Controversial restaurants, tone-deaf fashion campaigns and enterprising YouTube stars — it's been an eventful 2018 for the culture desk. Not to mention the harassment we've been documenting in all its ugly forms.
The Images team has selected our personal favourite pieces from 2018, and thrown them together with a few of our most popular or controversial articles. The result is a list of the best culture writing we produced this year.
One of the deepest splits in the Pakistani entertainment industry was caused by the harassment allegations Meesha Shafi levelled at Ali Zafar early in the year. With Ali Zafar's movie Teefa in Trouble being released a few months later, opinions were divided - can the artist ever be separated from the art?
Images editor Hamna Zubair unpacked the clashing views about the necessity of a Teefa In Trouble boycott, questioning the culture of silence around the patterns of abuse in Pakistan's entertainment industry and calling for greater accountability by all its members.
The piece stirred some conversation:
Offering rare first-person insight about problems in bed, this story as told to Annam Lodhi recounts one woman's painful six-year journey of overcoming a little-understood medical condition to consummate her marriage. Her story touches on social pressures to bear children, callousness in the medical field and a general lack of awareness about sexual well-being. The silver lining? The heart-warming presence of her husband who stood by her through it all.
For a controversial subject, the responses to this piece sure were encouraging:
In this piece by Kiran Nazish, the journalist recounts an incident where she saw a group of young women being harassed by a man, followed by indifference from other bystanders. It's an illuminating piece on how male superiority is deeply ingrained in the culture, where women are always told to "calm down" and all the unnecessary troubles we have go through to navigate public spaces.
The article resonated with many readers who shared their own thoughts about curbing harassment:
In our society, we're accustomed to and comfortable seeing women in household kitchens yet professional kitchens don't share the same truth. Staff writer Munnazzah Raza breaks down why female chefs are a rarity in Pakistan and what it would take for that to change.
Our three female chefs were met with a lot of support.
In this touching article compiled by the Images team, we try to figure out just what is the secret to a long and romantic partnership; we decided we could stand to learn a thing or two from duos who have truly stood the test of time.
We spoke to couples who've been together for 40 years or more to find out exactly what has kept them together over the decades. From overarching life philosophies to mundane everyday gestures that grow in importance over the years, they gave us some insight into what it takes to really make a marriage go the distance.
Policies and legislation are important. But so is style. And we broke down PTI's favoured looks should you be looking for some wardrobe inspiration.
Images intern Mushba Said talks to Shaheer Khan, an Instagram-based make-up artist who advocates for make-up to be used for self-expression — by both men and women. He talks about how his love for makeup began, reactions to his colourful online persona and why hate doesn't faze him. Also read for some pretty useful product reccs!
Readers loved reading about Shaheer's work:
DeepVeer and NickYanka had our attention for a hot minute but the most memorable wedding of the year for us was City 41 reporter, Hanan Bukhari's who reported on his own wedding as it was happening in real time.
Local TV channel City 41 featured a segment dedicated entirely to Bukhari's wedding, wherein Bukhari took it upon himself to interview his wife, his father, his in-laws... asking them the most Pakistani reporter question ever: aap ko kaisa lag raha hai?
Was his excitement OTT? Tacky? Just too much? Actually, we found it kind of adorable. Maybe even #LoveGoals.
Our readers also felt the same:
After Sana Safinaz sparked online outrage earlier this year for its troubling representation of the Masai people and we've had one too many cases of people thinking blackface is okay, we thought we need to draft up a handy list for some of you peeps! It's crazy to us that in 2018, we have to be explaining why things like racism and sexism are offensive but here we are.
Freelancer Zofeen T. Ebrahim interviews accidental chef Mubashir Saddique from Shahpur village in Punjab about how he amassed a global audience over 500,000 subscribers to his cooking show Village Food Secrets.
The story delighted our readers:
Many women unthinkingly sign their nikkahnama without reading it or knowing their rights. Staff writer Anum Chagani did the tough work of breaking down the doc so that 2018 brides know exactly what they're getting into. Divorce, mahr and other marriage rights 101 stuff all to be found here.
This essay by Asad Alvi traces the life and work of Fahmida Riaz, shaped as both were by Pakistan's volatile history. It offers the view that one of Riaz's greatest contributions to Urdu is her decolonisation of feminism, spearheaded by her seminal work Badan Dareeda.
When the restaurant D'Alma opened in Karachi, it faced a volley of criticism by its customers. From controversy over the owner's behaviour to complaints about the lack of napkins, the restaurant faced a lot of fire on online food forums and hating on D'Alma became almost a trend.
So when we set up a meeting with its owner Sarah Aziz, we were pleasantly surprised to meet a woman who held her head up high among the hate and continued showing her passion for food. Staff writer Sonia Ashraf relates the experience.
This year, Karachi Eat hosted over a 100 food stalls and our team pledged to try them all!
Needless to say, we were all in food comas by the end of it but we're pretty proud of ourselves... it was not easy!
The #MeToo movement hit Pakistan like a storm when celebrity Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of sexual harassment, paving the way for many women to come forward with their own stories. Soon after, Patari's Khalid Bajwa was also accused of harassment by several women who provided proof of his predatory behaviour.
While Zafar denied the allegations and Patari did ask Bajwa to step down, a source within the music platform shared a screenshot with Images that showed the two trying to disadvantage Meesha's brother Faris Shafi's latest track. The report underscores how members of the entertainment industry will rather protect harassers and their interests instead of questioning their bad behaviour.