Stories about memories

Give me pain! Hot, spicy, yummy Asian pain!

As an expatriate, the memory of the most routine things back home can sometimes bring out the most intense feelings of nostalgia in me. One of these memories is that of eating out at a cornucopia of restaurants, eateries and street vendors in Karachi.  From Bundu Khan’s lip-smacking chicken tikkas, to the appetising Student Biryani, to the delectable kebab rolls at Khadda market, the list is never ending. Spicy seekh kebabs used in kebab rolls. PHOTO: Facebook page Kabab Rolls One dish in particular brings back a flood of mouth-watering memories, and that is nihari. It originated from the legendary royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire ...

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Remembering Ashfaq Ahmed: Through his stories, he will live forever in our hearts

On September 7, 2004, while sitting in my office and doing my routine work, I received a call from a close friend. Without the usual ‘Salam dua’ he exclaimed, “Ashfaq sahib is no more; just got the news.” It was a short sentence, but it had many aspects attached to it. The feeling of a great loss, sweet memories of so many stories, dramas and plays, of colourful travelogues, funny incidents, thought-provoking quotes of Sufis and other baabay (mystics); nostalgic recollections of a life well spent, and fully lived. So much came to mind and passed like a breeze, leaving me numb and motionless ...

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About a time when friends were real and life was simple

One of the most vivid memories from my early teen years is of my best friend at that time and me, sitting outside his building near the pavement, drinking  Coke and eating sandwiches. I used to take a cab from my house to his and then we would sit outside on our usual spot and talk. We used to talk about nothing in particular and yet, we had so much to say; so many ambitions, dreams, goals, small and big challenges, love affairs, infatuations and yes, personal philosophies and beliefs (even at that age) to share with each other. We were ...

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Eid shopping and memories from Swat

Swat: I grab my white parrunay (veil) and handbag, and ask my younger son to hire a rickshaw for us. It’s the last week of Ramazan and my clothes for Eid are still lacking a lace here, and a button there; my elder son wants shoes while the younger one wants to a buy a shirt like the one his friend at school has. As the rickshaw races towards Cheena market – the local market where almost everything is available that a woman might need for herself and also for her kids – I see life at its full swing. People of ...

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Once upon a time in Waziristan: The ‘chota London’ of Pakistan

Unforgettable and joyful memories sum up my 30 years spent in the exotic valley of Razmak. This valley lies within the northern region of Waziristan and was famously known as “Chota London” during the pre-independence period. Officer’s Quarters (BOQs) at Razmak Camp – 1930s The British Army had set up their military camps at Razmak prior to partition. The favourable weather conditions and terrain that the valley had to offer was useful for their military exercises. Charles Street, Razmak Camp – 1936 By building roads that pierced through the lofty mountains alongside springs boiling forth their salty water, they transformed ...

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The Karachi I used to know

Yesterday afternoon I sat and watched with horror the events on TV, sans mobile phone and only some connectivity via email. Needless to say, it was frustrating, as the main focus of the anarchy was the area around my place of work. How could humans descend to this level in a metropolis where commerce and 20 million lives function together in a place they call home? Is this what humans do to their lives, friends, neighbours, communities and fellow citizens? Having spent two thirds of my life in this city, I know in my heart that I belong here. But this is not ...

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My sister: Always the apple of my eye

My sister and I, like a lot of other siblings, have a love-hate relationship. We can be the best of friends at times but can also turn into the worst of enemies. We still don’t hug or even shake hands when we see each other after a long time. Yet, the smiles on our faces are enough for both of us to understand how much we’ve missed each other. She is probably the most energetic and witty person I’ve known. She truly is the life and soul of our house. I still remember when she went off to medical school ...

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Lahore, how I love thee

I may not have seen the whole world yet, But I have seen a lot of it. Sure, I left my heart in Paris, Yes I lost my self, Wandering the sloping streets of San Francisco True, my mind found solace at the top of Mont Blanc Yet, my soul will always belong to Lahore The city that still captivates me, like no other Maybe I’m biased; maybe it is nostalgia, But when I am in Lahore, my soul is alive, The whole city pulsates with unabashed life The sounds of New York, The lights of Hollywood, Even the grandiose of Las Vegas, Nothing, Nothing compares to this city of my childhood, The city where my soul ...

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Moments before death

 Screeching tires. A blood curdling scream. A crash. Silence. Laughter. Small hands holding on tight. The world going round and round. Grass. Hair. A hill. Joy. Sirens. Whispers. A touch. A look. Bliss. Running. “Mommy, catch me!” Feet stomping. Squeals of delight. A hug. Beep. Beep. Beep. Sunset. Sand. Water. Family. Serenity. “We are going to lose her.” Light. And peace. No to-do lists. No important business. No homework. No rush to conquer the world. The few seconds, in which her life flashed before her eyes, carried just one thing- the purest moments of simply ‘being’. Exhale… Read more by ...

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Love and tears for Dhaka

My stepfather, Afzal Ahmed Syed, is a generally quiet and inward man who occasionally breaks from his reticence with humorous insights about the world. He does this not through fanciful and elaborate explanations, but in pithy quotes or by reciting a shaer. As many thoughtful commentators on his life and poetry have suggested, much of my father’s poetic vision has been shaped by his experience as a witness to immense political tragedies like East Pakistan’s violent rebirth as Bangladesh in 1971, the Lebanese Civil War, and the ethnic and sectarian violence that overwhelmed Karachi in the 1990s. Musharraf Farooqi, my father’s ...

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