Lahore has no no-go areas like Karachi. Wherever I go in Lahore, it is home to me. PHOTO: REUTERS
Every city or town in Pakistan is famous for one thing or the other. However, for usLahoris, all arguments cease to matter before our simple motto –Lahore Lahore ae(Lahore is Lahore).
Here are a few reasons as to why I’d choose Lahore over any other city in Pakistan.
Data ki nagri
Pakistan is very fortunate that many great sufi saints lived in this part of the world and all our major cities have different shrines. But not many cities have a title like Data ki nagri. The shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri brings many to Lahore and keeps many connected to the city, spiritually.
The Data Darbar in Lahore.
In Lahore, what do you when you’re happy?
You go out and eat.
What do you when the weather is nice?
You go out and eat.
What do you do when you want to hang out with friends?
You go out and eat.
What do you do when you’re bored?
You go out and eat.
I know that Gujranwala has its tikkay and kasurifalooda, and that Karachi’s Burns Road’s nihari is famous too, along with Peshawar’s Namak Mandi and so on and so forth, but when you have it all (and so much of it) in Lahore, you wouldn’t find the same foodie happiness anywhere else.
Come to Lahore!
We all know that Lahoris are called zinda dilaan (lively) but how can you define this zinda dili? Ask a visitor and he’ll reduce it to hospitality. However, I have a different point of view on it. Here is an example.
Once, while waiting at the traffic signal at Lakshmi Chowk, I asked my brother, who was on the driving seat, if he’d like to have some laddoos. He gave me a strange look because I didn’t have any with me. I asked him to wait a minute and then began looking at the fellows having laddoos in the car beside ours. The moment he saw me looking at those laddoos with wishful eyes, he immediately offered them to me saying:
“Paa ji lawwo”
(Hey brother, have some)
To me, this is zinda dili, with a twinge of humour. You can crack a joke with an absolute stranger, be it a shopkeeper, a rickshaw driver, a policeman or any passerby and enjoy the company of a hearty laugh! They will never disappoint you.
People enjoying a dhol performance in Lahore. Photo: AFP
The hustle and bustle of Karachi doesn’t let people have this luxury. When I tried the same thing over there, I got a strange ‘what’s the deal with you man!’ look.
There are no no-go areas, unlike in Karachi or some parts of KPK, I’ve been warned by people to avoid using my phone in public in Karachi even during the day! But here, I can walk on the street in the middle of the night, to an ATM, whilst texting and nobody would care.
Lahore is green. I love that about Lahore. There are so many parks. You’ll always find them crowded no matter what time you go there. You’ll find families out for picnics, kids playing, uncles walking and the view of everyone peacefully going about their business compliments the scenic green beauty even more. The green around Lahore and the mountains in the north of the city provide us with unending luxuries and modes of entertainment. As we go south of Lahore, the cities become drier and drier until we reach the beaches of Karachi, the only form of entertainment there.
Yes, Lahore has its fair share of historical places but that is not what I mean when I say heritage. The heritage of Lahore includes its way of life, its people, its poets, its artists and its streets. You can feel the aura of that rich heritage even when you sip a cup of hot chai at the Pak Tea House. Islamabad isn’t old enough to have that aura and Karachi has become too modernised to lug its own heritage along.
Pak Tea House in Lahore. Photo: Files
They say that 10 out of 12 months in Karachi are hot, while the other two are extremely hot. There might be some exaggeration there but it’s mostly humid in Karachi. Islamabad gets quite cold and its springs have too much pollen for my liking. But if you want to experience the thrill of every season, Lahore would never let you down!
A rare glimpse of Lahore covered in snow and ice. Photo: Files
In spring, Lahore’s beauty blooms along with its spring flowers; the site is stunning. In the summers, there are days we easily cross the 50 degrees Celsius mark and you can actually feel your skin cooking. This doesn’t last very though because by the time we start taking out our summer wear and enjoy trips to swimming pools, it’s time for the next season to arrive. During the monsoons, we like to load up on a lot of mangoes and jamuns while we watch the city be washed clean by the heavens. Before we can notice the colourful rainbows peeking forth from the clouds, it’s time for autumn to take over. We are really never bored, here in Lahore. Autumn has its own charm, the old architectural delights, decorated with fallen autumn leaves is an artist’s paradise. When famous poet, Nasir Kazmi, was asked by a friend as to where he was going in that afternoon, he replied that he was going to Lawrence Gardens to see the autumn leaves. The winters here have something truly magical about them! Aside for being my favourite season, they are also some of the most fun seasons we have. Bonfires and barbeques come to life and the winds carry the sound of music throughout the city.
Lahore’s people are beautiful and that makes its markets a pleasant shopping experience. Have you ever been to Anarkali, Bano Bazar, Rung Mahal or Liberty Market? If yes, then you know what I mean.
There is Hafeez Centre as well – the solution to every computer and mobile related problem, under one roof. A friend of mine believes that Hafeez Centre is reason enough for him to never leave Lahore.
A scene at a market place in Lahore. Photo: Files
I’ve spent my fair share of time (and not so much of money) at Landa Bazar too. I won’t mention the cool new fancy malls because Karachi has them too, and probably better.
I will, however, leave you with this beautiful verse by Nasir Kazmi that can sum up why Lahore is Lahore;
Shehr e Lahore teri ronaqien dayem aabaad
Teri galiyon ki hawa kheinch k layee mujh ko
(O City of Lahore, may your incessant fervour last forever
The winds of your streets pulled me back to you)
If you haven’t been to Lahore, then you are missing out. If you have been to Lahore and didn’t like it, let me know when you are coming next and I’ll make sure you have a good time. If you have been to Lahore and loved it, come back! There is always more, and that is why, Lahore is Lahore.
Women of the World Festival creator Jude Kelly discusses the festival and the port city
KARACHI: Karachi is very much like Liverpool, according to Women of the World (WOW) Festival founder Jude Kelly.
“I like this city; it’s very vibrant and full of energy. It reminds me of Liverpool,” said Kelly, who is also the artistic director at the Southbank Centre. The WOW festival came into being some five years ago in London on International Women’s Day. Over the years, the event has been hosted across the world, including Karachi on May 1 this year.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the festival, Kelly said the festival has been happening in many cities around the world and Pakistan is a very important place. “Everybody looks at Pakistan to see what changes happen for women and girls. It’s an important place politically and a superb place in so many ways,” she explained.
Having visited Karachi several times, she said she loves the city and finds it very similar to her hometown. “Well, it’s edgy. There are a whole lot of different types of people with lots of opinions,” she said, adding that there is a “good sense of humour here”.
Sporting an Eastern look by wearing a blue kameez with a matching dupatta, Kelly found the festival to be very relaxed. “The response has been very good here. There are people from different backgrounds and lots of boys and men,” she said. “You turn up and hear about different girls and women’s achievements and celebrate that. You can hear about their obstacles and consider that,” she added.
“It isn’t an academic conference it isn’t a symposium, it’s a festival. I’m enjoying it,” Kelly commented. Why did she choose Karachi to host WOW? “Karachi is an amazing city and seems like an exciting place to do WOW,” she said, adding that women and girls in Karachi said that they would love if a WOW festival could happen here. “They came forward and gave us ideas of what they want to do, such as music, dance as well as talking about difficult subjects. I felt that the positive spirit for change here was right because that’s what we are trying to do all over the world,” she said.
According to Kelly, the festival’s future in Pakistan is still uncertain. “People are already asking if we will do this again in Karachi next year. Whether we’ll go to any other city in Pakistan depends on Pakistani girls and women, whether they want it,” she explained.
A noticeable feature in the sessions was an on-the-spot translation screen. Where conversations were in Urdu, text was being translated in English and vice versa. Sharing her thoughts on this, Kelly said she finds it disrespectful towards communities in Pakistan to not be considerate of language. “Pakistan is [known] because of its language, isn’t it? Not everybody speaks English by any means. I believe not everybody speaks Urdu either,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2016.
Read more: Karachi , WOW festival