BEGIN IN THE NAME OF THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE
ATHENS TECHNOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, ATHENS
Sep. 1959-Sep. 1960
Sponsored by the Pakistan’s Housing and Development Ministry and funded by the Greek Government and the United Nations, a group of 19 persons, from various National and Provincial departments of the West and East Pakistan, came to Athens Technological Institute in Athens for their training in EKISTICS (Science of Human Settlement)for a year’s stay in Athens. While they came 19 in Sep. 1959, they returned 18 in Sep. 1960, one escaped as he had fallen in love with a Greek girl, when taking Greek language classes, which a majority of us also took. I was the first one to drop off that class, could not learn fast enough to be in the class.
Following year (1960-61 session) the second batch of students came for the same training at the Athens Technological Institute and, when leaving back in Sep. 1961, the student who had escaped return to the country previous year, was escorted under security to the Athens International Airport. However, with an excuse to go to the bathroom, same guy again escaped departure and plane left without him for the second time. Both years his checked in luggage reached Karachi without him. I don’t remember what happened to his luggage. However, I vaguely remember one of our group meeting him much later, living in Athens with his wife happily thereafter.
SWAT – SWITZERLAND OF PAKISTAN
In spite of poverty of the people in Kalaam Valley, Ushu Valley, Neelam Valey and Hunza Valley, one is amazed to see the beauty of nature all around. The State of Swat has suffered in the recent past due to the conflicts resulting from Talibans’ take over of the area until the Provincial and Federal forces could push them out that left lots of destruction further making peoples’ life harder, especially for the people of Mingora, the main town in Swat State.
On our visit to Pakistan in February of 2001, we had the opportunity to cover a wide area beyond Kalaam Town that I had visited 40 years back with my students from the Sociology Department of the Karachi University,
(in 1960-61) where I was teaching as a Professor. We had arranged a pickup service from Islamabad, via PTDC service and a driver was waiting at the Mingora Airport, who remained with us for next 2-3 days. During our lunch break in Kalaam Town, our driver, Afzal, when chatting with the locals of Kalaam, mentioned that I was returning to Kalaam and Swat after 40 years, the local people were shocked, saying “what is there to come all the way from Canada”. I always believed that God has given so much abundant beauty of mountains and valleys to the poorest people of Pakistan, who can only survive on the visitors (country and abroad) and tourism, un-interrupted. In my first trip to Kalaam, with my students from the University was to study the lives of Kalaam inhabitants, only to find how hard was their life due to limited resources at their disposal in hard winter.
In our trip starting from Mingora all the way to Malam Jabba, at an altitude of 10,000 ft., via winding one way unpaved road, finally reaching at Skiing Station (built by the Swiss). It was so cold that we had to request for electric heaters to warm up our room. Not one or two, we were given three heaters that kept us warm enough to survive the night. We forgot everything when we saw breathtaking view of the snow covered peaks through our window, we still remember and cherish that view.
1961 TRIP TO SWAT WITH MY STUDENTS FROM THE SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT, KARACHI UNIVERSITY
KARLOVY VARY CZECH REPUBLIC
“The biggest spa town in the Czech Republic and a town with a long spa tradition (600 years)”, Karlovy Vary was founded in 1350 by Charles IV. It lies at an elevation of 370 meters above the sea level. Its natural rarity, curative thermal springs is the source of tourism. Town’s Baroque historical and Art Nouveau buildings adorn its streets and alleys.
We visited Czech Republic in May, 2006, in Spring season when the whole area is full of flowers blooming everywhere and trees of several green shades of leaves.
Our hotel: Karlsbad Plaza Spa and Wellness Hotel was newly opened after an extensive restoration of an old 14th century court building. It was a truly 5 stars hotel and its staff was amazingly friendly and helpful. Spa facilities and restaurants were very enjoyable.
SECOND FLOOR PIANO LOUNGE AND RESTAURANTS
RIAD DAR MASMOUDI, MADINA, FEZ
In 2004, We had the pleasure to stay for several days in this Riad, an Andolucian Mansion in Fez, Morocco, which was inherited by the current owner Mr. Masmoudi, whose ancestors came from Andalucía, Spain. We had the biggest double bedroom on the ground floor with hand crafted ceiling, and, a covered central courtyard, reminding us of Cordoba’s famous courtyards .