I seemed to have been quite obsessed with cultural research as a teen/young adult. I recently discovered a leather-bound book that contained my 4500 word dissertation for school, based on the architecture of the Mughal Empire.
This was such an exciting project for me, I remember my mom and I traveled to Lahore (we live in Karachi) and visited the famous Lahore Fort, Badshaahi Masjid and got permission to photograph even some restricted areas. Discovering it in my mom’s things after 20 years has certainly been wonderful!
In the 90s, I was a teenager who had lived in two other countries before my family moved us back to the motherland. Sadly there was no positive image of Pakistan for me to adopt. The country was wrapping up a decade-long military dictatorship, and the new seeds of democracy were nothing more than a farce enacted to pacify global leaders and coerce external funding that would ultimately be stolen by our very corrupt politicians.
Researching this project became such a rewarding experience, because learning that I was part of a culture that was able to create something of lasting beauty, gave me hope for the future.
Now, years later, it occurs to me that this might be why History is such an important subject for young people, because how can you imagine future success without some sort of proof that someone like you succeeded in the past?