Article has been published in Daily Jang Sunday Magazine Jan. 17, 2016
- FREE £10 ICELAND VOUCHER & £30 FREE BINGO – LIMITED TIME ONLY: Iceland have launched a brand new bingo site and to celebrate they are giving new users a whopping £30 free bingo and a £10 Iceland foods voucher to spend in store…this is one offer not to be missed by bingo fans!
FREE GOODIES FROM COINTREAU: Cointreau are giving away a VIP weekend break in Paris! Plus if you sign up you’ll have exclusive access to offers and competitions in future. http://bit.ly/1RF5Emr
- FREE MESSAGING APP + WIN PRIZES FOR USING IT – AMAZING: Switch your chat to the app that gives back. There are 100s of cash prizes to be won each week on Tengi. To be entered into the weekly draw just download the app and use it to chat with your friends and family. What’s more, the more you chat the better your chance of winning! http://tengi.com/
- FREE BARRY M NAIL POLISH: There are over 300 Barry M Nail Paints to give away and with over 50 shades available there is something for everyone!
- FREE FOOTBALL BOOTS FROM ADDIDAS: Adidas are running an incredible giveaway at the moment. They have loads of pairs of their New X and Ace boots up for grabs. http://bit.ly/1OF3DBk
- FREE COCA RUNNERS CHOCOLATE BAR: Mr Hyde has teamed up with Cocoa Runners to give 100 lucky people the chance to win a free chocolate bar from the Cocoa Runners library. http://www.mrhyde.com/competitions/win-one-of-100-chocolate-bars-from-cocoa-runners
FREE EMEREASE MASSAGE WAX: The Emerease Massage Wax range has been created for professional massage therapists and home use as an alternative medium to massage oil. For your free sample just enter your details on the page linked! http://www.emereasenaturalblends.co.uk/index.php
FREET-SHIRT PINT GLASS & DART BOARD: Get involved with the new giveaway by Wychwood where you can get hold of 1 of 100 Dart boards, 50 pint glasses, 50 Hobgoblets and 500 t-shirts! What a load of amazing prizes.
FREE CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM: CORGI HomePlan is giving away free carbon monoxide alarms. Download the “Carbon Monoxide: Keeping you and your family safe” guide, and then scroll down the page and complete your details to claim your free carbon monoxide alarm. https://www.corgihomeplan.co.uk/help-and-advice/guides/free-carbon-monoxide-alarm
- FREE EE POWER BAR: EE are giving their customers a free Power Bar for charging your mobile on the go. Just text the word ‘Power’ from your EE phone to number 365 (texts cost 35p) to receive a promotional code to pick your freebie from your nearest EE store. http://ee.co.uk/power-bar-recall
- FREE L’OREAL SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER: Get a FREE L’Oreal Shampoo and Conditioner Samples!. Each of the samples are back in stock again! If you signed up for this offer before you may be able to request this offer again, If not then you may need to use a different email address. bit.ly/1lXzeAn
- FREE BABY REGISTRY WELCOME BOX FROM AMAZON: Create a baby registry here, then add items according to the Jump start guide here for each category add 15 items to your registry to be eligible! (make sure each check mark turns green).
- FREE STUFF AND DEALS FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY: Different variety of gifts are available, just click and sign up. http://hunt4freebies.com/free-stuff-deals-birthday/
- FREE PALM HARBOR HOMES 12 MONTHS OF DREAM HOMES CALENDAR: Get a FREE Palm Harbor Homes 12 Months of Dream Homes Calendar! click the request calendar button.
- FREE TIRE ROTATION, FLAT TIRE REPAIR, AND INSPECTION AT MR. TIRE: Get a FREE Flat Tire Repair Coupon at Mr. Tire.
- 100 FREE MY COKE REWARDS POINTS = FREE COKE! (UPDATED): To get 100 FREE My Coke Rewards Points when you join the Hilton HHonors program. You will receive an email with your code to redeem for 100 My Coke Rewards(note the email could take up to 24 hours to come).
- FREE MENTOS GUM POCKET BOTTLE AT KROGER ON 12/18: To get a FREE Mentos Gum Pocket Bottle at Kroger select your store below and load it to your shoppers card! The coupon will only be available on Friday December 18, 2015 between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. and expires on January 26, 2016.
- FREE GOSH THAT’s GOOD BRAND CHOCOLTE & TEA MIX SAMPLES: Get FREE Gosh That’s Good Brand Chocolate & Tea Mix Samples!
- FREE POWDER 4 PAWS CALIFORNIA CARROTS DOG FOOD SAMPLE: Get a FREE Powder 4 PAWS California Carrots Dog Food Supplement Sample!
- FREE DIABLO GAME CHANGER T-ShIRT (STORY & PHOTO SUBMISSION):
Get a FREE Diablo Game Changer T-Shirt – Enter your carbide-tipped blade experience with a photo or video and receive a free Diablo Game Changer t-shirt!
- WIN A FREE PAIR OF SHOE TODAY: This week we’re giving you a chance to win a gorgeous pair of Nike Free 5.0 Shoes! They’re stylish, they’re comfortable and they’re yours to win. Good luck!
- FREE FACIAL OIL FROM THE BODY SHOP: I enjoy using different facial oils in my skin care routine. Oil seems to work great from my dry, sensitive skin. Right now we can request a free deluxe sample of facial oil from The Body Shop. https://www.facebook.com/TheBodyShop?sk=app_466894036743114
- SEND A KIND SNACK: Kind wants to celebrate acts of Kindness. See someone being awesome, send them a #kindawesome card and they can redeem that card for a free Kind snack. https://www.howkindofyou.com/
- FREE LITTLE REMEDIES SAMPLE: Founded by a pharmacist and father, Little Remedies provides products with safe and effective formulas to support the health and well-being of infants and children. Keep in mind that the first letter of your email address must be capitalized and the remainder in lower case ([email protected]). http://www.littleremedies.com/littlerescue/?sample
- FREE AVON ATTRACTION: Designed to draw you closer together, Avon Attraction for Him & Her are magnetic and fiery new fragrances that captivate from day to night. https://www.facebook.com/Avon/?sk=app_194975693850063&rest=1
- FREE SAMPLE OF ZZIP: I bet you’re wondering, “what is Zzip?” Zzip is a break through therapy from Switzerland that helps to treat, eliminate and prevent the spread of cold sores within the first few days of application.
- FREE SAMPLE DURAHOOK COAT HOOK: Developed to stand the test of time, DuraHook is ergonomically-designed and perfect for any nursery, classroom or bedroom! Claim a free sample today and see the DuraHook difference for yourself! Which colour will you try out? http://bit.ly/1CybjT7
FREE PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS COLORING PAGES: Christmas is coming! Get your kids in the holiday spirit with these free printable Christmas coloring pages. Simply click on the image above to print yours.
- FREE SAMPLE OF FETCHFULE FOR DOGS: Right now we can request a free sample of FetchFule. It’s the best way to give Glucosamine and Omega-3 to our dogs. http://sample.fetchfuel.com/free-sample/
- INSTANT WIN FREE TICTAC MINIONS: Play the TicTac Minion game for a chance to win a limited edition “Minions” pack of Tic Tac mints. Plus you’ll have a chance to win one of hundreds of prizes.
- FREE APPLE WATCH OR IPAD: Sign up for our free newsletter and on January 15th we will pick a lucky subscriber who will get to choose between a free Apple Watch or an iPad. We will also pick 2 other winners who will get a free $25 Amazon gift-card. http://bit.ly/1Us2T72
- SUBWAY: Sign up to receive text alerts from Subway and you’ll get a free 6 inch sub when you purchase a 30 oz drink.
- FREE L’OREAL SHAMPOO: To request a free sample of L’Oreal Nutri-Gloss Shampoo just fill out this simple form.
- FREE XACT SUPPLEMENTS: To request a free sample of Xact brain health supplements just fill out this simple request form.
- MEOW MIX IRRESISTIBLES: To get coupon good for a free pack of Meow Mix Irresistibles cat treats just visit this page and upload a photo or video of your cat. They will then send you a coupon good for a free sample.t-your-free-samples https://irresistiblemoments.com/share
- FREE TRAVEL VOUCHER & FUEL CARD: Lucozade are giving away £100 worth of travel every day until the 31st May 2016. What a great freebie from them and a useful way to save some cash in the New Year.
- FREE HEADPHONES: Great freebie and these look really good quality too! I find that you can never have too many pairs of headphones!
- FREE RING SIZER: Request a free ring sizer from Elma Jewellery. Just fill in your details on the form linked and you’ll receive one in the post.
- FREE EMMA BRIDGWATER BAKING DISH: Enter to win 1 of 100 fabulous Emma Bridgewater “Polka Folk” Medium Baking Dishes, each worth £39.95 thanks to Jus Roll. http://www.jusrol.co.uk/seasons-greetings/
- FREE I PHONE 5S: An amazing freebie! Just fill in your details for your chance to test and keep the brand new iPhone 5S.
- HUGGIES: Free Huggies Little Snuggler Diaper Sample – size 1 or 2.
- M COIFFUNE: Free 2 OZ Naturals Anti Aging Vitamin C Serum Sample.
- COCKTAILS: Cocktails for Dummies – FREE for a limited time.
- WALMART: Green Mountain Coffee Organic K-Cup Pod Sample Pack.
- DURHAM: Auto Center FREE Car Freshener.
- ANADIKA: Free 100% Indian Virgin Remi Human hair extensions.
- ALIGN: Free sample of Align Probiotic.
- GUARDIAN MITE SPRAY: Free Guardian Mite Spray Sample.
- ESTEVIA PERFUME: Free Estevia Perfume Fragrance Samples.
- FORTI FLORA: Free sample of dog vitamins contains 5 sachets.
New Year Family Festival in Bahria Town Karachi on 31st December with Grand Firework Show. Musical Concert, Comedy Shows, Food and Shopping Stalls, Games and Fun Filled Activities. Free Entries for Families. Visit at: http://bahriatownoffers.com/new-year-family-festival/
- NEW BABY FREE GIFT: We at My Precious Kid want to give your new baby a gift of safety. Our car seat ID tag adds a layer of protection for every car ride. The ID card comes with a self sealing laminating pouch with luggage loop to easily attach to any car seat. In the case of a car accident the car seat ID tag will give emergency personnel much needed information such as family contact numbers, allergies and medical release signature. Visit at http://www.mypreciouskid.com/free-gift-new-baby.html
- CURA SKIN CARE: Sign up to receive your FREE samples at http://www.mycuraskincare.com/mailinglist
- ANDROID GUIDE: By downloading this free guide, you agree to receive regular updates on the latest cool apps, product reviews, and giveaways from MakeUseOf. http://freakyfreddies.tradepub.com/free/w_make44/prgm.cgi
- POISE LINER SAMPLE KIT: 2 NEW Poise Micro liners (1 regular, 1 long)/. 1 Poise Long Liner. 1 Poise Ultra Thin Pad and Exclusive coupon and informational brochure. https://www.poise.com/samples-and-offers/samples
- GOSH THAT’S GOOD: Free Sample of Gosh That’s Good Brand Chocolate & Tea Mix. http://www.goshthatsgood.com/samples/order-samples/
- PREGGONISTA: Free Preggonista T-shirt at http://www.preggonista.com/mom-to-be-news-2/
- NUELE NATURAL HAIR PRODUCTS: Free Organic Hair Straightener & Moisturizer sample. http://nuelehair.com/request-sample/
- TENA: Introducing Our Fastest Absorbing Pad Ever TENA Instadry pads. Request a free sample.http://www.tena.us/tena-instadry/tena-instadry,en_US,pg.html
- I. M. INTERNATIONAL: Christmas Gift Towel Sample Request. http://imitowels.com/christmas_product_sample.html
- THE UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION: Free one year 10 And Under Junior Membership. http://membership.usta.com/content.jsp?pageName=10UJRFREE
I have been an extensive traveler, a true backpacker, having visited numerous countries on all continents. Pakistan had never figured in my calculus until I developed friendships with two Pakistanis; one gentleman from Lahore and the other from Karachi. These two shared a dormitory with me during my studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). I found these individuals to be poles apart from the general depiction of Pakistanis that the media regularly portrays. What I had always gleaned from the media was that Pakistan was a country mired in terrorism and religious extremism, and was a highly unsafe place, especially for foreigners. Stories about how women were treated in the country were just as dismal. In stark contrast to these images, my Pakistani friends exuded warmth and wit; they were generous, well-meaning and easy to relate to. My curiosity about their country often led me to lengthy discussions with them. Their advice to me was that the only way to truly understand Pakistan was by paying it a visit. As my Lahore-based friend returned to Pakistan upon his graduation from NUS, I thought of grabbing a chance to visit the country. His response was very encouraging. My biggest problem, however, was my mother, who when learning of my plan, screamed and proclaimed me to be crazy. I cannot blame her, as her only knowledge about the country was through the media, which is solely interested in displays of violence and misogyny, thus missing 99.9 per cent of the Pakistan story.
However, as I had made up my mind to visit Pakistan, nothing was going to stop me. Since I desired to visit the Northern Areas as well, my friend from Lahore not only lined up a visit for me, he also took a break from his office to give me company. My journey from Singapore to Lahore (via Bangkok) felt strange, or rather unique, as I was the only foreigner on the flight. The gentleman sitting next to me was a doctor from Lahore. His amazement as to why I had chosen Pakistan as my holiday destination unhinged me for a moment. Later I understood that this was genuine curiosity rather than a voicing of concern regarding my security.
I was received at the airport by my friend. While driving to his home, I saw alleys of trees and greenery, clean streets and orderly traffic — quite unlike how I imagined Lahore to be. The next day, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and went around the city: to the historic fort and the Badshahi Mosque. I was wearing the traditional shalwar kurtathat my friend’s father had kindly gifted to me. Contrary to my expectations, nobody on the street gave me strange ‘look-there’s-a-foreigner’ looks. The evening was spent sitting on the rooftop of a restaurant on food street, listening to live instrumental music against the backdrop of the splendidly-lit Badshahi mosque, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle. The desi cuisine was delicious and the spices were toned down at my request. The decor and architecture of the street were indescribably beautiful. I visited shopping areas, busy malls, high-end restaurants and roadside dhabas. There was not a moment, which gave me the feeling that I was at a dangerous or a conservative place. People were open, cheerful and absolutely normal while they went about their daily lives.
The bus ride from Lahore to Islamabad on the motorway was an experience in itself. Passengers were offered complimentary high-speed WiFi internet, sandwiches, juices and headphones, should they want to listen to music or watch a film. While in Islamabad, a visit to a local coffee shop was an eye-opener. I could see petite girls, walking in re-assuredly, hanging out with their friends late into the night, giggling and chatting. My stereotypes as to how women in Pakistan lived were now gradually fading away; more so when I saw so many of them all alone and independent, trekking the woods of the Astor Valley.
The drive to the Northern Areas through Kaghan and Naran was a breath-taking experience. There were nearly 20 of us in the coaster, and we quickly got to know each other. The next couple of days at Chilas, Astor and Shigar were exciting, as we camped in the wilderness, drank from the gushing springs and dipped in the pristine lakes. This was something I could not have imagined before. I felt so fortunate to have a view of the mighty Indus and imposing snow-capped peaks at the same time. The drive through the Deosai plains was incredibly stunning with a tapestry of colourful flowers spread in the wilderness. The silence was a balm for the ears. We passed through several villages and went hiking. The locals always greeted us with smiles, while those who were far away in their stone-and-mud houses, just waved. Contrary to my experience in many countries, I did not see anyone begging for money or harassing tourists. My visit to the Nanga Parbat base camp created an unforgettable memory. It was August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day. One could see Pakistani flags fluttering all around. I thought I had reached the real Pakistan, closer to nature and close to national passion.
While our visit ended on a happy note, one thing continued to bother me throughout the visit — the all too obvious ‘VIP culture’. In Astor, despite our booking at the PTDC rest house, we were asked to camp outside on the lawn for the night because some higher-up had landed with his guests, resulting in the cancellation of our booking. The dinner time was at eight but we were kept waiting until 11 as the ‘VIPs’ were still sitting around in the dining hall long after dinner, enjoying their cup of tea. Later, I found myself on the other, privileged side of ‘VIP culture’. On our way back, we were stopped at the Chilas check post and were asked to go via the KKH-Bisham route, which would have taken us six hours longer. The officials on duty were not allowing any vehicle to take the Naran-Kaghan route, which was far shorter. Now was the time for my friend to pull some strings. He called up his father, a retired senior government official. After a short wait, there was a wireless message at the post, which allowed our vehicle to travel via Kaghan saving us six long hours of travel time.
During my sleepover in Islamabad, there was also the unfortunate incident of the bomb blast in which the Punjab home minister tragically lost his life, signifying the challenges that the country still faces. I immediately got a panicky call from my mother. I had to calm her down and drew her attention instead to the bombings in Bangkok that had happened around the same time, and where I had previously studied for my A-levels.
While I took off from Lahore on my journey to Vienna and on wards to home, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of how incredible Pakistan was! What is needed is a better understanding of the country by the world. I would reiterate the advice given to me by my Pakistani friends. Don’t take my word for it, go visit Pakistan and see it for yourself.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2015.