Cinque Terre: The heavenly villages of Italy

I suppose I should begin with a disclaimer: I have never been a ‘sea person’. My husband on the other hand, being a ‘child of the coast’, mocked me for my aversion towards oceans and beaches. Sometimes, however, destiny has a different plan for us than the one we expect. So one fine morning, we decided to drive, and drive we did! The Ligurian sea Starting all the way from Brussels to breathtaking Interlaken in Switzerland, then Como in Italy and finally heading towards the five enchanting villages of the Italian Riviera, known collectively as Cinque Terre ...

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India has spoken: The beginning of Modi’s end

On Tuesday, India made a new tryst with democracy by defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the three heartland states. The margin of the Congress party’s victory might be narrow but the magnitude of the BJP defeat goes beyond regional elections. We accept the people’s mandate with humility. I thank the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving us the opportunity to serve these states. The BJP Governments in these states worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people. — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 11, 2018 Never before has an electoral result given such relief to the masses who have been living ...

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The phoenix of history: Nothing captured my heart like Berlin did

From the moment I stepped out of the Berlin Tegel airport on to the city that possesses one of the richest histories in the world, the air around me transformed. Compared to the noisy Karachi streets where each nook and corner is densely populated, streets in Berlin seem fairly less crowded. The very air reeked of its past, almost as if it is haunted by the disputes once started on this very land. When I entered my apartment in West Berlin, I was unaware of the significance of my position, its only days later when I realised that the East-West ...

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Of India’s refusal to attend SAARC and its mistrust and pessimism towards Pakistan

“If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why not India and Pakistan?” Well batted, Imran Khan. To begin with, the occasion that has led to this eastward flow of a fresh breeze from Pakistan – the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor – must be celebrated without any political hesitations. It is indeed an occasion that deserves to be celebrated with the child-like joy that results from the deep spiritual moorings of the subcontinent. Indeed, Imran appeared sincere, hopeful and emotional in his speech and anyone with faith in humanity feels tempted to go head over ...

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India has never looked as divided, as communally vulnerable, as broken as it does now

Narendra Modi, a serial communalist, assumed the mask of an inclusive figure just before the 2014 Elections to make him more acceptable to the masses. The myth he came to weave around himself five years ago made him seem like a man of development – the only mission in his life being to usher in a new era of economic reform in India. It is now 2018, and the mask and the myth are both in tatters. The one and only colour Modi has is called saffron – the colour of the majoritarian Hindu. It’s now known to one and ...

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Power to the people: The Kartarpur corridor has done what 71 years of dialogue could not

The symbolism is too significant to be missed. When India was observing the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks on Monday, Indian leaders were cutting across party lines and laying the foundation for the Kartarpur road corridor in Gurdaspur, Punjab. This is perhaps the first time after Partition that both India and Pakistan are working together to complete one project: a corridor that connects both sides of the border and leads to the shrine of Guru Nanak Saheb. The corridor does not only have religious symbolism, it carries a lot of political weight that has the potential to rewrite the geo-political ...

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Be it Obama, Clinton, Trump or Kanye West, the US will never hold MbS accountable for Khashoggi’s murder

At the end of his presidency, Barack Obama had sold more weapons than any other US president since World War II. According to a Congressional Research Service report published just before Obama exited office, the Obama administration sold over $200 billion worth of weapons, mostly to the Middle East. The prime benefactor of this relentless warmongering transactional relationship was of course Saudi Arabia, whose pending delivery of equipment and specialised training for troops exceeded $115 billion. Nearly 10% of US arms exports between 2011 and 2015 were sent to Saudi Arabia and a further 9.1% went to the UAE; two countries that have exacted a whirlwind ...

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Why is India worked up about the Pakistan-China bus service?

On October 31st, India formally protested the proposed launch of a bus service between China and Pakistan because the service would “operate between Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” under the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC). The official spokesman noted that India held the China-Pakistan Boundary agreement of 1963 as “illegal and invalid” and views the service as a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. If all this sounds tough and uncompromising, it is. But it is hardly consistent and not especially helpful. The Karakoram Highway, over which the service will be run, has been around since the late 60s and ...

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All Shahid Afridi did was ask us to look in our own backyard and do more – what’s wrong with that?

Shahid Afridi, though not new to controversy, turned into a bête noire recently when a video went viral of him suggesting that Pakistan doesn’t want Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) since it can’t even manage its own four provinces. He said that IoK should also not go to India and should rather be an independent entity. He further added that its occupation should end since it’s resulting in the loss of countless innocent lives. This statement, however, landed him in hot waters since many Pakistanis took offence. Pakistan ko Kashmir nahin chahiye – uss say apnay soobay nahin sambhal saktay: Shahid Afridi in ...

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Beauty at its ‘peak’: Climbing the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa

At 5,895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in the continent of Africa. Though dormant now, it is also the highest volcano in the world outside of South America. The mountain is one of the seven summits (a term used for highest peak in each of the seven continents). From the plains of Moshi to its summit, the mountain rises a staggering 5,100 metres, which makes it the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet. While it may not be for the faint-hearted, for many trekking/mountain climbing enthusiasts like myself, it is one of the starting points of their climbing career. [caption ...

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