Right to the City

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2017

“Contemplating those essential landscapes, Kublai reflected on the invisible order that sustained the cities, on the rules that decreed how they rise, take shape and prosper, adapting themselves to the seasons and then how they sadden and fall to ruin.” — Italo Calvino

KARACHI is a city of incongruities and contradictions. Every morning as you leave your habitat, be it a palatial place, modest abode or a makeshift hut, and negotiate the space to reach your workplace you confront a city that lies in ruin: pot-holed roads, pools of sewage, garbage heaps, snarling traffic. But amidst chaos, disorder, missing rule of law and inequity, there is palpable energy, dynamism, a certain hope, a cosmopolitanism, that constantly draw people to this city to find work and a living. Karachi is ranked near the bottom — 134th among 140 cities in the Global Liveability Ranking 2016. The cities of the world are assessed on this index according to five key criteria: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

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Muhr-e-Sukoot: A Collection of Literary Translations

These Urdu translations were published in the literary magazing Aaj between 1990 and 2004, and were later collected and published in one volume titled Muhr-e-Sukoot by Aaj Ki Kitabain in 2007.

The link below contains the Urdu translations of the following:

1. The Continuing Silence of a Poet by A. B. Yehoshua (short story)

2. The Balloon by Donald Barthelme (short story)

3. The Wanderer by Quim Monzó (short story)

4. The Distance of the Moon by Italo Calvino  (short story)

5. City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón (short story)

6. The Stranger by Yusuf Idris (short story)

7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (first three chapters of the novel)


City and the migrant labourer

Published in Dawn on June 30 2014

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspective deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” — Italo Calvino

CONCEALED within a leafy neighborhood, crushed between 1,000 to 2,000 square-yard bungalows, in Jamshed Town, Karachi, invisible to the world of comfortable living, exists an enclave of narrow alleys, haphazard and shabbily constructed one or two-room dwellings of the city’s migrant workers. Called Bano Colony, this surreal settlement, with upper storeys jutting out here and there, reminds one of the narrow labyrinthine alleys in Shagai, one of the katchi abadis in Mingora, Swat.

Inhabited exclusively by Pakhtuns, this enclave has two entry points: the east side leads to male-only living; the west end opens to family quarters. On entering the male-only section, for a second you feel you are stepping into the ruins of a demolished structure. Here the rent of one small, windowless room, shared by six (or more) males — minor, young, old — along with a communal kitchen, is Rs6,000 per month.

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