The Cycle of Desi Pasta

It’s not just food, it’s a way of life….literally.
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Remember that time when you visited an Italian restaurant that just opened new in town? Did you all of a sudden find yourself to be a ‘connoisseur’ of this very elegant dish, falling in love with every bite, endeavoring to get every bit of creaminess stuffed inside each pasta. The pasta itself cloaked in fresh tomato sauce, and perfectly balanced basil sauce. And that smell, that made you feel like Marco polo himself came to serve you this dish ..… *Sigh*

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Only did you know that this dish will make its warm place in the cabinets of every Desi’s kitchen. With 2 table spoons of Desi, one tea spoon of Chatkhara and a whole a lot of Awesomeness, it now has the pleasure to be altered in more ways than ever imagined,
For all the pasta lovers out there, you must have tried these dishes below.

THE MID-NIGHT SNACK

While you looked at the mirror all day long and complained about your recent weight gain, we all know none of that matters anymore when its past twelve. All you need to worry about right now is that if there is any of that left-over curry from dinner that you could use as sauce for your pasta. HEAVENLY! I mean, it’s okay because you promise you’ll start dieting from tomorrow… definitely

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THE MASTER-CHEF DISH

You add the first thing that you get your hands on in the collection of your kitchen’s “Masala Cabinet”. You’re really proud to apply things that you overheard on one of the episodes of Master Chef Australia, such as “A hint of acidity in the dish realy brings out the flavor”. To top it off, you’ve sprinked chat masala on top. When you plate up your dish you feel like you just won the Master chef competition 2014.

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THE ATTENTION SEEKING CHEF

So some of your friends are over for Dinner, and have they tried your Famous Penne Pasta? Yes, I know its amazing. You’re out of words? Well some would say its like bits of heaven in your mouth.

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THE BINGE EATER

Specially during Exam times. Everyone knows that the rate of you chewing food is directly propotional to the intake of knowledge, …… of course.

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THE DESERT JUNKIE

Now lets end this on a ‘Sweet note’, shall we?
A reticunni pasta salad with well cut combination of fruits and a topping of Mayonaisse. Something worth trying!

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What Nobody Tells You About Your First Job

Growing up is such a big deal. You’re graduating (hurray!), you’ve landed your first job (hurray!) and now you’re well on your way to joining that Eligible for Marriage list (hurray?) that rishta aunties are always updating.

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And while there will be plenty of people with celebratory smiles (and hopefully, cake) and words of praise, there are some facts you need to get straight before work life completely surprises you. This is a list of just some of the ones I’ve managed to figure out (thanks for the heads up, everyone in my life).

1. People at the office are not all the same age as you.

We’re used to environments where everyone around us is relatively the same age. School, internships, even extra curriculars – we are, essentially, always surrounded by our peers. When you start working though, there’s people from all walks of life and all age groups around you. That girl that looks 25 might just be 36 and married, with two babies. (Bravo for aging well!) That guy with the greying hair and darker skin may be from a small rural town, or of a different ethnicity, or even just a year older than you are. Remember to be mindful of this, especially if you grew up surrounded by people more or less like you. Not everyone has the same color, race, religious background, and financial status – of course you knew that, but it’s easy to let it slip so far back in your mind that you say something silly.

2. It’ll take a while before you can actually start calling it “the office”. 

You won’t just belong right away. Having a fancy title and getting a handsome starting salary doesn’t mean you’ve arrived. Being accepted in the workplace takes time and effort. Remember to represent yourself – as clearly as you can – don’t make promises you can’t keep, and just work hard. Everyone respects the ability to do your job well, and a friendly demeanor never hurt either. Respect those who have been there before you for that simple fact: they’ve been around longer than you have.

3. Prioritize: big presentation comes before seeing if the copy machine can scan your hand.

No, this is not the same as the lecture your parents give you about balancing friends and shopping with work and family time. This is about work – and how you need to make sure that out of all of your tasks for the day, the most pressed-for-time ones get done first. Often, we have a tendency to push big tasks towards the end of the day, doing smaller, easier things first. That’s fine if you know you’ll buckle down towards the big task at the end, but that’s a lot harder to do than say. So make sure the work that you’ll be evaluated on, that reflects directly on you, is done on time, and done well.

4. There is no monster under your office desk.

You will mess up. This will happen. Nobody will eat you. (Hopefully.) You may be chastised or even reprimanded, but don’t take it to heart. Learn from it and use it as a reminder to double check (perhaps before you email the wrong person, or when in a rush, put down the wrong statistic) yourself. Things happen and your job will go on – apologize when you’re wrong, and pick yourself up. This is only the start of your career, and you’re in this for the long run.

Source: www.ragan.com
Source: http://www.ragan.com

What did you learn at your first job?

Appreciating an Idea Whose Time Has Come

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I’m an unapologetic foodie and I take great pride in being born a Pakistani because everywhere I go in this country I can always find people to share my passion for food with. When it comes to food I crave variety, which is why trying new things and eating out are regular past times, the only obstacles being the inconvenience of going out at whim and the shrinking finances. So, if you take someone like me and introduce them to virtual festivals by foodpanda it is like an idea that couldn’t have come any sooner.

Credits: foodpanda Facebook
Credits: foodpanda Facebook

These festivals show that things have really moved forward in this digital age. Who would have thought that we’d be having online food festivals offering both good food and good prices? It’s actually an ingenious idea taking foodpanda’s competitive advantage even further. One significant aspect of this festival, and one of the reasons the food outlets have probably jumped at the idea, is that even if someone wasn’t thinking of ordering out, the big discounts worked as a huge motivation to participate, regardless. I don’t believe something like this has been done before in Pakistan. Food festivals had been generally well received when the idea came out a few years back, but naturally going to an actual food festival requires you to put in quite a lot of time and effort to get to the food compared to a participation  from home with your mobile or computer.

My Honest Opinion:

Digital is the way to go in most cases and it shouldn’t come as surprise if competitors looking at the potential of this idea  come up with festivals of their own to outdo these festivals foodpanda have managed to pull off. Like I mentioned above, it’s almost a win-win situation where the discounts have the ability to convince a huge part of your target audience. I as a university student, living in hostel, who hasn’t warmed up to the idea of ordering online, jumped at discovering these offers. These festivals, no doubt  provide companies with publicity and business however, it multiplies chances of customer retention and forming new customer base. Since this concept of food festivals is relatively new there is more we can anticipate in future. For example a burger festival or a desert festival etc.

My recommendation:

  • The only thing I would change would be increasing the emphasis on marketing these festivals. Announce the date for these festivals at least a week in advance and then create a social media campaign. This campaign would consist of content that would go viral getting more and more people interested not only in the campaign but in foodpanda itself sort of like a simultaneous PR campaign. In short, foodpanda can use these festivals to increase consumer numbers.
  • Another addition to these festivals could be short online quizzes and trivia leading up to the festival date offering winners free meals at the festival, this way there is even more building up of interest and hype for these festivals.
Credits: foodpanda Facebook
Credits: foodpanda Facebook

These festivals are a unique idea with a lot of potential. Observing the response and gaining more consumer insight can help foodpanda decide the kind of festivals it wants to conduct and how they can get maximum audience involvement for their benefit. It’s definitely a pretty good deal.

Reading & Eating – A Match Made in Heaven

unnamedReading and eating makes a heavenly combination. Some bookworms at foodpanda, the leading online food ordering marketplace, figured out a way to make it as little messy as possible. They listed down food items that give a reader more accessibility and less discomfort while eating. If you are an avid reader, this friendly little piece of art will save lots of food stains on your books.

Meanwhile you decide what to eat next, here are some interesting facts for your reading:

  1. Biryani: Originates from Persia and took a while before it arrived in India.
  2. Chocolates: One of the famous potato chip brands sells chips dipped in milk chocolate.
  3. Lasagna: It can be cooked in a dish washer!
  4. Penne pasta: Ridges in pasta allows it to hold more sauce.
  5. Ice-cream: People ate ice-creams to celebrate ending of World War II.
  6. Pizza: Scottish people normally deep-fry their pizzas.
  7. Cookies: Standard amount of dough for one cookie can hold 50 chocolate chips.
  8. Soup: Chinese meals always begin with soups.
  9. French Fries: There is a museum in Belgium dedicated to French fries.
  10. Burgers:  At one point in history, burgers were considered to be renamed as ‘liberty sandwiches’.
  11. Pop corns: In some parts of the world, microwaves are sold with a pop-corn control button.

For the love of food…

With so much talent in Pakistan, it’s no wonder so many new businesses are springing up every day. From fashion to computer science, to food – it seems that every industry has got a budding new name to boast, with motivated youths giving it their all to make it in the business world. I’ll be talking about some of these businesses and how I think they’re enabling the youth to step up and take charge in changing Pakistan. One of these up-and-comers that I personally enjoy is foodpanda, an-order-food-right-from-your-smartphone app. I’m not going to elaborate on how awesome that is, because it’s pretty obvious. Here’s a fun survey of what people are eating in Pakistan.

Other fun facts to keep in mind are that foodpanda has already received over 15,000 food orders in the first quarter of this year, and that they’re playing a huge part in the ‘Mobile First’ business trend that’s emerging in the developing world.

How do you think innovative business upstarts affect the economy and the daily lives of citizens, either in Pakistan or other countries? Have you heard of a new business that you’d like to share?

Accept me please! – The Senior Year #College #Survival #Guide: Grad School Edition

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This is part 2 of my series The Senior Year College Survival Guide. To see part 1, the Friends Edition, click here.

Today’s topic: Being worth something.

That’s right. Say hello to adulthood. You’re anywhere from 21 to 23 when you’re graduating from your Bachelors, and it’s about time you put the big boy (or girl) pants on, because it’s time to get into grad school, and while that girl from the fancy private school is Instagramming every second of her life at Harvard, and your neighbor’s car has a shiny UPenn bumper sticker on it, it’s time to *gulp* face those applications.

It’s your final year in this safe little shell that has become your Bachelors degree. Now, you need to pursue higher interests. Those grad school you’re looking at – somewhat ambitiously, let’s be honest – ask about research objectives, passions, extra-curriculars and pesky standardized tests. All that fine print makes your eyes water, and makes you question yourself. More than one final year BA student has been found whispering to themselves, “Do I even HAVE a passion? Why am I passionate about [insert subject here]?” It’s times like these that you need The Official Survival Toolkit.

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  1. Mentors to guide you through the tricky process.

    With every grad school having its own dedicated webpage, and some with their own Facebook pages (hello, education 2.0) with unique requirements, confusing UIs and even a complete lack of information (why won’t they just tell you what GRE score you need?), applying for a future as a graduate student is a daunting task. Make sure you ask a professor, an older sibling, or even an experienced friend to guide you through the finer points in the application process. It always helps to have someone there to send you an extra reminder, to read through your personal statements, and help edit that resume.

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  2. Friends to take you out for a stress-relieving meal.

    Ah, friends –  those lovely people who, at this point in your life are either getting married, or going to grad school with you, or taking some time to “find themselves”. They’re the ones that will listen to you whine about your hectic schedule, pencil you in for that much-needed mani-pedi or take you out when you’re at the brink of nervous collapse. Rely on your friends because they know you – and sometimes that’s exactly what you need for your applications, a third-person perspective. You may not be able to identify your best qualities off the top of your head, or know how to phrase mention of your volunteer work, but they’ve shared those experiences with you and can help you through it.

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  3. The ability to pick yourself back up again, from admittedly minor, but ego-shattering realizations that your GPA just isn’t going to cut it.

    This one’s crucial, folks. There comes a time in every application process where the applicant faces serious self-doubt. Is my GPA good enough? Have I done enough community work? Am I clear about my research goals? Am I good enough? This kind of thinking can be toxic, and the worrying and constant stress are likely to make you feel low. Just remember that climbing every mountain is tough, but if you make it to the top, the view can be exhilarating.

 

The Senior Year #College Survival Guide – #Friends Edition

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Sometimes, life seems like you’re at the end of a long race – you’ve been performing more or less consistently so far, and now there’s that last stretch. You can see the finish line. You can practically feel the finish line, but no matter how fast you seem to be running, you can’t seem to get there. It’s like trying to write than important email on the last 2% of your smartphone’s battery. Or, if you’re in my situation, it’s like trying to graduate college.

Here I am in my 8th semester, and it’s as I’m in a movie theater watching a play-by-play of every decision I’ve made over the last four years. Remember that time you backed down from an opportunity? Remember that time you bungled up something that could have been great for you? That time you spoke harsh words when perhaps being kind would have been the right thing to do? Well, if you’ve ever been a college senior, I’m sure you have. With graduation just t-30 seconds away, the pressure of applying to jobs or grad school mounting with every passing day, and the rush of recommendation letters, constant self-assessment and bingeing on comfort foods, a college senior’s life is like a mash-up of Survivor and Girls.

Source: Tumblr
Source: Tumblr

Well this is a survival guide, written by yours truly, based on experience, my oh-so-profound 21-year-old wisdom, and some old fashioned advice from my mum.

Start spending time with the right people.

College is 4 years. That’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of “Crap, this assignment is due tomorrow!” and “Can you please, PLEASE run down to the store to get this printed?” and “Anyone wanna grab some food tonight?” and that’s without all the social media interaction. It’s four years of making connections, whether those grow into deep bonds of friendship, or that strange phenomena known as the “frenemy”. In all that time, you’re bound to have a few people around you that just inevitably take away from the quality of life you could be living. Whether it’s the girl who is always around with a sweet smile when she needs something (and then gone the second she gets it), or that guy who always wants to copy your assignment, or anyone else for that matter – it’s time to make some cuts.

tumblr_n43eh7FaIi1twcgkfo1_500Streamline your life so that the people you have around you are those that you truly cherish, and who love, appreciate and support you. This does not mean that they’ve never let you down in the past, and this does not mean that you guys have “omg never had a fight, like ever”. What this does mean is that the people you surround yourself with are positive – they want good things for you and they want good things for themselves. The phrase “a man is known by the company he keeps” is so well-known for a reason. Think about what qualities you want to develop in yourself, and who can help you grow in that direction. If you’re surrounded by hard-working, goal-oriented almost-adults, chances are you’ll be able to focus more clearly on your goals as well.

It’s important here to remember that moderation is essential. The point of this post is not to tell you to ditch your friends ASAP because they don’t have the same outlook on life as you do. If you’re an aspiring journalist and you’re friends with a future physician, a painter, a professional sports player, that’s even better! Diversity is important. What’s the essential common denominator should be is the will to develop and grow, and to explore exciting new avenues in life.

 Sometimes, a friendship is vital because even though you have different goals and plans for the future, you’re both on the same level when it comes to supporting each other and giving each other honest feedback. Whether it’s “Yes, you look bad in that skirt.” or “You probably didn’t get the internship because you were out partying instead of preparing for your interview.” having someone around you who will be honest with you is key.

This is something I’ve been learning in the last few weeks. I’ve spent time with people who excite me to be better, to try harder, and to share my dreams – people I admire because of their drive, their skill, or even just their patience and kindness. I’ve cut down on wasted time here and there, and focused on my work and myself, and been able to focus on quality time with my friends, rather than quantity, and it has done me a world of good. At the end of the day, the strong meaningful friendships you build will be worth so much more than any popularity contest ever was.

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God, Drugs and Thugs – My Messy Beautiful

Zainab Khawaja:

This story is so inspirational. I am proud of everyone, whoever they are and wherever they are in the world, who has had the strength to recognize their weaknesses and make an effort to fight back against them. Whether it’s drug addiction or other challenges, everyone has weaknesses and to overcome them, we need great courage. That’s something that not everyone can find and even when we do find it, it takes a great amount of self awareness (which often comes with time and at great cost)and strength to stick to our goal of improving ourselves.

As Anais Nin once said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

I wanted to share this story on my blog because there’s so much out there for each of us to achieve in our lives and we can, if only we find some courage.

Originally posted on God, Drugs and Thugs:

4e67614cfe13a73a2b81c15780fa8395I read something this morning that took me back 5 years, 9 months and 20 days – to a moment which is never too far from my consciousness. As I approach my sixth year clean and sober, the image burned into my mind on June 17th, 2008, doesn’t haunt me like it once did. That skeletal frame, covered with bruises and track marks no longer chases me, fearfully, toward sobriety. The hollow, lifeless eyes are no longer black holes threatening to swallow me whole unless I begin sprinting toward a spiritual life. No, today the memory brings up a feeling of sorrowful gratitude. The girl in the mirror has sunk to such a low point that she can’t even recognize herself anymore. Absolutely nothing in her life makes sense anymore. Once upon a time, she was really something. She “coulda’ been a contender.” On this day, though, she has finally lost her last…

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23 Vintage Photos of Egypt’s Golden Years

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Zainab Khawaja:

Then and now for #Egypt. As a Pakistani, I’ve often seen similar blog posts and images about Karachi. This post about Egypt just seemed to reinforce the message: equality, justice and freedom to live our lives should never be compromised.

Originally posted on Egyptian Streets:

A woman reading a magazine in the 1950s
A woman reading a magazine in the 1950s

By Mohamed Khairat, Founder, EgyptianStreets.com

Egypt in the 1900s was a different place. Egyptian cinema was the third largest in the world, Cairo was a city that foreigners dreamt of spending their holidays exploring, Egyptian music flourished and shook the world, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together as neighbours, and women had freedoms that were unheard of in many other countries.

Egypt was a place of liberal spirits, unhampered by sectarian and ethnic prejudices. The rights of men, women and children were championed.

Yet, all that has changed, and often may Egyptians forget the Egypt that used to be. Here are 23 photographs of vintage advertisements and other images that will teleport you to Egypt’s ‘golden years’ and show you an Egypt you may have forgotten ever existed.

(These photographs are available thanks to ‘Vintage Egypt. Click here for more)

1. “The Japanese do…

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Coming Home – A Thought

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I’m sitting in my aunt’s living room, amidst an ongoing argument on the issue of the electricity and expenses of cooking food without gas, the usual start to my day in this household. Every day, since she returned back to Pakistan five years ago, I’ve watch my aunt wake up to a very typical version of “Pakistani” problems knocking at her door, while her servants have their remedy ready in the form of some morning tea on the side. To her surprise, being home to raise her children has not been as green as it seemed from the other side of the fence. Daily frustrations like these have become quite common for many Pakistani’s returning home after relocating abroad, dreaming that it would provide those homey comforts which the foreign country could not. Unbeknownst to them, that during their time away our motherland has continued to push against the underlying evils of mismanagement, corruption and possibilities that exist in governments everywhere.

The longing, emotional bond with the homeland usually brings the expatriates back after some amount of time spent away, but it has little support to offer those that are returning under usual circumstances. These returning families face a variety of problems, consequently, returning back has its own perks but the fears formulated in the process can make the transition even more challenging.

  • Cultural shock, or the feeling of being a foreigner in their own homeland, leaves many feeling lost while they are still struggling to relocate back to Pakistan and reacquaint themselves with the new areas, growth, and culture that may be much different than they remember.
  • Jetlag, however, might still be one of the most difficult things to manage physically during a return home. Taking the biggest toll, and adding to an already stressful situation. Also, the most easily overlooked and underrated part of the trip back, jetlag can not only lead to additional problems but can also compound new problems blowing them way out of proportion.

Initial days are thrilling of course, filled with the excitement of a journey back home and the chance to revisit old friends, but the real deal sets in shortly thereafter. The feeling of being a stranger, sometimes among your friends and family despite the good old lifestyle you once left behind, prevails. Very well leading to confusion, lack of direction, and in the worst case, a mismatch between the dream home you’re searching for and the current transitional phase. However don’t lose hope, there are a number of things one can do to combat these factors that many face.

  • Pick the most suitable city- For many this is one of the most important aspects. Your new city will be your new environment, and your “ideal” city and what it offers may have changed while you were gone, much like you did.
  • Weigh the pros and cons- Resources, employment, commute time, and convenience may be just a few to begin with, aside from the presence of one’s family and friends.  This makes it easier to adjust as it did when moving abroad.
  • Enjoy the hunt- While it can be very exhausting, as it is the basis for your new life back home, it can be made much easier by buyer’s assistance companies like Lamudi here in Pakistan. While these new real estate listing websites may have sprung up while you were gone, they walk you through the entire process of this transition, providing paperwork and help along the way.

Your “settling down” phase, and the joy of returning home is one that you have been looking forward to for weeks, if not months. For many it is a dream, and as the pressure and culture shock begin to wear off, you should be able to slowly return to the list of things you’ve put off during your busy schedule abroad.  Your home country is glad to have you back, and despite what you remember about the past, it has grown and matured much like you have, and has all the solutions ready to paint the life you’ve wanted to live, in a very Pakistani way – slow and steady.