Stories about history

To Baku and beyond: A melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture

Known as the city of winds, Baku offers warm hospitality, rich culture, inspiring architecture and natural beauty to amuse all kinds of travellers. The city is soaked in history, and almost every turn you take will give glimpses of its glorious past and aspirations for the future. The architecture and food are inspired by the millennia of cultural influences from Romans, Mongols and Turks. Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture. Baku ticks all the boxes on the list of any discerning traveller and I couldn’t resist the first opportunity I got to visit ...

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From Delhi, with regret: How a postcard from India revived painful, unhealed memories of the Partition

From history textbooks and family accounts, we often hear about the intense emotions and trauma felt by those who were forced to leave their homes behind for a new country during the Partition of British India in 1947. These days, it is hard to truly understand those feelings when we are so far removed from the experience itself. But tangible, everyday artefacts from that era – like a simple letter exchanged between separated friends – can suddenly resurrect those devastating and unhealed memories. That’s precisely what happened when my mother was recently looking through old papers in my grandparents’ home in ...

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The phoenix of history: Nothing captured my heart like Berlin did

From the moment I stepped out of the Berlin Tegel airport on to the city that possesses one of the richest histories in the world, the air around me transformed. Compared to the noisy Karachi streets where each nook and corner is densely populated, streets in Berlin seem fairly less crowded. The very air reeked of its past, almost as if it is haunted by the disputes once started on this very land. When I entered my apartment in West Berlin, I was unaware of the significance of my position, its only days later when I realised that the East-West ...

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Some Seoul searching: Paris, New York, Chicago have their charm but Seoul has my heart

Whenever I’ve heard people plan vacations, Seoul, South Korea has never been part of the conversation. Maybe because of the language barrier or simply because it’s so underrated, but Pakistanis in general don’t consider Seoul a place to vacation in. This is why when I found out I’d be going to Seoul for a journalism conference, I was a little cautious. I did not know what to expect and since I didn’t anyone who had been there, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it. However, after spending eight days in the city, Seoul easily tops my favourite cities. Paris, New York, Chicago have ...

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Manikarnika: Only Bollywood’s real ‘Queen’ can play Jhansi ki Rani with such valour and brilliance!

Gone are the days when Bollywood was associated with movies that only portrayed the valour and gallantry of male protagonists. Filmmakers are now finally shifting their focus from male-oriented films to powerful women-centric movies. Successful films such as English Vinglish (2012), Queen (2014), Dangal (2016), Neerja (2016), Pink (2016), and Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) are just a few names that kept filmgoers spellbound with their feminist storylines and audacious leading ladies. The Queen-famed Kangana Ranaut’s highly anticipated biographical film, Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi, is one more addition to these powerful women-centric flicks. These movies that revolve around ...

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The stone crushers of Taxila: Are we ready to lose pieces of our history and heritage?

Taxila valley, which lies just beyond the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, is a picturesque, rural place with sleepy villages nestled below its green hills. Located less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad, the area is famous for Khanpur Dam and a series of archaeological remains which were declared as world heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) back in 1980. Ideally, Taxila should be preserved as a tourist destination steeped in history, but over the years, stone crushers (a machine used to break down large rocks into smaller rocks, gravel or rock dust) have been ...

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A day trip to the micronation of Andorra, a jewel hidden between European giants

Sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains, very few have heard of the micronation that is Andorra. I too only came across this tiny European country on Google Maps while I was planning my Euro tour. With a total area of only 468 kilometre square and a population of almost 77,000 people, it attracts over 10 million tourists annually, which is where 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) comes from. Seeing its beauty and its unusual size, it didn’t take long for me to include it in my itinerary as I planned to visit every single state in ...

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Points Of Entry: Dissecting Pakistan’s ‘real’ history, one page at a time

Nadeem Farooq Paracha, or NFP as he is often called, has been one of the profound influences on my intellectual development. I have been an avid reader of his columns since the early 90s when he started making his mark as a music critic. As a keen reader, besides his regular columns, I have also read all of his three books. Not only that, I also reviewed his first book titled End of the Past for Huffington Post and also had the privilege of interviewing him about his second book for Express Tribune. His third book, which I have recently finished, is linked ...

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From honouring our martyrs to a mere date on the calendar – have we forgotten the importance of Defence Day?

It was August 14th a few weeks ago, and with the newly elected government, Independence Day was fervently anticipated this year. People rejoiced over Naya Pakistan and await the change that was promised. A little over three weeks later, Pakistan commemorates Defence Day ─ now just another day, for so many of us across the country. Just over two decades ago, Defence Day used to be an annual public holiday. It ceased being so, when the then government categorised September 6th as a counterproductive day off; I believe this was circa March 1997. As we speak, the only sign of the importance of ...

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#ETBlogs plays Independence Day trivia: How well do you know Pakistan?

Like every year, celebrations for our Independence Day have begun full swing. Patriotism can be felt in the air, with brands airing special ads in honour of our 71 years and TV channels airing dramas with an added twist of nationalism. With the creation of ‘Naya Pakistan’ falling around the same time as the creation of the old one, perhaps this year is extra special in how much and how visibly we choose to declare our love for our country. However, as we step into Naya Pakistan, how well do we remember the old one? We took to the streets of Karachi ...

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