Friday, April 23, 2010

Pakistan Diary - At Home in Lahore

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times
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Somewhere in Lahore

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In Lahore, I pretended to be a Lahori. I travelled in an auto rickshaw. I rode on a bike. I boarded a city bus.

As in Delhi, I walked all over the town. I strolled in the Mall Road. I purchased an antique Shakespeare from a second-hand bookstore near Regal Chowk. I had fresh musambi juice at a stall in Hall Road.

I watched people play cricket opposite the Tollinton Market building. I saw a biker waving Pakistan’s flag. I stood outside the now-closed Pak Tea House, a legendary cafĂ© once frequented by great intellectuals.

Outside the ticket stall at Shahi Quila, I purchased the Rs 10 ticket that is given to Pakistani nationals, and not the Rs 100 ticket for foreigners. Since we were all brown, the man at the counter didn’t take me as an outsider.

At noon, I walked in the shaded corridor of the grand Badshai Masjid and took a siesta in its cool prayer hall.

Later, I had Peepal leaves falling on me in the ground around Minar-e-Pakistan. I then took a rickshaw to Lahore Museum where I ordered Pepsi at the canteen. Next, I attended the 79th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Shadman Chowk.

I also roamed around in the campus of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan’s most prestigious business institute. I hang out with students who dressed, behaved and spoke like the baba-log Stephanians of Delhi University.

While taking photographs on the Mall Road, a cop stopped me and asked for my shinakht (identity). When he discovered that I hold an Indian passport, he asked, “Do you know the trouble between India and Pakistan and still you are so openly taking pictures?” I said, “But I’m your friend.” Satisfied, he let me take his picture.

At night, I passed by Lahore’s lovely canal. As part of the Basant season festivities, it was lit up with decorations. There were giant models of lotus flowers floating on the water. At one point I came across the figures of the whirling dervishes of Maulana Rumi.

In the end, I went to Bhati Gate and paid my haziri at the sufi shrine of Daata Durbar. Its sprawling courtyard had pilgrims sleeping, praying and sitting meditatively. I was among my own people.

Sweet dreams, sir

Somewhere in Lahore

Jesus!

Somewhere in Lahore

The trusting cop

Hands Up

Bhagat Singh Zindabad

Remembering Bhagat Singh

Life at Tollinton Market

Pakistan Diary – At Home in Lahore

Pakistan Paindabad

Jiye Pakistan

The tower of Badshahi

Old Relic

Badshahi's shaded corridor

Sightseeing

That's Shahi Quila

Been There, Done That

Domestic tourism at the fort

Domestic Tourism

So Bollywood, Shahi Quila

Valley of Flowers

Bored of the ruins, Shahi Quila

Siesta Hour

Gone with the wind

Pakistan Diary – At Home in Lahore

The second-hand book seller

The Book Seller of Lahore

The LUMS people

Cool Pakistan

Smoking is OK, LUMS

Cool Pakistan

Men at work, Lahore Museum

Somewhere in Lahore

Waiting for the bus

Somewhere in Lahore

By the canal side

Canal Side

Maula Mere Maula, Daata Durbar

Maual Mere maula

At home

Urban Life

I love Lahore

Lahore Wallas

4 comments:

MotaBacha said...

Hey Mayank;

I can totally relate to your feelings as I did the same when I was in Delhi. The pleasure of taking the metro, riding the rickshaws and rubbing shoulders with the Indian population and not being discovered a Pakistani had its own charm.

Your entering the shahi qilla as a Pakistani reminded of how I entered Humayuns tomb for 5 rupees as against 250 rupees for foreigners. Upon being asked where I was from, I replied Bambayee....without realizing that its called Mumbai now....

Good writeup with excellent pics.

Sakib Ahmad said...

Good to see pictures of my home town, which I haven't visited for quite a while now. Made me feel nostalgic. "ChiRya ghar" (the zoo) and "Ajaaeb ghar" (the museum) are two places I used to be taken to often during my childhood.

Rare to see such warmth coming from across the border.

Mariyam said...

Hello Author
Thank you for make this great post. You share a real face of great Lahore.
Keep Sharing

Hunny said...

First ov all..
Thnkxx mayank... for posting such stuff..
I'm ur fan now...
Loved the line' i was among my own ppl'

Yes.. I also wanna feel these things one day...
Its my dream to be there..
I got really nyc intelectuall frnds from pak..
ppl are really nyc..(though i hate some radicals on both side spoiling our destined frndship)
take my word.. We both countries are just frustrated members of one family...
I <3 pakistan a lot... For many reasons... coz tht's my ancestral land...
I hav the ultimate dream of watching united indo-pak in my lifetime.. Jus lykk germans did..
We shud get inspired frm germans..

Love u pak..

Hunny (delhi)