20 October, 2020

Sound Of Boots On A Starry Sky

A peep at life and art in a strife-torn state across the border

Illustration by Sorit
Sound Of Boots On A Starry Sky
Having failed to get a visa for Pakistan over all of the last thirty years, I was delighted when I was granted one to accompany my husband Raja Menon who was going to a conference in Islamabad. Set to leave on March 4, everyone warned us not to go to 'the most dangerous country in the world', where the Sri Lankan cricketers had been attacked the previous day.

Of course, we went! Lahore airport was virtually deserted. Our connecting flight to Islamabad (there's no direct Delhi-Islamabad flight) was by PIA's tiny 'pankhawala' plane.

Islamabad is still a city in progress, with many imposing new structures unconnected with each other either physically or historically. The sparse population, well laid-out highways and leafy avenues exude a sense of calm that belies the turmoil under the surface. Most foreign envoys had sent their families home and the American School was empty of Americans. These are momentous times for Pakistan, and the people we met seemed to be in a state of suspense in a rapidly changing scenario. A retired general...


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