It is barely dawn and the sky is as pink as Turkish delight. Yet already, at 5.45am, Lahore Central Station is buzzing like a kicked hive.
Bleary eyed, you look around in bewilderment. At home the milkmen are abroad at this time, but no one else. Here the shops are already open, the fruit and vegetables on display, and the shopkeepers on the prowl for attention.
“Hello my dear,” says a man proffering a cauliflower.
“Sahib- what is your good name?”
“Subzi! Subzi! Subzi!”
“Your mother country?”
A Punjabi runs up behind the rickshaw, waving something horrible, a wig perhaps, or some monstrous vegetable:
“Sahib, come looking! Special OK shop! Buying no problem!”
Lahore station rears out of the surrounding anarchy like a liner out of the ocean. It is a strange, hybrid building: the Victorian red-brick is imitation St. Pancras, the loopholes, battlements and machicolations are stolen from some Renaissance palazzo: Milan perhaps, or Pavia, while the towers are vaguely German, and resemble a particularly extravagant Wagnerian stage set. Only the chaos is authentically Pakistani.