From Bidisha

From Bidisha

Hello Izzah!


Hope you are doing well in these difficult times. Here, the weather today is neither too cool nor too warm but while I am writing this letter, I am still recovering from a bad cold. But the thought of connecting to a sister sitting out there in another country already excites me a lot. Well, about me, I am a 19-year-old undergraduate student from Bhubaneswar, India. I study History at the University of Delhi but COVID-19 has not let me visit my campus yet. I see pictures of peacocks entering the classrooms in the pre-pandemic scenario, in my campus rich in flora and fauna and I miss being there even more. But the good part is at least I am safe and healthy at home.


Apart from that, I have learned Hindustani Vocal classical music since I was 6 years old and both music and poetry have my heart. In fact, in 2022, I am writing one poem every day. I listen to all kinds of music including ghazals, Bollywood, western jazz, Odia (our regional songs), and many more. Recently, I have gained a deep interest in LoFi and reverb music too. I have a soft corner for retro songs though. The meaningful lyrics, the composition of soul-soothing music in them, always touches me. Wouldn’t you agree with me on that? It gives me goosebumps when I listen to songs from the eighties and nineties. Our own nightingale of music, the legend Lata Mangeshkar Ji is one of my favorites when it comes to old songs. The song ‘Lag Jaa gale’ from the film ‘Woh Kaun thi’ is still one of my comfort songs that I always keep humming. There are many other hits from retro times. A duet from Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan would make you tap your feet in enjoyment. Yet another song, is ‘Bade achhe Lagte hain’ that has been sung by Amit Kumar, soothes the core of my heart. Songs from the early 2000s and late 90s are the love of all the heart, especially the ones starring Shahrukh Khan. Play, ‘Kal ho na ho’ or ‘Mitwa’ and you can’t help waving your hands and moving your shoulders in joy. If you ever get the chance, do listen to these songs and they’ll surely make your day. Do you ever listen to our music too? Because I am very fond of Pakistani Singers. The ghazals of the legends like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his son Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, give me goosebumps every time I listen to them. The other day I was sitting in a salon waiting for my sister and they had played an amazing playlist of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. In one moment, I was singing along to ‘Aaj Din Chadheya’, the other moment, it was ‘Afreen Afreen’ and then ‘Dillagi’ and then ‘Halka Halka’ and time flew by like in seconds and I wasn’t bored for a moment. I am a huge fan and I can’t get enough of his music. Whether I am sad or I am in the seventh heaven, his music will always pacify me. We have some wonderful Ghazals too. ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd na Karo’ by Farida Khanum is a classic. And how can I forget Atif Aslam from your country? The level of versatility in his voice is remarkable. I still remember when he sang, ‘Tu Jaane naa’ for one of Bollywood movie albums, and those days, we did not have smartphones but this song was on the top of our playlist in the music player of our Nokia phones. Those days were amazing. 


Music establishes a pious link between both our countries, surely. We have Coke Studio together. And I truly feel seven notes of music combined with seven colors of the rainbow will keep some souls in both our countries united from hearts. We might speak different languages and adopt different cultures but our hearts know the same religion, the religion of love, and these songs across the borders bridge the gap between us. I can go on and on describing the music that binds us but I want to hear from you too. I am attaching some playlists that I enjoy a lot. Let me know how you feel about it. Looking forward to hearing from you, Izzah. 




Bhubaneswar, India. 


  1. Best of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan | Top 20 Songs | Jukebox 2018 
  2. Bade Achhe Lagte Hai with lyrics | बड़े अच्छे लगते है गाने के बोल | Balika Badhu | Sachin | Rajni
  3. Lag Jaa Gale – Sadhana, Lata Mangeshkar, Woh Kaun Thi Romantic Song
  4. Best Hindi Songs Of 2008 to 2012 Jukebox |2008 to 2012 Best Songs Collection | All Time Hit Songs
  5. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna | Audio Jukebox
  6. Kal Ho Naa Ho : Audio Jukebox : Shah Rukh Khan | Preity Zinta | Saif | Dharma Movies
  7. Top 100 songs of Lata Mangeshkar | लाता जी के 100 गाने | HD Songs | One Stop Jukebox | #StayHome
  8. Bollywood Lofi Mixtape Vol.1 | 🎶 30 Minute Mix to Relax, Drive, Study, Chill 🌌| WORMONO
  9. Best of Bollywood Hindi lofi / chill mix playlist | 1 hour non-stop to relax, drive, study, sleep 💙🎵     
  10. Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo – Farida Khannum – Top Ghazal Songs 
From Izzah

From Izzah

Dear Bidisha,


My name is Izzah and I’m from Multan, Pakistan. I hope, especially in these difficult times, that you are doing well. A little bit about me, well, I am currently an O level student who is particularly interested in pursuing Botany in the future. My love for plants aside, I also love music and am actually part of a small local band in my area with my friends.


Though precious little people (at least from here) are interested in a career as a botanist, the complexities and inner workings of a plant have been a topic that has always interested me for a long time. It began when I used to tend to my home’s garden with my grandmother ever since I was 7 years old and since then plants have always been an integral part of my life. What do you like doing? I’d love to hear about it! I am fortunate to have grown up in a place where multiple varieties of fruit and ever-green trees were abundant. Pakistan is known for our fruit and I’m so glad I got to be able to partake in delicious aam (mangoes), oranges and more! I would especially love the huge tree in the centre of the nearby park, it never seemed to change or falter in the face of the elements, and I still fondly remember playing around it as a child.


Continuing with nature, I am also very fond of animals. We have a couple of stray cats that we took in and cared for as our own. Two of them are very recent, having only been around for a month at most. I love taking care of them and coming back home to the furry things after a long day is really lovely. Lately I have been spotting a bunch of chickens around my street, although I hope they don’t end up fighting with the cats! Do you have any pets?


Coming to music, I was always drawn to the soothing and melodic beats of traditional songs, whether the strums of the sitar, drum of the tabla or harmonium, there is something unique in the sounds of each specific area throughout South Asia. Our little group was started to continue this celebration for music that unites and entertains. Though, at the moment, it’s not more than a hobby I entertain with my close friends, it is definitely something close to heart. I am so happy to have been sent your recommendations and will definitely check them out! And I agree, music does have that uniting factor that we cannot deny, because at the heart of it we share such a similar language. Recently, my friends and I have developed a newfound interest in the artists showcased in Coke Studio (as you have mentioned as well), specifically melodious pieces by Abida Parveen (a favourite being that I may have listened to a few hundred times since its release). Though I wasn’t as up to date on Indian singers, one artist a friend of mine has always obsessed over is Arijit Singh and she definitely inducted me into the fanclub when I heard the song Agar Tum Saath Ho ( I am looking forward to increasing that list soon from songs and artists in your given playlist. I am still learning, but I hope to polish my skills in many areas of music, from singing to playing string instruments to learning music theory and mixing; maybe I will be one of the artists you listen to someday!


This is my first time being a part of an exchange like this, but I do find it strange it is not already a common occurrence since I know people from Pakistan and India always have so much common ground to talk about! I greatly enjoyed reading a bit of your story through your letter and hopefully you got to know more about me too from mine. Till next time!


Love from,


From Rameesa

From Rameesa


Hi Akshita!

Hope you are doing well. I am your pen pal. Let me introduce myself, my name is Rameesa Khan, I am a PhD scholar and Founder of Menstrual Talk, I work internationally and nationally on menstrual education and breaking social taboos associated with periods. I love to read books on politics. I am a gender advocate. I read your letter and I am now emotionally attached with you, as you invited me to visit India thus it is my hope to visit some day. I agree that today’s youth are thinking beyond any conflicts but want peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

I love your sense of music. Coke studio is one of the finest music shows, and I like Indian songs especially from T-Series. They know how to connect with people. I love Indian movies. My favorite actor is Salman Khan and quite a few more! India has a rich history in dancing- I love traditional dances and want to learn as soon as we meet in person someday. 

Pakistan’s heritage is as rich as you have highlighted; especially Minar-e-Pakistan, Masjid Wazir Khan and so on, and I would love to share some moments here whenever you visit Pakistan. My favorite place in India is the Taj Mahal. It’s my dream to see it one day and spend some time in the most beautiful place. I love traditional food as well and India has some special dishes that I would love to taste.

I am connected with India through online sessions and have many friends there! I shared a space with an Indian Delegate on peace and reconciliation status between India and Pakistan. I love to create safer spaces for young people to end hate.

Special thanks to Beyond the Borders’ Pen Pal initiative for giving me the opportunity to write a peaceful letter to my fellow pal from India.


Rameesa Khan. 

Founder Menstrual Talk 

PhD Scholar 

Delegate Ubuntu, United Nations.

From Ruchita

From Ruchita


Hi Usman,


Hope this letter finds you well. My name is Ruchita and I’m 20 years old. I was born and brought up in Bangalore, India. I am currently pursuing Computer Science Engineering. To say a few words about myself: I am a cinephile, foodie, a lover of adventure and travel. I believe that the universe never gives up on a stubborn heart.


India is known for its diversity. Every 100 km you will find different soil, flora, fauna, weather, cuisine, people, their customs, language, belief and attire. All so varied yet so intertwined. I am based in the southern part of India and have not yet visited the northern regions. The major attraction in the south is the temples. Temple is a building devoted to the worship of Hindu Gods and is usually stone-carved. Every carving depicts a mythological story. Temples bring a sense of oneness, they imbibe respect and remind us of our cultural history. To name a few temples and historical sites: Hampi Virupaksha Temple, Konark Sun Temple, Mahabalipuram complex of temples. 


One of the things I admire about Pakistan are its enchanting Valleys and the breathtaking views they offer. If I were to visit Pakistan, I would definitely love to visit the Hunza Valley, Kaghan Valley and the Gilgit Valley. Apart from these, it would be an honor to visit the Mohatta Palace,

Qila Rohtas, Wazir Khan Mosque, and Sheesh Mahel that you have beautifully described in your letter. I would also love to visit the local bazaars and try the street food of Pakistan. Visiting these places will surely give me an insight on the rich Pakistani culture. 


India houses varied cuisine, from vegetarian dishes, to mughlai, to Jain cuisine, to chinese-influenced cooking. I am a vegetarian and I would love to recommend a few must-try Indian dishes. One is the masala dosa, which is a thin pancake-like dish stuffed with potato curry served with coconut chutney and sambar. Apart from this you should definitely try Chole-bhature, Chaat (which is a very popular street food) and sweets like rasgulla, ghewar and ladoo. Every one of these dishes are a treat to your taste buds. 


Coming to culture and entertainment, I believe India and Pakistan share a very common style of movies and TV shows. I am not much into music but I do enjoy watching movies. However, India’s rich musical tradition ranging from Hindustani music in the north popularized by Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, etc to Carnatic music in the south popularized by M S Subbalakshmi, Lalgudi G Jayaraman, etc, stands tall. I would also recommend a classic Indian series, ‘Malgudi Days’.


I would love to read your reply to this letter. I’m also curious to know your birthday, favorite movie genre and cuisine. Loved being a part of this pen pal campaign. Gained an interesting insight on Pakistan and your views on India. 


Warm Regards,


From Usman

From Usman


Hi Ruchita,


My name is Usman, I’m 19 years old, and I was born in the United States but now live in Lahore, Pakistan. I’m your typical desi guy in the second year of A levels, love experiencing new things and exploring life to its fullest potential.


Even though I’ve haven’t lived in Pakistan for my whole life, I’ve definitely grown to love it over the years. The cultural history and heritage here is so intriguing that it grabs the viewers attention. Especially when you visit old bazaars. Another reason for my new admiration of Pakistan is definitely the food, since desi cuisine is unlike any other. The rich, flavorful, spicy aromas carry you to another level. Most Pakistani food contains meat based dishes. I’ve heard most people in India are vegetarians, are you?


Aside from food, Pakistan is also home to many historic landmarks such as: Mohatta palace, Qila Rohtas, Wazir khan mosque, with Sheesh Mahel being my favorite. It is a must to visit if you ever find yourself here. Sheesh Mahel captures the rich Pakistani history, allowing you to get a glimpse into the past and gain a greater understanding of Pakistani culture. The whole palace structure is like a mind tricking maze. Even some of the floor has mirrors built into them creating an aesthetic place. 


Speaking of culture, have you ever heard the song ‘Aadat’ by Atif Aslam? It is definitely one of my favourites because of the heartwarming lyrics and the pitch of his voice. I also occasionally listen to Bollywood songs. Right now my go-to Hindi song is ‘Ude dil Befikre’, which I mostly listen to whilst doing school work. I would love to get to know what type of music you’re into? Staying in the realm of entertainment, I am a fanatic of watching 90’s and early 2000’s Bollywood movies. They create the feeling of nostalgia and togetherness which everyone admires.


Moreover, I always wanted to visit India due to its natural northern beauty. Especially exploring the province of Himachal Pradesh and seeing the wonder of Srinagar. Additionally, whilst taking art, I fell in love with history. I also want to see Amber palace in Rajasthan and reminisce about the past royals and significant events which happened in the vicinity. If you were to come to Pakistan, where would you want to visit?


Overall, being a part of this campaign was interesting to say the least. Looking forward to reading your letter!




From Padma

From Padma


Hello, Tahira! 


They say the best of the things in life happen unplanned. I believe in the soul-touching, mind-numbing unwavering lines of faith and fate. The point is, I am a postgraduate student in Advanced Construction Management (currently in my final year) and I do not think this is what I truly love doing. But, since there is a higher authority, I am guessing things will fall in place sooner than usual and all I need to keep doing till then is to find what I am good at and ace in it. Maybe that is what keeps us going, right? 


Yes, I watch a lot of classic movies but my interest lies in books and literature. But, yes, I do relate with your sense of memorising dialogues that resonate with your soul. I do that with nooks and crannies of places, cities, people, books, and memories. It is a very warm feeling, I believe. Like we become a part of everything we do, everything we see, everything we read. You get me? This reminds me, my favourite book is ‘My Sister’s Keeper ‘by Jodi Picoult. The essence is how even though we are all a family, we do not wish to sacrifice ourselves for the other but we know it is the right thing to do. That is what I think the relationship between the two countries is. We recognize our land, our people, but we consciously fight the urge to erase the boundaries and embrace them. I hope we, too, realise what the right thing is. 


I will be honest, I write to you in irony, submitting completely to my vulnerability. I write to you from a place with little light, some declassified thoughts, an average two hours of daily sleep, smoggy skies and anti-allergies and an array of pending commitments to myself and others. I am moving out of my house in the city I have grown up in for the first time ever for higher studies. It is a very overwhelming process. It never is easy to shift base and start everything from the beginning. I daresay I am as nervous as I am excited to really learn who I am when no one is watching. Somehow vibing to this song currently:Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back 


Also, I found the Book of Sonnets speaking to me and I think you will like to read this too –


I will acquaintance strangle and look strange.

Be absent from thy elks, and in my tongue 

Their sweet beloved name no more shall dwell.

Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong

And haply of our acquaintance tell.


What about you? Do you stay with your family or dream of escaping into the wild for an adventure? 


Yes, the days are getting shorter, the nights colder, the breeze lighter, but I absolutely love winters. Mostly because of the spirit of warmth that thrives in this season. I gather from your letter that you are not a fan really, but no worries. Try eating rice kheer and garam garam gulab jamuns in the evenings during this time of the year!  Bharat mein aaye aur kheer nahi khayi, no, not possible! I am sure that will change your mind. 


Taking a step is as easy as writing a text message, doing something consciously to make things better is as difficult as writing a letter to a person you have never met. I have a mental image of you currently. I see a very bubbly girl, snuggled into a blanket, sitting in front of the fireplace with the laptop screening ‘Richard II’ by Shakespeare, eating garma-garam jalebis with thandi-thandi rabdi (another favourite combination you must try!). I will keep you in my wishes. Thank you for being my pen-pal. Here’s to hoping we can write to each other much after this campaign is over. After-all this could be the start of a friendship between a girl who reads and a girl who watches all that this world has to offer.