Hina Husain reflects on an intrepid daughter-mother journey to northern Pakistan

The aroma of barbecued chicken sajji fills the air as Mom and I sit on a wicker charpai engulfed by soft smokiness coming off the charcoal fire. Shades of pink and indigo diffuse through the twilight sky above us, silhouettes of surrounding mountains framed by fluffy, granite-grey clouds. Old Bollywood tunes play on a radio, enticing us to sing along with the static-laden soundtrack.

“I still can’t believe we’re here,” Mom says for the dozenth time, Kishore Kumar’s Sara Zamana fading out in the background.

“Here” is Shogran, a hill station on a green plateau in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of…


Canada allowed me to become the person I always wanted to be

Finding a place to live in Singapore is a frustrating experience at the best of times. The real estate agent on the phone is making things worse.

“Canadian is just a citizenship, lah,” he says, his voice impatient and dismissive. “Where are you really from?”

It’s a conversation with which I’m far too familiar. Once agents on the phone find out my name is Hina Husain, they either tell me there are no listings available or say that the person putting their room up for rent doesn’t want to rent to an “Indian.” …


The 1996 Grammy-nominated album, a collaboration between the Canadian musician and Pakistani legend, turns 25

“It’s a big world now — at the time, it wasn’t.”

Michael Brook has seen world music evolve a lot over the years. In the early ’90s, a time in which the expansion of the genre was “a notable innovation,” Brook, a Canadian musician, teamed up with Pakistani legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to record two iconic albums: 1990’s Mustt Mustt, and the 1996 Grammy-nominated Night Song.

This would mark Khan’s first collaboration with a Western musician, and the result paired Brook’s ambient guitar chords perfectly with Khan’s intense vocals and stamina, blending to form a moody and atmospheric sound…


My grandmother was half Kashmiri, which means my father was a quarter Kashmiri, which means that I’m an eighth Kashmiri. But if you were to ask me about my Kashmiri heritage, all I’d have to offer up is Kashmiri chai.

Growing up, my friends were always very fascinated by my father’s looks — bright green eyes, fair skin, and curly, light brown hair. My siblings and I didn’t inherit any of those features, and whenever we’d ask Dad why he looked the way he did, he’d tell us it’s because he was part Kashmiri. When I grew up and studied…


Wikimedia Foundation’s Heart of Knowledge Contest Grand Prize Winner

I still remember the day my mother first took me to our local British Council branch in Lahore, Pakistan. I was around eight years old. The sun was at its zenith, its brightness requiring me to squint my eyes as I followed my mother up the marble steps into the air-conditioned foyer of the British Council chapter in Defence — one of the affluent neighbourhoods in Lahore.

The office was large and well-lit, and with the exception of the woman behind the information desk, my mother and I were the only other people there. Our footsteps echoed against the beige…


A few weeks after Christmas, I went to visit my mother in Toronto and she shared with me a recent dream she had that didn’t make much sense to her. It involved her father, who died more than 35 years ago, my father who died six years back, her brothers, nephews and nieces. I listened patiently before offering up my analysis.

I had recently read Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, the last piece of written work undertaken by the influential psychoanalyst. Jung is also one of Jordan Peterson’s favourite psychiatrists, and quotes Jung often in his talks and lectures…


Pakistan has been named one of the ‘10 coolest places to visit in 2019’ by Forbes.

When I first read the news, my initial reaction was that of excitement — “Finally!” I thought to myself. Within the span of a few seconds, I felt that excitement give way to annoyance and a hint of jealousy. “I don’t want others knowing how beautiful my country is,” the other voice objected in my mind.

In August 2018, I travelled to Pakistan with my mother and the two of us went on an Eat Pray Love-esque private tour of the North. Over 12…


How to beat the social media addiction 15 years in the making

Over this past Christmas, I went back to my hometown for the holidays. While there, I attended a holiday Christmas party full of people who I hadn’t seen in the five years since I moved away. Over the course of the evening, close to a dozen people (no exaggeration here) came up to me and said something to the tune of,

“I can’t believe you managed to stay off Facebook. It’s unbelievable; I wish I could do that.”

By the time the night was over, I had lost track of how many friends and acquaintances expressed this emotion to me…


The year my family and I moved to Canada in 2005, there was a very popular Comedy Now! viral video that seemed to be everywhere in the media — on YouTube, on cable TV, in the news. It was a 45-minute stand-up routine by Canadian comic Russell Peters, and it was blowing up on the internet.

I still remember watching it for the first time with my dad in our living room. It was on Comedy Central, and on stage was this very brown-looking Indian guy pointing out ethnic stereotypes about Canadians, Indians, and Chinese people. It was the first…


Growing up in the ’90s watching Bollywood movies in Pakistan, like many people from my generation, our views and opinions around love and relationships were heavily influenced by what we saw in films and desi cinema. Most movies from that era portrayed romantic love in ways that I would grow up to find painfully simplistic and removed from reality.

The biggest obstacles most Bollywood protagonists faced when trying to be with the one they loved, were mostly rooted in issues of class and culture; the girl was from a poor family, while the man was too rich for his own…

Hina Husain

Pakistani Canadian Freelance Writer

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