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Tuesday, April  29, 2008, Rabi-us-Sani 22, 1429 A.H

Impaired support

Traditional mindsets, discriminatory laws and social values: these are the things that bind a woman and create hurdles in her path of progress. This is very much the story of the majority of women in our country, even though promises are being made by the rulers to improve the condition of women in general. To facilitate this effort of improving the life and living conditions of the women of Pakistan, support centres have been established in all the provinces where women can turn to in times of need. Just imagine a situation when a woman is struck with a problem, she can't go to her family or friends as they are responsible for her deplorable condition. She has no where to go except for the community support group, but then she realises with disappointment that her area doesn't have such a centre to protect her. She finds herself all alone to tackle her problems, a vocation in which she always is the victim but never rescued.

To counter this issue and for the sole purpose of helping women, The Ministry of Women Development introduced 25 women centres that are funded by the government resources. Presently, these centres are operating in Islamabad, Lahore, Sahiwal, Vehari, Rawalpindi, Mianwali, Peshawar, Kohat, Quetta, Karachi, Sialkoat, Bahawalpur, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Sibi, Abottabad, Multan, and Mirwala. But a large number of these centres do not guarantee that they will deliver as expected and most of the times their performance remains questionable. Take for example the inefficiency of the Hyderabad centre, where the name of the 'former' minister Sumaira Malik is still on their portal of ministry. Does this reveal the amount of importance they attribute to women issues and their problems? These centres are operating in different cities of Pakistan to provide relief on emergency basis by rehabilitating the survivors of violence. They run in active collaboration with local NGOs, who are working voluntarily by looking after the centre's different affairs. The main objectives of these NGOs are to provide medical and legal aid, social counselling to investigate cases of violence, establish linkages with law enforcing agencies or police complaint cells, training of micro-credit entrepreneurship, rehabilitation through micro finance, to provide shelter for survivors of violence with provisions of free accommodation and above all to provide psychological counselling. These objectives sound very functional but sadly, they are not being fulfilled by any of these crisis centres. The Hyderabad centre has been established in a rented bungalow in a posh locality of Saddar. While there is nothing wrong with this, we must realise that it falls into the cantonment area where no public transport is allowed to enter. Hence the victims belonging to the lower class of the area, for which it is primarily established, can't even get close to the support centre. Of course, there is no one to blame but the concerned authorities. This women centre was established two years ago and members from the NGOs' management committee were selected to elect a chairperson for the board. The committee comprised people from different NGOs who work specifically for the emancipation of women. At the end of 2005, Hyderabad's centre was notified to provide proper documentation of its operations but it failed to do so. However, it continued to run on temporary arrangements, with no proper facilities until recently. One can only wonder how it is able to help the victims legally when the centre itself is not even authorised. "Earlier the centre was looked after by the police department. But now it has the full fledged authority to work on its own, along with the support of allied departments and the police as well. At present, we are trying to develop standards for the centre so that it can function to the best of its capabilities," shares Fouzia Ashraf Khan, a former principal, who has recently taken charge of the centre.

Renewed initiatives are now being taken for its working. Several meetings have been held with senior police officers of Hyderabad to arrange security for the victims whose lives are endangered by their offenders. Although the women centre provides counselling to the sufferers and survivors of violence, providing medical aid to such victims is not easy. Even though a few hospitals of the city are on the panel, there is a dire need to make such facilities available within the centre premises. It also serves as a shelter home for women who seek protection and medical attention. Medical tests of the sufferers are conducted and they get proper treatment too but they cannot be accommodated for more than three days due to the lack of space.

At this point she is also looking forward to establish a day-care centre within the vicinity which will work as a refuge for the children, while the mothers, who live there, work or look for jobs etc. Currently, Fouzia has also forwarded letters to authorities to shift the centre to a larger area so that they can establish such mini centres within the premises.

Besides these efforts, the staff members need training as well. They need the confidence to face the world and plead the cases they have in front of the media. Usually they are found to be too shy to talk their case through but if they are unable to capture the attention of authorities, how else will they put forward their agenda and help the poor sufferers out of their misery.

Gul Nigar Ansari, chairperson of the NGO management committee reports, "The women centre commenced work in 2007 after the premises were acquired and new staff was appointed. The centre is no doubt far away from the city centre but when you view things with a more pragmatic approach you will find that the place is safe. Still, the centre is actively dealing with several cases of abuse and distress amongst women which shows that people do come to us for assistance."

All said and done, the fact remains that a lot of work is needed for the women centres to become successful. The staff should be trained in a manner so that they should be able to face situations where they have to counsel couples. Awareness generating programs should be launched along with advertisements campaigns, in order to get financial aid for the women in need. The ones belonging to poor and rural areas deserve special attention as they are the worst affected by domestic violence. With that, the NGO management committee should also review their code of conduct. Transparent elections should be organised for the selection of a chairperson, and honest members of the civil society should be introduced in the committee to voice their opinion. The centre also needs to be shifted to a centralised locality where it is easily accessible not only to members of the committee but also to the afflicted women.

The dream sellers

When Shahrukh Khan came to Berlin in February to participate in the Berlin International Film Festival, called Berlinale, one German reporter declared that the Indian star was 'as popular as the Pope in Germany'. There were hundreds of fans in germany dying to get just one glimpse of him; most of them were predictably young girls and women. Berlinale showcased Martin Scorsese's documentary on The Rolling Stones, among other international offerings but in fact people were more excited about the so-called Bollywood King Khan than any Hollywood celebrity. So what makes Shahrukh Khan so popular in Deutschland?

Almost every other young German girl knows Shahrukh Khan. To them Bollywood is actually Shahrukh Khan. They know India through Shahrukh Khan. Some love him madly. Dorothy Wenner, a curator with the Berlin International Film Festival, once narrated to a journalist an incident in which two young German-Turkish girls almost beat her up when she did not allow them to view Khan's movie because the theatre was full. Then there are German TV channels that show Shahrukh Khan's movies in their prime time. Bollywood is so famous in Germany that you will find a lot of Bollywood bars, and Bollywood parties where young girls dress up in saris and where they dance on popular Bollywood songs actually after learning all the steps.

Once I met an amateur German actress who was performing on a Bollywood song. I asked her why did she like Indian films; she replied that she found them a lot more passionate than German films. To most German Bollywood admirers, Bollywood and Shahrukh Khan are synonymous with passion, something which lacks in German society as a whole that emphasises more on rationality now.

Earlier it was Satyajit Ray and later on Raj Kapoor that were instrumental in taking Indian cinema to Europe. Needless to say, in both Ray's and Kapoor's films there is a lot of passion and an 'Indian-ness' which must have inspired the Western film watchers. But is it all about 'Indian-ness' or Shahrukh Khan that makes Bollywood popular in Germany and Europe or there are other factors too? Let's find out.

The finest book that I have read on Indian cinema so far is Nikhat Kazmi's 'The Dream Merchants'. Nikhat is one of the finest film critics of India who has been associated with the Times of India for long. In this book, Nikhat is extremely political in commenting on various eras of Indian cinema, various filmmakers and actors. While describing a certain actor, she actually takes into account the economic and socio-political scenario of the country in which a particular film is made, the particular character which becomes popular and the particular trend which is set. Her main thesis in the book is that no art is outside the realm of economics.

Arrival of the Khans on Indian celluloid, she said, was a phenomenon where 'zeros became heroes'. By that she meant that in an era when Indian society was pushed into market economy, and when multinational corporations entered India with a bang, a character was required that could promote the newly emerging market culture and at the same time tame down the resentment against it.

So no angry young man like Amitabh Bachchan, venting his frustration against the industrialists and their goons, was needed to promote consumer goods. It would actually have been an impediment. Small towns, ordinary-looking young men, doing ordinary jobs in offices or studying in schools, falling in love with ordinary next door girls; were the need of the time. Corporations wanted their products to be consumed by that particular 'target audience' - the so-called ordinary people.

Hence, ushered in an era when industrialists were not shown in a bad light. They were depicted as good people with honest and loving families, and who cared for their workers more than anything else in the world. Thus Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan happened. Most movies in the early 1990s depicted the same themes and characters. No fight against the system and no bad manners. The phenomenon still continues in India with some changes.

But if that is how Shahrukh Khan made his entry in Indian film industry, why is he equally famous overseas? The reason is pretty much the same. Shahrukh Khan is not only instrumental in promoting market economy in India but now he is its biggest 'brand ambassador' whose job is also to promote India abroad. Promoting India means promoting the myth of 'India Shining' - the hyped success of India's liberal economic model. Shahrukh Khan sells India overseas.

There are two beneficiaries in this: the Indian bourgeoisie who plays the role of a middle-man and gets his amount of share. But, of course the main beneficiary is the multinational capitalist who is selling his products in India in the garb of an economic model which Indians so proudly call their own. So through Shahrukh Khans and Sachin Tendulkars market economy is invading and occupying territories even in small and remote Indian villages, where farmers are committing suicide because they can't feed themselves and their families. On the contrary the Indian films preach them no-fight-against-the-system.

So it is neither about good acting nor about passion (as the young amateur German actress said) that Shahrukh Khan and Bollywood are liked by so many in Europe. In fact it is what the German reporter at the Berlin International Film Festival said: Shahrukh Khan is as popular in Germany as Pope Benedict. Both of them preach non-violence and not to struggle against the status-quo. Above all, they both sell dreams.


- The writer works for Deutsche Welle Urdu Service, Bonn,

and can be reached at [email protected]

You are being watched!

Watches are not just a utility item any more, they are a fashion statement now. Recently, a show was held in Karachi to showcase a wide range of elegant watches

Probably no other fashion accessory complements the well-dressed woman's wardrobe more than a beautiful watch. A simple watch that tells the time of the day has also turned into a fashion accessory - designer watch. A designer watch can be instantly recognised by its craftsmanship and elegance. It can be enhanced with stunning dials and elegant straps. There are different designer watch models for men and women. Exclusive designer watch series are diamond studded and can be likened to jewellery items.

Watches are not just a utility item any more, they are a fashion statement.You are your watch. Either you wear a Rolex, Cartier, Casio or Tissot, your watch makes a statement. Besides that Phillipe Starck, Citizen and various Swiss brands are popular designer watch brands. A designer watch from Christian Dior or Bulgari is an exclusive piece. Sports designer watch can be selected from brands like Timex and Tag Heur.

A watch is now billed as the status symbol. Judging from the full-page fancy watch ads that populate glossy magazines, this appears to be the case, at least for people who care about status symbols in the first place. It seems that we will continue to see a strong demand for fashion watches.

It's fashionable to make stars endorse watch brands. You must have seen Shah Rukh, Amir Khan and Cindy Crawford flaunting designer watches on billboards. So, if you have the money to splurge and are willing to wear your attitude on your wrist, the time is just right for you. Like in the case of ready-made garments and shoes, people are turning aggressively brand conscious when it comes to buying watches. The hefty price tag is of little consequence.

When it comes to new watches Titan's name instantly hits one's mind. Ever since it launched its first watch in 1987, Titan has constantly innovated with a range of styles and designs to suit different moods and personalities. Headquartered in Bangalore, India, Titan has offices in Singapore, London and Dubai. Now, Titan has been launched in Pakistan.

In a bid to show-off exclusive watches to the public, a fashion show was recently held in Karachi by the organisers. The whole idea was to introduce and promote the brand in the local market. Mr. Rounak Lakhani inaugrated the flagship store. While, the Titan team including Mr. Manoj and Mr. Navinder flew all the way from India to attend the event. The show was supposed to start at 8 p.m. but it commenced at 9 p.m. with Anoushey and Faizan hosting the show. I think being late is also  fashionable according to our laid back culture. But considering the fact that it was a watch show, the organisers should have kept the time factor in mind. Any way, the guests were quite eager to see the show but for more than good 40 minutes they first had to endure long speeches of the organisers. Finally, the fashion segment began with male models flaunting the designer watch. They were all good looking and had the potential to make their mark in the modelling field. The clothes, designed by Thomas Fernandas, were interesting enough to catch the attention of the audience.

Then it was time for female models to walk on the ramp wearing the designer watch. Sadly, the not-so-famous models were short and lacked the oomph factor necessary to carry the clothes. The ensembles, designed by Trevor Castelino of ETC were also ordinary and there was nothing that could be considered stylish except for watches. But I think what everybody did enjoy was the back-ground music.

However, one still appreciates the efforts put together by the organisers and the choreographer who at least managed to have a show done peacefully. In the end only one lucky person got the Titan watch. I wish I could be that lucky. The guests were delighted by the scrumptious dinner served after the show.

What! I can't turn bald

You may have the perfect makeup and outfit for yourself but if your hairstyle is not in place, the entire look just goes down the drain. You can tie them, let them loose and flaunt them. But for that you need to have healthy hair. While playing with our hair and being so proud of them, we usually ignore their health. About 20 million women all around the world suffer from some form of hair loss every year. Alopecia areata is one such disease that occurs mostly in women and causes them to lose their hair in patches. It is also referred to as spot baldness. It affects both males and females but is different than male-pattern baldness, an inherited condition.



This disease is caused by the change in hormonal levels of females. The most common cause is the oversensitivity to the hormone testosterone. It is also important to note that hair loss can occur on any part of body and can be temporary or permanent.

Usually higher levels of male hormones in females - androgens - can cause rapid hair loss too. In older women, generalised hair loss is normal which occurs as a result of menopause. After the hormonal changes of menopause, many women find that the hair on the head is thinner, while facial hair is coarser. 

Another cause is ageing. As we age the hair follicles surrounding our hair along with the small blood vessels supplying blood to them tend to get weak. This causes the death of the hair. It then occurs on a specific region on the scalp or any other part of body resulting in what we see as a bald patch.

Even the immune system plays tricks on the person which becomes a cause of alopecia areata. The white blood cells, responsible for killing harmful viruses and bacteria that enter our body, mistakenly attack the hair follicles treating them as a foreign substance. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).

Hair loss could also occur due certain medications, such as ones taken for chemotherapy, arthritis blood pressure and heart problems. In certain cases vitamin A, pregnancy and birth control pills are known to cause hair loss. In such cases hair often grows back after delivery or after stopping the pills with no long term problems.


Commonly found in

Alopecia areata tends to occur most often in children, teens, and young adults. However, it can also affect older individuals and rarely toddlers. It is not contagious and should not be confused with the hair shedding that may occur after the discontinuation of hormonal oestrogen and progesterone therapies for birth control or the hair shedding associated with the end of pregnancy.



The characteristic finding of alopecia areata is the exclamation point hair. These unusual hairs can be found in areas of hair loss. They are visible with a hand lens as short, broken off hairs that are narrower towards the scalp (appearing like an exclamation point). A biopsy of the scalp is sometimes necessary for a diagnosis.



In approximately 50 per cent of patients, hair will re-grow within a year without any treatment. The longer is the time period of hair loss, there is less likelihood that the hair will re-grow. A variety of treatments can be tried. Steroid injections, creams, and shampoos (such as clobetasol or fluocinonide) for the scalp have been used for many years. Other medications include minoxidil, irritants (anthralin or topical coal tar), and topical immunotherapy (cyclosporine), each of which are sometimes used in different combinations. Minoxidil has been proven to show minimal improvements in 50 per cent of women and moderate improvements in 13 per cent. Another pill called finasteride can also be used but this is usually recommended to men as it can cause severe birth defects in pregnant women. In any case it will take months for any kind of lotion or pill to produce any benefits.

If your scalp has patchy scarring, you may need a skin biopsy to diagnose the underlying cause of it. Scarred areas may be treated with topical corticosteroids or antifungal drugs, but if the damage is so severe that it has affected the hair follicles, the new hair will likely not grow. Other treatments for alopecia may include treating skin with ultraviolet light after giving patient some special oral medication. Doctors may even introduce high amounts of iron and protein in the patient's diet which could trigger the re-growth of hair.


Psychological help

For a lot of women, alopecia can certainly be the cause of psychological stress. Because hair loss can lead to significant appearance changes, individuals may experience social phobia, anxiety and depression. In severe cases where the chance of hair re-growth is slim; individuals need to adapt to the condition, rather than look for a cure. There is currently little provision for psychological treatment for people afflicted with alopecia but the confidence building counselling and change in hairstyle may help the patient come out of distress.


Dear Nadine,

I am a 24-year-old girl. After completing my medical school, I started chatting with a guy. We both had a lot in common and so we became good friends. He was very knowledgeable and chatting with him became so enjoyable that we exchanged cell numbers. It was when he called me that I found out that he wasn't a Muslim. I had simply assumed he was one because we had discussed religion and he had praised Islam, but he is a Christian! He is not even a Pakistani, but an engineer from America settled in Saudi Arabia. He told me that he had no intention of misguiding me, but just couldn't help himself, as he was afraid I would stop chatting with him. Now he has proposed to me. I wasn't shocked because I knew he was interested in me, but I rejected his proposal. I have stopped talking to him, but I miss him. I know my family would not allow me to marry him. At times I feel that instead of breaking up with him, I should have kept in touch. I feel very angry with my conservative parents and family who would never allow me to marry him, but I love him so much. He is so decent and honest and knows how to respect a woman. Please tell me what to do.

Furious Gal


Dear Furious Gal,

In the first place you should decide who you are angry with. Are you angry because you have been fooled by a person who is cleverer than you are? You are a mature person, and cannot even use the excuse of ignorance and lack of knowledge. Newspapers and magazines are full of stories about net escapades, and yet you decided to plunge into an affair with an unseen person just because he is glib with his tongue and you fell for his talk! Need one remind you that it's not only your parents and your conservative family set-up that is a bar to this marriage; it's also against the laws of your religion. And, if this guy is so honest and decent, why did he hide his religion and nationality from you till he was sure that he had lured you? He purposely made you think that he was a Muslim and divulged his true identity when he thought that you had fallen for him. My dear, had he been really sincere and honest, he would have disclosed his true identity. He is a worldly and mature person, and he must have known what he was doing to an inexperienced Mills and Boon heroine. You have already stopped talking with him, which shows that even though your heart is in rebellion, your mind is still functioning in a reasonable, logical way. Please try to forget him and move on.

Net affairs have been increasing and very often they end in tragedy. In your case, it is quite clear that you are not really in love, or you wouldn't have stopped talking to him. Your head was probably turned for a short while because you are a young inexperienced girl, and were easily swayed because he is a man of the world and knows how to fascinate a woman.


Dear Nadine,

I am a 36-year-old married woman. I came to Karachi few years back after getting married to my cousin who is settled here. I have three kids and I live in a joint family set-up. My husband has a big family; two of his married brothers and two unmarried ones live with us. He also has three sisters, of whom two are married. My father-in-law is a strict and stern person, and my mother-in-law is always so afraid of him that she doesn't ever disagree with anything he says. Financially, we are well off as the family business is doing very well. But due to my father-in-law's antiquated notions all the household chores are done by the women of the house. Can you believe that we don't even have a masi for sweeping the floor? My sister-in-law does not do anything, as she is a 'guest', and the three of us, daughters-in-law, are so overworked that we don't even get time to watch TV! Looking after the kids, cleaning, cooking and taking care of the guests, who come to visit my mother and father-in-law, take all our time and leave us drained. But my husband and brothers-in-law are so afraid of their father that they don't do anything about it.

The other daughters-in-law at least have their families here, but I feel so lonely and depressed because I don't have anyone to advise me how to cope with this situation. I am fed up and now want a house of my own where I can bring up my kids the way I want, get up late on the weekends and sleep in the afternoons. Is it too much to ask? However, my husband, who is otherwise very loving, wouldn't hear about that. I have become so irritable that I keep fighting with my sisters-in-law, mother-in-law and husband. Please show me some way out of this depressing situation as it is driving me nuts.



Dear FG,

Different households have different set-ups, and it is always difficult for a new member to adjust to the way of the house. In your case, the situations looks even grimmer to you because you cannot vent out your pent up emotions. But my dear, fighting will not get you a solution - only a bad name. You need to deal with your situation diplomatically, as you cannot expect your husband and other family members to change without even making an effort.

First of all, you need to improve your relationship with your sisters-in-law, as they are also the sufferers of your stern father-in-law's regime. There is a strong possibility that they feel the same as you do. Once you are on amicable terms with them, you can discuss how to bring a change in the household. According to what you have said, your mother-in-law would not be a help but get your husband and brothers-in-law on board. Try to explain that you need to give time to your children and monitor their studies. Since your husband does not want to separate from his parents, ask him to talk to his brothers and convince them about persuading your father-in-law to slacken his rules. If all the brothers talk to their father, their united front may convince your father-in-law.

As for wanting to relax and getting up late on holidays, what's to stop you if you decide to do it? You also have to assert yourself and fight for your rights. Ask your husband to take you away on weekends for outings and don't accept a 'no' from him. He is your husband and he must be made to realise his responsibilities towards you and his children. But don't expect anything overnight, for it is usually slow and steady that wins the race. Best of luck!

Women: living up the identity

Haven't we heard it from a lot of people that when you are far from your homeland, you tend to be more close to it - emotionally close. Take the western countries where Pakistani people are in large number, they usually live nearby in the form of a community forming a mini Pak-land.

These communities usually hold various exhibitions and workshops so that the people can remain in touch with their traditions and values. Recently, a three day UK exhibition was held for the first time for women entrepreneurs in Kensington Town Hall, London. It was meant to encourage the Pakistani women to showcase their talent in public; be it designer clothes, paintings or handicrafts. Around 500 applicants gave in their entries amongst which 60 women were selected to participate in the event. And to make it a success, some well established names of our country went all the way to UK to encourage the idea of recognising women as entrepreneurs. The list included some renowned women and many who have just stepped into the world of business. It was meant to serve as a platform for them to mingle with other people and help their business grow.

The whole concept was conceived by the Pakistani Embassy in UK who then asked the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to help them in this venture. Saira Najeeb, the commercial counsellor, along with TDAP was responsible for the organisation of the whole exposition. It was inaugurated by Dr. Maliha Lodhi, the Pakistani high commissioner in London, and was attended by the Pakistani business community along with the five British women parliamentarians who were there to encourage women entrepreneurs. Mishal Hussain, the BBC newscaster and a well known name among the media fraternity, hosted the event.

The first day kicked off with a fashion show choreographed by Caramel Productions. The designers who showcased their outfits were Faiza Samee, Nadya Mistry, Neelo, Sumbul and etc. The ramp didn't just feature female models flaunting their exquisite ensembles but male models also displayed the latest designs in men's kurtas. Besides the catwalk they incorporated a number of dance performances, fusing the east with the west, which enthralled the visitors. 

Coming towards the stalls, they had everything from bags to jewellery, and from furniture to hand knitted carpets. Well, no one can doubt that Pakistani arts and crafts are famous all over the world, especially in the west. They are really attracted by the material used - cane or brass - and their utilisation as a decoration item. This is why handicrafts were the first item which sold out during the event and even managed to procure big orders from a Manchester company.

Another stall which caught the people's attention was the mini art demonstration arranged by Majmua art gallery headed by Mehreen Ilahi. The attendees were attracted by the fine use of brush and selection of her colours. The first day was a little tough for them but the entire collection was sold the very next day as people by then were aware of the event and the crowd reached the count of nearly 600 to 800. It not only helped the artist get herself recognised but also helped her tie up with a gallery in Wimbledon for a show in September this year.

The Pashmina shawls displayed at Neelofar's stall were another item which sold like hot cakes. These shawls were hand-made and were in demand because of their unique designs and smooth fabric. Along with that Sha Sha's beauty collection of khaddi, block prints, embroidered suits and gotta sequence on orgundi won accolades from the people as well.

Besides, jewellery designer Shireen Khan presented her exclusive blend of light weight trendy collection of gold and silver. Accompanying her in the jewellery display were Ajjo and Safia.

The three-day event bustled with activities as women found everything of their interest  - from personal grooming to home decor. Be it gift boxes or hand woven accessories, dyed fabric or customised shoes, handicrafts or wooden furniture; the proprietors made sure to bring it in the traditional way. It was not just an opportunity for business women to put their products on sale but was a step to help them build confidence, inspiration and acceptance in their respective fields which would further encourage other women to follow their footsteps.

Food for Thought

You are tired after a long day of work. You take out time for coffee but wait... you need something delicious to go with it. And, we all know there is nothing better than freshly baked brownies hot from the oven. This week YOU! along with Mrs. Azra Syed brings you a scrumptious recipe for home made brownies.

Happy Dessert!



Butter 4 oz

Brown sugar          6 oz

Eggs (beaten)          2

Flour   3 oz

Baking powder          1 tsp

Cocoa 1 oz



Milk     1/3 cup

Chocolate (melted)          2 oz


Beat the butter and brown sugar together till it forms a light mixture

Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder together. Add eggs, a little chocolate and mix well.

Now, pour this blend in a square 6" greased pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C for 20-30 minutes.

Finally, mix the remaining chocolate and milk to form the icing.

Spread it over the brownies and enjoy.

Pieces of art
Want to bring elegance and that extra zing to your place? Recently, Beena Asim launched her line of furniture that has something for everyone...

Over the years people have become more style conscious as they are now more exposed to the global trends in furnishing with unique ideas and themes. With this they want to create their own individual style and select pieces which go well with their moods and tastes.

When it comes to the material, no doubt wood steals the show. It is an object that perfectly moulds itself to create a variety of illusions. It makes quite a bold statement with its textures and glow that lends a wonderful aura to any home. Along with that, it also creates the mood with clean symmetrical lines and once the upholstery is added the whole atmosphere warms up to generate a comforting and inviting ambiance. 

And for the people who say we don't have enough variety in our country, designer Beena Asim has the perfect counter answer for them. Recently, she held her solo furniture exhibition in Karachi. Although, she has been designing furniture for the last couple of years, this is the first time she showcased her signature pieces on a grand scale. "I was always interested in decorating houses and designing items but I never thought I would be taking it on a professional level. I have been doing it for friends from where I got the encouragement to take it to the masses which is of course favourable to me as well," says Beena.

Coming towards the furniture, she has experimented with different materials, shapes and colours. From rose wood to sheesham, from the darker shades of brown to greys and from rounds to hexagons; she has well utilised every piece of material. With that, she believes in creating a whole place with accessories and not just the furniture. These include carved mirrors, candle stands and consoles.

One of her collection depicts Victorian style. The consoles are made of rosewood and are accompanied by huge round or oval mirrors in different sizes to go with your room. The same Victorian style has been adopted for beds, dressing tables, side drawers, wardrobes and corner tables with enough space to store objects for frequent use. 

Then Beena has her modular intersection collection which is a blend of form and function - suiting the living area. The coffee tables have designed glass top featuring a spacious top with low profile design to enhance the entire setting of your room. Along with that, her cocktail table adds a Caribbean flavour to the place. It is highly functional with a five push drawers for storage. In addition, it has mahogany finished front to give it an interesting decorative contrast.

The dining table sets are of rosewood in a cherry finish with ash veneers giving them a modern yet elegant look. She has also designed a dining set with a conventional touch to it. "My Zaragoza classic dining tabletop features a smooth veneer face which could even be made in thick clear bevelled glass depending on its utility factor. Accompanying it, I have the Zaragoza splat back side chairs, china cabinets, cocktail counters and even buffet tables for your place. I try to cater to all sorts of needs of my clientele who have different ideas for their drawing and dining areas," shares Beena.

"When it comes to what's in, clients are more interested in contemporary designs. But some also like antique furniture. It depends on one's preference. As a designer you always have to come up with inimitable ideas to grab your customers," expresses Beena. The use of original stones like feroza and emerald on her cocktail tables also speaks highly of her creativity.

   She has used Pakistani wood and craftsmanship in fusion with her inspirations from all over the world especially from Egyptian, Italian, Spanish and Mexican furniture templates. For Beena all her objects bring fortune to her. She puts her heart and soul in her work which in return is paid back in the form of appreciation and encouragement she gets from her patrons.

Chatter Matter
The Pakistani touch

Of late, the Indian music industry has been importing a lot of Pakistani talent but now it seems they need a Pakistani touch in their movies as well. Pooja Bhatt is said to have looked high and low to get the perfect actress for her new venture 'Kajraare'. She was searching for someone who could handle an intense and emotional character. After auditioning 70 different girls, with the help of Javed Shaikh, she finally zeroed in on her superstar. And guess what! Her leading lady is none other than our very own Pakistani actress Monalisa. Hard to digest? But there is more. Can you guess who will be paired with Monalisa as the main male lead... No guesses, hint: tera suroor (Mona) will ashiq banaya. Okay, we'll make your life easier, we are talking about Himesh Reshammiya. Yup, Pooja has actually given the nasal crooner a break apart from his own production. Weren't the box office reports of his previous movie enough for the film makers? Well, we need not say more except wishing the director and producer of Kajraare all the luck in future.


Cover up girl!

What does sultry Amrita Arora go hand in hand with...? Royal fans! In case you are wondering, yes that is a ceiling fan company, and no, we are not joking. As it turns out recently, Amrita Arora agreed to endorse the Pakistani fan makers. The ad was shot by photographer Sanjeev Choudhary in Film City, Mumbai. Arora, who will also be gracing an upcoming cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, is involved in several new movie projects where she is said to uphold her sizzling style. Coming back to the ad Ashley Rebello, keeping in mind the conservative Pakistani public, will design her ensemble that will cover the lady from head to toe. The question that must be rearing its head (well mostly in the heads of our male folk) why waste Amrita's 'talent', if she isn't allowed to flaunt it... Oh hum, no matter, we will see yet another Indian face promoting a local brand and we are anxiously waiting the release of the ad!


Lose yourself

If sufi music is the food of love, play on. For all those people who savour the mystical and soothing surreal notes of sufi music, we have some very good news. The city of Saints - Multan - recently hosted the 5th annual International Mystic Music Sufi Festival (IMMSF) 2008 organised by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop (RPTW) in collaboration with Telenor Pakistan. The festival was a treat and brought together different styles of Sufi music from around the globe i.e. Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan, Morocco, Spain, France, Syria, India, the US and Pakistan. Bands and artistes who were participating, promoted the same message of peace and faith that Sufism perpetually upholds. The highlights of the event were the performances by Attaullah Esa Khelvi and Abida Parveen. The tour, after the performances in Lahore and Islamabad, is now entertaining Karachi.

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