Ghazal of Nationhood

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Less than a month ago, the Indian Air Force conducted airstrikes inside Pakistan. The last attack of this kind took place in 1971, before I was born, and though tensions between the two countries have never ceased, even the family’s fragmented recollections of blackouts, travel restrictions and patriotic songs on the…

The Locked Doors of Delhi

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi “I’m on a roadside perch,” writes Ghalib in a letter, “lounging on a takht, enjoying the sunshine, writing this letter. The weather is cold…,” he continues, as he does in most letters, with a ticklish observation or a humble admission ending on a philosophical note, a comment tinged with great sadness…

“Once upon a time, Europe really did not matter.” The Silk Roads: An Illustrated New History of the World

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi “You start with a scarf…each 90-by-90-centimeter silk carré, printed in Lyon on twill made from thread created by the label’s own silkworms, holds a story. Since 1937, almost 2,500 original artworks have been produced, such as a 19th-century street scene from Ruedu Faubourg St.-Honore, the company’s home since 1880. The flora…

Song of the Silk Road: A Photo Essay

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi In Tian Shan mountains of the legendary snow leopard, errant wisps of mist float with the speed of scurrying ghosts, there is a climbers’ cemetery, Himalayan Griffin vultures and golden eagles are often sighted, though my attention is completely arrested by a Blue whistling thrush alighting on a rock— its plumage,…

From the Khyber Pass to the Great Black Swamp: a conversation with Dr. Amjad Hussain

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi On particularly tough days of my first Ramadan in college, I had vivid dreams of Peshawar, my hometown. Eager to succeed as an international student, I would never have confessed to being homesick but for my Psychology course “Sleep and Dreaming” which required a dream journal. “It’s mid-day,” I noted in…

The Female Anatomy of Letters: A Five-part Essay

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Writing lives in the gut, like the good bacteria and the bad; it carries on an endless flirtation, an infuriating, nagging conversation with the gut’s long-married partner, the psyche. From time to time, it may traverse its underground-cityscape of anxiety, nostalgia, compulsion, its contradictory pull between instinct and fact-checking, its love-hate…