Unwind: Of books, drama and load-shedding

A list of things to do and learn. Read the book, watch the drama serial and know how to get yourself out of a fix.

Hamna Zubair July 24, 2012

Taken out of context, the statement ‘all women are bunnies’ is a little jarring. Put the quote in Gloria Steinem’s mouth, however, and things rapidly begin to make sense.

I was tempted to explain Stienem’s remark at a dinner with friends recently but restrained myself in order to make the point here — because ‘I was a Playboy Bunny,’ Gloria Steinem’s controversial 1963 expose of the inner workings of a Playboy club, should definitely be on your reading list.


I was a Playboy Bunny by Gloria Steinem

One of the many reasons you should read it is that it blew the lid off sections of New York’s swinging nightlife, revealing a dodgy underbelly most would rather ignore.

We all know Stienem as a prominent feminist, activist and journalist and as it often is with leaders in a particular field, she appears just a teeny bit inaccessible.

You may get the sense that this isn’t exactly light weekend reading, but wait — I was a Playboy Bunny, is the opposite of a daunting, theory-ridden feminist tome.

It is a detailed, lively and incredibly objective description of the days that Stienem spent working ‘undercover’ at a New York Playboy Club, and it won’t bore you for a second.

Of course it’s important to revisit this article or read it afresh in the context of our current nostalgia for the glamorous, carefree existence in the 1960’s both abroad and in Pakistan that we see depicted in photographs, film and fiction.

‘I was a Playboy Bunny is, after all, another reminder of how far we’ve come. Fifty years on, it seems unthinkable that a young woman should have to submit to a physical examination for a simple waitressing job, for example.

That said, aside from the obvious questions the article obliquely raises about working conditions for women in the 1960’s, I was a Playboy Bunny is utterly hilarious.

Steinem’s account of how she is measured for and then squeezed into a tight, bright blue satin Bunny bodice shouldn’t be missed.

Where else would you find a detailed list of exactly what ‘stuffing’ material pumps up the bosom of a Bunny costume — a list that includes discarded bunny tails, silk scarves, gym socks and Kotex?

A PDF of this article is available online at http://www.gloriastienem.com .


Shehr e Zaat

Shehr e Zaat is one of Hum TV’s latest drama serials starring actor Mahira Khan. Kudos to Khan for jumping headfirst into a new venture while the afterglow of Humsafar still shimmers gently in lounges across Pakistan.

Now, I had my problems with Humsafar.

Sometimes it made me angry — like when Khirad waited morosely for Ashar to come home from work like a ‘good’ self-sacrificing Pakistani wife rather than going out and having a good time with her new buddies from Szabist.

Sometimes it just confused me and creeped me out, like when Ashar and Khirad’s daughter kept referring to herself in the third person in the manner of the possessed, or Queen Elizabeth. Despite all this, Humsafar  was a wellacted, well-shot, moving drama that managed to ensnare millions, so naturally I’m itching to see whether Shehr e Zaat will be a similar hit.

To be honest, I didn’t understand the trailer at all so I’m unable to tell you, in a nutshell, what I think this play is about (if anyone out there did make sense of the trailer, please enlighten me).

The first episode seemed promising though, with Khan playing a devil-maycare, rather self-centered young art student named Falak.

For me, the high point of the episode was a funny and startlingly realistic ‘rishta scene’ that ended with Falak telling her mother that she couldn’t consider being with the proposed boy because he had a ‘cheap’ Pakistani song as his mobile ringtone.

Any drama that picks up on these amusing yet hugely telling attitudes and biases is ok by me. I’m more interested, though, in seeing where this will go and so reserve my judgment for the present.

I’m going to watch this show because I want to know whether it will have Falak give up her art and find happiness in wifedom and motherhood or grow into her interests and become a balanced human being.

For me, success hinges on the latter, but I’m hoping to be entertained nevertheless — hopefully I’ll have to endure fewer crying scenes watching Shehr e zaat compared to Humsafar.


How to switch on a generator

This is an essential skill for those who are lucky enough to have one at home.

Yes it’s a noisy process, and when I had to crawl into a tiny corrugated metal ‘generator shed’ to switch mine on I did so with great trepidation.

But these are small pains compared to the indignity of sitting around in the dark despite the presence of that generator simply because you’re home alone and don’t know how to work the thing.

I’m no expert but you usually press the ‘on’ button, make sure the gas/petrol switch is flipped, crank the thing to life and then switch your electricity at the mains.

Frequent loadshedding these days will give you lots of practice and then you can spread the word, because being a damsel in distress is so over — competence is so much more satisfying, wouldn’t you agree?


Hamna Zubair is a freelance journalist and poetry major who frets over the inexactness of 15-word bios. Nevertheless, you can follow her on twitter @hamnazubair

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, July 22nd, 2012.


Saad Sheikh | 11 years ago | Reply

yeah, shehr-e-zaat is a novel, so was Humsafar. In my opinion they successfully transformed humsufar from the book to a TV drama and i hope they do the same for Shehr-e-Zaat too :).

Fatima | 11 years ago | Reply

this is so pretentious!

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