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A Tour of Shimla

Rafat Jahan
Shimla, India (Original Language: Urdu)

Part I:

Today I give the descriptions of Shimla for the benefit of our sisters, who intend to come over here. We are for ten days. We took the train on Tuesday, 22 September in Bhopal. at 8’am in the morning and arrived in Kalka at 5 am the following day where the train for Shimla was ready to depart. We took that train and on our way were with several British ‘mems’ and while we were still busy in conversation, our journey ended.…

It Happened to Me Thus

Qazi ‘Abd al-Ghaffar
1950
Muradabad, India (Original Language: Urdu)

In the same way that a broken film projector fails to display the full image on the screen, these blind impressions of the beginning [of my life] hardly remain on the forgotten shelf of my memory. How strange it is! The first thing [of my childhood] that I remember is a corner of our house where my father’s pencil-sharpener was kept.…

The World in the Eyes of a Woman

Begum Sarbuland Jang
1909
Damascus (Original Language: Urdu)

City life in Damascus

Two-horse carriages can be had very cheaply here, and can also be found at any time. Phaeton carriages and other vehicles are also widely available. In our India, the common people use simple yakkas and tongas, while here fine carriages are the norm. We finally arrived at the doors of the [Umayyid] Mosque, taking in all the sights along the way.…

Sea Travel during War

Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah
1940
Mediterranean Sea (Original Language: Urdu)

We left for India on 6 January by Viceroy of India.  We were commanded to arrive at ship one day prior to departure, so that the ship can leave whenever appropriate. Due to war, there were lots of problems in getting out of England. We had to sign on thousands of forms. We had to return identity card, elision card and gas masks.…

A Tour of Holland

Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah
1939
The Netherlands (Original Language: Urdu)

In the last weeks, my husband had to visit Holland for government related work. I also accompanied him. Holland is a small country in Northern Europe, and for the last two centuries it hasn’t played a prominent role in European politics. Even though the struggle for freedom against Spain in the sixteenth century had great significance then, by the end of the eighteenth century Napoleon’s conquering army had reached the frontier of every European country.…

A Tour of Europe

Sughra Humayun Mirza
1926
Zurich (Original Language: Urdu)

Travelling from Lake Geneva to Zurich

We left Territet on the 1 p.m. train. We had to change trains in Lausanne. Lausanne is a very beautiful city. This is the city where the peace conference of the Turko-Greek war was held. Bern, which is the capital of Switzerland, is also a very nice city. We reached Zurich at eight in the evening.…

Personal Diary, 1935

Muhammadi Begum
1928
Oxford (Original Language: Urdu)

January 1, 1935

Thanks be to God on high, by whose mercy the year 1934 today came to a happy close, and the year 1935 began. I offer my ardent prayers for an excellent year ahead. May God accept them. Amen.

The New Year festivities began sometime around twelve o’clock, because of which there was a clamor out on the streets that could be heard inside the house.…

The Book of Life

Qaisari Begum
1936
Medina (Original Language: Urdu)

In Medina
Now it was time for us to travel to the holy city of Medina. My heart was bursting with happiness. When the dawn of that blessed day arrived, we went down the stairs of the chambers we were staying in and waited for the car to arrive. First, we went from Mecca Mu’azzama to Jeddah Sharif.  We stored our things there.…

Our Journey and Memoir: From India to London and America, 1953–1955

Mehr al-Nisa
Canton, Ohio (Original Language: Urdu)

A tourist ticket from Bombay to London on the Chusan cost Rs. 1055. The weight of this ship on the P&O line was 24,000 tonnes. Its color was white and it seemed new and extremely grand and up to date. Our cabin was on the last deck, Deck E, and was very comfortable.

Through the porthole, we could see the ocean waves.…

How I learned to Read and Write

Bibi Ashraf
1899
Lahore, Punjab (Original Language: Urdu)

The original essay appeared in two instalments in Tehzib-e Niswan (Lahore) (23 and 30 March 1899).  It was then published with a biographical introduction by the journal’s editor, Muhammadi Begum, in a book entitled Hayat-e Ashraf (Lahore: Imambara Sayyida Mubarak Begum, n.d.).  The essay has been translated from this source with a biographical introduction to the author in C.M. Naim, ‘How Bibi Ashraf Learned to Read and Write’, Annual of Urdu Studies, vol.…