Stories about cities

Beth Jata Hon Mitti Pay Aksar: A tribute to our lonely wanderers

The outlook of the working class around the globe and Pakistan in particular has changed dramatically over the past 20-30 years. People are coming out from the comfort of their home towns and moving to bigger cities and foreign countries for jobs and education. But this comes at a cost; a large number of these people have to stay away from their families and friends for extended periods of time, and that changes a lot of things; from their personality to their lifestyle. Beth Jata Hon Mitti Pay Aksar (I Often Sit on the Soil) is a narration of such lives, something most the ...

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I’m Sunni and I went to the 10th Muharram procession in Melbourne!

Pakistan, home to 180 million people, saw another deadly Muharram this year when 57 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore. Each time, short term administrative solutions are followed to bandage the plague of ideological intolerance that has infected us for years. Cities are put under curfew, statements of condemnation floated, promises of fool-proof security made and cellular services blocked for as long the government deems fit. Nothing much has changed since last year, when Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi was gripped by sectarian violence. This religious intolerance and administrative failure is in stark contrast to what I recently experienced in a foreign land. I come from a ...

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In Pakistan, the #VIPCulture has to go

Commuting in metropolitan cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad often bestows upon you the unforgettable experience of being reminded how ‘ordinary’ you are. You may only use the road when it isn’t being used by a Very Important Person (VIP). When a policeman raises his hand or puts a picket to stop you, he may only be saying ‘stop and wait’ but what you actually hear is, “Wait, you ordinary, worthless citizen! Your time, life and business are of no value. Wait while the all-important VIP passes”. It is quite similar to how when kings and queens passed through markets and ...

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Dr Tahirul Qadri is at it again!

Over 100,000 people poured into the twin cities to welcome the internationally acclaimed cleric and prominent political figure, Dr Tahirul Qadri. The Benazir Bhutto International airport, one of the most vulnerable airports in the country, has been on high alert for some time now, due to the fear of an insurgency attack.  Islamabad’s airport has an extremely limited amount of space to accommodate passengers; with very little parking space and hyped up security, vehicles normally have to queue up outside the airport territory and end up blocking two general lanes of the main road leading to the airport which leads to a lot of commotion. ...

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4 reasons Islamabad does not need the metro bus service

The PML-N government recently launched the metro bus service in Islamabad amidst much pomp with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurating the project himself. The project will connect Islamabad and Rawalpindi by widening the existing roads to accommodate a separate lane for the metro bus to run on without any traffic interrupting it.  However, the bus service has not been met kindly by the residents of Islamabad for a host of reasons, the most prominent among them being the fact that it violates the master plan of Islamabad and will cause destruction to the trees the city is known for. I think Islamabad doesn’t need the metro ...

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Metro bus service in Rawalpindi and Islamabad: A blessing or a curse?

The Punjab cabinet approved the extension of the metro bus service to the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad in its recent meeting. When the PML-N won the elections back in May 2013, I had hoped that this was one election promise that they wouldn’t fulfil since the intended goal can be achieved via several alternative solutions. However, I guess since they couldn’t deliver on their electoral promise of ending power outages in six months, he has decided to give the twin cities a metro bus service. Politics aside, it makes little sense to have a mega project like the metro bus in Rawalpindi-Islamabad. According to ...

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Lahore is the best city in Pakistan!

Every city or town in Pakistan is famous for one thing or the other. However, for us Lahoris, all arguments cease to matter before our simple motto – Lahore Lahore ae (Lahore is Lahore). Here are a few reasons as to why I’d choose Lahore over any other city in Pakistan. Data ki nagri Pakistan is very fortunate that many great sufi saints lived in this part of the world and all our major cities have different shrines. But not many cities have a title like Data ki nagri. The shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri brings many to Lahore and keeps many connected to the ...

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Connect with God during Hajj, not Facebook, Twitter and Skype

As part of my daily morning ritual, I turned on the TV this morning while having breakfast to catch up with the news on local and international fronts. Soon I found myself tiring not only of the nonsensical and overly dramatic local media, but also of the international coverage which was little more than the US government’s ‘shutdown’. So I began to flip channels and hopped on to Saudi TV network’s Quran channel. A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I sat, transfixed, surrounded by memories of my own Hajj journey exactly two years ago. After the pilgrimage, I ...

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A Bangladeshi perspective on Karachi

I had been in Karachi for six days a couple of months ago. Looking at Pakistan from the outside, we usually perceive this country through what the media portrays it to be – a gory place full of violence. Thus, I already had a picture in my mind about Pakistan – but the image I had and the image I discovered there, were remarkably different. I am a 29-years-old Bangladeshi banker, working in one of the leading Pakistani banks in Dhaka, Bangladesh. When my department head told me that I would have to go to Karachi for training purposes, I was glad because ...

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Treats from the street: Delicious and affordable

Traditional street snacks are a significant part of Pakistani culture. Originating from rural areas, they have also earned popularity in big cities over the years. Not only are they affordable but very delicious too, with a tinge of the typically rural taste. Despite the advent of international fast food chains, the desi roadside snack hawkers continue to run a thriving business; serving eager customers on the streets, at signal stops and outside schools. Most of these snacks are made out of locally grown fruits, vegetables and kernels; thanks to the year round crops of our country. The cooking methods employed use little or no oil ...

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