Letter to Dreamers

A few weeks back, I asked people on Instagram to send me stories about how they want to travel and weren’t able to. In this letter, I’ll be sharing a few stories that I think were most common among all the stories people submitted. I’m attaching pictures with the three letters that I feel relate to each letter. I selected hardly three letters for this, I will be sharing more for other letters soon. the letters also made me realise how lucky I have been, to be able to travel so much and to fulfil my dreams.

Dear Dreamers,

“This is about how I never got the chance to travel, although I love travelling. Since I don’t really express my feelings, the thought of expressing my love for travelling comes with a lot of courage. Ever since I met a person who was a good photographer, I got to see the beautiful side of this world. My biggest dream is to travel to places which brings me closer to nature. Just the thought of looking at billions of stars at night, give me chills. I want to travel to all the green parts of the world. Beautiful serene beaches with clear blue water and warm sand. Initially, I was too young to travel, then series of events stopped me from travelling, after that ‘girls aren’t supposed to travel alone’, and now it’s ‘you can travel after you get married’. Whenever I get time I watch vlogs, look at breath-taking pictures of my favourite places. I don’t know what people my age dream about, all I dream about is green lands, tall trees, myself at a beach or lying down somewhere and looking at clear sky with thousands of stars.” @roojness

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“I once went to Kaghan Naran and since then I’ve been in awe of people living there! And now I literally want to leave everything behind and just go live in the mountains but it’s not realistic! If I get a chance I’ll go to north all alone and probably never come back! I love the immensity and the serenity you feel up there! Like how all your problems are so small and pointless when there’re a whole world out there that you could explore!” @anfrk

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“I was born and brought up in Quetta, this city has been the hub of my 23 years life. Irony is my dad is an army man, he travelled around all his career, but it was my mother, for her job’s sake we always stayed with her. I happened to live a few years of my childhood in Zhob and that’s the only travelling a 7-year-old me remember, from Zhob to Quetta to spend Eid vacations with my grandparents.

In 2004 we moved to Quetta, and since then I haven’t seen anything beyond these mountains.

Like any other teenager growing up who hadn’t had the chance to travel, I too held the desires to explore what was unknown to me, I too wanted to know of the world that lies ahead of these mountains. Even though I never left this valley, but I did travel the world through YouTube and that only is enough to intensify the already unbearable urge to travel, to be on the move, to discover the land and meet people.

Things that happen when you least expect them to be, aren’t those the one that leaves the deepest imprints? That changes you forever? That gives you unmeasurable happiness? Well, something like that did happen to me. For a girl who never thought her near future holds any travelling, got a chance of her life by getting the privilege to go for Umrah with her grandparents.

For someone who hadn’t seen any other city of Baluchistan, let alone Pakistan’s got to experience Dubai, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah (even though if it were just the airports) the whole experience was surreal. I mean, I can flood pages just with the happenings of flight from Quetta to Dubai. The details of my experience are irrelevant here, but the point is, the vibes, the energy, the change you get after travelling is contagious.

Once you have gotten the taste of it all, there is no going back. Travelling rejuvenate your soul. It changes your body and mind. The change that comes with travel is like the waves unsettling the soul and it takes time for the water to become stagnant again. How long that would stay is an answer I am still searching.

Now, things are back to as they were, back to the same monotonous drudgery of life, and the longing to be back in the world out there is soul crushingly painful. Now I wait again in the hope of unexpected to happen, hoping against all odds for the time to come when I would be able to unleash what more travelling has to offer.

Now I wait to feel and inhale the air of a different place, sinking in every fiber of my being, calm my soul and at the same time rumpling those feathers of mine which now know how it feels to soar.” @Mariam201294

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So here is the thought,

You’re sitting in your office, doing a 9-5 Job and scrolling through your social media apps to see where people are travelling? how they are achieving their goals while you are unable to even take a day off.

Does that mean you are lazy? or you choose this for yourself? NO!

Everyone is bound in one way or the other. As soon as your graduate you are constantly planning a road trip, but then reality hits and the next day you’re doing a 9-5 job.

The important thing is, that you never stop dreaming, there is always a side of you that wants to leave everything and travel and as much as you want to leave, you can’t and feel trapped. What makes it worse is the people around you, they are either forcing you to stay focused to be socially accepted or they are living your dreams. And between all that, you lose yourself, not sure which path to choose and how to deal with the chaos.

Slowly, you start to lose interest in everything and start believing this is your fate. you start to believe that you cannot travel.

Well, that’s what I thought, although I’ve had the privilege to travel all my life, but I wanted to travel solo, and it was nearly impossible for me. When I decided to tell my father what I wanted, I needed to be very clear, I had to convince him to agree with what I wanted. I realised it was impossible to make him understand why I wanted to travel solo, so I decided to find work related to my field, that would allow me to travel.

In the process of making him understand, I lost my motivation more than once. It was because I was trying to listen to everyone, was trying to please everyone. In this process I started to search what love actually is? I wanted to know why my father doesn’t understand what I wanted.

I tried to search the meaning of love, to learn what love is. Is it when you put your baby to bed? is it when you give medicines to your father before he sleeps, or to hug your mother before sleeping? Is it when you miss your brother when he’s away, or it is the heart wrenching pain of knowing that they all will be gone one day, all the people you love, and cannot live without will be gone. Some will go away while they are alive and some will leave because death will take them away. Is it love when you cannot sleep or even close your eyes knowing the person you love the most is in pain? Is it love when you pray each and every day for the well-being of the people who have caused immense pain in your life?

I think love cannot be described in words, it’s a feeling. It’s that energy that you feel around people you love. I started finding what caused my father not to let me go? was it because he didn’t love me? or was it because he loved me way too much?

We think our parents are not humans, they are not flawed, they cannot make mistakes, but we forget that they are humans too, they have feeling too, they can make mistakes too. Even then they give us their entire life, is it because they don’t care for us? or because the love us in ways that we cannot even imagine?

Once I understood that, that my father in not my enemy, he wanted good for me, he was worried for me, just like I’m worried for him if he’s even an hour late or if his phone is unreachable. How can he allow a piece of his heart to go thousands of miles away, that too to places with no connectivity? I realised it that If I want to travel like this, I have to find something that will at-least give him peace. Slowly and gradually things worked out for me in ways that I never imagined.
You’re born a Traveler, a dreamer. You spent your childhood reading about places, dreaming about places, writing about places. No matter what, you always choose to see the positive side in every situation, but as you grow up all your dreams start to vanish. No one remembers the exact moment when they gave up on their dreams. it is because dreams never vanish, they are buried. when you grow old you try to find the remains, and try and rebuilt your dreams, slowly all of it re-appears.

It is one of the hardest and most heartbreaking thing to find yourself when you’re lost, but let me also tell you that when you find yourself, it is the most fulfilling experience of your life, and once you find it, there is no going back. you have a direction for life. And let me tell you, running away from everything has been the best decision of my life. It was scary and sad and even dangerous, but it was all worth it.

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I hope you find yourself and your dreams, and I hope you have the courage to fulfil your dreams.

Love,
Feroza.

 

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Letter to brief moments

Dear Past,

My life is on a constant journey of moving forward and the only way to survive with a contented heart is to not look back on the past. But you know me, you know that I happen to be someone who clings on to moments and make them a part of me. Someone who lives for brief moments, someone who loves to cherish little moments and things.

This is a letter for brief moments.

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Goodbye to the lazy winters, the last sip of tea at 4am to finish an assignment, the novel that took months to end and has become a part of me.

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 The lover who I had to part ways with, the telephone call from a close friend, the silent goodbyes to all the passing objects on the ride back home.

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 To the carefree time, the cookie melting in my mouth.

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To the house I had to leave, I remember packing my bag and looking at the empty house for the last time before closing the doors.

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To the unforgettable moments with my two friends who became family.

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The notebook I had to burn

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The nights that became important because of the darkness that they removed

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The people who became friends and to friends who became strangers. To the moments and interactions that, through time became reality

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To the mountain that made me witness the most beautiful sunset

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To wrinkled sheets, the briefs moment before the clock strikes 7, the light peeking through the window, which makes me twist and turn in my bed not wanting to wake up, where I’m about to finish a dream.

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All along, these sheets are wrapped around me, enveloping me in the endless loops of dreams. I can hear myself breathing under the crisp white sheets. Oh, how they smell when they are freshly laundered, just like an old relationship, the idea to stay in it forever, but with time slipping by it would only do me good if I leave and move on.

Love,
Feroza.

Letter to Quetta.

Dear Quetta,

Where do I start? There is so much I want to say to you and it has been a very long time that I last met you. I miss you. I saw you the day I opened my eyes, and I fell in love with you. How can someone not love a city where they were born? You are the reason I love mountains so much, the reason that I am who I am. I’ve spent my childhood and teenage with you. I’ve learnt to be a better person from you. Words cannot describe how much you mean to me.

I remember the day I had to leave you. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, and believe me after that I wasn’t afraid of losing anything. You taught me how to let go off things you love, for my own betterment. I moved to a city where I would see buildings all around me, instead of mountains. Only then I realised how much you meant to me, how much I love to be around mountains. It’s true that you realise the importance of things when they are gone. I miss you everyday, I think about you everyday and I guess I can’t ever love a city more than I love you. You were my first love and you’ll always be. If I have to tell you what’s my most favourite part about you? I’ll say the winters. Oh your winters, the fog that would fill the streets and playing in snow, I miss it all. I love your harsh weather, it is the most beautiful part about you, please remain the same. I want to see you as it as when I get back to you. You are perfect in every way, it bothers me a little when people make fun of you and you people, don’t worry you’ll be fine, your people would be fine, I came out fine so will other people. The thing that worries me the most is that how the bigger cities think less of you, but you have so much hidden inside of you, so much beauty, such beautiful people. I love you the way you are; you are perfect in every way. Here is Photo letter for you, to tell you about the things I love and miss about you…

I love the seasons and colours you are surrounded by

                      

I love how quite you are, and I guess that is the reason why I love solitude. You taught me how to enjoy silence; you are away from big cities and crowd. Living peacefully.

 

Hanna Lake has been my favorite picnic spot since childhood, it was my favorite escape. And this was the place where I fell in love with mountains. I loved looking at how your lake would change with every season.

And how light falls on you

 

I love how your lake can be filled with water in summers and it goes dry in winters, so dry that we would walk on the lakebed.

Your broken windows and doors show a world of their own.

                                         

Where one can sit quietly for hours and stare at you

                         

Your scent is extraordinary and it’s like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. The freshness in your air, the fog in winters, the starry nights, the freezing hands in winters where we would go up to heater and warm our selves up just to hold a pen to write in our notebooks. All these little things make you special.

 

One of my other favorite thing about you is your tea, your afghani tea is what everyone should taste. I loved having tea with you and the morning naan and makhan.

The tiny huts that you have, where people go and eat roosh, your most famous winter food.

 

The way you blossom even though how people think you are barren

 

Your roads and the way they carry all this weight. All the weight that people have given you. There are very fewer people who actually know you, I’m sorry for all that you have to go through. Just remember, many people love you, just like I do.

Your landscape is something to die for. Fewer people explore you, but the ones who are lucky enough to know you; they instantly fall in love with you.

Every road and every view is different when it comes to you; I never get tired of exploring you. The more I do, the more I fall in love with you. In these past few years, when I’ve grown up as an artist, now when I come visit you, it’s magical. You are magic, and I wonder how come such a beautiful city is less explored?

Your sunsets are something not everyone gets a chance to see, the way sun peaks out of the clouds even in summers and lit the mountains; make me wonder how you can carry so much inside you.

Looking outside of my car and wondering what did I do to be able to know you so closely. Thank you for being my first love and being there when I opened my eyes.

 

 

You hide some beautiful lakes and dams behind your massive mountains

 

Places near you are as beautiful as you are, my favorite is, Ziarat.

       This year when I came to visit you and went to ziarat, it was still covered in snow, and I fell in love with it this time more than any other time.

Maybe because this time I was going with memories, some good some bad, but I was overwhelmed. Ziarat reminded me of people I have lost in the past few years. I remember listening to the news of this place on fire and I was heartbroken because of what happened to Quaid-e-Azam’s residency. And here after just a few years it was standing there as it is. Like I first saw it. It gave me hope that things can be repaired. I first came to Ziarat when I was 8 years old and then here I was 23 years old, looking at this building with every step reminding me of the first time I saw it. It was beautiful, heartbreaking and overwhelming at the same time. I had mixed feelings, I was unsure of how to feel. I just sat there in the balcony staring at the mountains and remembering my childhood. I never missed my childhood so much before.

 

I love how the residency’s architecture also reflects backs upon nature

Thank you for making me who I am today. You will always be my first love and I will keep coming back to you no matter how far I might go. And don’t worry you’ll be fine, your people will come out fine, I did, so will everyone else.

Can’t wait to see you again. Goodbye until next time.

Love,

Feroza

Letter to Hunza

I decided to write letters to every city I’ve been to because they are all special in one way or the other. My first letter would be for a place that changed me in so many ways that after I left, I felt like a better person. So, here it is…

Dear Hunza,

I remember I was asleep when I first saw you, I usually don’t sleep while I’m travelling but this time I did, and I’m glad. When I opened my eyes you were breathtaking, and I instantly fell in love with you. I’ve been dreaming about you since the past 10 years, I wanted to see you, wanted to feel you. and yet when I saw you, I had a mixture of feelings, I was nervous and excited for what I had signed up for, away from family on my own, new people, new language and new city.  You taught me no matter how bad things are, I’ll always find a way to deal with it. I’ve never traveled on my own, it has always been friends or family, but this time when I did travel alone, you made me much more independent and tolerant. Here is a thank you letter in the form of photographs for you.

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The first time I saw Karakoram Highway and it led me to you.

I kept looking at how beautiful your roads were until I saw Attabad lake, and I was speechless after looking at how breathtaking this lake was and how you’ve kept it even after what it did to you.

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There have been many times I’ve traveled and experienced the darkness of tunnels, but what you gave me was more than an experience. I remember when the Attabad Lake tunnel was about to end, I saw the light with trees and a portion of Attabad lake, I knew it was different from the tunnels I’ve seen before.

The magnificent mountains that you are surrounded by, that gave me a feeling of how tiny human beings are.

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I loved visiting your small villages and towns while exploring you, but Sost was one of my favourite escape.

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 The more I traveled on your roads the more I fell in love with you and this was the road that led me to my final destination, which was Chipursan Valley.

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Finally when I saw a herd of sheep, I knew I was closer to my destination to where I would spend a month with you.

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Finally you made a dream come true and now I had to do something for you in return. What led me to you was a small initiative called IEI Pakistan that works for betterment of education in small villages of Pakistan.

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This was the Inside of a traditional house in Kirmin, your village where I lived for a month. These houses are made with one window on the roof that spreads light in the entire room, with five to seven layers of wood, that are earthquake resistant. You made me look at houses in a new perspective

Hunza, it was time to give something back to you, and I did that in a form that I love the most, which is Art. I led three main activities in Kirmin. The First activity (upper left) was for the students to mark their heights on the trees and personalise them afterwords. In this way they would be able to come back to these trees after years and see what they did and what their height was at that time.

The second activity (upper right and bottom left) was to collect materials from their surroundings except for natural materials. It was for them to learn about recycling and how to use materials that we are surrounded by to produce art. They made sculptures out of the waste materials and converted their old Kirmin school into an industry made with waste material.

The third activity was to paint pebbles and rocks without moving them from their actual place and transforming the space into a colourful area surrounded with stones. For the last class they were asked to draw these three activities on paper and explain their experience with drawing.

One of my friend Minal used to take story reading classes after school in different villages called Noorabad and Alliabad, closer to Kirmin. This was the time when I used to spend more time in your villages.

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Hunza, you made me see the beauty within you from the top of the mountains where we reached after six-hours of trekking and stayed for another day in our camps.

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You made me choose my favourite spots, this specific spot in this yellow and blue tent was my most favourite because it was placed perfectly to see sunset everyday.

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You made me witness shooting stars and galaxies for the first time, and I will forever be grateful to you for doing that.

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You made me see this beautiful bridge, Hussaini suspension bridge, which was frightening yet thrilling.

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And when I thought I’ve seen all of you, you led me to Babusar pass on my way back home. I never knew that I’ll be able to see it because it opens for a very limited period of time due to monsoon and winters, but I guess you wanted me to see more, and you showed that there is never-ending beauty that you are surrounded by.

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Lastly, I would like to thank you for everything you did for me. This goodbye has been the hardest, but it’s more comforting when I think of coming back to you. A piece of me will always be with you.

   Goodbye, until next time.
   Feroza.