Awestruck in Lahore

6 days ago in Lahore | Tags:

Walking about the streets of Lahore, sometimes just taking a turn can leave you awestruck.

Walled City of Lahore

I’m the Sikh in my class

1 week ago in Lahore | Tags: , ,

We study old Lahore—the walled city to be specific—and our class is held at Delhi Gate, on top of the gate actually, on its roof. An attempt by the Walled City of Lahore Authority to make us well-rounded tourist guides, it’s an interesting course. A steady six-week tour of the walled city, a lot of history, and some stories. I’d recommend that you join the next session if you have got the time.

There are thirteen of us: an artist, two teachers, an archeology student, a vagabond zimmidaar, a Cuckoo’s Den attendant, a marketer, a Taazia guardian, a winner of the Lahore food competition (“khaaba-ustad”), an actual tourist guide, a professional photographer, an ex-army officer, and I.

Everyone brings something to the class—in addition to the ever-flowing stream of poetry and jokes. The residents of the walled city share inside info about the various gallian, mohallay, koche, bazaar, kattrian, and, of course, stories. The Taazia guardian is often consulted whenever there’s something related to the Shia tradition; the khaaba-ustad is sought for food; the actual tourist guide about histories.

I, on the other hand, find myself explaining, and sometimes correcting, the names of the Gurus, the institution of Khalsa, the Kirtan, the symbolic significance of the Ks, the nature of Sikh religion (not a “form” of Hinduism), and the fact that the Sikhs are Punjabi people.

I’m the Sikh in my class.

Inside Delhi Gate, Lahore

1 week ago in Lahore | Tags:

Inside the Walled City of Lahore, a rickshaw becomes “rashka,” streets turn into bazaars, and strangers are called “paa-jee.”

Inside Delhi Gate, Lahore

White Blood

2 weeks ago in Literature | Tags:

“Listen to them, they tell the truth. The man they speak of did use to take people’s age away. He took six months out of my life in the year of the famine,” clearing his throat to draw attention, a rather old man said to the others at the village sitting.

Hearing this, the two groups who were arguing fell silent. Four to five youth of the village made up one group while the other group consisted of a few elders. The point of discussion was a man from the neighboring village who had died a few years ago. The elders were of the opinion that the deceased used to take away others’ age but the youth couldn’t believe it.

[An excerpt from White Blood, a Punabi short story by Malik Maher Ali; my translation.]

Only thing I like about Defense Day

2 weeks ago in Uncategorized

During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Noor Jehan sang a song that gives you goose bumps no matter where you are from. The song was: Eh puttar hattaN te nahi vikde. Go ahead, google it, and listen to the audio.

It is still played by Pakistani TV channels every year to commemorate the war and to invoke love for the armed forces.

What not many people notice is how anti-war the lyrics are: These sons [dying in wars] are not sold on shops, what are you looking for in the market?

The half-open window has fallen off

2 weeks ago in Lahore | Tags: , ,

On my first day in this neighborhood, I told you about a house with yellow walls and beautifully-carved blue-colored windows that one can’t help but notice. And that one of the windows remains half open.

On the second day, I learned that it was in fact a Gurdwara, Temple of the Sixth Kingdom, where Bibi KaulaN took the decisive step toward liberation.

Today in the afternoon, when the heavy rainfall stopped for a while, I went out for lunch. Walking down the street, my heart suddenly sank when I looked at the Gurdwara. The half-open window couldn’t handle the storm. Half of it has fallen off.

Writing for the mainstream media

2 weeks ago in Lahore

Writing for the mainstream media (papers and magazines) is a bit tedious for someone like me who is used to writing for himself and for fun. There are rules to be followed and they take time in editing and publishing. It doesn’t get out there instantly the way a blog or facebook post does.

I have this great story from Lahore, truly amazing but untold (at least not in the way I want to) because people are living it and that has made it invisible to them. There are some religious factors too: the puritanism of the Wahabi movement, for instance, is also influencing people: some things are consciously or subconsciously not talked about in the hope that they will disappear for good.

Anyway, here’s to hope that I finish it early and they print it soon.

A Lahore Haveli

2 weeks ago in Lahore | Tags:

One of the many havelis scattered throughout Old Lahore. Most of them are in bad shape, the reasons vary from owners unable to spend on the maintenance to buildings being rented out.

One of these days, I am going to buy one and restore it myself. Sanu DHA te Bahria Town nahi phabde.

A Lahore Haveli

Maybe we already have what we seek

2 weeks ago in Lahore

A view of Lahore, the greatest city on Earth, as seen from the apartment where I live these days. It has two windows: this one opens to the North, where the walled city lies just 2km away; the other one opens to the East, to Amritsar. By virtue of being on the 3rd (and top) floor, it gets plenty of wind. Je socho te LahoroN Amritsar jandi vaa ethon hi langh ke jandi hai.

Last month, a photo essay featuring some very nice writing studios was published by a websites dedicated to art, books, and design. The rooms featured in the essay were indeed stunning but most of pictures gave the idea that a writing studio has to be splendid, secluded, and somewhere next to a lake.

That’s the problem with Internet inspiration. Maybe we already have what we seek.

Ambassadors of Old Lahore

3 weeks ago in Lahore | Tags:

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

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