Stories about karachi

30 years of pop and patriotism: How ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ became Pakistan’s unofficial national anthem

In June 1987, an obscure Pakistani pop band, the Vital Signs were contacted by the then 36-year-old TV producer, Shoaib Mansoor. Mansoor had already made a name for himself for conceiving and producing a social satire ‘skit show’ for the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), Fifty Fifty. He had launched it in 1978 and it was an immediate hit with the viewers, running for eight seasons till Mansoor shut it down in 1984. Mansoor was teaching at the PTV Academy when one of his students, Rana Kanwal, drew his attention towards a pop band that had been playing at ‘college functions’ (mainly in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area). They ...

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You should expect nothing

There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do ...

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Quaid’s mausoleum may soon be replaced by high-rises, and we’re not doing anything about it

I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the present Sindh government, like its predecessors, is also selling whatever open land is left in Karachi to interested developers. I’m referring to the most recent scandal, the selling of 30 acres of land meant for the Horticultural Society to the builders’ mafia at a price which is about 1% of its actual value. I wonder if they have ever thought of the fact that one day, all the open spaces in Karachi will be gobbled up and replaced with shopping malls and commercial plazas, and they will have nothing left to sell. So if a man is struck on the head ...

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Love at first Careem? Uh, no thanks, but perhaps Careem should focus on improving their existing services

There are two things Pakistani’s are unabashedly and unapologetically obsessed with – discounts and shaadi (marriage). By combining these two, I have to admit that Careem’s new rishta aunty service is quite genius. Or is it? No, I did not want to be woken up on a Wednesday morning (Wednesday being the most annoying day of the week) to Careem telling me my “rishta has arrived”. I honestly thought maybe I accidentally ordered a cab and the driver’s name is Rishta, Rishta Khan or something? My brain did not have the energy to solve this mystery, especially not on a Wednesday. When I got to work, ...

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PPP claims to be cleaning up Karachi, but the looming stench in the city claims otherwise

The Karachi I grew up in was a city where garbage was picked up regularly. Swarms of jamadarnis (women sweepers) descended each morning to sweep the dusty streets in our neighbourhood in PECHS, picking up any plastic bags that the wind had blown overnight.  Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) trucks came in to collect the garbage from the corner garbage bins regularly. The law and order situation was such that my grandmother (who I admit was a bit of a maverick) felt no fear in taking a rickshaw by herself. She was fearless and she’d hold out her hand at the end of the journey with change so that the rickshaw driver ...

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The tales of Karachi’s love for old books

We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there ...

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Through the eyes of an American: The beauty that Pakistan and its people have to offer

“Bhabi ke liye hee hans do!” (Smile for the sake of our sister-in-law) The Empress Market shopkeepers teased the stoic sabzi wala (vegetable vendor), encouraging him to smile for my camera. This was my first visit to Pakistan and all I wanted was to capture that one perfect shot. The sabzi wala raised his head and grinned. I snapped the image.  Street photography, for most of these Karachiite shopkeepers wasn’t a novelty. However, I visited numerous places on my trip where street photography was seen with awe, and curiosity. Even in Karachi, I drew attention walking around the city with a Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera and lens. I noticed people staring at me ...

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Please let Pakistan’s national anthem be as it is – powerful and poignant

In 2011, while attending the opening ceremony of a Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Karachi, I came to an odd yet poignant moment. Before the ceremony officially began, it was announced that the national anthem was to be played and hence everyone should arise from our seats to show respect. Everyone did so accordingly. However, when the anthem was played, it was nothing like the powerful melody we have all been brought up listening to. Firstly, it was a guitar version of the anthem, without the robust drums which made the tune so colourful and lively. Secondly, it did not have lyrics. Both these things made the ...

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Why do I have to pretend to fast when my “monthly friend” is visiting?

I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing, “Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain!” (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!) My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. ...

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Dear uninformed author, your list of the “Top 10 schools of Pakistan” is nothing short of misguided information

A few days ago, a publication listed the ‘Top 10 Schools of Pakistan’ on its website. The write-up in question, which was an anonymous contribution to the publication, went viral. I saw the article being excessively shared on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. The following is the list of top schools according to the publication’s ranking: Karachi Grammar School (KGS), Karachi Lahore Grammar School (LGS) 55 Main, Lahore Pakistan Air Force College, Sargodha Aitchison College, Lahore Cadet College, Hasanabdal Sadiq Public School, Bahawalpur Beaconhouse School System Gulberg, Lahore Lawrence College, Ghora Gali Chand Bagh School, Muridke Cadet College, Kohat Today, I finally decided to share it on my own social media account to see the response people ...

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