Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


A Place Where Ends Meet (From the News on Sunday)

19 Aug 2010

Some people came to the blog searching for an article I had in the News this sunday, in their special report on keeping the Pakistani dream alive. Little did I know that I’d be on the same page as celebrities extraordinaire Ali Zafar and Sami Shah. That was fun. I originally titled the article Then we meet, in Pakistan. Since the News website is down, I thought I’d put it up here.

ps My father just read it today and had some scathing comments. I should have replaced ‘changed my life’ with something less dramatic. And there was this one part he thought might be considered slightly inappropriate if people found it (not intended btw) so I’ll just leave that as the mystery. (Enter evil laugh sounds) (Now enter yes I have cheesy humor expression)

Update: I just realised how stupid I was for not embedding the song earlier.


Without further torturous jokes. The article follows:

A few years ago I heard a German song by a band called the Farin Urlaub Racing Team. The song is titled Pakistan, and roughly translated, here’s how the lyrics go:

With a bike through the desert,
by bus through Vietnam.
We’ve been waiting for years,
to drive off.

Without a goal, without a program,
we are still here
but soon we can make it to Pakistan.

With the boat to Japan,
on a donkey to Peru.
I see our flight path,
I think of the traveling.

I wait for you, what are you waiting for?
If nothing works here,
then we meet in Pakistan.

Away, away, far away …

Without nostalgia, no home,
without case, no money.
We will disclose this
in our memoirs

Once around the world,
we are still here
But soon we will write to you from Pakistan

The moment I found this was a weird moment in my life. I was of course, taken by surprise, was happy, and had perhaps had a brainwave that over all this time has turned into a vision. Some call it hysterical; some call it idealistic, others just stupid. But I will stick with it.

I imagined the Pakistan in the song. It sounds like a fun place. A place to escape from life, a place where memoirs are written and a place where ends meet.

Pakistan, even today, is a place where ends meet. As a land, we have seen the world’s oldest civilizations, the world’s first education systems (believe it or not!), rule from some of the greatest empires of their times, and also the worst. As a people, we have seen Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Muslim preachers, we have lived through wars of various kinds and against various enemies, we have got ourselves some good music, great food a sense of humor to match.  We have seen tastes of the developed world, and the worst disasters in human history. We have been there, done that.

We are now at war with ourselves. Now, for once, questioning who we are and what our conscience is. At the end of the tunnel, there is a light though, and it’s not an oncoming train. It is a realization.

What is my dream Pakistan? It is exactly that, a place where ends meet, a realization:  where the splendor of the British Raj makes peace with the magnificence of the Mughal Empire; where Western standards meet Easter flair; where many races and ethnicities and sects realize that they’ve been at war, and killed each other for their differences, and they’ve been wrong; where a tabla plays percussions to a guitar solo; where western classical music meets Urdu and the sitar; where India meets the Middle East; where the influences of the the Mughals, the British, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, The modern west, Jinnah and Islam co exist.

I don’t understand cliché’s; ironic as it is however, perhaps a song did just change my life. This is home, and I’m staying to see the phoenix rise from the flames.