Tuesday, March 1, 2011

my god, living that long must be such a travel

I'm volunteering at CAP (Citizen's Archive of Pakistan) this week, to help out for this exhibition:

For those who don't know about CAP and what it does, it's basically the most kick-ass non-profit in Pakistan. In fact, here's my list of awesome non-profits:

1. CAP
2. T2F

CAP basically records the history of Pakistan. They've got photographs, memorabilia and loads and loads of historically valuable information through interviews. Actually, they've got a lot more than just these things but this is all I can remember right now so :(

But yes, a place like this exists. I was there yesterday and met the head of the oral history dept and she told me about a really cool princess who was the third muslim woman to get a license to fly a plane. She also dressed up as a man and shot tigers.

While I was talking to her I was all like 0_0 I WANNA MEET THIS PERSON! I mean, really, kick-ass people like this existed. Honestly. Tiger-killing plane-flying princesses.

God, nothing I ever do can ever compare with that.

At KLF Kamila Shamsie talked about how (and think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki here, because that's kinda where it branched off from) cities have not just been destroyed in the physical sense over the course of history; they've had their pasts and futures, multiple futures, wiped out. And when I think of Karachi over the past thirty years I think, wow. But when you factor in the story of a ninety-one year old lady who used to cycle to Frere Hall from Garden just to go to the library there — can you grasp how much we've lost?

Anyhow, I want all of ya'll to show up at Frere Hall because it's a huge friggin deal that this exhibition is taking place there at all. Frere Hall's been closed to the public since forever, and taking pictures over there has been banned. This may, sadly, be one of the few opportunities you may have to go there. It's one of the most beautiful places in Karachi.


Imagine living that long. Imagine living till eighty. Even if you don't go anywhere, if you just stay put here in Karachi (or wherever you are) — wow. You'll witness so much, so many cities in many pasts, so many futures. Is this the Karachi of forty years ago? Most definitely not. Hey look, there's Mohatta Palace, and there's Clifton Beach, and there's good old Quaid-e-Azam ka mazaar — where, did you know, you can get raped — and there's Saddar and yep, that's Nazimabad, those are the mountains there, except it's much bigger, isn't it, yes, those areas are all populated, Karachi stretches from here till Johar and beyond. All that desert part? Inhabited.

Can we still walk to cinemas unaided? Nope. In your eighty years you've been transported into a completely different land with faces that are familiar but different — and somehow that's worse, isn't it? You see the beautiful fa├žades and how they've been ripped, raped and ruined, and somehow what you have isn't what you knew, it's a horribly distorted version of it.

My god, living that long must be such a travel.

Of course not everyone who lives till eighty (or ninety) gets as cynical as I am (child of the nineties, cynic is thy name) and you still hear of really cool people who're still cheerful and have an optimistic outlook. Good for them, they've braved their journey and they've come out happy.

Because at the end of it all, living that long must be such a travel.

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