Heroine n. a female hero.

Hero n. (pl. heroes) 1 a man who is admired for his brave or noble deeds. 2 the chief male character in a story, play, or poem.

Favourite relevant phrase: ‘Why are you trying to be a hero, give it here.’ And she would swiftly pull the heavy bags out of the soon to be throbbing hands and carry them as lightly as though she were not carrying them at all.

 

Dear Ms. Saira Khan,

I am semi writing to you about your recent documentary ‘Pakistan Adventure’, and ironically, my purpose in doing so is almost as muddled as was yours. I wish to praise your work, in the most sarcastic manner, and yet doing so would not detract from my genuine need to express lamentation for the opportunity it is clear you have wasted. And yet, I wish to thank you for inspiring me to make my own efforts to portray a true ‘Pakistan Adventure’.

I would like to paraphrase your entire adventure, or the essence of it as it has remained in my mind, as my honest impression of your work.

‘OK, I am going to pretend to be slightly surprised and very concerned. I’ve just been to visit ‘the most famous artist’ of Lahore, in a Red Light District. He is not of the sophisticated world renowned artists, but a cinema poster painter. His work is clearly page three vulgarity but I am going to pretend it is fascinating, deep and insightful and there is nothing better than this in Pakistan. I’m surprised to say I have not yet seen any women around here.

OK, I’ve just been to the Pakistani equivalent of a junky rave. They spin around incredibly fast so I assume they are dervishes, Sufis. I am in the roughest part of the city, let’s call it the heart of the city, and seem to be surrounded by substance abusers. I am the only woman here and if you watch the footage carefully, I am the only person sitting here swaying my head. This feels very similar to when I was trying to participate in mens’ wrestling! I’m surprised to say I have not yet seen any other women around.

OK, I’m in the Palace of Mirrors of the Badshahi Masjid. It is the most beautiful place I have seen in a long time. The tourists, over the years, have pulled and plucked the mirrors from the grand walls, yet I am breathless- it is still glorious. A place of serenity and majesty, this is the perfect opportunity to raise the conflict between Islam and Beauty. I notice the tour guide is mildly bemused by my observation. This must be the snigger of agreement.

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OK, I’m on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere! I’m about to purchase some jewellery from these mountain men who are so street-wise they speak English. Turn around boys, ooh-la-la, I have to get my money out! I’m concerned to say that I haven’t seen a single woman around here. I have also been receiving the most curious stares. I wonder if it’s because I’m a woman. It probably is. No, it definitely is. I ask my camera crew to make sure they get a shot of some of these peculiarities.’

I am pleased that you showed some of the unmatchable, beautiful countryside of Pakistan and didn’t spend a moment showing something like the shiny, buzzing metropolis of Lahore to contrast it with. If you had shown it, we would have spotted all the women and that would have caused a lot of editing problems for the rest of the documentary- so I understand.

In true summary, you travelled, a woman practically alone, not covered ‘head to toe’, approximately 5’000 miles through some of the most obscure parts of the country and completed your journey safely, unharmed, undisturbed and your footage unprotested. Heroic, certainly.

On this note, I have only two words to say:

Pakistan Zindabad.

Best Regards,

Toobaa.

For clips, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctwo/noise/?programme=saira_khan

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