Stories about Istanbul

#NewZealandShooting: I just want to bow my head and pray in my mosque – freely and without fear

Like an ugly game of hide and seek, I’ve been dodging the dingy alleyways of the internet tonight. I am scared of coming face-to-face with the live footage of today’s terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques. I don’t want to see the suffering, to hear the screams, or to witness the ensuing, inevitable silence. The Prophet (PBUH) himself once spoke of a strange restlessness, this shared sense of affliction and anguish that accompanies the bonds of brotherhood, which he described as, “If any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with ...

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Trying to find a middle ground in religion, Three Daughters of Eve raises more questions than it answers

The most pressing concern of an individual confused about his/her belief or faith is the instinctive attraction towards spirituality or religiosity. The path towards righteousness is often met with confusion. Though there is some clarity, the confusion is always there. Elif Shafak’s recent novel, Three Daughters of Eve focuses on three main characters, categorised in the book as, the Sinner, the Believer and the Confused. It also focuses on the character of the professor. The book constantly moves between the past and present, and between the protagonists’ feelings of confusion, reasoning and clarity. The book primarily deals with the character of Peri, a ...

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Urdu Bazaar: “We have lavish shops for shoes but for books, we can’t even find space on a drain”

Mild sunlight warms the streets tightly packed with books, stalls and rows of parked vehicles. Shops aligned adjacent to each other brim with colourful books meant to appeal to book lovers. The market chaotically mixes the queries of customers and shopkeepers alike. The ancient Urdu Bazaar seems entirely unaffected by the government’s recent anti-encroachment order. Urdu Bazaar is one of the oldest book markets in the subcontinent and almost every Karachi dweller has some sort of memory associated with it. For many, the book market played a pivotal role in their childhood. For some, the market itself was their favourite play area ...

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Life after the British: If India can develop a thriving railway sector, why can’t Pakistan?

As a frequent traveller, whenever I visit another country my first preference is to take the train, and I have many reasons for doing so. Being an environmentalist, I am a conscious traveller, and railways have a smaller carbon footprint than other means of transportation. As a bonus, they also offer an enchanting and panoramic view of the countryside, which you are likely to never forget. Trains are also comfortable – you can book a private cabin and walk, stretch and even sleep in a real bed during your travel. If you’re traveling overnight, you don’t have to pay for a hotel ...

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Zia thought he was going to China to sell his liver, but he didn’t know what was waiting for him

Being a journalist in Pakistan, I frequently come across crimes committed, sentences pronounced, culprits getting caught, and in many cases, culprits getting away. Thought I may not be physically present every time, I rely on certain ‘sources’ within the respective setup to bring forth the facts, if not the whole truth. On July 30th, I was contacted by one of my sources within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) who informed me about a poor soul and a ring of criminals caught at the airport. I asked for adequate information on the issue, and in response, I was not only ...

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If you have seen Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne or Taken, then you have already seen American Assassin

With James Bond and Jason Bourne on a temporary hiatus, and Jack Reacher likely on a permanent one, the espionage and spy-thriller market in Hollywood has been left largely untapped. So it makes sense that American Assassin ‒ based on the first book in a long-running series of spy novels by author Vince Flynn ‒ would swoop in and try to make easy money at the box office. Dylan O’Brien, star of the Maze Runner series, plays Mitch Rapp, a man on a path of vengeance. The film opens two years earlier on a beach in Ibiza, Spain where Mitch ...

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A timeless trip to the Mediterranean: How can an ocean have no memory?

“Tell you where I’d go. Ziahuatanejo… a little place right on the Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory…”  And so the protagonist, Andy (Tim Robbins), tells the narrator, Red (Morgan Freeman), in the movie Shawshank Redemption. Although I have seen the movie countless times since it came out in 1994, it was while I was a teenager in medical school that it charmed me completely. Perhaps it was the concept of freedom and justice that connected with my younger, socially-driven self. Later in life, the aforementioned conversation between Andy and Red, as well ...

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Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s Justice March a tacit reminder and refractory reaction to last year’s attempted coup?

The streets of Ankara still reek of punctured patriotism and vehemence. Today, Turkey finds itself stumbling upon an all too vivid memory of the July 15th coup attempt that marks a momentous yet troubled first anniversary. Observing the aftermath of last year’s events, it is still not safe to say whether the new chapter opened up by the coup will be as promising as it was perceived to be from atop a vanquished military tank. And now, with wounds barely healed, Turkey finds itself hurled into yet another political endeavour. Thousands of restless citizens are taking to the streets behind the opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to embark on a Justice March from Ankara to Istanbul. The dynamic opposition ...

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In Karachi, beggars help muggers and the police can’t follow the law

I saw him 20 years ago, perched on a stool outside the Sulemania Mosque in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. He had no arms and no legs, and was fair complexioned like most of the western tourists that throng Istanbul. I will never forget the huge smile he gave me when I dropped a coin in the box held by a little boy standing next to the stool. Behind him on the wall, hung the license issued by the government allowing him to make a living through begging. Perhaps such licenses are issued to beggars and those who beg without a license are ...

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There’s really nothing about Inferno that warrants a viewing

Much has already been said about the literary merits of Dan Brown’s novels, whose success often mystifies critics and people who don’t want to read books where characters talk like expository plot-devices who must explain anything and everything they come in contact with. But I suppose what even greatly mystifies such people, myself included, is that they’ve actually churned out three big screen adaptations of these books, that are at times the cinematic equivalent of watching someone solving a highly complicated crossword puzzle. With Inferno, the sequel to 2009’s Angels and Demons you have Ron Howard back behind the camera, and ...

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