Wazir Khan mosque - lahore

The Similarly Unique

July 25, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

When asked what, if anything, it was that remained singular to our batch (of those admitted in 2012) among all the others at HKU, my friend told me that everyone possessed a unique personality and this made our batch unique, too. Although my friend got to this conclusion through experiences in his own social circle only, I am not sure if this hypothesis can be labeled false on this argument; in fact, I also feel the same about people who make up parts of my life at HKU. However, the idea that this attribute is exclusive to my batch seems untrue to me. I have met people belonging to every class (batch) who appreciate and believe in identical ideas but have never felt them to be the same. Perhaps the mutual conclusions they had reached were the end-points of journeys unique to every one of them. This idea-slash-realization that every person, if not labeled or endeavored to judge, is unique thrills me at the same time as it keeps nudging me like a remnant of some long lost thought.

I love Lahore, the city I grew up in. To me, its air smells of soil, freshly dampened by long awaited rainfall. Its skyline, crowded with seemingly brown-brick-made old houses, adorned by scattered trees almost equal in height to the houses, and sprinkled with tall minarets of mosques, has an almost magical effect. Lahore has always been one of the most culturally rich and colorful cities of South Asia. Having been home to various cultures before, Lahore saw British rule combining its colonial architecture with Moghul, Gothic, and Victorian styles. Although, Lahore has, not to my liking, continued to try to embrace modernity, its many roads, filled with open-air Jalebi-shops and weathered buildings, still boast of its history today.

If there were any antonym of ‘Lahore’ (considering what I feel about it), it would be ‘Hong Kong’. Although HK too has seen British Rule, the two places differ from each other to no end. HK’s sky-scrapers and double-decker buses would be translated into sprawling, short buildings, and noisy Rickshaws of Lahore. Despite finding it completely different from the city of my childhood and spending only a year in HK, I can still sense the presence of a connection with it. I have befriended the sea, strong winds, and clouds. The Kennedy Town harbor has found its place in my places-to-be list. I have inhaled the HK air for a year through all sorts of situations and feelings and yet, I feel myself challenged by this city, too. Not an induction of the desire to conquer but a challenge to understand, absorb. Not a confrontation of my identity with the soul of the city but a humble effort to harmonize myself with it, and this too keeps elbowing like the residue of some already scattered thought slipping away when needed.

Looking back, I find a few moments in my life when I have tried to avoid new things or experiences. At times like these, I have been irritated by the intrusion of things alien to me because such intrusion would come as a break in the smooth flow that I wanted to continue being part of; occasionally, it would also trigger existential crises.


handprints-titleIronically, my life now seems to be the complete opposite of what I had wanted at such moments; it’s in continuous (random) motion (Brownian Motion – for Physics lovers like me). I have left Lahore to live in HK, at least for three years, and still am trying to understand it, taking in the differences and things I never experienced before. My world has changed … no.. evolved, and so have those of all the non-local students at HKU. Local students too are witnesses to influx of new people, unknown cultures, and various other fresh elements in their lives.


I too, having come to college, am surrounded by new things, new buildings, new, unique people, new communities, and new experiences and am thankful for it. Getting out of the flow and facing existential crises is the only way forward and, perhaps, this is what college actually is all about: Discovering yourself again and again and learning about things you did not know of before, through the people who make you think or merely compel you to look at things once again, to help you find and deal with the difference. Therefore, to me, my friend, and all those studying at this institution, HKU renders uniqueness all around us in all shapes and, THIS, along with the insecurities, imperfections we all possess, and the desires we all harbor in our hearts, I feel, is one of those respects in which we all are the same too.

Written by hKUDOS Guest Blogger,
Saim Saeed Khan