Stories about architecture

Rawalpindi: A chaotic labyrinth, caught between heritage and heresy

In the post-modern world, the topography of the city has undergone a drastic shift. Rapid urbanisation and growing job opportunities have resulted in many cities in the developing world being swamped by an increasing number of people coming in from the villages and suburbs. In order to accommodate this burgeoning populace, the intrinsic structure of the modern metropolis has had to evolve. Countries such as India and Pakistan have had to grapple with the dual ambitions of wanting to urbanise their cities while also wanting to hold onto their rich architectural heritage. The complex history of a multi-ethnic country ...

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Walking with the Incas in Machu Picchu, a land where the ancient gods still reign

“Ama Sua. Ama Lulla. Ama Quella.” “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy.” This age-old quote from the Andean highlands defined the code of life for a nation that rose from oblivion to become one of the greatest cultures of its time – the Inca. Today, after 500 years, one of its architectural marvels, Machu Picchu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cusco, the ancient capital of Inca, was my first stop on the way to Machu Picchu. Situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres, this acted as a stopover and helped me acclimatise to the ...

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23 reasons why I love Pakistan and you should too!

In a country with a population of over 188.2 million people, a lot can go wrong, but a lot can go right too! Here is a list of 23 things that make Pakistan home. 1. The men Photo: AFP We may belong to a patriarchal society, but not all men are alike. They don’t all suffer from the disease of misogyny. True gems like Abdul Sattar Eidhi, Ansar Burney and Imran Khan also exist in our society, individuals who play a pivotal role in the betterment of society. 2. The women  Photo: AFP Contrary to the patriarchal outlook of ...

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I was not allowed to enter Memon Mosque in Karachi, because I am a woman

A beautiful combination of chaos and serenity: yes, you are now in the most picturesque area of Karachi. An extension of Saddar town escalates towards the lighthouse, a grandiose Memon Mosque situated along the way. I had always seen this huge structure of reds while passing my route to college. I found myself thoroughly intrigued by the long bearded men who would come out of the high floral grilled gate in flocks of white kurtas and shalwars rolled up. A knack for photography has always had me attracted towards architecture that has history attached to it. One fine summer afternoon, following the hues of ...

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How I tackled the “Sir, I don’t think Shias are real Muslims” concept

I started my career as a Religious Education (RE) teacher in September 2013, in a school that has nearly 1500 students ranging from the ages of 11 to 18. Of these, approximately 75% come from a Muslim background. Due to the comments and vitriol usually directed towards Shias, I chose to hide my identity as a Shia Muslim from my class. If my students ever asked me what ‘type’ of Muslim I was, I never felt the need to tell them that I was Shia. I merely insisted that I was just a Muslim – but they were never satisfied with that ...

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She embodies the spirit of the seas and the souls of the desert winds, viva Karachi!

The face of the Regal Chowk glows from behind the heavy makeup of smoke, grime and dust gathered from the decadent, yet utilitarian vanity of decades. It tries to shine through and reflect on the stories it wrote over the years; the story of sunshine and happiness; the story of grey skies and heady days when the sky almost fell with rain and anarchy; the story of limited affluence and large-heartedness; the story of the inhabitants and the tale of the dream and the dreamer. Yes, the Regal Chowk is privy to all that and more; and if you are lucky ...

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You

In the centre of a wave of silence, where I sit inside a shed, You are the tools that I have used to build this home. When people debate about You, You sneak into the smile that travels across my face. You are in the noise that is aroused but more so in the silence that follows. Because what is every word but a pointless effort to imitate the sweet pleasure which roams casually inside silence? Your name is constantly provoked in different forms, in different accents, and You are denied in different languages, in different ways. Lives are spent in defending ...

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An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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Punting in River Cam

The city of Cambridge, located a short 40-minute train ride north-east out of London, is a centre for academic excellence and research – being home to one of the premier higher-education institutions of the world, the University of Cambridge. While the school barely needs an introduction, not many Pakistanis are familiar with the city, aside from the academic significance it holds. However, the centuries-old Gothic campus buildings and their lush green botanical gardens render Cambridge the veritable architectural museum of England, with people flocking from all over the world to experience its glory themselves. Much like them, one day I took ...

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Kalyan Das temple: An abandoned shelter for the blind

A trek through the old areas of Rawalpindi reveals many examples of ancient architecture; silent testimonies of our heritage, narrating tales of our past and stories of our land. Unfortunately, these exponents of our history are in a state of utter neglect. And a cry out for immediate attention by the authorities is much needed. In the middle of the area that is commonly known as Kohati Bazaar, one can see the dome of a temple which is almost hidden by the high walls of an academic institution. Here stands one of the beautiful, historic landmarks of the city: Kalyan ...

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