Stories about city

Islamabad is the safest city in Pakistan? Not today…

I was tying my shoe laces, getting ready to go for a walk when the number of my children’s school flashed on my screen. My heart always flutters a little when I see this number on my phone and this time was no exception. “Maybe you should pick your kids from school early today,” said the coordinator. “Umm why,” I thought, running through a mental check list in my mind and wondering if I had forgotten a costume or an art supply or something at home. “You know, because of the shut down,” she added helpfully. I gasped. I had been too busy working to switch ...

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Karachi is blasphemous, Lahore is not

If blasphemy is defined as ‘irreverent behaviour towards anything sacred’, Karachi is blasphemous; a city where something as sacred as human life is irreverently and disdainfully extinguished. As January limped to a close, three health workers administering anti-polio drops to children were shot dead. Bullet-ridden bodies of three young men were discovered and a police officer was gunned down in a suspected targeted attack. And yet, it is in Karachi, much more so than in Lahore, that a bastion of sharafat (respectability) is present; it is here that strangers smile at you, people say thank you for services rendered or stand aside and allow you to pass. In this ...

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Help, I am a pedestrian!

While walking in Lahore, I stepped onto the footpath like any other pedestrian. I had only walked for five minutes when I realised that being a pedestrian in Pakistan is the saddest thing that can happen to a person. Apart from the government, that waves away the concerns of pedestrians quite often, car owners also make sure that things are not easy for those walking on the road. This wasn’t the first time I had walked down the street. In fact, I have been a pedestrian for eight years now. I have always been an outdoor person and hence, I enjoy walking and ...

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Where were you Lahore, when we were protesting for our missing Baloch brethren?

I attended the long march of the Baloch Voice for Missing Persons (BVMP) in Lahore to show my solidarity with the cause. I was amongst the journalists who came from various news organisations to document a critical portion of the walk that had departed from Quetta last year. The protestors were entering the capital of Punjab. The reception they got here could mirror the reception they receive in Islamabad. The walk had caused quite a stir among those who followed the story behind it. The protest walk, led by Mama Qadeer Baloch, the vice president of the BVMP, received due press attention at ...

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Four things in Saudi that remind me of Pakistan

Al-Khobar is the most modern city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). It is a bustling economic centre and is home to two of the biggest shopping malls in the kingdom. I have been living in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia for about a year now and interestingly, there are a few Pakistani-like things that I was surprised to find here. The majority of the city’s population consists of expats from the East and West alike but the latter is provided with a better standard of living in compounds. Since I am from Pakistan and I don’t live in a compound, I have ...

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Mustafa Kamal: Karachi’s superhero should return!

The Karachi we know today is nothing like the city many of us lived in a decade ago. In 2000, the local government system was introduced by former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, which was initially just an experiment. However, the way Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur made use of this opportunity to flourish and improve has no parallels; one cannot find similar examples anywhere else. When Karachi is discussed, one cannot omit the role of Syed Mustafa Kamal, as the mayor of Karachi, in its development. It has been almost four years since Mustafa Kamal has left office – and Karachi hasn’t been ...

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In Italy, I was asked why I was not wearing a Burqa

It was our last day in Rome. My friend and I decided to spend it at our two favourite places in the city – Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fontana. It was almost noon on a pleasant day with the brilliant autumn sunshine warming the cobble-stoned square and illuminating the magnificent Roman sculptures in the centre of the piazza (city square in Italian). It was as if both of us wanted to take a part of Rome away with us in our hearts as we sat quietly on the stone bench simply absorbing the relaxed Italian life around us. I had my camera ...

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There is a secret in Lahore, a mystery we can never decipher…

There is something about Lahore. Something in the streets of this city that is a secret. However, just when you think you have it figured out, there is something missing again. We often try to figure it out. What is it about Lahore that keeps us so intrigued? The Lahore I’ve deciphered in the past six years is one that has everything to offer – from the tolerance and beauty of its people, to all its imperfections. I made it a point to explore the city in and out, and have often resorted to using any form of transport available. There is something ...

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Fun City Islamabad: Pakistan’s very own Disneyland?

Last week I had to go to Islamabad for an interview at the Turkish embassy. The tiring experience of getting into the infamous diplomatic enclave severely tested my patience. The long wait at the embassy was accompanied by somewhat unearthly people who dared to bring their cell phones inside. How they managed to pull this stunt is still a mystery to me, as I myself was checked at two points leading me to drop my iPad and cell phone at the counter. As a cherry on the top, I was told to come back in the evening to collect the passports. Only ...

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My mother in law’s chicken haandi recipe: The perfect dish for a casual dinner

My recent trip to Pakistan was directed towards Multan – a city which I had only visited once in the past during my childhood when we lived in Bahawalpur many years ago. I took this opportunity to roam around the city, to see what it had to offer. I did a lot of shopping too, from sohan halwa and multani chappals to blue pottery and the likes. What joy it was! As a kid I remember our house always had a continuous supply of Multan’s famous sohan halwa and Kushaab’s dooda. It was regularly served with tea and shami kebabs to ...

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