You have to go on a package tour (as there is no other way) to Mecca at least once in your life. But we recommend that you take the once in a life-time recommendation literally. God knows how many Muslims take everything else about their religion literally.

Kashmir has been a disputed territory ever since its erstwhile ruler Raja Hari Singh managed to botch up the issue of its accession to either India or Pakistan. Since its acquisition by India after Partition of 1947, the region has been enveloped in turmoil.

In the earlier part of 1929, when her father Sajjad Ali passed away, Lily was nine years old. Later, she remembered more of her mother’s screams and howls, day and night, for weeks after the death. No one really bothered to explain to Lily why her father suddenly disappeared.

For a short time in 1912 Fes was the capital of French Morocco, until it occurred to Maréchal Lyautey that the oyster-grey city, far inland below the heights of the Middle Atlas, was not a very secure location for an imperial capital.

From my editor’s office on Pushkin Square, I watched on television the last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan and arrive in Uzbekistan, retreating across the Amudarya River on the Friendship Bridge. Even as the troops retreated, mujahideen snipers continued to target them, with US arms still being poured into what was already a powder keg.

Istanbul, Constantinople, al-Āsitāna, Qustantiniya, Tsarigrad, Mucklegarth – Bolis – the city on the Bosphorus, the largest city in Turkey, means many things to many people. For most of its life its geographical position, as a port bestriding two continents, has made it an international and cosmopolitan city.