PARWAZ 2010: A Review

Parwaz ’10 has finally arrived.  For all the hype that’s supposed to build up in the run up to its arrival, one is wont to see people having philosophical epiphanies, while reading it in the corridors, or the lawns, or the library, or wherever.  But, you get the point?  Parwaz is HERE.

Things aren’t hopeless; this year’s Parwaz has something to offer.  The fact that it is better [English section*] than last year’s, is an accolade in and of itself.

First I will discuss, what I thought was worthwhile in Parwaz ’10, and then, obviously, in a PMC Watch-esque style I’ll indulge in some criticism too.

I’ll be honest; I opened Parwaz, with the intent to find something to criticize.  And, having flipped through the first few pages, I did feel quite justified.  But as I laid my eyes, much to the chagrin of my brain, on more and more material, I realized that there was something substantial to be found in it: if read it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.

Let’s take a few noteworthy examples:

The title that first caught my eye was “Free Will Eschewed”.  I admit my weakness for ‘big’ words, hence the excitement.

Even though, the piece was disjointed at every other paragraph, and that the author seemingly contradicted herself.  I still thought it merited mention because there was a peculiar abundance of difficult and obscure words in it, many having been employed properly.  The author deserves credit for that.  Though, if it had been well thought out, it could’ve been a great piece.

Another article that stood out was verbosely titled: “Ridiculous Fashion Modes (Invented by Ignorance and Adopted by Folly)”.  This article contrasted well with the abovementioned piece in many ways.  It had coherence, was easy to read, and made sense.

Its content happened to discuss a very pertinent issue: the shallow standards of our society, and what it imagines  the so-called ‘modernity’ to be, and tries hard to adopt, especially through ‘fashion’(faayyshaan).

The article also had a hint of wit.  For instance:

“…Their clothing is beyond description (seriously!  But I’ll present a little picture), pants would seem to fall any minute, their hairstyle[s] are beyond imagination, working like new mountain ranges.  These ‘dudes’ (I am stressing on it, mind that) with spikes look more like a bunch of porcupines.”

The author has done a decent job, she should continue writing.

Another piece that I particularly liked was “Group Nomenclature” , because it discussed an issue that touches at the very heart and core of PMC’s culture: Group-ism, a need for ‘identity’, and the boundaries, all so meticulously constructed, that exist at PMC.  Or, how people feel compelled to ‘change’ their selves, and adopt a new social ‘identity’.  How, we so often see that those who only yesterday were meek bookish nerds, turn, almost over night into local versions of ‘Jonas Brothers’ [Click to get a better idea :P], or ‘Gossip Girl(s)’ [Yes, another pop culture reference, but no pic this time].

The article had a good dose of sarcasm, and the author cleverly utilized medical terminology, and that added to the effect immensely.  It’s worth a read.

There were quite a few ‘discourses’ on religion too, which is commendable.  But, they were either pseudo-intellectual interpretations (such as that of Shikwa/Jawab-e-Shikwa), OR, reminiscing and lamenting the course of history.  When indeed, the need of the hour is to talk about ‘relevant’ issues from an Islamic perspective, and connect past to present and make “it” relevant.

Much of the rest was the same old drill, with the same trite and pedestrian topics:  we need democracy, we need this, we need that, and of course ‘political’ commentary having self-bestowed the ‘expertise’ to do so.

Then, there were the token ‘My first day at PMC…’/ ‘How I love PMC…’ topics.  Nothing wrong with it, but there are innumerable ‘real’ issues at PMC that one could talk about and there’s a dearth of material on these.  Instead of paying lip service to already used and abused topics, explore more avenues.  Nonetheless, the authors should be congratulated, as they at least chose to write!

In passing, I must mention that I do have a bone to pick with one particular poem, “The Potion of Love: A Panacea” .  I’ve been befuddled with this rather convoluted (and probably tasteless) recipe of ‘Love’, as it does not make much sense, even with layers of metaphor.  The aspiring poetess states that it is love [quote], “…for which cupid shared the blame.”  Apparently, it is the ‘magic’ of this cupid’s love that gives [quote], “…birth to hope, banishing barbarous plunders.”  Is she suggesting, that if every man in the world had a woman to love, and every woman a man, it would be a ‘Panacea’ [remedy/solution] to all of the world’s miseries?  I am confident, even a Bob Marley intoxicated with Marijuana, would think this far-fetched.

Now, to some constructive criticism, if I may.  Allow me to begin with the ‘editorial’.  I can’t recall having last read such a deplorable ‘editorial’.  To mention just one illustrious mistake; whoever even writes an ‘introduction’ (‘tamheed’) in a second paragraph?!  And, to think the Editorial Board had a ‘whole’ year to get it correct.

A further proof of the lackadaisical job done by the respectable Editor-in-Chief, is how he made a factual and historical error in one of his numerous articles, by calling the caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (ra) : ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.  What happened to proof-reading?  Cross-checking?  In short, editorial duties?!

Another beautiful example of how the whole range of Editors, Sub-Editors, Asisstant-Editors […], were completely blind-sided by the enormity of their task, that they seemingly decided to not do it at all: is plagiarism!  Yes, they even managed to have plagiarized material published.

To quote someone is one thing, but to have a whole page filled with someone else’s words, and write two measly sentences of ones own at the beginning, then have it published under one’s own name [even after having mentioned the actual author ‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez’], is blatant plagiarism.  No excuse for it.

I really can’t comprehend this conduct of Parwaz’s editors.  If they take their jobs more seriously, it could greatly uplift Parwaz’s stature.

Notwithstanding the unforgiveable editorial shenanigans, there IS a silver lining.  In this year’s Parwaz, some raw talent has shone through, which definitely needs to be developed.  Even with the unoriginal material, the standard of language, content, and its delivery has improved.  This by all means is an achievement.  Parwaz certainly has cause to celebrate, but still not much to boast.