KARACHI, Nov 24: Overcome with the unfettered freedom of expression that the medium offers, most local bloggers either choose to vent their feelings with abandon at someone else’s cost or help promote worthy causes. ‘Caffeinated Bliss’ is not a romance novel about dates in the coffee shop but rather a well-written blog about the musings of an anonymous Karachiite and the world around her.
Lumping together parenting, society and Karachi along with feminism, the blog’s one-liner ‘women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open’ is an indication of what to expect next.
With blogs growing by the minute all over the world, as of November 2, 2011, there were a total of 175,680,249 according to BlogPulse www.blogpulse.com/, Karachiites are not behind.
In a country where opinions are often stifled and a policy of silence prevails on certain issues in the mainstream media, Pakistan seems to have its fair share of bloggers doing their bit to say what is on their minds.
Blogs or web logs are online diaries that you might want to share with the world. From the casual musings of dating disasters to the more political in nature comments, Karachi bloggers have taken the desi blogosphere by storm. Be it Tazeen Javed’s ‘A Reluctant Mind’ to Faisal Kapadia’s ‘Deadpan Thoughts’ to Awab Alvi’s ‘Teeth Maestro’ and the well-known media blog ‘Café Pyala’ and the utterly sexist ‘PakiKaki , the blogs offer a fresh, intelligent — though often revolting — insight into the hearts and minds of those living in this city.
“Blogging gives you a chance to express yourself without any editorial constraints, guidelines and editing. You say it the way you feel it,” says Awab Alvi, the man behind Teeth Maestro.
A dentist, he started blogging in July 2004. “It’s started as a personal blog, more like a web diary and over the years has matured into a political blog.
“There is this need inside us all to vent. I usually write late in the night, a time when after a long days work I am exhausted, but somehow writing helps me unwind. Once I have published my blog, the next day I do go through it again and very often come across typos and grammar errors, which I correct. But else, it remains the way it was.”
Blogging has also allowed Alvi and his group of friends to come across like-minded people who played an active role in helping the flood victims.
“PkRelief came about this way and the response from my fellow bloggers and blog readers is overwhelming. In 2010, we managed to raise Rs15 million for the flood victims and this year we gathered Rs8.5 million. We do not have a formal setup like that of an NGO and nor are we keeping anything. Whatever we raised, we spent it on the well-being of the flood victims. That’s the power of blogging, it allows you to reach out and get instant feedback.”
Yet another believer of instant feedback is Tazeen Javed. A journalist and development consultant now based in Islamabad, she started blogging in 2007.
“I was bored out of my mind and wanted a place to rant, to be honest. Initially, ‘A Reluctant Mind’ was just read by my friends but soon I found greater readership.”
Her blog was picked up by the Press Trust of India and “the perspective I offered on all things in Pakistan was appreciated immensely”.
Whether it’s her musings on Shahid Afridi, Apa Firdous, Imran Khan or her scathing criticism of ‘Halal’ banking ads or the DHA, Javed is a no-holds-barred blogger.
If you are addicted to ‘food’ virtually, there’s the very basic but informative Cuisines of Karachi [http://miansari66.blogspot.com/] by ‘miansari66’, a food technologist.
If it’s a slow work day, feel free to browse ‘Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun’. Although new to blogging, the lady boasts a loyal fan following of over 23,000 on Facebook. Offering some great recipes, she is not your average girl tinkering around her kitchen [http://fauzias-kitchen-fun.blogspot.com/]. Yet another food blog is by Sadaf Farooqui, a mother of two. On her blog ‘Eating Out Karachi’ [http://eatingoutkarachi.blogspot.com/] she sums up the best places to visit in town, be it some fancy eatery or a roadside joint. Her posts often include some scrumptious pictures and very honest reviews.
For those looking for more personalised accounts, there is ‘Impassioned Ramblings’ by Farahnaz Zahidi Moazam, who shares her thoughts on health issues related to women as well as some personal bits. One of her best pieces happens to be about her mother and her memory loss. The heartfelt sentiments are what many of us can relate to.
And on the seedy side of blogging, there is PakiKaki and other blogs by anonymous bloggers who get some kick out of sharing everything nasty. From private pictures stolen from cellphones and Facebook accounts, these blogs titillate in the most loose fashion.
“Its like taking freedom of expression too far,” says Minahal. A staunch believer of keeping private things private, she says, “It was heart breaking for me to see that some pictures of my friend’s daughter, aged 3, ended up on a desi blog frequented by paedophiles. The acts those sick folks wanted to perform on the little kids were unmentionable. I wonder if the cybercrime unit would look into this.”
At the end of the day, whether it’s a nasty rant against your incompetent boss or nasty coworker, a great personal moment you want to share with the world or just anonymous comments about the autocratic regime in your country, blogging is a one step solution to coming closer or alienating people. Just a word of advice, no matter what you write, don’t forget it will be there in the cyberspace for posterity.