I had told myself I would not notice the taking off and landing of the plane, nor the announcements and security checks at the airports. This wasn't a week-long trip across the planet but a continuous living of life in a global village, where no connections are severed by a mere geographical displacement. Dubia airport had been impressive but my progress on Giedion's Space, Time and Architecture had been more impressive. I had slept and eaten, and was fully awake as we approached Karachi. And then as the landing gear clicked and the plane dipped, my heart skipped. I could no longer resist the little blinking lights of what was once the city of lights. Now they seemed watchful and tired.
Was it strange that I felt love and yearning for a city? Perhaps the city symbolizes a memorable childhood, and encapsulates the spirit of all its inhabitants whom I love.
Karachi has no skyscrapers, no Times Square, no architectural monuments to put on postcards (not since 1947 anyway). It is a blank slate. It's burning history, traditions, and energy are waiting to be articulated in concrete. It's fledgling spirit needs architectural columns to rest on.
What kind of monument, I thought, would be impervious to terrorist bombing or graffiti? What kind of monument would counter the extremist brainwashing of people by providing an alternative avenue for religious discourse? Karachi needs a Hagia Sophia! Will I design it some day?
The plane touches down and I snap my book shut, waiting to get out. Very soon it would be dawn. That, at least, was inevitable.