic is the language of the Muslim Law, Koran; Slavic (Sclavonica) is mostly used by the Janissaries, and Greek is the language of the populace of the capital and other cities of Greece.”

Bassano, an Italian visitor to Suleyman’s court, claimed that “he (the Sultan) respected and highly valued his wife (Roxolana) and understood her native language to some extent.” One of the Sultan’s viziers was Rustem Pasha, a Croat.

Oleksiy Pyvovarenko, head of the Lviv Club of Socionics in his article about the psychological portrait of the couple Suleyman-Roxolana, wrote that they were “duals,” two persons who ideally matched each other in character. The Sultan became faithful to Hurrem whose main asset was her mind. She was able both to entertain the Sultan with clever and witty talk and give good and sound advice. Due to her excellent education, she also became Suleiman’s chief adviser on matters of state and had a considerable influence upon foreign affairs and international politics. For example, she took care of maintaining the peaceful relations between the Ottoman Empire and Polish state with a Polish-Ottoman alliance. Two of her letters to King Sigismund II Augustus of Poland have been preserved and survive to this day. According to Crimean historians, she also intervened to control Crimean Tatar slave-raiding.

Suleyman & Hurrem’s
daughter Mihrimah Sultan
Their Croat born son in law, Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha

During their 200 year long dynasty, on the rare occasion the Sultan married, his legal wife would belong to a foreign royal house or a distinguished Ottoman family. Suleiman was about to break with that tradition, carefully manipulated by Hurrem who did not outright ask him to marry her. In 1533, she confessed to him her growing love for Islam and how badly she wanted to convert to the true faith. He was thrilled and readily consented. After converting to Islam, Hurrem did not allow the Sultan to come to her bed, citing that now it was against the teachings of the Quran. After three days of being kept at a distance, the Sultan capitulated and married his concubine in a magnificent formal ceremony. She received the title Haseki Sultan (Empress) becoming the first consort to hold this title. An Ottoman Sultan had married a haseki for the first time in history. The title of Haseki Sultan was used for the next century and reflected the great power of imperial consorts (most of them former slaves) in the Ottoman court, elevating their status higher than Ottoman princesses. In this case, Süleyman not only broke the old custom, but created a new tradition. With Hurrem’s new title came a stipend of 2,000 aspers a day, making her one of the highest paid hasekis. Sultan started to be viewed by his people as being dominated and controlled by his foreign wife.

A fawning love letter penned
by Hurrem for her Sultan:
After I put my head on the ground and kiss the soil that your blessed feet step upon, my nation’s sun and wealth my sultan, if you ask about me, your servant who has caught fire from the zeal of missing you, I am like the one whose liver (in this case, meaning heart) has been broiled; whose chest has been ruined; whose eyes are filled with tears, who cannot distinguish anymore between night and day; who has fallen into the sea of yearning; desperate, mad with your love; in a worse situation than Ferhat and Majnun, this passionate love of yours, your slave, is burning because I have been separated from you. Like a nightingale, whose sighs and cries for help do not cease, I am in such a state due to being away from you. I would pray to Allah to not afflict this pain even upon your enemies. My dearest sultan! As it has been one-and-a-half months since I last heard from you, Allah knows that I have been crying night and day waiting for you to come back home. While I was crying without knowing what to do, the one and only Allah allowed me to receive good news from you. Once I heard the news, Allah knows, I came to life once more since I had died while waiting for you. My dearest sultan! If you ask about Istanbul, the city still suffers from the plague; however, it is not like the previous one. God willing, it will go away as soon as you return to the city. Our ancestors said that the plague goes away once the trees shed their leaves in autumn. My dearest Sultan! I am begging Allah for you to send me your blessed letters. Believe me when I say this: if I cannot hear a word from you for more than two weeks, the world collapses. There will be rumors about your well-being around the city. Please do not think that I want to hear from you just for my own sake.”

After becoming the legal wife of the Sultan, Hurrem Sultan was exempted from harem rules. She became the first woman to remain in the Sultan’s court for the duration of her life. In the Ottoman imperial family tradition, a sultan’s consort only remained in the harem until her son the Sehzade came of age and following the practice of Sanjak Beyligi, both mother and son would leave for a faraway province. The Sultan kept Hürrem close to him at Topkapi Palace, even after three of their sons were sent off.

“The current wife of the Turkish Sultan who loves her dearly is a woman who was captured somewhere in our lands,” wrote Mykhailo Lytvyn, ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Crimean Khanate.

The complex of Haseki Hurrem Kulliyesi, the first in the Ottoman Empire named after
a woman, designed by Mimar Sinan Aga (1539), also included darussifah (hospital),
imaret (soup kitchen), mosque and hamam
The Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamam

The Venetian ambassador, Navagero, also reported in 1533, “There has never been a woman in the Ottoman palace that had more power than she.”

When Hafsa Valide, Süleyman’s mother and the daughter of the Khan of Crimea died, Hürrem became the sole female power in the Topkapi Palace.

Traditionally, to avoid rebellions and civil unrest, it was the prevailing Ottoman custom called kardes katliami that when a new Sultan gained the throne, all of his brothers were killed in order to ensure the stability of the empire. This is why one haseki was only allowed to bear one son. Mahidevran’s son Mustafa was the eldest of the Sultan’s sons and preceded Hürrem’s children in the order of succession. To avoid the eventual execution of her sons, Hürrem used her considerable influence on the Sultan to eliminate those in power, like Süleyman’s Grand Vizier Pargali Ibrahim Pasha who supported Sehrezade Mustafa’s accession to the throne; she flexed her muscle to push for his 1936 execution after he had made some tactical blunders. Later, 1544 onwards, the post of Grand Vizier was held by Suleyman and Hurrem’s wily Croatian born son in law Rustem Pasha who was in cahoots with his mother in law.

Mausoleum of Sultan Suleyman in the Süleymaniye Complex

Iznik tiles decorating Hurrem’s tomb
Inside Hurrem Sultan’s mausoleum
Selim II
Selim The Sot

When the Sultan left for military campaigns through which he annexed Persia, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, Yemen and Abyssinia (in total he spent 10 years out of 46 year reign away from court on military campaigns) Hurrem Sultan was left in charge by him to oversee palace order, head state affairs, deal with foreign emissaries and even be his eyes and ears gathering intelligence for him. She apprised the Sultan of the latest news through her constant stream of neat, grammatical letters, interspersed with sentimental poems. One such read: “My lord, Your absence has kindled a fire in me that cannot be put out. Take pity of my suffering soul and write a letter to me as soon as You can so that I could find at least some consolation in it. My lord, I hope that when You read these words, Your wish to write to us will be fortified and You will express all Your longing to see us again. When I read Your letter, Your son Mehmed and Your daughter Mihrimah were close by my side and tears were rolling down their to the Sultan.”

The Sultan replied:“At last we shall unite in souls, in thoughts, in imagination, in will, in heart, in everything that I have left of mine in you, and have taken of you with me, o my only love!”

In the public realm, Suleyman won the title of Muhtesem (The Magnificent) for his military exploits and political success. He was also referred to as Suleyman Kanuni (the Lawgiver) as he had all the archaic laws of the empire updated and reorganized and was compared to the Biblical King Solomon because of “his wisdom and the splendour of his court.” In addition, Suleyman became known as “the creative conquerer” who wielded a pen as well as a sword. His reign became known as the Ottoman Golden Age. Culture and the arts flourished. The architect Sinan, the poet, thinker and writer, Fuzuli,  the mathematician, painter and cartographer, Matrakci Nasuh, and the innovative illuminator Karamemi all lived and worked under his patronage.

The book of Suleyman’s poems Muhibbi Divani written in Talik inscription
by the calligrapher Mehmed el-Serif and illuminated by Karamemi

When Hurrem was fifty and well past her prime, the Venetian ambassador Navagero wrote: “His Majesty the Sultan loves Roxolana so much that never has in the Ottoman dynasty been a woman who would enjoy a greater respect. They say that she has a very nice and modest appearance, and that she knows the nature of the great ruler very well.” Though the Europeans were very impressed by the slave girl turned Empress because she favoured them; however, the Turks felt otherwise about Hurrem.

Handsome and brave Sehzade Mustafa had grown extremely popular amongst the common people due to the generosity he lavished upon them and amongst the soldiers that he led valiantly in many successful campaigns. He reminded the people of his grandfather Selim I and was generally expected to succeed Süleyman even though there was no formal succession system in the Ottoman Empire. As Süleyman ruled for 46 years, the younger generation wanted Sehzade Mustafa to take the throne instead of his elderly father, but Hurrem knew this meant the death of her sons.

In 1533, during Suleiman’s Persian campaign, the Sultan halted his army in Eregli on the Black Sea where his Grand Vizier and son in law/husband to his daughter Mihrimah, Rüstem Pasha invited Mustafa to join his father’s army. Duplicitously, Rustem convinced Suleyman that Mustafa was coming to kill him.  Not realizing he was being double crossed, Mustafa assembled his army to join his father’s. Suleyman thought he was revolting and ordered the execution of his son. When Mustafa entered his father’s tent to meet with him, Suleyman’s guards attacked the Sehrzade and after a long struggle strangled him using a bow-string.

Angered at their warrior leader’s senseless murder, Mustafa’s Janissaries and Anatolian soldiers railed against Suleiman’s peremptory decision. Suleiman dismissed Rüstem from his position as Grand Vizier and sent him back to the capital, but even there the people blamed Hürrem, Rüstem and Mihrimah for their cunning plot and the Sultan for being duped by them. That year—1553, Constantinople was filled with tension and fear. Topkapi Palace was attacked by thousands of angry protestors crying out against the foreign “witch.” To appease them, Suleiman ordered that Mustafa be given a state funeral with a full week of lying in state at Hagia Sophia for the people to pay their respects. Mustafa was laid to rest in a large mausoleum in Bursa. After the death of her son, Gulbahar lost her high status and moved to Bursa. It is said that Cihangir, Hürrem’s youngest hunchback son died of grief a few months after the news of his half-brother’s horrific murder that lay at his mother’s door.

My resident of solitude, my everything, my beloved,
my shining moon
My friend, my privacy, my everything, my shah of beautiful, my sultan
My life, my existence, my lifetime, my wine of youngness, my heaven
My spring, my joy, my day, my beloved, my laughing rose.
My plant, my sugar, my treasure, my delicate in world
My saint, my Joseph, my everything, my Khan of my
heart´s Egypt.
My Istanbul, My Karaman,
my land of Rum
My Bedehsan, my Kipchak,
my Bagdad, my Horosan
My long-haired, my bow like eyebrow, my eye full of discord,
my patient
My blood is on your hands if I die, mercy o my non-Muslim
I am a flatterer near your door,
I always praise you
Heart is full of sorrow, eye is full of tears, I am Muhibbi and I am happy.

Mustafa’s execution had caused great unrest in Anatolia, especially in Amasya, Manisa and Konya where he been a just governor. The people remembered him as Sultan Mustafa, even though his life had been cut short before his ascension to the throne, and his legend grew to become a part of  Anatolian Turkish literature. The poet Taslicali Yahya composed a haunting elegy for Mustafa that read:

“The slander and the secret grudge of the liars shed tears from our eyes; ignited the fire of separation

He never murdered anybody, but his life was drowned in the flood of calamity, his comrades were disbanded

I wish I had never seen this event. What a shame: my eyes didn’t approve this treatment to him”


Rustem Pasha strove to get Yahya executed as punishment. The Sultan prohibited his execution but instead deprived him of his offices and banished the poet to the Balkans. In 1574-75, while in Bosnia, Yahya met Mustafa Âlî, a well known Ottoman historian and bureaucrat who referred to him as “a poet too talented to be supported by jealous politicians and subsequently condemned to exile in the border provinces.”

Both Hurrem and her son in law the Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha made a deadly team successful in cut throat court politics and intrigues. They were the outsiders not only surviving, but flourishing at the Ottoman court. Suleyman himself lived to regret both the executions that of his Grand Vizier and of his son and heir. European historians argue that Mustafa did not deserve the throne. Although he was courageous, he lacked two important qualities for a ruler, patience and cautiousness. After Mustafa’s death Selim, his son from Hurrem, became the heir apparent. Though obedient to his father, he was unpopular for being cruel and an alcoholic. Süleyman and Hürrem did not hesitate to execute their own son Sehzade Beyazid and grandsons in 1561 when they revolted over the issue of succession, such was their tenacious grip on power and control.

Given the grisly backdrop of the bloodshed, in 1554, Dominico Trevisano wrote about the Sultan and Hurrem’s continued love affair: “His Majesty the Sultan loves her (Roxolana) so much that, as they say, he has refused to be with any other woman but her; none of his predecessors had ever done that and such a thing is unheard of among the Turks who have a custom of sleeping with many wives.”

Because of her inordinate amount of power and influence from which even Suleiman’s own children from other women were not safe, her meteoric and unprecedented rise and her unassailable position for forty years, Hurrem Sultan was widely believed to be a witch who had put a hypnotic spell on the Sultan using voodoo incantations and potions. At the time, this was not a farfetched theory. Only a century later, Louis IV’s mistress Madame de Montespan would be disgraced and banished for visiting the witch La Voisin to perform rituals by killing babies to make love potions used on the French King. Similarly, the Austrian ambassador Busbek wrote in 1554 that he was told of women in the capital who supplied Hurrem Sultan with bones from the skulls of hyenas which were believed to be a very strong aphrodisiac. After investigating the claims, he wrote, “But none of them agreed to sell these bones to me saying they were meant exclusively for Hurrem Sultan who, they said, made the Sultan continuously attached to her by making love potions and other magic means.” It was a wide-spread popular belief that Suleyman was so obedient to his wife and putty in her hands because of the magic spell that she put on him. She, people said, was behind the Sultan’s decisions to execute Ibrahim, his closest friend and vizier, and Mustafa, his first-born son and heir to the throne. Her children had directly benefitted from these heinous crimes.

One day, Hürrem became suddenly very ill and perhaps deciding to atone for her sins, curry favour with Allah and win people’s approbation, she dedicated herself to charitable works. Inspired by the Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s consort Zubaida, she commissioned many public works including two domed mosques built in Istanbul’s Haseki neighborhood along with fountains and madrasahs, a poorhouse and the Haseki Hospital for women near the women’s slave market of Avret Pazary that is remarkably still functional. She also commissioned a bath, the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamam, to serve the community of worshipers in the nearby Hagia Sophia and Suleyman’s mosque. This Hamam also continues to function today. In 1552, she went on to establish the Hasseki Sultan Imaret in Jerusalem a public soup kitchen to feed 500 needy twice a day. Ironically, the money to build the mosques had come from the customary tithes that the Christian pilgrims had to pay for visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem. Suleyman imposed fees on the use of mosques as well, when the need for extra money arose usually to fund a military campaign.

Hürrem died in 1558 and was buried in a purpose built domed mausoleum türbe built by Mimar Sinan Aga the Grand Architect and decorated with exquisite Iznik tiles depicting the Garden of Paradise in memory of her joyful nature in the courtyard of the Süleymaniye Mosque. It is said that Suleyman was so sad that he did not regain happiness for the rest of his life and pined away for his wife. Eight years later in 1566 the aged Sultan too died while besieging the fortress of Szigetvar in Hungary and was laid to rest in a somber mausoleum adjacent to that of his beloved.

Their remaining son ascended the throne as Selim II and ruled the Ottoman Empire until his death on December 15, 1574. One of his first acts was to save Mahidevran from penury and put her on a lavish salary. Despite all of Hurrem’s machinations, her son did not make a good ruler, in fact he became the first sultan who took no interest in military matters. Instead he lived a debauched life steeped in alcohol and orgies, earning him the sobriquet Selim The Sot (the drunkard). He left all state matters in the hands of his Grand Vizier Mehmed Sokollu, a Bosnian native.

Hurrem Sultan, the slave girl who became “The Wife of the Sultan of the World” caught European imagination and inspired many paintings, musical works (including Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 63), an opera by Denys Sichynsky, a ballet, plays, and several novels mainly in Ukrainian, but also in English, French, and German. In 2007, the Muslims in Mariupol, a port city in Ukraine, opened a mosque to honor Roxelana. In the vastly successful Turkish TV series Muhtesem Yüzyil (Mera Sultan), Hürrem Sultan is played by Turkish actress Meryem Uzerli.

Suleyman’s faithful love and ardor for Hürrem is best illustrated by the love poems he sent to her when he was away on campaigns. The book of Suleyman’s poems Muhibbi Divani written in Talik inscription by the calligrapher Mehmed el-Serif and illuminated with beautiful and evocative illustrations by Karamemi is a testament to his love for her. Suleyman’s love poems to his wife were signed Muhibbi (lover or sweetheart) and include the following:

Throne of my lonely niche, my wealth, my love, my moonlight.

My most sincere friend, my confidant, my very existence, my Sultan, my one and only love.

The most beautiful among the beautiful…

My springtime, my merry faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart, laughing leaf…

My plants, my sweet, my rose, the one only who does not distress me in this world…

My Istanbul, my Caraman, the earth of my Anatolia

My Badakhshan, my Baghdad and Khorasan

My woman of the beautiful hair, my love of the slanted brow, my love of eyes full of mischief…

I’ll sing your praises always

I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi of the eyes full of tears, I am happy.

And so the powerful Sultan Suleyman The Magnificent broke with the old Ottoman tradition and created a new one of being monogamous till the end of his days to a slave girl that he willingly made his legal wife and consort.

Mahlia S. Lone

Happy 70th Birthday Pakistan!

We have a fun issue for you. People that we know of mostly in their professional capacity allow GT an intimate glimpse into their personal lives as well. To start off this fortnight we spent a day with the stars of Punjab Nahi Jaungi for the cover story. With four big movie stars on hand, the entourage that each of them brought with them, combined with the hair and makeup team, the entire production unit was quite overwhelming in size. A big shout out to designer Ammara Khan and Shammal Qureshi of Toni & Guy for being such consummate professionals and pleasant individuals to deal with! Neither of them had any ego at all. Perhaps due to the excessive heat, the stars ended up telling us about their secret fantasies. It’s interesting to say the least.

Just like our nation, Maria Wasti too was born on 14th August, but of course she’s considerably younger. The actress/producer who believes in liberation for all and works for women’s rights, gender equality and combating social prejudice reveals how she behaves when in love in her interview.

Another sweet and professional woman is Sophia Kasim Kasuri. Sophia lets GT into her personal space and talks about not just how she balances heading Gymboree Pakistan with being a wife and mother, but also her experience of moving to Lahore from Karachi and the kind of holidays she likes to take with her family.

Canadian artist Tyler Tilney has lived a nomadic existence. A Toronto native, he moved around the world before settling, for the moment, in Bangkok. Fearlessly, he channels all his crazy experiences and raw emotional states into abstract, figurative and visceral paintings. Imagine his state of mind when clients come to him and ask to take his paintings home to see if they match their sofas and cushions. It takes all types to make the world.

The recent Fashion Design Council of India Couture Week had unbelievably glamorous fashion. Feast your eyes on the jaw dropping gowns and desi wear all the way from New Delhi in this installment of the Ruway Report. Last but not least, for all the countless Mera Sultan fans, we have the true story of Suleyman The Magnificent and Hurrem Sultan. Not only is it a great love story between a slave girl and a powerful Sultan, a lesson in how to handle a man and how to sweetly get your way, but it’s also teaches us about Ottoman history and the strong link of the Empire with Bosnia. I, for one, never knew why there are still so many Muslims native to the country in the middle of Europe.


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