1. Read The Gospel According to Coco Chanel for musings from the grand dame of fashion. It’s not just lessons on pearls and tweed jackets and when the twain can meet; Chanel extols on the virtues on love, loss and her signature scent, No 5.
2. Trail a hem: Long skirts a la maxi style are all the rage this summer according to NYT’s ‘Style Section’ as well as mere mortal newspapers whose fashion sections have slideshows and what not on how to walk without tripping over the wedges you’ll need to wear them with. Thanks to the ample coverage they provide, it means that they should surface in our markets and streets fairly quickly, ending the misery of wearing jeans in this heat.
3. Bag it: Get yourself on the wish list for the latest bag from Mulberry, the Alexa (695 pounds). It has a 9,000 customer wait list online and is due in July. That should be enough of a sell for fashionistas who like wearing their bags.
4. Go indoor skiing at the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. Because let’s face it, you can.
5. Learn an instrument. The guitar and piano are always popular but be different and figure out the intricacies of the ukulele, rubab or even the South Indian veena.
6. If in Abu Dhabi be sure to catch a performance of Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance between June 23- 25. Tickets will sell out quickly so go online to book in advance.
7. Watch Sex and the City 2 even though you know it’ll be rubbish and you’ll hate it. Make it a girlie party complete with non-alcoholic ‘tinis of some kind. And pray that this really is the end of Carrie and all on the Big (pun intended) screen.
8. If in London, check out Exposed, a photo exhibit on Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera at the Tate Modern on until October 3. On exhibit are 250 works by renowned photographers and artists including the iconic Marilyn Monroe image during her filming of the Seven Year Itch as well as Nick Ut’s images of children fleeing attacks in the Vietnam War as well as the truly hideous side of voyeurism brought to you by Paris Hilton.
9. Detox, Purify: A gazillion spas await you in a gazillion destinations in Thailand; choosing one could take up a good portion of your summer but once there, depending on whether you want to go to reinvigorate, quit smoking, or seek ayurvedic treatments, we know you won’t be sorry.
10. Read John Grisham’s Theodore Boone, Young Lawyer, his foray into children’s literature. The book centers around the life of young Boone, a 13-year-old boy who plays detective to a crime in his home town and should make for the gripping read.
11. The Karachi Riding School will help you overcome your fear of horses and teach you the basics of horse riding. They even have special summer classes for children.
12. Summers in Karachi are all about the weddings. Everyone you know is getting married and, if you take it seriously enough, it can eat up an entire month. Shop for weddings, get make-up for weddings, go to weddings, get married.
13. Get the Ipad. All your friends in the States already have. Stephen Fry loved it so much he can’t shut up about it. The media is convinced it will save them from bankruptcy. Buying one will take less time than money but you then have the rest of the summer to figure out how to use it.
14. Yoga fanatics can head to Pokhara in Nepal and choose from one of the dozen or so yoga retreats on offer in this city of 200,000 located 2,900 feet above sea level. No longer the realm of hippie Westerners, towns in and around Pokhara prove to be an ideal destination for those seeking meditation. A basic day starts around 6 am with a morning hike before moving on to an hour of hatha yoga and then breakfast, all organic and vegetarian of course. Different centres also offer various natural treatments for specific health concerns. Plus point is the prices: from threadbare options to more discerning ones for the less monastic amongst us, Pokhara has a yoga retreat for everyone.
15. The US TV season officially ends in May. There are, though, at least two shows worth watching that will start this summer. Wake up in the mornings to download the fourth season of ‘Mad Men’ and the umpteenth season of ‘Entourage’. Then hop over to the DVD store in the evening and get box sets of the best new shows of the last season. Start with the comedies ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Community’ and then graduate to the Elmore Leonard modern Western Justified.
16. Do your bit for the community and surprise yourself with how good it makes you feel. TCF is taking volunteers for its summer camp, and Dar ul Sukoon is one place you can always go to when you want to remind yourself how plain fortunate you are.
17. There are two exhibitions this summer, one local and one foreign, that are a must for all art-lovers. In Los Angeles there is Beyond the Page — The Miniature as Attitude in Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the Pacific Asia Museum that goes on till June 27th. Meanwhile the Sindh Musuem in Hyderabad will be hosting Fatah Je Aassey Paassey which examines the influence of Fata Halepoto on artists from interior Sindh.
18. Have a summer fling. Because you should.
19. It’s too hot for the car’s AC to keep you cool but it’s not too hot to go for a ride on your bike. Or at least that’s what Ahmad Rafay Alam would have us believe. Join Critical Mass and re-discover your city while getting some healthy fun (and a mouthful of fumes from the traffic).
20. Yes, we know you’re a photographer because you have an awesome camera and your friends just love the images you upload on Flickr but now you can learn some fundamental techniques at Indus Valley’s digital photography workshop. By the end of it, you might even get a Save from the Deleteme group.
21. Have you stared in befuddlement at the menu at a French restaurant? Take French classes at Alliance Francaise and then try and forget that you learned what ‘escargot’ really is. The Goethe Institut offers lessons in German which should come in handy when you are cursing the German football team at this summer’s World Cup.
22. With a star-studded bumper cast of Indian thespians Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai and Ajay Devgan in addition to India’s sweetheart Katrina Kaif and emerging star Ranbir Kapoor, Prakash Jha’s much-touted Rajneeti promises to be the most exhilarating of Bollywood’s offerings this summer. Weighing at three hours, Rajneeti is the story of an election campaign, with all the manipulation, corruption, dedication and inevitable loss of innocence that it entails. Raising eyebrows prior to its release due to allegations that Kaif’s minister is inspired by Sonia Gandhi, the veteran director promises a thoughtful and challenging drama challenging one’s notions of the Indian democratic system.
23. We know your New Year’s resolution was to tackle the Russian classics but summer is all about curling up with your favourite books and reading for hours on end. So spend the long, lazy afternoons re-visiting your Agatha Christies, and, while we’re on the subject of guilty pleasures, re-read all your Daphne du Mauriers too.
24. From candle-making at Rangoonwala to Therapy through Clay at Indus Valley, there are arts and crafts classes to suit every budget, taste and age group.
25. Take up gardening. It will help you bond with your parents and give you fresh fruit and veggies.
26. Instead of shopping at Harrods, watch the Pakistan cricket team play Australia and England at Lords. With no team willing to tour Pakistan, the home of cricket is now our own personal backyard.
27. Go to your father’s village. The next time you tell your friends about how you discovered your spirituality in your ancestral village, you won’t be lying.
28. Following the phenomenal success of Coke Studio Seasons 1 and 2, this summer brings the most recent installment of the wildly successful project which sees Pakistani musicians and singers of different styles and genres, from pop to classical, from spiritual to dance, coming together to collaborate on each other’s music with unexpected and exciting results.
29. Billed as ‘’lyrical, tender and uplifting’’, Tishani Doshi’s debut novel, The Pleasure Seekers, is the thing to avoid like the plague this summer. Trudging, predictable and following in the most hackneyed traditions of South Asian writing in English, whereby the reader is besieged by irrelevant, Orientalist observations, Doshi’s glowing reviews in the Western media are to be treated with a jaundiced eye. “An old-fashioned story of forbidden love’’ is a polite way of saying recycled junk we’ve all read before.
30. Karachiites, take a trip to Lahore; Lahoris, come visit Karachi. Then spend the rest of the summer moaning about how much you hate them.
31. Billed as “Pakistan’s first slacker movie’’, Slackistan from young director Hammad Khan is set to release this summer. This shall be Khan’s first feature-length film, his short films have already done the rounds at film festivals seeing him earn a Bafta nomination in 2007. Set in Islamabad and dealing with the city’s privileged, frustrated and ennui-ridden young, Slackistan will be a welcome addition to the crop of independent Pakistani film of a few years ago. The trailer just previewed at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival where the film attracted the attention of some major critics. Whether this is based on merit or the exoticism of it hailing from Pakistan remains to be seen.
32. The epic Pakistani struggle to attain a visa for international travel is a much-lamented affair, yet Pakistanis are singularly unwilling to explore their own country which is a great shame, since it means they may miss out on the spectacular Shangrila resort in Skardu. Situated amongst the world’s highest mountain-peaks and surrounded by lush orchards and glassy lakes, Skardu’s natural beauty is the stuff of many a travel memoir. If the Alpine climate wasn’t enough to entice visitors, the resort is itself idyllic, offering generously proportioned independent lakeside cottages or lavish suites decked out with mod-cons, all looking out over a swoon-inducing idyllic landscape.
33. If for some reason you are unable to get out of town this summer, don’t fret. Summers in Karachi are all about the fruit. Make salads and shakes with mangoes, falsas and lychees. Or eat them as is — just not at the same time as that will do your digestion no favours. And for all you health freaks out there, fruit will help you detoxify after you poison yourself with shaadi ka khana.
34. Watch the football World Cup. Pakistan may never qualify but with the genius of Messi and the beauty of the Brazilians, this is one sporting event we can appreciate without nationalism getting in the way.
35. If you’re in the mood for adventure, brave the out and out hostile locals and go for a spot of exhilarating scuba diving in Mubarak village.
36. As dieters prepare themselves for their summer wardrobes, there is always a faint murmering, this time of year, about the miraculous fruit diet, by which one can allegedly lose pound upon pound. People omit to mention that one shall gain it back the instant one’s digestive system makes contact with any other food group. As such, a more sane way to make the most of this season’s splendours work for you is to opt for the three-day fruit detox plan. Every morning, eat one fruit for breakfast, something light, melons are recommended to begin with. For lunch, eat another fruit, snacking on grapes, which are renowned for their detoxifying qualities. At dinner, you guessed it, go to town on one type of fruit. Yes, you’ll feel like death warmed up but if you stick it out, you’ll emerge three days later with brighter skin, a surprising energy boost and a digestive system as clean as a whistle. And yes, you’ll have lost weight too, but there’s no point trying to do this on a regular basis otherwise you’ll just develop deep-rooted hostility towards fruit, and nobody wants that.
37. This summer shall see Alex Rutherford’s second installment of his Empire of the Moghul series, the first of which chronicled Babar’s reign and ended with Humayun’s succession. The forthcoming book now delves into Humayun’s era, looking into his inter-familial battle for power along with more personal aspects such as his relationship with his stepmother who is accredited with inducing the emperor’s opium addiction. Revelatory and salacious, in contrast to the hagiographical state-sponsored accounts of the Mughal court, this series provides an insider’s look to one of the world’s most fascinating dynasty’s, whose legacy lives on today.
38. If you can’t take time off for a long summer holiday then spend a weekend in Gwadar: the pristine beaches, the Hingol National Park, and, if nothing else, the hotel’s spa, should rejuvenate you for the next week.
39. The temperature might be soaring outside, but baking and cooking classes are a summer staple.
40. Hollywood has rarely been a fount of originality. But who wants thought-provoking period dramas avant-garde dissertations on existentialism when we can watch things that we’ve already seen? This summer’s blockbusters are chock a block with sequels, remakes and video game, TV and comic adaptations. A small sampling of the familiar movies you can watch in the cinema or on your flat-screen TV: Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, MacGruber, Shrek Forever After, Prince of Persia, Get Him to the Greek, Marmaduke, The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Toy Story 3, The Twlight Saga: Eclipse, Predators, Cats and Dogs:The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Step Up 3D, Nanny McPhee Returns and Piranha 3D.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 6th, 2010.