Instep Today

What fresh hell, or the alphabet of January 2024

By Amina Baig
Sun, 01, 24

The month isn’t quite over yet but doesn’t it feel like January lasted for at least eight weeks this time? Here is some of the stuff that defined the month for us and set the tone for Y2K24.

What fresh hell, or the alphabet of January 2024

A is for the Age of Aquarius/AI/ Are you there God, it’s us, humans?

You know that feeling you have in your stomach when exams or deadlines are just a few days away but you haven’t done anything yet? Somehow the start of 2024 has us feeling super unsure about what we’re doing. This year, we shall blame it on the astrological event of Pluto moving into Aquarius (yes, that’s not what the Age of Aquarius is, we know), which is meant to cause upheavals in the world order and new discoveries which leads us to AI, aka Artificial Intelligence, putting the fear of god in people across all professions around the world, who can’t stop about that damn AI coming into their lives, taking their jobs, and stealing their wives. Good thing most of us aren’t Trump-heads or we’d be building a wall to keep all intelligence - artificial or otherwise - far out of our lives forever. And finally, with the economic recession, rampant homelessness, and commodification of everything from celebrity to medicine at the degree it is being done right now, we think a good ol’ joint prayer to the powers above is the need of the day.

M is for marriage(s)

You know exactly who we’re talking about! Shoaib Malik! Look, good for him for landing really pretty, successful women as wives, but while any marriage ending is obviously sad and traumatic, no one is talking enough about the fact that Malik managed to get catfished in the year 2008. This happens to be the year, when - come on! - the internet was at least a decade old in Pakistan, mIRC and MSN Messenger were old news, and we had Facebook and Orkut for stalking purposes. And then not only did he fall in love with the girl on the phone, he went ahead and married her too! If you’ve ever been catfished, maybe you won’t think this is so irregular, but let’s just say, it’s not exactly regular either, for someone in their late 20s to be this hoodwinked. In the Age of Aquarius, no less!

E is for the Epstein Files

Does fraternizing with someone known for being actually evil make one evil by association? Jefferey Epstein, best-known for not doing anything more than knowing important people and entertaining them, has been in and out of courts and jails since 2005, with allegations of soliciting and trafficking underage sex, and reportedly committed suicide in his cell in 2019. A full list of names of people who had associated with Epstein, flown his private jet, or travelled to and stayed at his island was released earlier this month. While many of Epstein’s most famous acquaintances had distanced themselves from him and had publicly claimed so as well, sometimes it is really tough to believe no one knew what the man’s actual game was, and to let that happen because he might invest in your charitable organization or political campaign or movie studio is just blatantly stupid. Or deliberately ignorant. And maybe this is pure naivete, but here’s hoping that the Pluto-Aquarius shenanigans pay off in terms of demolishing corrupt systems and archaic qualifiers of authority and influence.

J is for Jinnah the film

The very contentious-for-its-time Jinnah, which released in 1998, is available on Blu-Ray, as a limited edition that contains lots of trivia, insights, and insider info on the making and history of the film. Directed by Jamil Dehalvi, Jinnah stars Christopher Lee in the titular character.

S is for snubs

And what snubs there have been! We believe that the Oscar noms are hardly your highest priority right now unless you’re in the business, but the one that has everyone talking is the snub Margot Robbie received as the star of Barbie and Greta Gerwig as director. TBF, despite being the highest Hollywood grosser of 2023, Barbie may not have landed the same way for everyone. What you can focus on is that the movie is among Best Picture nominees, and that’s pretty cool, given how many people thought it was exclusively or simultaneously misogynistic and misandrist.

X is for the new pandemic or Disease X

The gentle giants of WHO have spoken and they’re asking us to prep for a brand-new global pandemic in 2024! P.s. COVID-19 actually happened around some kind of Pluto transiting activity too. No wonder the solar system keeps kicking it out of the main planets category. Go home Pluto, you’re making us all sad.

Z is for Zayn Malik and Aur

It’s nice to see Zayn Malik teaming up with young Pakistani band for their single ‘Tu Hai Kahan’, and although we aren’t quite impressed by the song, it would be fun to see more international musicians teaming up with Pakistani ones. Also Zayn rounds the Z section of this list off nicely. It was between Zayn Malik and zombie apocalypse, but that would have been too grim. You’re welcome.

B is for Bigotry

Though none of us physically live in the Republic of India, Pakistanis still automatically assume we know India because of a largely similar language, customs, the fact that the two countries are basically conjoined twins, surgically separated. But the biggest binding factor between India and Pakistan has always been Bollywood. We think we know India, know Indians, understand their politics and culture, because Bollywood films have been a steady part of our cultural diet since forever. So when the stars you love appear to condone what you might think is an affront to one of the minorities in their country, you may reconsider your admiration of said stars based on their politics. Muslims make up the largest religious minority in India at around 14% of the population, and the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, which had triggered some of the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in the country then, and the unveiling of Ram Mandir on the site in the previous week might just have rubbed salt in lingering wounds. That said, if you agree that the sentiment, safety, and legacy of the minorities - ethnic, religious, sectarian - in any country must be protected, then definitely see if they are indeed being preserved in your own, and if you see an injustice, do raise your voice.

N is for the number of days Palestine has been under siege

114. That is how long it would be on this date. And while life goes on in our own little worlds and in big ways, there is no reason why an attack at this scale should be allowed to continue for so long.

R is for the red tax of the Gaza siege

In the earlier days, women were reportedly taking medication to delay their period, and now as we draw to a close of the fourth month of war, all the estimated 700,000 women in Gaza at menstruating ages are possibly out of options to hold it off. With no or perhaps very little access to the things that women need while menstruating like sanitary napkins or water, those in Gaza are having to resort to cut-up tents as pads. Menstrual Hygiene Management has been clearly defined by WHO as access to sanitary products and water to wash hands with, and it really throws a brighter light on how standards that are defined by global entities actually mean nothing in times of crises.