Reviews roundup: Meet Me in the Bathroom; Eureka; What We Lose

The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006.
 The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage

“Every scene needs a chronicler like Lizzy Goodman,” was Jim Carroll’s wholehearted recommendation, in the Irish Times, of Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011. The book is “a meaty oral history”, “a wild read” and “strikes all the right notes. As oral histories go, this is one of the very best.” In the Observer, former music journalist Barbara Ellen admired Goodman’s ability “to marshal a veritable army of interviewees who’re not only prepared to talk, but also to gossip, muse, digress, ramble, even bitch and fume, to build the most accurate picture”, making the book “beautifully paced, vivid, informative and compelling”. For the Sunday Times’s Lise Verrico, it was exhaustive at more than 600 pages, and “full of colourful characters, catty comments and incredible candour”.

Anthony Quinn’s novel Eureka also looks back at a swinging time, in this case London in the 1960s, with characters including acid casualty screenwriter Nat Fane. It is part three of a “loosely linked and hugely enjoyable trilogy”, explained Peter Stanford in the Observer, but “works just as well as a standalone”. Stanford found mysteries, wit and entertainment aplenty, but reassured readers: “If Eurekais beginning to sound too clever by half, rather like a 60s counterculture film, what brings it all delightfully together is Quinn’s flawless, easy-going prose. He never once puts a foot wrong either in the wealth of period detail or in giving each well-drawn character their distinctive voice. Clever, certainly, but in just the right measure.” The Mail on Sunday’s Hephzibah Anderson described it as a “pleasingly melancholic romp [which] gallivants towards a dark mystery”, and the Times’s Siobhain Murphy decided that “Quinn’s immersive approach to his historical fiction means we’re soon woozy with the sounds and sights of that significant year”. Not the Daily Mail’s John Harding, though. “[The 60s] are unconvincingly evoked here, with pop music limited to the Beatles and references to Mr Fish fashion and hula hoops feeling tacked on,” he wrote. “The book is padded out with excerpts from Nat’s film script. Let’s hope it never gets made – it’s as flimsy as a go-go dancer’s miniskirt.”

Critics were also divided over the debut novel by Zinzi Clemmons, What We Lose, about a light-skinned black woman living in the US. “Luminescent,” raved Lucy Scholes in the Independent. “Sometimes fierce and angry, other times quiet and tender, it’s a story about identity organised around [a] central, momentous loss – that of a parent – that expands and contracts, as with the beating of a heart, to encompass meditations on race, sex and love … Intelligently and impressively conceived, and beautifully told.” “A memoir trying hard to pass itself off as fiction,” complained Claire Allfree in the Daily Mail. “Clemmons, who shares a lot of biography with her narrator, has a bracingly clear-eyed view on racial politics and the psychological dissonance of living between two cultures, and the tension between her steady prose and turbulent emotions is beautifully sustained. Yet I found it frustrating … Clemmons has yet to make this territory her own.” But the Sunday Times’s Phil Baker was impressed, on balance, finding that “sometimes the result feels like a struggle between grief and pretentiousness, but the frankness and intelligence of the writing win out”.


Almost Half of Qatar’s Traditional Investor Base Has Cut Ties With the Country

Banks in the world’s wealthiest nation per capita will need to offer more yield if they tap the market as almost half of their traditional investor base has cut ties with the country.

Qatar National Bank QPSC, Commercial Bank QSC and Doha Bank QSC are considering funding options that include loans, private placements or dollar bonds, people familiar with the plans said. But investors and analysts say the lenders will have to pay more to compensate for the region’s political risk to drum up interest.

Read More: QNB Is Said Among Qatari Lenders Seeking Funding Amid Spat

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations severed relations with Qatar two months ago accusing it of supporting extremist groups, a charge it denies. That led to a drop in foreign deposits in June, the steepest in almost two years, and a record jump in the three-month Qatar Interbank Offer Rate.

Here’s what analysts and investors had to say about borrowing costs for Qatari banks planning to tap the market:

  • While borrowing costs will rise, “the assumption of government support means yields won’t rise that much,” said Max Wolman, a London-based senior investment manager who helps oversee $11 billion in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
    • There could be interest from some Asian investors, given they were involved in some of the recent Middle East sovereign deals.
    • “If they look attractive from a yield perspective we could buy them. Currently we are very underweight Qatar” because the yields weren’t attractive
    • Looking at QNB’s dollar-denominated bonds due September 2021, the yields peaked at 3.8 percent and are currently around 3.1 percent, “so I would say a five-year at 3.5 to 3.75 percent would be attractive.”
  • Even if they offer “200 basis points over midswaps, I would not lend to them at this rate, as it will not cover for the risk of further deterioration,” said Marina Davies, a London-based senior credit analyst at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd., a company of Amundi Group that oversees over $1 trillion globally.
    • “Basically, we are talking not only about the price, but about the availability of such funding, as so far the banking system seems to be having capital outflows.”
    • “For now, if they don’t manage to raise money, the authorities will provide it as they have been doing until now. The short-term debt of the banks is significant, and it does not seem to be renewed. The sovereign is plugging it for now, but providing just enough foreign currency to compensate for the outflows.”
    • “However, we don’t know how liquid the sovereign funds are, and we can expect that the asset quality of the banks may deteriorate. Therefore, I believe the current levels don’t reflect the credit risk of this system.”
  • The risk premium demanded by the market has already gone up, after Moody’s Investors Service lowered their outlook on Qatari Banks, said Rami Jamal, a money manager at Amwal LLC in Doha, which oversees around one billion riyals ($270 million) in assets.
    • “Pricing thus becomes dependent primarily on the currency and the tenor of the debt. If QNB is looking to raise debt for five years in U.S. dollars, for example, the market will not accept anything below 3.50-3.75 percent range.”
    • “QNB has plenty of short-term funding maturing in the next two years.”
  • Asian investors could help Qatari banks keep yields on offerings relatively low, according to Zurich-based Philipp Good, who helps manage about 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.4 billion) at Fisch Asset Management AG.
    • “My best guess is that they find partners who give them money at a very low premium to current market prices.”
    • “Asian investors are still keen to put money into the Middle East and I do not doubt that they will get the money at similar spreads” as previous sales.
    • “I would expect no additional premium from where the market is today. Repricing has taken place already.”
  • Deterioration in the economy and possible further downgrades of Qatar’s long-term debt will drive local institutions to pay higher spreads as a result of the risk premium, said Tariq Qaqish, the managing director of the asset management division at Mena Corp. Financial Services in Dubai.
    • “In the short term, psychology will pay a big role in pricing new debt issues as investors are uncertain of the magnitude of the problem and, most importantly, the length.”
    • “As deposits decline and the average loan-to-deposit ratio rise, I expect most banks to tap the market and to pay a risk premium of 15-20 basis points.”

Qatari bank bonds maturing this year:




Amount due (in $ million)

QNB 13 Aug. 26 – Dec. 27 382
QIB 1 Oct. 10 750


1 Oct. 18 700



If you think Modern Family’s been on for-freakin’-ever, you’re not wrong. The show already has eight seasons and was recently renewed by ABC for two more seasons after that. But even Emmy-winning shows must end someday, and according to Modern Family co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan, the end is near. In an interview with Deadline, Levitan got candid about when and how Modern Family will end.

First, Levitan basically confirmed Modern Family will conclude after 10 seasons. He said a decade was not the original goal he and fellow co-creator Christopher Lloyd (no, not that one) had in mind — not until they realized it was possible, at least.

“Our original goal was to just stay on the air,” Levitan said. “But after awhile we though we may be in control our own fate, and 10 sounded like a nice round number.”

Ten seasons is certainly an impressive run. Other hit sitcoms like Friendsand Happy Days also capped off their success off at 10 seasons. Others. though, have kept going even longer — The Big Bang Theory is in its 11th season, and is already planning Season 12.

Of course, having children as some of the main characters on the show does put more of a timeline on things — this season Alex was off at college, and we have to assume Hayley, Luke, and Manny will also move out eventually.

NOLAN GOULD, RICO RODRIGUEZ, ARIEL WINTER, AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMON MODERN FAMILY – “The Graduates” – In the season finale, Manny's father, Javier (guest-star Benjamin Bratt), shows up for his graduation and takes him out on a wild night of celebration, and then Jay steps in to pick-up the pieces. Meanwhile, the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan is getting ready for Luke and Manny's big day and dealing with the emotions that come with seeing your kids grow up and leave the nest.

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Though he didn’t have specifics, Levitan did drop some hints on where the final season of Modern Family will leave the Dunphys and Pritchetts.

Levitan said,

We haven’t had that exact conversation yet how we want to end the show episode-wise. We’ve talked about areas that we want to go and tonally what we want to do. I think we will end the show the way we started it in the pilot, with a big family event.

He didn’t elaborate on what that “family event” might be. The family event in the pilot episode was Cameron and Mitchell introducing their newly adopted daughter, Lily, to the family, so it might be fitting to have the family come together around Lily again. But I’m just spit-balling here.

Levitan said he and Lloyd also considering ending the show on a death or a crazy twist, so let’s just all keep praying that doesn’t happen. I don’t think I could handle it if Jay dies.


Modern Family co-creator confirms how show will end, says season 10 will ‘likely’ be the last


Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan has confirmed plans to end the series with its tenth season.

ABC renewed the long-running sitcom for two more seasons in May bringing its overall count to ten – the same number Friendsran for – with Levitan telling Deadline that sounds “…like a nice round number.”

He even went so far as to express how he plans to wrap the series with co-writer Christopher Lloyd.

“We haven’t had that exact conversation yet how we want to end the show episode-wise. We’ve talked about areas that we want to go and tonally what we want to do.”

He added that, after considering ending the show with a shock death or twist, they will ultimately “…end the show the way we started it in the pilot, with a big family event,”

Modern Family – which began in 2009 – follows the stories of different members of the Pritchett family including Jay (Ed O’Neill), wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara), daughter Claire (Julie Bowen), son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and sons-in-law Phil (Ty Burrell) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet).

Cameras are now rolling on season nine and Levitan confirmed that the tenth run will be mapped out during the latest season’s second half.

Over its eight years on the air, Modern Family has won 22 Emmy awards, five of which were for Outstanding Comedy Series for its first five seasons.


Inside the mind of the modern homebuyer

  • The majority of buyers are completely happy with their experience purchasing a home, but affordability issues are keeping some on the sidelines.

The real estate event of the summer
Connect with other top producing agents at Connect SF, Aug 7-11, 2017

The homebuyer’s journey is laden with obstacles. Credit issues, low inventory, unreasonable sellers and complicated inspections can all alter a homebuyer’s perception and taint the whole experience for some. For others, the process proves fairly breezy.

The results of Experian’s 2017 Homebuyers Survey revealed that some potential buyers are steering away from homeownership due to affordability, credit or lifestyle preferences while others are working hard to overcome the setbacks keeping them from purchasing.

The study also found that:

  • More homebuyers are beginning to recognize the importance of credit and work to improve it for the purpose of qualifying for a better home loan rate.
  • Future buyers’ credit scores and financing options can have a negative impact on the amount they can spend on their new home and their timeline for buying.
  • After going through the homebuying process, recent homebuyers are more aware of the value of credit and now monitor their it more often.

Homebuyer perceptions: Inventory, affordability, buying experience

Despite the industry’s struggle with low inventory, overall homebuyers don’t feel the pinch in that area: What they’re struggling with is affordability (which is made worse by the low supply). The majority (64 percent) feel they have enough inventory to choose from, while 22 percent say it’s an issue.

Over half of buyers firmly believe houses are less affordable than they were 10 years ago, while only 29 percent believe they are more affordable and 17 percent feel prices have remained the same.

As far as their satisfaction with the homebuying experience, 44 percent of future homebuyers say they are happy with how things are turning out for them at this point. A close 40 percent say they are not satisfied with the experience so far, while 16 percent remain indifferent.

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Results for recent homebuyers were quite different, with a sweeping 83 percent saying they are completely happy with their experience purchasing a home. A very small number (4 percent) claim to be disappointed by the experience, while 13 percent say they were neither happy nor unhappy with the experience.

The survey revealed that buyers most likely to be happy with their homebuying experience include those who 1) already know their credit score, 2) have exceptional credit, 3) benefit from an annual household income of $100,000 or more, and 4) are not first-time homebuyers.


How Jerry Jones Helped Revolutionize The Modern NFL

Story image for Modern from ESPN

No single individual, with the possible exception of the last two commissioners, has done more to create the current dominance of the NFL than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. His vision of what the NFL could achieve was ahead of its time, with television contracts, marketing, branding, memorabilia, franchise values, the NFL Network, harmonious relations with agents and the use of the internet. His energy, creativity and willingness to challenge tradition are partly responsible for the NFL’s status as the nation’s favorite sport and the Cowboys’ status as the highest valued sports franchise in the world.

I first encountered Jerry as Troy Aikman and I visited Dallas in April 1989. At that time, I had the largest practice representing NFL football players and was soon to have clients Russell Maryland, Darryl Johnson, Darren Woodson, Jason Garrett and Wade Wilson as members of the Cowboys. Jerry had just purchased the Cowboys for $140 million and had summarily filed iconic coach Tom Landry as well as president Tex Schramm and scouting guru Gil Brandt. The fans were furious. Jerry then hired the charismatic Jimmy Johnson as coach.

Jerry and Jimmy wanted to assess whether to use the first pick in the draft on Troy. After meeting all day and evening with Troy, Jerry adjourned to the lobby of the airport Hyatt hotel with me, and we spent all night — until 6 in the morning — talking about the future of the Cowboys and the NFL.

It was immediately clear that Jerry understood the uniqueness of the Cowboys brand and how that could be used in sponsorships and in the creation of Cowboys-branded businesses. He had gone through a painstaking research process, reaching out to owners and executives throughout the league. He wanted to know which practices worked most effectively in franchise building. He understood that the television business had expanded, that new networks would employ “loss leader” bidding for the connection to football and that this would exponentially change league revenue. He saw the value of state-of-the-art stadiums and the potential ancillary revenue streams they could develop.

We also talked about the embryonic internet and how that would change the flow of information and commerce. Jerry understood “ambush marketing” and how the ownership of a stadium could forge relationships with corporations distinct from overall NFL marketing.

After Troy was signed by the Cowboys, we flew back to New York to attend the draft itself. Jones’s son Steven and daughter Charlotte hosted the flight. It was apparent that they were both whip smart and talented. They both showed poise and grace at a young age, and Jerry found a way to weave them into the Cowboys structure, along with Jerry Jr. He allowed them to grow and make their own mark.

Jerry (and he encourages everyone to call him Jerry) set about remaking the franchise. In 1993, 1994 and 1996, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl. Then Jerry fought for a more vigorous television strategy for the league. In 1975, each team in the NFL received $2 million; that amount had grown to $17 million by the time he purchased the Cowboys. The succeeding television contracts exploded.

Many other owners resisted Jerry’s efforts to market and brand in a more aggressive way. Once they saw the off-the-field largesse he was creating for the Cowboys, though, that establishment thinking changed. Today there is a specific carve-out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows Dallas to keep certain revenue without sharing..


When to Get the Best Deals on TVs and Kitchen Appliances

You don’t need to be a data scientist to know that holiday sales are great opportunities for bargain shoppers—but to understand precisely when you can snag the best deals, a little bit of big data goes a long way.

That’s why Consumer Reports teamed up with Gap Intelligence, a market research company that specializes in pricing information, to study a year’s worth of product prices from key retailers. We examined four big-ticket product categories—ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators, and televisions—to help you navigate the sales between Labor Day and the end of the holiday season.

The steep discounts that occur around Black Friday demonstrate the magnitude of price fluctuation that exists during the course of a year. By November, the average price of a refrigerator, for instance, dropped almost $250 off the peak pricing we found in May. For the average price of a range, we found a $178 differential—or a 14 percent discount—between the high point in February and the low point in November.

Sometimes the big-picture data can hide some counterintuitive buying advice. Average TV prices peak as new products launch starting at the end of February, but that’s also one of the best times to get a great deal on the previous year’s hot sets.


Things got particularly interesting when we zoomed in on several high-performing models from our ratings. We found significant price fluctuation on certain models; others—especially at extreme low and high prices—barely budged.

So how can past pricing inform your purchasing decisions this fall? If you’re in the market for one of these products now (as in, your fridge is on the fritz), the data show that keeping an eye on a model’s price over a matter of weeks could save you hundreds of dollars.

In terms of 2017 sales events, Gap expects to see similar trends, especially when it comes to Black Friday. “That promotional period continues to get longer and longer,” says Christine Edwards, Gap’s senior market analyst for home appliances. On Black Friday, entry-level appliances might see a dramatic dip as retailers advertise these offers to entice people through the door.

But if you’re shopping for a midlevel or premium appliance, there’s no need to wait until the day after Thanksgiving. “The retail industry is now referring to November as ‘Black November,’ ” explains Debra Mednick, CR’s director of market trends and analysis. As 2016’s data confirm, if you’re after a new kitchen suite or television—and you can hold off—it pays to wait out Labor Day sales and shop come November.

To calculate the average price in the product categories below and track the price of specific models, we teamed up with Gap Intelligence, a market-data company that tracks pricing and promotional activity for in-store and online products selling in key national, regional, and online-exclusive retailers on a weekly basis. (For each category, we excluded extreme outliers, eliminating TVs costing more than $8,000 and ranges and refrigerators more than $10,000.)

A man walking out of an electronics store after getting the best deal on a TV


“Most TV models are replaced or refreshed every year, and their pricing tends to follow a fairly consistent 12-month curve,” says Deirdre Kennedy, senior analyst for TVs at Gap Intelligence.

Our examination of the average price of a TV, as well as our study of four recommended 2016 models, shows that after new television models were introduced from early March to late May, prices began an immediate and steady decline. When Black Friday promotions began in November, prices dove across the board. We found many sets selling for as little as 50 percent of their original retail price.

Our analysis found another window for snaring a great deal starting a few weeks before the Super Bowl and running through March. During that time, average TV prices rose as new models entered the market, but prices on the preceding year’s TVs hit their low point as retailers worked to clear out old inventory and create shelf space for new arrivals.

Below, we compared the average price of a TV over the course of 2016 to four select models from our television ratings:

• Samsung UN65KS8500 TV
• LG 60UH8500 TV
• Samsung UN55KS8000 TV
• LG 49UH6100 TV

A chart that shows the average price of high-rated TVs for 2016


Punters put cheap appliances to the test

The viral story of the K-Mart vacuum cleaner that can outperform a Dyson has prompted more face-offs between brand name appliances and some low cost alternatives.

Working mums Heidi and Lauren put a number of appliances to the test for A Current Affair, including kettles, irons, slow cookers and blenders.

They found that for the most part, the cheaper appliances came close to or matched the performance of its more distinguished counterpart – for significantly less of a cost.

Choice Magazine spokesperson Kate Browne said the same results were reflected in her publication’s findings.

Slow cookers feed the whole family.Slow cookers feed the whole family.The battle of the vacuum cleaners has gone viral.



How a One-Time Washout Explains the Modern NBA

P.J. Tucker, left, recently signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets.

P.J. Tucker came into the NBA more than a decade ago and crashed out almost immediately. He was a 6-foot-6 player stuck between positions—too small to be a forward but too big to be a guard. The league had no place for him. After playing only 83 minutes in the NBA, he disappeared to another continent.

“P.J. was in, out, and to a large degree forgotten about by a lot of people,” said Andre Buck, his agent.

Then something funny happened. The strategic revolution in basketball over the last decade made teams reconsider their old prototypes and resulted in what Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens recently called the NBA’s three positions: ball-handler, wing and big. There is a premium on players who can be all three. Tucker is now one of those players.

That’s how someone who literally couldn’t play in the league has become one of the league’s most useful players. It’s also why the Houston Rockets signed Tucker to a four-year, $32 million deal this month—the longest and richest contract of his career. In the first year of his new deal, he will make about 43% more than he was paid last year and nearly 1,000% more than five years ago. There may be no one in the NBA whose value has increased so much in such a short amount of time.

Tucker wasn’t the most expensive Rockets signing (James Harden) or the splashiest addition to their roster (Chris Paul) and may not even be their biggest small forward when the season begins (Carmelo Anthony remains a trade possibility).

P.J. Tucker holds a Rockets jersey with general manager Daryl Morey.
P.J. Tucker holds a Rockets jersey with general manager Daryl Morey. PHOTO: KAREN WARREN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

But the pursuit of Tucker was the most revealing move from the NBA’s most aggressive team. It’s his incredibly unlikely career that best explains the evolution of basketball. He is a role player with a role that’s more important than ever.

“It’s just how the game has changed,” said the 32-year-old Tucker, “and I’ve been lucky enough to play long enough to see it change.”

The only way he could benefit from the game changing, though, was by changing his own game.

Tucker was a second-round draft pick in 2006 and played in just 17 NBA games before he spent the next five years bouncing around leagues in Ukraine, Israel, Greece, Italy and Germany. The odds of him being in the NBA again were as long as his exile. In the decade prior, according to Stats LLC, Anthony Parker was the only player who had done what Tucker was trying to do: begin his career in the NBA, leave for more than five seasons and then return on a prolonged deal.

But he realized something while maturing overseas that eventually brought him back. It’s a lesson that he imparts to younger players who want to be like him. “Figure out your niche,” he says, “and maximize it.”

It was obvious what Tucker’s niche had to be: playing defense and shooting 3-pointers. As it happens, those skills are coveted in today’s NBA.


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Tucker is able to defend every player on the court, point guard through center, because of his peculiar build. The very thing that had been a disadvantage—that he was an oversized guard but undersized forward—had become his advantage. “He’s a bear that’s as quick as a cat,” Buck said.

It was harder to imagine Tucker as an outside shooter. He didn’t take any threes in his first NBA stint. He attempted a total of four in his three years of college.

But he knew he couldn’t play if he couldn’t shoot. NBA teams didn’t need Tucker to score. They needed him to create space for the rest of the offense. He could help a team simply by standing in the corner and taking selfies with fans as long as he dragged a defender with him. By his last season in Germany, Tucker was hitting 48% of his threes. He was ready to come back to the NBA at the exact moment the league was ready to embrace him.

The best teams in the NBA understood that frontcourt versatility was increasingly valuable. And suddenly Tucker found himself in demand. He was no longer a tweener. He was now positionless.

“He turned himself into this player who’s super useful to all these NBA teams,” said Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

The Phoenix Suns offered him a contract in 2012 for the league minimum with no guarantees he’d make the roster that year. Tucker was there for the next five years. He then re-signed with the Suns in 2014 to his first multi-year, million-dollar deal.

LeBron James goes head-to-head against P.J. Tucker.



Pakistan’s traditional third gender isn’t happy with the trans movement

For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira or third gender culture. The community, identifying as neither male nor female are believed, by many, to be ‘God’s chosen people,’ with special powers to bless and curse anyone they choose.

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The acceptance of Khawaja Sira people in Pakistan has been held up internationally as a symbol of tolerance, established long before Europe and America had even the slightest semblance of a transgender rights movement.

But the acceptance of people defining their own gender in Pakistan is much more complicated. The term transgender refers to someone whose gender identify differs from their birth sex. This notion is yet to take root in Pakistan and the transgender rights movement is only beginning to assert itself formally. Now, some third gender people in Pakistan say the modern transgender identity is threatening their ancient third gender culture.

Kami Choudary has made international headlines and has been billed as ‘Pakistan’s first transgender supermodel.’ This year Choudary delivered her first TEDx talk and she makes regular speaking appearances, telling her story and debating transgender rights in university auditoriums. She asserts herself, not as a Khawaja Sira but as a transgender woman. She acknowledges that her experience, as a rising transgender celebrity in Pakistan, is not the norm.

“My mother supports me. My boyfriend supports me and my mentors and friends support me,” says Kami, who wants transgender people in Pakistani’s to be more vocal. “We have to do something. I am very public so people are always talking about Kami.”

Choudary benefits from the privilege of familial support and being able to identify as she chooses. She is educated, English speaking and from a fairly affluent family. In contrast, many Khawaja Siras are disowned by their biological families. The community is discriminated against heavily, with most Khawaja Siras making a living from performance, sex work or begging. They are simultaneously celebrated as ‘gifted’ by God and ridiculed for not conforming to the male/female gender roles that society prescribes.

Bindiya Rana is the grand matriarch of the third gender community in Karachi. She doesn’t prescribe to the transgender identity. She is a Khawaja Sira, so revered that she is a guru (teacher) to more than 50 chelahs or apprentices.

This relationship has a parental element and is a cornerstone of Khawaja Sira culture. Each chelah pledges allegiance to their guru, as they did to their guru before them. These family trees provide acceptance, social support and financial backing. Most chelahs give a percentage of their income to their gurus. It’s a lifetime commitment that allows the establishment of families that often replaces biological lineage.

But those who identify as transgender, like Choudary, don’t prescribe to the guru-chelah system. As a result, Rana and her chelahs view the transgender identity as alien and even immoral.

“If you don’t have a guru, we don’t recognize you. These people who say they are transgender; that concept is just wrong,” says Rana. “They can never be women. They cannot give birth. Even if they change their bodies they can’t change who they are. We are not women. We are what Allah has made.”

Such sentiment detracts from the idea that Pakistan has a liberal take on transgender rights. It’s more accurate to assert that Pakistan has an established acceptance of third gender culture. These are two different things.