Stories about nature

The resilient tribesmen and Balochistan’s Chilghoza trees

Last month at a ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a project from a remote part of Balochistan, the Kasa Ghar Community Based Organisation of the Sulaiman Range, won the Equator Prize for conserving Chilghoza forests. I was thrilled to hear about the global recognition (the project was one amongst 22 communities across the world which were selected for this prize) as I have actually visited these Chilghoza forests in the Shirani district of Balochistan. By creating a successful value-added market model for Chilghoza nuts, this community-based organisation has conserved around 9,000 ...

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Our Planet is more traumatic than it is engaging, and therein lies its greatest fault

Filled with majestic views, dazzling imagery and mesmerising natural spectacles, Our Planet is undoubtedly visually stunning, but it is also traumatising. The nature documentary that arrived on Netflix earlier this month aims to take a look at the impact of climate change on the various life forms which populate the Earth, but takes a few questionable turns along the way. Evidently, years of work have gone into the creation of this visual masterpiece. Over the course of eight episodes, the series takes the viewer from frozen worlds to lush jungles to stunning water bodies, showing how animals live in these ...

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Germany’s highest peak was beautiful, but Pakistan’s ‘majestic beasts’ are incomparable

My love for mountains grew last year when I got an opportunity to climb Baaushal Peak (5,720 metres) in Pakistan and became part of the first female expedition of the country. Mountain climbing still hasn’t garnered much attention in our part of the world, even though the natural beauty Pakistan has to offer is breathtaking and incomparable. I can say this with confidence because I recently climbed the highest peak in Germany known as the Zugspitze Peak (2,962 metres). There are more technical routes to the Zugspitze Peak but I decided that going through the Reintal Valley was my best ...

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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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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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High BMI and low stamina could not stop me from making that hike

This is going to take a while. I’m still processing my feelings after spending three nights in the middle of a local forest managed by Forest, Wildlife and Fisheries Department of Pakistan. There is so much that needs to be expressed because you cannot sum your experience up in a hashtag when it comes to the profoundness brought by nature. In comparison to other people, a sedentary lifestyle and a higher body mass index (BMI) barely helps you when climbing a few stairs or performing day-to-day physical tasks without experiencing fatigue. Walking for a few minutes seems like a never-ending task ...

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What is the language of rain?

Like all mutinies, it begins as a whisper in the air. The sky turns tar-black as the dark clouds, ominous and threatening, negotiate an evil conspiracy… A coup against the sun. I hear a tapping on the window, announcing a much awaited arrival. Rain floats in gentle waves, as if gravity is a soft music from the Earth, a sweet seducing serenade. People run for cover; umbrellas are opened, temporary shades are sought, as the clouds spit out their beads of water. Puddles begin plinking, as the drops huddle in groups. Monsoon dew dances on the darkening pavement, as I hear the murmuring ...

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It’s been 50 years to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and it’s still a futuristic masterpiece

It is not an easy film to watch. But Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that you must watch. It was released 50 years ago and is considered a landmark film. But how do you watch it? There is little dialogue in the film and some of the best lines are spoken by HAL, that ominous and mysterious computer that takes over controls of the spaceship. I first watched this movie in the mid-80s in Karachi. Video shops and Videocassette recorders (VCR) were in vogue and 26-inch TVs were considered ‘large’. I had heard of A Space Odyssey as a great science fiction ...

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Kumrat: Pakistan’s magical valley that will keep a part of you, until you return again

Kumrat is a newly explored valley in Upper Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), which became a popular tourist destination after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, Imran Khan, showed up there to boost tourism in the province. While a group of friends and I were chalking out a plan to explore the northern areas of the country this summer, we too decided to visit Kumrat in light of its growing popularity. Our journey started from Mansehra, and we travelled through Battagram and Shangla to reach Swat. Given our arduous itinerary due to the time spent in Mansehra, Malam Jabba and Kalam, ...

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Chitral’s natural beauty can stun anyone into silence

When I was going to Chitral to cover the aftermath of the Shandur Polo Festival 2016, I had no idea what the region had in store for me. When you have space for one story from a region that is generally under-represented, it is inevitable that the most appalling one wins placement. There is so much more to Chitral than just forced marriages and floods. Whether you are strolling in a bazaar or sitting on a hill overlooking Tirich Mir from the royal abode of the mehtar, the city and its people will force you to extend your trip. The ...

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