Stories about nostalgia

Always remember

“What’s my name?” “My beti.” “But what is it, really?” “My pyaari beti.” “Do you remember me?” I can almost hear you reply – only vaguely.   I watch you every day, In that same seat that you always occupy – With the sun glinting off your bald head. I watch as first you give up your laughter, Then your listening, Then your talking, Then yourself.   As I sit across the room, And become heavier and stronger, I watch you become weaker and smaller. I watch your appetite shrink, And the only food you truly want Is kept away from you, near the sink. It’s meant to protect your health, To ensure you don’t get confusions or even possible delusions.   Delusions of ...

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A walk through the historic streets of Chakwal

We start our journey on foot from the doorways of our ancestral home on Allah Da’d street, located across from Sarpak (meaning ‘pure ground’ in Urdu). I visit Chakwal occassionally and we always spend a few days in this house, owned and originally built by my great-great-grandfather. The baithak in the centre commands serenity and space, and brings all the members of the household together for communal dining and reminiscing of the past. The surrounding rooms have changed shape over the years and have adapted to modern day comforts, but the elders still remember how everything was originally, comprising of: a space to keep cows and hens, ...

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A brave, untamed, reckless kind of love

She looked up at the swaying inferno over her head and wondered, ‘did the flame in my heart… set the trees on fire?’ A lazy chill creeped into the air. Not the bite of winter, just a nip to announce that a brand new season was at hand. A lonely streetlamp cast an artificial glow onto the French pavement, illuminating fallen leaves in a garish of warm yellow light. Twilight bathed the Seine as the streets of the most romantic city in the world gilded in gold. The walkway ahead of her twisted like a silk scarf; twirling, leading into the horizon. The ...

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Why Karachi’s Burns Road will always be the pioneer food street of Pakistan

Ramazan cannot be complete in our household without the presence of iftaari from Burns Road, Karachi. This Ramazan, as I went to Burns Road on the first day of fasting to buy items for iftaar, I was once again reminded of the strong sense of nostalgia that comes alongside the aroma of the food at this street. While in the other markets of the city the process of buying iftaar can start at around 4pm, here customers will start pouring in at around 2:30pm. There is no doubt Burns Road is the original food street of Karachi. It was not set up ...

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Ready Player One’s virtual reality will make you want to escape back to the real world

The powers of nostalgia can be blamed for a number of recent big and small screen projects, including sitcom revivals and movie spin-offs. Similarly, nostalgia is clearly the driving force behind the success of the cinematic adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, Ready Player One. Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, the film is a celebration of the 80s pop culture, by way of a visually ambitious extravaganza with a paper thin story. The year is 2045, and humanity has chosen to escape its dystopian reality via the virtual world known as the OASIS. Real-life desolation is thus left behind ...

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Karachi – the city where your ‘mochi’ can also mend your soul

Karachi is home to the most diverse of populations across Pakistan. Muslims, non-Muslims, Shia, Sunni, Muhajir, Balochi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Kashmiri, and also many other minority groups; many a people have found home here. Some of them love Karachi, others hate it. But Karachi has embraced them all – giving them the freedom to be themselves. Some folks weave dreams during the day. Some have adopted a nocturnal lifestyle and work during the night. Some read Jane Austen, while some unfalteringly quote Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Some revere and find solace in its shrines. And yet, others destroy the very sanctity of ...

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Dadi jaan was a warrior, wrapped in six yards of silk

Amidst the cacophony of uncontrollable sobs, wails and tear stricken faces, she lay there peacefully, lifeless and listless, shrouded in layers upon layers of pale white cloth, oblivious to the void she had left us with. An unfathomable sight for me, for I had spent my entire childhood admiring the grace and modesty with which my grandmother, Asiya Khanum, carried her colourful banarsi saris, those elaborately designed and intricately embellished pallus, the effortless ease with which she went about her daily chores even with six yards of fabric wrapped around her petite waist. I can’t recall anyone being on their ...

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The story of Hyderabad, Sindh

Hyderabad is one of those cities where the magnetic pull of nostalgia can be felt to a maximum, owing to the ever glorious landmarks of a bygone era. It is one of those cities where the past silently trudges along with a noisy and loud present. Apart from its new face where it is adorned with high rise buildings, bustling, busy markets thronged with heavy locomotive traffic; there is another face where the past lurks behind colonial buildings, hiding under electrical wires and large hoardings. The same old face can be seen written over the aged, gnarled and wrinkled face of ...

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To all the leftist liberals and the beghairat brigade, my blood is still green!

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It’s like looking through the window of a bullet train passing by downtown of a metropolis at night. You only see the well-lit boulevards and tall skyscrapers while the darkened slums are blurred out of view. Today, when I look back at my 29 years in Pakistan, I can’t remember the pitch dark slums of the late 80s or early 90s. The memories that have remained or those which my brain has chosen to record are the ones where only the metaphorical boulevards and skyscrapers remain. Before a myriad of Pakistani television channels sprung up, before a number ...

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10 things I miss about PTV

Some of you might be too young to remember, but in the not-so-distant past, there was a time when we had just one TV channel, Pakistan Television (PTV). This lone channel, too, did not air all day. In fact, it started at around 4 pm and almost always ended before midnight. We have come a long way since then as Pakistani media has grown into a huge industry. Undoubtedly, this has many advantages in terms of opportunity and exposure. But sometimes I can’t help but feel terribly nostalgic. I miss the simpler days of PTV.  Here’s a list of things about the ...

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