Finding home in a foreign land: German photographer falls in love with the streets of Pakistan

Initially published in The News by Bismah Mughal on November 26, 2018

While ‘Pakistan’ remains a word igniting thoughts of war and terrorism in the minds of all those residing in the outside sphere, one individual from the faraway land of Germany is roving the streets of Pakistan’s major cities, challenging its ‘unsafe’ and ‘hostile’ perceptions and bringing out the warmth and the beauty fogged behind blaring headlines.

German photographer Michael Paulo has built a name for himself amongst the photographer’s community in the country since 2014, as he heads out with his camera and captures the true spirit of Pakistan, dwells amongst the realest culture it has to offer and finds stories worth sharing in every nook and corner while sipping doodh patti at roadside dhabbas.

In a one-on-one chat with The News, Michael revealed that his story with Pakistan begins from his childhood in the 1980’s.

“I have lived in Pakistan between 1984 and 1987. My father was working for the East German Embassy back then and so when I was offered to come back here in 2014, I accepted because it brought back so many beautiful and vivid memories from my childhood.”

Having traveled a large part of Pakistan, Michael found himself unable to stick his heart to a single place but for now Karachi piqued his interest: “I am more of an urban person, I like more cities than landscapes and I am quite usually going on photowalks this is why I’m in love with Karachi these days.”

Talking about his endeavors around the country with his camera around his neck, Michael revealed that Pakistan is one of the best places in the world for street photography.

“You go to a city, it doesn’t matter where, you always find places, abandoned buildings, beautiful mosques and dynamic baazars, which really lure me in.”

He went on to say: “Pakistan is not amongst the top tourist destinations but if you dig deeper, you always find beautiful places like for instance, the Empress Market, which is one of my favorites.”

As his story with Pakistan nears its final chapter, Michael recalls his experiences in the land while adding: “I have spent one fifth of my life in Pakistan. If I had thought bad of a country, I wouldn’t have lived here for so long. It has been awesome.”

In reminiscence of his time in Pakistan, Michael had put together a photo exhibition in Islamabad last week, attempting to unite the street photographers in the country while bringing to the front a culturally rich, more diverse and a happier side of Pakistan.

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