Ambassadors of Old Lahore

August 27th, 2014 in Lahore

The walled city of Lahore, or ‘androon shehar’ as it’s called by the locals, is changing. A conscious effort is being made to preserve and restore all things old and gold inside the walled city. What started as a World Bank funded project to renovate Delhi gate is now a civic authority within the Punjab government responsible for taking care of everything inside the walled city of Lahore.

Walled City of Lahore Authority also trains a dozen or so people every year to be ambassadors and tourist guides of Old Lahore. This year’s training session just started. Here’s a photo of the participants; recognize someone?

Walled City of Lahore Authority Tourist Guides 2014

The street where Bibi KaulaN once lived

August 22nd, 2014 in Lahore

I live in the same street of Lahore where Bibi KaulaN once lived. The Muslim woman who found solace in the few verses of the Granth Sahib she had learnt and was locked up by her guardians for she kept on reciting them. The woman who has a Gurdwara right next to Harmandir Sahib named after her, in whose Sarovar devotees were directed by Guru Hargobind to take a dip first before going to the Harmandir Sahib.

That “house” in my street with beautifully-carved blue-colored windows that one can’t help but notice is the place where Guru Hargobind, the 6th Sikh Guru, had tied his horse to a tree when he came to rescue her.

Bibi KaulaN was a student of Mian Mir’s where she was sent by her guardians to learn the letters. Mian Mir, being a close friend of the Sikh gurus and the inclusive Sufi that he was, must have quoted the verses in his lectures and it must have been there that she learnt them by heart. Whatever the source was, the people at her home, where she was brought during her early years, were not happy when they heard her reciting the verses. She was asked to stop saying the words of the infidels. She didn’t. Mian Mir was consulted. His advice—that she had a special association with God and that she should be let free in choosing however she likes to connect with Him—wasn’t accepted and she was barred from leaving the house.

She somehow managed to get a message delivered to Guru Hargobind to rescue her. The Guru naturally first consulted Mian Mir. “She has to come out of the house by herself,” said Mian Mir, possibly for invoking her free will and to save the Guru from later accusations. A day was set, she escaped from the vent window and walked up to the Guru who then took her to Amritsar, where her living quarters were built near Harmandir Sahib.

During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign, the place where Bibi KaulaN took the first steps towards liberation was turned into a temple, Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi, Temple of the Sixth Kingdom.

Maybe camera-phones have killed the stories

August 18th, 2014 in Lahore

I now have a place in Lahore. A studio flat in the heart of old city at the top floor of a building overlooking the unplastered walls of the neighborhood houses.

A broken guitar rests deteriorating on the roof of the house in front of this building. It’s been a while since it was crushed, perhaps in disapproval, as the condition tells. A story waiting to be told.

Walking down the street, you can’t help but notice the beautifully-carved blue-colored windows on the first floor of a house. There are six of them—three on the front and three on the side. Only one remains open—half of it.

Milky Way is the name of the neighborhood milk shop. Like the galaxy, it’s also very popular among the people. So popular that the proprietor had to hang a sign outside: beware of the pickpockets.

I could share pictures if I had a camera or a camera-phone. But maybe it’s for the good. Maybe camera-phones have killed the stories.


March 19th, 2014 in Life

The history of immigration is the history of alienation and its consequences… For every freedom won, a tradition lost. For every second generation assimilated, a first generation in one way or another spurned. For the gains of goods and services, an identity lost, and uncertainty found. — Oscar Handlin

Since It’s Women’s Day

March 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ll share what I say the rest of the year…

On Accessibility

March 5th, 2014 in Web Design

“Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.”

Many web design professionals begin caring about accessibility only after they develop special needs. After 12px becomes too small to read. After low contrast starts bothering them. It’s sad.

It’s Finally Coming!

March 5th, 2014 in Web Design

Citizens’ Voice was a tentative title for the idea when it was presented at P@SHA Launchpad. Please suggest a local name suitable for this?

100/100 on Google PageSpeed. Ethe Rakh!

February 25th, 2014 in Web Design

folkpunjab google pagespeed insights

The State of Android Enthusiasts

February 21st, 2014 in Technology

Android devices remind me of the days when every other person or their cousin was getting a desktop computer. Bragging about the specs was the favorite pastime of those who had just bought a system. Processing power, amount of RAM, hard disk capacity, and monitor size were discussed to no end. If you could fdisk the hard drive and reinstall everything, including drivers, you were considered a pro. Windows was the default choice. 98 was the Gingerbread, XP the Jelly Bean. There was an abundance of applications. You could install a dozen programs to do the same thing. Computer enthusiasts were spending more time talking about their machines than using them to get things done.

It’s pretty much the same with Android.

The Android Advantage

February 19th, 2014 in Technology

Android may not be as polished as iOS but it sure deserves the credit for giving people full-fledged smartphones that cost a fraction.

Take Samsung Galaxy Star Pro, Huawei Y320, or another entry-level Android from a reputable brand: They all feature 4″ display, 512 RAM (iPhone 4 has the same amount), and a dual-core processor; and cost around $100.

Granted these phones aren’t as sleek as an iPhone, but they actually do all the things one expects from a high-end smartphone: Skype, Viber, FlipBaord, Instagram—you name it.

Thumbs up to Android.

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