Stories about memories

Karachi: The city with a memory

Karachi would be a tour guide’s nightmare assignment. Imagine a horde of overeager Japanese or European tourists, thirsting for scenic, history-laden wonders, wanting to take that perfect Facebook profile picture next to a monument where the fate of the world as we know it today was defined. What do you have? Nothing. The sea, one might argue. Or those lovely dilapidated colonial buildings, Empress Market, the sea, Frère Hall, the sea, Bohri Bazaar, the sea. Add to this, a lacklustre assortment of non-attractions, a cacophony of cars blaring through traffic-choked streets, wilting trees, hordes of beggars at every signal that ...

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Moin Akhtar: Laughter through genius

Making people laugh is serious business. Moin Akhtar taught me that when I was six-years-old. He was performing live at a family wedding I was being forced to attend (at that age you are forced to do pretty much everything). I remember being quite thrilled that the man who makes me laugh on TV was there in real life, performing on stage. Positioning myself right in front, I got to watch him transform from character to character with just a well aimed hunch of the shoulder or lilt of the accent, all with rapid fire ability. His big closer for the ...

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A Bakistani in Cairo

My Egypt moment wasn’t when the protests started or when they ended. It wasn’t during CNN’s live coverage, and it wasn’t in the 100 or so ‘Can this happen in Pakistan?’ discussions. It was when someone casually yelled out in the school corridor, “Hey Meiryum! Your hometown’s burning!” Cairo was my hometown. Tahrir Square was a 45-minute drive from my apartment. I lived in Cairo from the age of four till eight years – four years of my life. I was old enough to remember and store away memories and young enough to still understand nothing. My first day at the ...

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1947: A teenager’s memories of Independence

After all these years I can still smell the stench of death and half burnt timber. I still see mountains of rubble as if it was August 1947 in Lahore. I was 13 years old, tense and worried. I could see columns of smoke rising over the city’s rooftops. Speculations were ripe. They said Lahore was going to be a part of Pakistan but the inclusion of Gurdaspur, the area where my relatives lived,  was doubtful. I did not know what would happen to the rest of the Muslims all over India. My own relatives lived in East Punjab, and I anxiously ...

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Eid was more fun in the ’90s

Back in the days when nunna, my maternal grandmother, was alive, Bakra-Eid used to be something else. Come morning all us cousins, aunts and uncles would head to her house. The older cousins were dressed to the nines, the aunts wore kitchen friendly clothes and soon the delicious aroma of a million things cooking on the stove pushed out any sadness for sacrificed animals. The fest started at breakfast. Or should I say brunch? It was served only after the sacrifice was performed. But we didn’t mind. We acted grossed out by the raw meat and put on an air of reluctance. But when ...

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