I love travelling, observing places, and their fine details which makes them utterly unique. Though I am passionate about heritage and old buildings, I also appreciate the skyscrapers and modern structures ingeniously constructed out of glass and steel.
When I was working on my book, Invisible Ties, I spent hours just gazing at the colourful and quaint shop houses, which lined the street near my building. They reminded me of doll houses, decorated with the pink and yellow icing that you often see on rich creamy birthday cakes. Then I would wander to the main shopping street and look at the solid concrete towers that surrounded it. It was the difference between the old and the new, which fascinated me and propelled me forward to write a story set between contrasting landscapes- which is why I set it in Pakistan and Singapore.
I have lived in Karachi for most of my life, and though the city is in shambles aesthetically, I still yearn for it… In some ways it will always be home for me. Karachi is a city packed with people and is defined by its diversity. It is one of the most progressive cities in Pakistan. It is so heart-warming to see its malls, now employing so many women and almost having a gender balance in their workforce. The shopping centres showcase the new Karachi, and the reason why I chose to set an entire chapter in the confines of an air-conditioned swanky mall, constructed along the rough and unpredictable sea. My interest in history and the Moghul monuments took me to Lahore, its historic fort, and the Sheesh Mahal. Inside the timeless Sheesh Mahal, I could imagine a time when love was boundless, and one of the most unforgettable stories of Shah Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal reflected in the countless, shimmering mirrors in front of me.
In Singapore, I observed that heritage is still alive in the form of buildings which have been preserved and restored to their former glory. While in Pakistan, we have dearth of resources and lack of awareness to refurbish and repair our older monuments, which do show a state of sheer neglect and the fact they have not been taken care of properly. Our heritage is our identity in ways, and reaffirms who we are and also become aware of the shortcomings of the past. And often, is invaluable in rewriting our life script in a new rapidly changing world.