Over the course of summer/autumn of 2021, I wrote about the past, present and (a hopeful) future of mobility & public transit in Karachi. The essay was accompanied by a set of three maps: one in 1970, another in 2020 and the third in 2047. You can read the essay and see the maps here.
The accompanying maps were originally designed in Urdu, for two reasons: accessibility & craft. My mother has never been able to comprehend the maps I have made so far. I wanted to make a map that she could read. I also wanted to work with digital Urdu typography, and see how it would pan out in the face of cartographic complexity. A static map has to do two things simultaneously: It has to be instantly legible as a whole, but not visually overwhelm with finer details. I was inspired by an Ottoman map of Istanbul, except the typography in it was calligraphic, with a lot more possibility. Digital Urdu typefaces, especially of the Nastaleeq family, are far more limiting. This proved to be an extremely challenging task, and a real learning curve.
Since the essay was in English, I redid the maps in English for publication. This switch was laborious. Since I had originally conceptualised and designed the maps in Urdu, redoing them in English was an act of visual translation. Like all translations, I feel I lost some of the spirit and the aesthetic quality in the process. Maybe I should have started entirely from scratch. Layering the city with English subtitles felt forced and inauthentic; an act of translating my own self for a foreign audience.
Meanwhile, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the essay and both sets of maps.