Biscoot (Biscuit) Cravings? Have Nan Khatai!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

The Best Nan Khatai in Town by Rehmat-e-Shireen
If you are a cookie monster like me, the traditional nan khatai (Pakistani shortbread biscuit) is a must have. Not only are khatais fulfilling but their taste satiates the innate sweet tooth that becomes a demanding monster sometimes.

It is said that the word nan khatai is derived from a Persian word, naan; meaning bread and an Afghan word, khatai which means biscuit. It relates to a special kind of cake that is made of six ingredients, namely, flour, sugar, eggs, butter/ghee, almonds, and yeast. In Northeast Iran and Afghanistan these biscuits are called Kulcha-e-Khataye where again the term kulcha relates to bread.

Legend has it that at the end of the 16th century, Dutch traders started trading spice with India via its port city, Surat. During the process, they had established a factory to produce bread for their consumption, that would be according to their taste palates. While these traders were finally leaving, they handed over the bakery to a trustworthy employee, Dotivala. However, as the Dutch settlers started leaving India, the demand for the specialised bread started declining as well. 

Dotivala then used innovative modifications to the stock keeping units and one of the newly devised recipes he presented to his target audience was of nan khatai, the popularity of which still exists.

Today you will find nan khatai in most bakeries in Pakistan and some have produced it as their flagship brand, for example, Khalifa's nan khatai in Lahore.

But may I tell you about a brand of nan khatai which is even better and tastier than that? Yes, it's probably the best nan khatai available in town, It's available at Rehmat-e-Shireen, in Karachi. The soft outer layer of their khatai combined with a crisp texture inside leaves a great taste and it's never enough. Better yet, have it with coffee or tea.

I'd prefer the best coffee ever made by our office boy, Altaf (well there isn't only one Altaf in the whole world so get over it :P )

The other biscuits of this mithai shop cum bakery are a must have as well!



Pantene's belief in ZMOT through Daraz Fashion Week 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

A lot has been happening in the fashion and e-commerce world, with seemingly orthodox organisations coming a step ahead to sponsor events that might seem different for their goals. and Bank Alfalah recently collaborated with the famous shampoo brand, Pantene to present the so called first 'shoppable' fashion show in Pakistan. 

Daraz has extended new avenues for online shopping and being a trusted name, the organisation facilitates customers with the ultimate ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) through their credible online shopping. Having a good experience with Daraz myself, I would say that they would go an extra mile to get you your desired product even if it's not available in the market. The hashtag taking the social media by storm is #DarazFW2016

The fashion week has brought aboard top seven designers over a period of four days who have exhibited their work, that will be available for purchase at the platform of Daraz. This being a new strategy is proof of online shopping burgeoning over the course of time. According to the Express Tribune, Pakistan's e-commerce industry is expected to cross the $1 billion mark in the next five years which makes this time period a favourable one for taking onto the first mover advantage, pertaining to online business strategies. The research further states that Pakistan's e-commerce sector is growing at an annual compound growth rate of over 100% and is currently valued at more than $60 million. 

Pantene being the company's long standing partner, proudly brandishes the association and claims to have a scientifically proven PRO Vitamin formula which protects the hair against hair styling tools and the heat applied. The brand considers beauty and strong hair to be synonymous and vital for a great look. Pantene's support for this initiative is evident of the fact that the brand believes in new economic trends and has gone beyond the orthodox approach of reaching the target audience. 


Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - Book Review

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 Hiba Moeen 2 Comments

Picture Courtesy: Amazon 

 “The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty - we all have it.” - Gillian Flynn, Dark Places

Dark Places commenced with a gripping story line, the Gillian Flynn style, written in first person context. The lead character, Libby Day is as negative as she could get about life, living with a tarnished memory of family massacre that she witnessed during her childhood , at the tender age of 7. She and her brother being the only survivors are the last two members of the Day family with the exception of their father who hasn't stayed in touch with them ever since those last few days.

The only difference is that Libby, now an adult is making both ends meet to survive and her brother has been living in jail since the age of 15, allegedly convicted of murdering his family and for being a Satan worshipper. Libby, on the other hand, is living off the tail end of depleting finances she gathered as a result of a book published regarding the Kansas City Massacre - her family's massacre. Getting a call from her lawyer to inform her about this grave situation she is left struggling to look for answers. This is when she decides to get in touch with Ben after all these years to further investigate what actually went wrong that night. Lyle Wirth is a member of the Kill Club, a club obsessed with solving crime, he probes Libby about Ben and leaves her wondering if her only sibling alive is innocent and has been rotting in jail for a crime he might not have committed.

Her self pity, hatred and suicidal thoughts have done no good after all these years, the lack of real friends have affected her deeply, not leaving good thoughts about relationships, neither has her kleptomaniac habit of collecting souvenirs from whatever place she goes to or whoever she visits has ever helped. But who knew she would eventually escape a murder attempt herself and a stolen lipstick in her pocket would trace back to the evidence of a very important lead.

Flynn wrote a perfect thought afloat in her well thought out character, Libby's mind: "It was surprising that you could spend hours in the middle of the night pretending things were okay, and know in thirty seconds of daylight that simply wasn't so.”
Dark Places, though a good read cannot beat Gone Girl  a great novel which even the movie did justice to, shooting every scene as depicted in the book and with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike being the perfect cast choice. Now a motion picture, featuring Charlize Theron (well she is pretty tall and Libby is supposed to be 4 feet something - a good choice of actress still), Dark Places is set to awe the audience.

Also, unlike Gone Girl, Dark Places was pretty predictable, though with a sudden, unexpected twist at the end. The story might end up being a little drag by the its mid but would soon gain pace after that, thus becoming a page turner. Also, the past flash backs would keep you impatient about whatever is happening in the present life, that is, the next chapter. A lot of readers would tell you that Ben is innocent, but is he? Either innocent or not, he is definitely keeping a secret that is refraining him from being free, he is protecting someone or something for sure but at what cost? Definitely his freedom. Who or what is that?

Both siblings' father appears out of the blue or rather Libby tracks the drunkard down only to meet him face to face berating her mother, a poor woman who only wanted the best for her children. What will Libby do to save her brother now, who is despised even by his own father? It's all in the book that you must read. 

Flynn reveals that women could be evil too, so sympathies shouldn't be gender specific. ;)

We had a great meet-up of KhiBookSwap, a book club that gathers every once in a while to discuss books. This time the preferred book was Dark Places and we had a good time discussing and reviewing the book. The reading habit might be dying but when you sit amongst like minded people who might be even more well read than you, you would know that there still is some hope left and intellect has gone down the drain. I'll be looking forward to more meet-ups with these wonderful people. :)

I liked Dark Places, the story plot, its twists and turns, and overall suspense left my head itching with dandruff, leaving me with the choice of Head & Shoulders, well I have been using it as the preferred shampoo for combating dandruff and it's needed when you've been studying or reading a lot I guess :) . The brand has recently announced Sheheryar Munawar as its new brand ambassador in Pakistan and he strikes as the perfect choice for the character of Lyle Wirth, better than the one shown in the movie trailer. Munawar is very excited for becoming part of the Head & Shoulders team and probably would have been equally elated if taken aboard this movie.


'Arrow' Season 4, Episode 18 Review and Episode 19 Synopsis

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

Well, death is inevitable and no one's immortal but the characters in Arrow suggest otherwise, given the resurrection instances and the surprise comebacks of villains especially. Episode 18 of season 4 witnessed a shocking turn when Black Canary succumbed to her death or what might seem like her death.

The writers and producers over these seasons have ensured that you don't trust what is obvious, eventually you shouldn't trust what they might be trying to tell you because the outcome turns out to be the complete opposite to what is easily predictable - death! Damien Darhk as quite some villians are, turned out to be a man of his words and killed Laura Lance, that too with Oliver's arrow (ewe, the sights and sounds of the murder would make you fast forward the scene), thus ensuring that whatever threats he made to her father turn out to be true eventually. 

John Diggle is left awestruck with guilt for having believed in his brother, Andy; someone Oliver warned him about yet the brotherly love had taken over. Sarah's resurrection seemed somewhat futile given the recent prominence of her sister, Laura's character and God knows why Malcolm Merlyn is still alive. He perhaps needs to continue existing to evolve through various alliances with the evil-good, good-evil stance. Seasons change so do some characters.

Now that the Black Canary is really gone, please let her die a natural death and don't resurrect her for a change but is she really dead? The recent sightings (as expected in Episode 19) of the Canary could suggest a comeback of her sister. Somebody burn the bridges of Nanga Parbat (the actual name) which is spelt and pronounced as Nanda Parbat in the show for some odd reason. 

Here's a sneak preview of episode 19, 'Canary Cry':

What Arrow has taught us is the fact that one shouldn't believe in the notion of predictability or to accept the obvious. So will 'Canary Cry' or will 'Canary Chirp'? Perhaps Flash would cross over to twist the whims of time. :) 

Wait for a week to find out. 


Artists, Tajjalli and Rizwana exhibit their Finest Paintings

Monday, April 04, 2016 Hiba Moeen 3 Comments

Artists: Rizwana Tahir Khan (L) and Tajjalli Naveed (R). Photo Credit: Badar Chaudhry

Tajjalli Naveed and Rizwana Tahir Khan recently exhibited their finest works of art at the Arts Council, Karachi, this Saturday. The exhibition will witness it's last day of brilliance today, till 6 pm, that is if the high in demand, remaining paintings haven't been sold out yet.

It's a moment of pride for me as both these wonderful ladies are my colleagues at the Rangoonwala Community Center where we enjoy the same flair of artistic capabilities under the guidance of Mr. Hanif Shahzad who has magnified the artist inside of us all.

The oil paintings being exhibited are a collection of hard work and dedication over the years that both have produced by the sweat of their brow and support of those around. It's good to see talent like this being appreciated in Pakistan as the sense and love for art have been whimsically developing in the country.

Art is a means of revealing one's personality and letting the world know your thoughts and perceptions about a particular subject and this is what seems evident as far as both these artists' paintings are concerned. Rizwana reveals her flamboyance and enthusiastic demeanour through abstract strokes and lively subjects while Tajjalli explores the geographic riches of rural lifestyle via her impressionist skills, not to mention the extensive use of brushes and palette for the rest of the wonderful paintings. These very reasonably priced paintings are a must buy for all art curators out there so avail the chance to be acquainted with this hidden talent that you would absolutely admire!

Below are some of the paintings of Rizwana and Tajjalli that they have exhibited:

Rural Life Knife Painting by Tajjalli

Forest Knife Painting by Tajjalli

Ancient Mughal Wall by Tajjalli

Village Knife Painting by Tajjalli

Lead the Herd - Village by Tajjalli

Social in the Desert by Tajjalli

Night by Tajjalli Naveed

John Lennon and Guitar Oil Paintings by Rizwana

Solitude by Rizwana

Rizwana'a Daughter by Rizwana

Dancers by Rizwana
Let's hope that our Pakistani artists go beyond the horizon of making the country proud with all the God gifted talent they're born with. Wishing both these artists the very best for their future endeavours! :)


Turkish Canadian Watercolourist, Atanur Dogan visits Pakistan

Friday, April 01, 2016 Hiba Moeen 8 Comments

Photo Credit: Artscene Art Galleries

Karachi has recently been a proud host to have welcomed the expert watercolourist, Mr. Atanur Dogan whose recent visit brought about a wave of excitement among the hobbyists and professional artists alike. His stunning paintings had visitors in awe of the watercolour brilliance in front of their very eyes as the realistic effect of his work highlighted life in its own thought provoking way.

Dogan's work is displayed at ArtScene Galleries till April 04, 2016 and the prices are quite reasonable too, given his goodwill comprising of international recognition and magical fingers that produce astounding wonders of art. The exhibition of his watercolour glory commenced on March 29, 2016 with a live demonstration characterised by details and important tips that he shared for every artist. 

What I really liked was the tip he gave regarding the use of a candle as an alternate to masking fluid for fine highlights. He had photographed what seemed to be a septuagenarian man with a beard and used him as a reference.The wrinkles and turban added to a high difficulty level which he is a master of conquering. As expected from artists, he seemed very honest to his field and extremely dedicated to what he teaches, hence, the almost 2 hour worth of demonstration starting from description of watercolour as a medium and ending in an immaculate piece of art right there, in front of us!

Mr. Atanur Dogan is a Turkish Canadian artist who works alongside his wife and together both have explored various countries for their love of art where they have produced paintings and exhibited as well. He is also the Founder and President of the International Watercolor Society where artists from around the globe are members. This community began its journey in 2012 and now has 80 branches worldwide that connect several nationalities under the umbrella of art. You can get in touch with IWS through their Facebook page as well where recent videos of Dogan's visit to Pakistan are are uploaded. The theme being followed for 2016 is love, harmony, and peace which is what the world needs right now.

While painting (Photo Credit: Ummes)

Dogan's Live Watercolour Demonstration (Video Credit: Ummes)

And here's the completed painting! Brilliant! Isn't it? (Photo Credit: Artscene Galleries)
I have never seen a universe of a watercolour palette like this before and fell in love with it and the brushes the moment I saw these and this day has reminded me not to give up on my watercolour projects because every artist needs practice (well, I'm an aspiring hobbyist, trying to become an artist *sigh*).

Here's a another look of the palette and the painting: 

Another tip that he shared was regarding using a tablespoon of honey in 500 ml of water for painting so as to give a shiny effect to the painting. Have to try both the tips; candle and honey.
Here are some pictures of some of Dogan's finest pieces of art:

And this again! :-D

I never knew that beards would ever serve as an interesting subject for artists but Dogan has proved that both beards and senior citizens are among the best references one could opt for.
We can conclude by saying that Pakistan is happy to becoming host for an artist of such a high caliber and would be looking forward to welcoming more artists in the future. We would love to learn from you all as the country admires anyone that has a flair of artistic instincts.

Disclaimer: Pictures without photo credits have been snapped by me and both my friends, Umer and Ummes.