Culture Makes A Comeback

~ Reetu Bajaj ’12

When the Taliban arrived at the north-western valley of Swat, there was a ban imposed on all forms of artistic expression. The Taliban had spread ideas of extremism, and certain companies, such as music stores, lost business. Pakistan’s military offensive against the Taliban has made improvement and now that the Taliban has left Swat, the valley can finally uphold its reputation as the center of Pashtun music and culture. Now the urban people can go back to the way they were living through singing, dancing, and expressing themselves.

Swat has known to be the center of culture activities, most famously known for the birth of film star hero Badar Munir. Not only were movie watchers and music listeners dismissed by the Taliban, but women were required to remain in their houses. Musarat Ahmadzeb, a local social worker and member of the family of the former Wali of Swat, runs a center for women experienced in traditional embroidery at the Saidu Sharif area of the city. Around 300 women worked there, and Ahmadzeb remembers the good old days were women could move around freely everywhere. The Taliban also forced many Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, who were once allowed to practice their religion liberally, to migrate. Now able to move back, the overall goal for citizens of Swat is to create and welcome back arts, culture, and fictional pursuits.

New York – The Take Away Message

~ Mahvish Qureshi ’10

Watching the newly released Hindi film, New York, many here at Bryn Mawr may recognize the scenery from the lush green hills behind Rhoads to the cloisters of Thomas, Bryn Mawr College was the setting for the movie.

Through the movie the audience watches as the simplicity of college life takes many twists and turns as people get older and the realities of life start to dawn on them. The story follows three friends, Sameer (Sam), Omer, and Maya as they journey through college, and grow apart due in part to a love triangle and in part to the shocking disaster of 9/11. Omer is the character who is madly in love with Maya however his feelings are not returned as Maya has her eye on Sam. After 9/11 Sam is wrongly accused of being a terrorist and having conspired in the disastrous attacks. After he was allowed out of jail, Maya was there for him and the two of them started a new life together. Try as he might Sam could not shake of the stigma of being in jail for wrongful accusations of terrorism. Defeated and tired of looking for an honest job he decides that he should just get involved in a terrorist group, after all that is all the world expects from him. He goes on to lie to his Maya, his new wife, and pretends to be an honest worker. Their life continues o happily with their new son, until Maya runs into Omer seven years after the tragic event and the distancing between the friends.

Omer’s arrival seems to be an unexpected but welcomed surprise to Maya and Sam, little do they know Omer has been forcefully sent as a spy to try and learn more about Sam and the suspicions the FBI has about his connections to terrorist activity. Omer refuses to believe this of his friend and agrees to help the FBI in belief that he will be able to prove his friends innocence. However what Omer learns is a surprise, and leads to the death of both Sameer and Maya leaving their son in Omer’s care. The movie ends with the FBI detective who forced Omer to spy for him saying that even though Sam and Maya may be dead a bigger picture is at stake here, the fact that a Muslim boy can play soccer in America and not be discriminated against despite the fact that his father was a terrorist.

While the catchy sound track for this movie and its great performances make it a good movie to curl up to with a bowl of popcorn on a rainy night, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought. The ending may seem peaceful and as if the FBI agent has made a good point, I think it seems to forget the idea that the Muslim boy who was playing soccer, might have still had his father, and his father might not have been involved in terrorism plots if there was no discrimination and prejudice in the first place. While the ending of the movie seems to be too hopeful for a world which has no prejudice, after starting out with a world full of prejudice, the ideas and points put across by the movie are very strong