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.