Soul Tracing: Taboo – Ifraah & Irsha

Soul Tracing - Taboo
Soul Tracing: Taboo by Ifraah Samatar and Irsha Akbar affected me at various levels. It’s a story with some powerful writing that you cannot ignore irrespective of your agreement or disagreement with the narrative.
To begin with, it’s a typical love story with quite a predictable plot. What kept me going was the curiosity to know how the authors will choose to end it and it was CLEVER.
I applaud the authors for this singular way of telling the story of a naïve, hopeless girl full of dreams. And, because this topic is so close to my heart, and because I loved the authors’ take on this whole scenario, I felt huge disappointments along the story as well.
At most occasions throughout the book, the story sounded like a fantasy and rightly so… I kept on wondering (rather bickering) how could the authors approach such a sensitive subject with such insensitivity. At first, the novel sounded like another M&B with a religious tadka.
And that’s exactly where the story takes upon the controversy!
The novel takes an apologetic approach that many well-meaning Muslims do take – Shift the blame to culture and individuals in order to relieve the religion off of any blame.
And, this novel blames the both. However, culture (mostly Pakistani) remains the focal point. True! Pakistani culture is a complex religiocultural mishmash; however, not quite the way authors have portrayed it.
I felt angry and then sad by the wrong suggestion that our culture is oppressive and somehow true practice and understanding of religion will liberate us and even allow us the practices that are otherwise looked down upon by our culture as well as religion.
Culture is a very deep thing; cultures are as old as the human race itself. Cultural evolution is synchronous with the very struggles and evolution of humans over generations.
If Yasmin was a single person, the readers who could relate to Yasmin would have felt understood and those who couldn’t relate to her, would still be able to connect with her on a human level. But by generalizing, the authors have imposed the realities of a small segment (if we look at the bigger picture) on a large section of society who understand their religion better than Yasmin’s father, who take pride in their rich culture and who don’t impose the disgusting double standards and ridiculous restrictions as vehemently as the characters in this story.
This generalization did certainly rub me the wrong way. I had to struggle to relate and sympathize with Yasmin. Yasmin’s discussion with Faiza about marriage is also disturbing because the idea was (again) wrongly generalized. It also raises a question on the understanding of the authors of the culture they’re opinionating about.
An excellent example to approach difficult topics is Honour by Elif Shafak; she tells the story of a single woman, but is that the story of a single woman! The author leaves it up to the readers. Soul Tracing: Taboo is disturbing at many levels.
Perhaps the most important question it raises is:
What is liberation?
Is wearing revealing clothes and undergoing the ultimate Taboo (as the authors put it) an epitome of liberation? OR is it a mere defiance?
What’s the difference between Abbas and Dean?
If Dean can be excused due to his childhood trauma, why can’t Abbas also be? Getting raised in an idiotic religious family is no less of a trauma. For me, the conversation between Abbas and Amir is as disgusting as between Dean and Seb. Who is Yasmin to decide that Dean isn’t a monster despite all but Amir and Abbas are?
Shifting the blame from religion to culture is an ever increasing narrative because it allows common people to easily dissociate from the crimes committed in the name of religion.
But isn’t it a bigger lie than the lies told by Yasmin?
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What is Urticaria? (Definition & Causes)


Urticaria means an allergic reaction that causes red raised skin rashes that are extremely itchy.

Urticaria also refers to Hives, weals, welts or nettle rash.

When body reacts to any allergens (substances that produce allergies), it releases histamine.  Histamine is a protein that triggers our capillaries to leak fluid. This fluid then accumulates under the skin and manifests itself as a red raised rash on the skin.  These raised weals are characteristic symptoms of Urticaria.

arm with hives rashes


Urticaria (Hives) is a noncommunicable disease, so it doesn’t spread through contact.

What are the symptoms of Urticaria?

A characteristic symptom of Urticaria is the raised red rashes that vary in size and are usually itchy. The rashes may be small and isolated or may join together to cover larger areas of skin.  Then they are called plaques.  Urticaria rashes may appear on any part of your body such as arms, legs, back, face, lips, tongue, and throat. The rashes may fade away in a few hours or in a few days.

(Don’t confuse it with Angioedema. Angioedema is different from Urticaria in which the rash develops under the skin surface and lasts longer than Urticaria.  Treatment for both is; however, the same.)

Types of Urticaria and their causes

The basic cause of Urticaria is the release of histamine from the capillaries in the skin. These tiny blood vessels have specialized cells called mast cells that secrete histamine, a chemical that is a vital part of our local immune system.  It is secreted whenever our body encounters a foreign pathogen or any other allergy trigger.  Thus, having Urticaria means that your body’s immune system got triggered by an internal or external stimulus.

There are two main types of Urticaria depending upon the duration for which the symptoms last. Let’s look at some of the triggers that may cause Urticaria in some persons.

1. Acute Urticaria:

The symptoms last for several hours to several weeks. However, an episode of acute urticaria almost always resolves completely in less than six weeks. Some causes of acute urticaria are:

  • Edibles such as nuts, berries, milk, chocolate, eggs, fish, and
  • Some food additives and preservatives
  • Insect Bites
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Certain medications such as NSAIDs, ACE inhibitors, and painkillers.
  • Some internal disease

(Physical urticaria is a form of acute urticaria that occurs due to physical stimulation of skin such as through heat, cold, sweating, or exercise. Some people develop urticaria just by scratching the skin or due to firm articles of clothing. In such cases, it is called Dermatographism. Physical urticaria disappears in less than an hour.)

2. Chronic Urticaria:

The symptoms last for more than six weeks. It’s not known what causes chronic urticaria. Most of the times, the cause remains unknown; however, patients with hepatitis, thyroid disease or cancer may develop chronic urticaria.  Since it’s a long-term disease, it may affect the lungs, gastrointestinal tract or muscles of the affected person resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, soreness of muscles and shortness of breath.

Treatment of urticaria is symptomatic and mostly consists of antihistamines most of which are available over-the-counter.  Topical therapies are available but mostly ineffective. They are taken not to treat the condition but to reduce the itching and discomfort. This essentially means that for the most part, urticaria is a highly annoying temporary condition that goes away on its own and requires only symptom management.

Alcuacin Village – Spain


Bienvenido Bienvenido al pueblo de Alcaucin!

The village of Alcaucin is an awesome place to visit – my favorite time to visit? October.

Alcaucin Map

It’s a place filled with natural beauty and alluring landscapes. If you want to spend holidays free from the hustle and bustle, then the Alcaucin village in Spain should be your next vacation destination. It’s a well-maintained village with Spanish architecture and Spanish culture reflecting from every nook and corner.  You will enjoy your holidays in the fabulous environment of the village. The town is less crowded with the population of around 2500 people only.


If you love hiking, this is the best place for you.  Don’t forget to bring your hiking kit because visiting the picturesque peaks of Alcaucin is like a dream come true. The main tourist points where you can amuse yourself and have fun are:

  • Sulfurous Springs of Las Majadas
  • Alcazar Nature Reserve
  • La Maroma – the summit of Maroma mountaisn
  • Castle of Zalia
  • Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario


Chestnut Festivals

If you are fond of festivals (like me) then village festivals are absolutely not-to-be-missed. Plan ahead and visit the various festivals througout the year.

  • Spring (May) – the cultural week
  • Mid-May – San Isidro Pilgrimage in the Fortress
  • June – Virgin de la Inmaculada
  • Summer (August) – Flamenco Singing Festival
  • Autumn (October) – Chestnut Festival (My personal favorite)


When the world celebrates Halloween, the people of Alcaucin celebrate the chestnut festival. In this event, thousands of chestnuts are roasted or consumed in raw form with sweet potatoes. It is a unique event that Spanish people love to celebrate. You must attend the festival if you visit the Alcaucin village during October and November.

Resorts and Villas


Spain is the hub of tourism and the village of Alcaucin is a favorite tourist destination bordering the clean shores of Granada.  The village has some of the best resorts and villas in the nearby towns.  VillaGrande is well known for its facilities and homely environment. It’s not crowded and you can also choose to cook your own meals and enjoy a quiet peaceful time with your friends and family.

Exclusively for the Foodies


The village has some excellent restaurants, so there is no need to worry about the eatables.  You can get a variety of food; however, it’s a sin to miss tortillas de bacalao con miel (honey and cod omelettes), a specialty of the village.  Don’t forget to eat chorizo sausage and the tapa of Jamon. How about garlic porridge, and squash with sardines, olive oil biscuits and the Moscatel wine, a local sweet wine.

The summers are hot in the village while the weather is temperate during winters. Thus, you can will meet comfortable weather during winters or can choose to enjoy the warmth of summers here. If you are planning a vacation, then book a flight to Spain and make sure to visit Alcaucin village and the surrounding areas that are full of natural landscapes and relaxing environment.