Traveling by train after 20 years

Man, traveling on an economy class train is so much fun! The carriages and cabins are comfy and spacious. Naan pakoray, shezan coke, chai pani, nimko juice sab seat pe. You can walk, you can talk. You can actually have a conversation with fellow passengers. Face to face. Khulli dulli.

The trains that stops at many stations are even better. Some people leave, more people join. The journey continues. You don’t look at the watch or mobile phone as much. You look at the people. Inside the train and outside. Youth playing cricket. Children waving hands. It never gets boring.

That’s it. I am never traveling by Daewoo again.

A wedding is coming up

A wedding is coming up. No not mine. That would be foolish considering how great it has turned out for others.

Remember my lambardar chacha? Yeah, it’s his son. And daughter. Not one but two village weddings. Aik din baad doosri. Wah wah ronaq laggi rehni.

Despite the fact that the said chacha considers me a useless nephew who just travels aimlessly and is certainly going to express his disappointment in the general aversion to business among the boys in the family, especially me.

And despite having to see a phuphi who once “caught” me and an ex of mine on our way to Noor Jehan’s Tomb and who is probably going to ask: sahaail oh kudi da kih haal ae? thori moti si par sohni si. And the tale shall be told to everyone.

Looking forward to all the fun!

Folk treasures

While going through a collection of BaaraN Maaha, I just stumbled upon a beautiful Punjabi song where the girl gives 12 reasons why her man shouldn’t leave for pardes (for work) in any month of the year. It ends at her saying: baarañ maheene channa, rall mill khediye.

It’s a folk song—meant to be sung. I have only found the text in a collection. My searches for a sung version haven’t been fruitful so far. The lyrics are great though.

It’s times like these when I wish our modern-day singers would also look through the treasures we have in folk and classical poetry before they select (or worse, write themselves) what they are going to sing.

From a bygone era

Sometimes when I’m missing the gurdwara of Bibi KaulaN, I dine at this restaurant right in front of it, just to look at it from across the road.

While I’m doing that—looking at the gurdwara—this structure of a bygone house stares at me from the side.

P.S. I know I haven’t yet shared with you a picture of the gurdwara itself. It’s not easy, to be honest. It has become a personal affection. And I want the picture to be perfect. Now that I have a better camera, you can expect that soon-ish.

A great find of the day

During the late 70s, a ‘mobile unit’ was formed at National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa). The unit consisted of two small tents, a couple of sleeping bags, a host of cameras and recording devices, and a jeep. And their task was to travel through the length and breadth of Punjab and record—in text, audio, or pictures—every aspect of the folk life. It was an ambitious project and the team did a great job. The archive they collected is so big that Lok Virsa hasn’t been able to publicly release it till date.

One of the guys from that mobile unit has now written a reportās of that trip in the form of a book. Titled ‘Lok Punjab: Aik Tehqeeqi Safarnama,’ the book is just too great not to be praised. A great find of the day.

Good times

In my late teen years, upon every visit to my relatives, I had to provide them complimentary computer troubleshooting services being the only guy in family becoming a software engineer at that time. And I had this habit of resetting their monitors to max resolutions, often exclaiming: why are you using 1024×768, your monitor supports much better resolutions, you can see more icons!

Today, I found myself changing the display setting in my smartphone from ‘standard’ to ‘zoomed.’

Propaganda is working

Friends from Islamabad called today to tell that they can’t take my Lahore updates anymore and are coming next weekend to see for themselves if the stories I tell are even true.

It would be the second time someone has been compelled to see Lahore because of my propaganda. The free-stay offer is also enticing, I guess.

I have been meaning to buy a haveli in Lahore, making its upper floor my residence, and turning the ground floor into a self-sustaining business: cultural events space or something. But a mehmaan-khaana would be good too. What do you say?

Get married

So I went to see my relatives in Lahore today and this happened:

Aunty: How have you been?
Me: Alright, just had a little temperature this week. *Coughs*

Aunty: You have cough too.
Me: No, I don’t. I was just clearing my throat. *Clears throat*

Aunty: Are you still sick?
Me: No, I am fine now.

Aunty, after a pause: So how does it feel—getting sick when living alone, having to take care of yourself?
Me: It’s alright, not that big a deal.

Aunty: You have already crossed 30, don’t make it to 40 like this. Get married.
Me: There you go.

Life and times of 24 flats

The building in Lahore where I live has 24 studio flats, 6 on each floor, all on one side next to each other, each having a door and a window that open in the airy and naturally lit corridor. It’s actually pretty good use of the limited space.

All the flats are occupied by one or two guys. Primarily those who have recently moved to Lahore and who couldn’t find another place like myself. Most of them have jobs, some are students. 24 flats, 36 people, whom I see on the filtered-water tank on the first floor or when I am walking down the corridor. it makes for interesting observations.

The students are always studying. Always. Graduation wasn’t this hard a thing when I was in university. Okay, it’s been a decade (a decade!) but still. I suspect they only rest at the campus.

The ones who have jobs are working even after they get back. With their laptops open, phone to their ears, giving or getting instructions. What is that? Leave your work at workplace, people.

Only a few—on phone with their families or girlfriends, asking how the kids are or making plans where to meet next—give me hope.