Author Archives: ralam420

WAPDA House

The Water and Power Development Authority was created in 1958 to develop Pakistan’s water and energy potential.  The WAPDA Building, located at Lahore’s Charing Cross, shares views of the Summit Minar and Punjab Assembly Building along with the Masonic Lodge, Shah Din and Alfalah Buildings.  It is one of the icons of the city’s architectural landscape.

The WAPDA Building was designed by the American Architect Edward A. Stone and completed in 1960.  Until about a decade ago, the building also housed, below the ground floor, the Saloo’s Restaurant.  With that closed, the public’s entry into the building is restricted.  I’ve had the chance, once or twice, to visit the building and never fail to take pictures of it when I can (though Architect Rana Atif Rehman has done a good job documenting its exterior).  I’m posting two for your distraction.

Ball Bearings (A Lahori’s impressions of Sweden)

by Ahmad Rafay Alam

While landing at Sweden’s Arlanda airport, some 30 minutes outside its capital Stockholm, one can be forgiven for wondering where all the people are.  Coming from Pakistan, where rare is the moment one’s line of sight is not interrupted by another human being, Sweden appears to uninitiated as unpopulated; a vast swathe of pristine forest dotted every now and then with a cottage and the odd lake.  The presence of nature is all encompassing – there’s forest everywhere and can’t be ignored – and is one of the reasons Swedes have a deep connection with their environment.  But one would be quite mistaken to think, what with nearly eight months of darkness in the winter, Sweden is a land where nothing goes on.  Not so. Swedes and Sweden are everywhere.  You just have look a little harder.

Lake Siljen, by Leksand (population 5,861)

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A Green Thought

by Amna Kausar

Amna Kausar is a candidate for the degree of BSc (Hons) majoring in Environmental Science and currently studying in her final semester. She works as a programme officer in a Lahore-based NGO.

My colleague and I were sitting together one day, obviously working, and the topic under discussion was my ‘so-called’ and ‘irrelevant’ passion for achieving ‘Environmental Sustainability’, not just in my own country, but around the globe i.e. a World of Intelligent Fools. It is sad when people like me, who are definitely few in number, come to terms with the fact that not many people possess the competence to envision our vision. They seem staggered and actually horrified at it. And what exactly is our vision? A Greener and Resourceful Planet! Ah, Thank-you, but No Thank-you!

Heading back to what this colleague was trying to say, in his highly ill-informed and juvenile manner, was that why the ignorant and unenlightened individuals of Pakistan (including himself) would not comprehend how important it was to cut off those trees situated at the Lahore Canal Road so that it could be widened for traffic control. For a minute I thought I could just punch him in his face, not because I was sensitive about this Road Widening Project, but because of the supremely ‘casual’ manner he employed in saying ‘Cut off those trees’. I did not visibly do it, so I stopped clicking my computer mouse, and thought of how to go about this important dialogue.

Only recently, I had got myself in a not-so-very hot debate on Face-book with an acquaintance about an article that I had posted on my profile relating to the notorious ‘Lahore Canal Road Widening Project’. Although, the man had solid points to put forth, I have to say how also extraneous they were.

So I got back to my colleague and asked him whether he knew what trees did for us and the Earth. He said: ‘Duh! They provide Oxygen!’ I had to come back with: ‘Oh! And do you breathe in Helium?’ He looked offended but managed to smile. All I could say to him was that it is humbly requested to him to look for the importance of trees on the internet.

This man and many others like him need to be informed that by chopping off those trees along the canal, they will only rob the city of its lungs! This project is worth Rs. 3.5 billion. Please think twice about Pakistan’s current situation. An amount as huge as this to be spent on a mere 8 percent population of Lahore that owns vehicles is certainly ‘not’ something that we can afford. What about the rest of the 92 percent? Should they move to Planet Mars?

A recent course lecture reminds me of a factual account that we, the intelligent fools of the world, are facing the situation of ‘Environment’ against ‘Development’. Sure, go ahead with Development. Just be a little concerned with its definition and proper implementation. It is amazing to know that the government has a good budget to spend on this Road Widening Project. Will it be a crime to think about the 92 percent I mentioned above and develop an efficient Public Transport System for them? I mean, we are a poor nation for sure and we need to do something about it.

Those trees are Lahore’s cultural possessions. We have not got much left in our pockets that we start stripping our country with its little left beauty. Grave environmental dangers are already forecasted including rise in temperatures and loss of biodiversity. There is utterly no water resource management and we are very close to wars on the issue.

Why are we so blind?

Chief Justice takes suo motu notice of Canal Road widening; orders no trees be cut

From Dawn, 28 November 2009

LAHORE, Nov 27: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Friday took suo motu notice against proposed chopping of trees in the provincial metropolis to widen Canal Road.

Chief Justice Chaudhry directed the authorities concerned to put their plans of cutting the trees on hold and summoned the chief secretary and the environment secretary on Dec 1 at Court House in Islamabad.

The chief justice took notice on applications moved by two NGOs namely the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) and the Lahore Bachao Tehreek (LBT), seeking a restraining order against proposed cutting of trees to widen Canal Road.

Earlier, Dawn reported in its Nov 26 edition that environmentalists, conservationists and civil society activists had sought help of the CJP to save hundreds of trees likely to be felled during Eid holidays to pave the way for widening of Canal Road. Through an application to the CJP, they had said the Punjab government was planning to widen Canal Road from Thokar Niaz Beg to Dharampura underpass at a hefty cost of Rs3.15 billion, without fulfilling its obligations under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997, and the chief minister had announced that work on the project should be started.
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Punjab Assembly turns into a “fish market”

This has to be one of the most riveting descriptions of an Assembly session in recent memory. Brilliant stuff. Far more entertaining than TV. Wait, this should be on TV!!

From The News (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=206968)

Punjab PA turns into fish market as Sana, Zaheer trade allegations
Friday, November 06, 2009
By Babar Dogar

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly turned into a fish market on Thursday when Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan and Opposition leader Ch Zaheer traded allegations against each other’s leadership, declaring them dacoits and Qabza Mafia heads.

The parliamentarians from the PML-N and the PML-Q in the Punjab Assembly crossed all limits of decency in exposing the past corruptions of their top leadership. Law Minister Rana Sana alleged Ch Pervaiz Elahi and Ch Moonis Elahi were dacoits and Qabza Mafia heads who had illegally occupied 4,000-kanal land of Roberts Agriculture Farm, besides being involved in the Punjab Bank scam.

In retaliation, Opposition leader Ch Zaheer termed PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif dacoits and heads of Qabza Mafia who had illegally occupied 1,600-acre land in Jati Umra, Raiwind.

Rana Sana challenged Ch Zaheer to prove the allegations, or he would have to resign while Ch Zaheer informed the house that he was being threatened within and outside the assembly by the law minister.
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It’s time for the October Critical Mass Lahore!!!

Join Lahore’s 11th Critical Mass Event at 10:15am this Sunday 25 October 2009 from the Fountain Square, Neela Gumbat, behind Bank Square on Mall Road, Lahore.

This Critical Mass cycling event ill see us prowling the innards of Lahore where riding a bike offers the chance to sample more of  Walled City life without picking a tab.

The thrum of the historic Walled City will lift your spirits as we catch the city-folks going about their morning ritual of Nashta.  If you’re worried about the security situation, you can stay at home at let the terrorists win.

Spinning via Anarkali Bazar we will enter the walled city from Lohari Gate and zigzag our way through the maze of Said Mitha, Paniwala Talab, Rang Mahal, Kashmiri Bazar, Chuna Mandi, Sheranwala Gate, and weave our way back from Fort Road, Red Light District, and Bhati Gate returning to Nila Gumbad via Lower Mall.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Lahore now the most polluted city in Pakistan?

Road PollutionSo much for “development”, so much for the overpasses, the underpasses, the Foodstreets, Jashn-e-Baharan, the Lahore Road, Rehabilitation Project, all of the PHA’s many “efforts”, beautification and so on.  So much for it.  Lahore is now the most polluted city in Pakistan.  Surely someone should accept the fact that the medicine is killing the patient.

The newspaper article below is also an indictment of the thoughtless commercialization policies that have fuelled commercial and industrial activity within the city and, often, even in quiet residential areas.  It’s an indictment of how inequitable our cities are becoming; and how anti-public space and anti-people they have become.  Arif Hasan has called Karachi an “unethically planned city.” Given the short-sighted pursuit we give to the notion of a “World Class City”, I think Lahore is fast earning the same moniker.

Industrialisation, mounting pollution threaten Lahore

Thursday, September 24, 2009
By Ali Raza (The News http://tiny.cc/hQxLT)

LAHORE: Rapidly increasing industrialization and commercialisation has turned the provincial metropolis — once known as the City of Gardens — into one of the most polluted cities in the country.

Even residential localities are not safe from increasing trends of commercialization and industrialization because many industrial zones, which were established some years ago outside the city, are now situated right in middle of the City.

Light and heavy industrial units have been established in various city localities i.e. Misri Shah, Baghbanpura, Mughalpura, Daroghewala, Bhagat Pura, Chah Miran, Shadbagh and other localities along the Bund Road and GT Road. These industries include steel foundries, steel re-rolling mills, kilns, steel furnaces, scrap yards, plastic recycling industry, marble grinding, furniture making and several other kinds of cottage industries. All of these industries are spreading different types of pollutions especially air, noise, vibration and heat.
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It’s time for September’s Critical Mass Event!!!

Critical Mass IIIFellow Lahoris, Critical Mass Lahore has survived the summer and has been enjoyed through Ramzan.  Now, it’s time to rally once more for the cause of public transport, sustainable development, democratic public spaces and, of course, the right to have fun on our own streets!!!

Join Lahore’s 10th Critical Mass Event at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 from the Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.  Come, cycle around Lahore.  Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you can imagine!

Where and how else do Critical Mass Events take place?
Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in over 250 cities all over the world. In Lahore, it is held on the last Sunday of every month.  For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526) or the Critical Mass Lahore blog
Important: Be on time!!!

Hopes dashed along with Lahore food street gates

By Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui, Dawn Metropolitan, 7 August 2009 http://tiny.cc/lart3

Gowalmandi food street gate being pulled down in Lahore. –Photo by Tariq Mahmood

LAHORE: Gowalmandi Food Street that had been contributing to promote the soft image of the country, particularly of Lahore, all over the world during the last one decade or so, finally fell prey to the culture of ‘political intolerance’ on Thursday.

Around 10,000 people, earning their livelihood at the food street, lost their last hope on Thursday when the Data Gunj Bakhsh Town administration pulled down its decorative gates.

Though bosses of the ruling PML-N in Punjab term the demolition operation an effort to remove hindrance to ‘smooth flow’ of traffic, residents of the area believe they have been victimised for their political dissent.

‘In fact, the rulers don’t want continuation of a project which is still being overseen by the people related to their rival party – the PML-Q. The thoroughfare is not a main artery and had become a family spot over the years,’ a PML-Q leader told this reporter on the condition of anonymity.

Another resident who used to earn livelihood by running an eatery on wheels in the food street said: ‘After assuming power, everyone wants to undo the steps taken by their antecedent, without thinking for a moment what will be its repercussions and how many people will be affected?’

‘No resident of Gowalmandi has ever lodged any complaint against the food street,’ he asserted while rejecting the government claims the action was taken on the complaints of the area people.

75% houses in GOR-I allotted to DMG officers

GOR GateLAHORE: The Government Officers Residence (GOR-I) has become an ‘empire’ for District Management Group (DMG) officers with some 75 percent bungalows in the residential area allotted to DMG officers.

The colony is located in a prime area of the city, adjacent to The Mall, the Canal, Jail Road and the Aiwan-e-Tijarat.

Of the total of 161 bungalows in the locality, 113 are available for open allotment. Of these, only 27 have been allotted to officers who are not from the DMG.

Out of the 161 bungalows, 25 are at the disposal of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for allotment to LHC and Supreme Court judges. Fifteen bungalows are reserved for the chief minister and other provincial legislators, and eight are designated for officers of various departments.

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Critical Mass Lahore, July 2009

Critical Mass -II
It’s time for Critical Mass July 2009

We meet at Zakir Tikka intersection on Sarwar Road in the Lahore Cantonment at 6.15pm on Sunday 26 July 2009.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Critical Mass
is not an organization. It is an idea. It is about making a statement. Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is a step towards making our city clean and taking our streets back.

Critical Mass
is an idea. Make it yours.
What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?
All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass. Come, cycle around Lahore. Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you think!
Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 6:15pm this Sunday 26 July 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526). Important: Be on time!!!

Cycle bling

Last Sunday’s Critical Mass event was a success.  About 40 cycle enthusiasts turned out in the late afternoon to cycle around the city in an effort to raise awareness about the environment, alternative modes of transport, democratic development and also just to enjoy themselves.

One enthusiast brought what was, by far, the most blinged-out cycle I have seen.  Here are some photographs:

Cycle Bling I

This is what he had written on the front of the cycle:

Cycle Bling II

Now that’s cycle-sense if ever saw it!!!

It’s time for Lahore’s 6th Critical Mass Event

Critical Mass -II

Date: 31 May 2009
Time: 5.45pm (till about 7.30pm)
Place: Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. It is about making a statement. Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is a step towards making our city clean and taking our streets back.

Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.

Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:45pm this Sunday 31 May 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page. Important: Be on time!!!

It’s Time for Critical Mass Lahore

critical-mass-invite-april

The last Sunday of the month is approaching, and so it’s time for Critical Mass. I can’t speak for the others (though I know many share this view), but getting on our cycles and going onto the streets of Lahore sends a powerful message: That the streets are open spaces; that men, women and children can enjoy the city and its many delights safely and without fear of molestation; that cycling is a viable form of transport; that the way our cities are managed is deplorable; and that, most of all, we are having fun in our own city and in our own country.

Come join the Critical Mass on Sunday. All you’ll need is a road worthy cycle and a sense of adventure. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Nadeem Aslam reading from The Wasted Vigil

wasted-vigil1The Wasted Vigil is Nadeem Aslam’s third and most powerful novel yet. It follows the lives of five damaged souls dealing with the repercussions of the “War on Terror” in later day Afghanistan. A work of deepest humanity, “The Wasted Vigil” offers a timely portrait of this region, of love during war and conflict. At once angry, unflinching and memorably beautiful, it marks Nadeem Aslam as a world writer of major importance.

Nadeem shall be reading from ‘The Wasted Vigil’ and answering your questions at the Sayeed Saigol Auditorium on 10th April between 5-7pm.

This event is being arranged by The Last Word in collaboration with the LUMS Literary Society.

Kafi Shah Hussain

Below are Part I and Part II of recordings of the Kafi of the Sufi poet Shah Hussain sung by the late Ustad Nazir Butt.

Mela Chiraghan begins with traditional fervour

mela-chiraghan

Shah Hussain (1538-1599) was a Punjabi poet and a saint. He was the pioneer of the Kafi form of Punjabi poetry.

By: Rana Latif | Published in The Nation March 29, 2009

LAHORE – Mela Chiraghan, festival of light marking the 421st annual Urs of Hazrat Shah Hussain (RA), a saint with a different trait and a mystic poet of Punjabi with distinction, commonly known as Madhu Lal Hussain who lived in Lahore in 16th century (1538-1599), began with traditional fervour at Shalimar, Saturday evening.
It is perhaps the biggest festival of Punjab after the Urs of Data Ganj Bakhsh (RA) and Baba Farid (RA) of Pakpattan. Mela Chiraghan has many distinctions particularly the singing of ‘kafi’ of Shah Hussain in Punjab, who was perhaps the pioneer of Kafi that carried rich intellectual and spiritual values.
He himself sang his own kafis before the people bringing big applause. His kafis reflect the defiant attitude and independence of thought, away from the contemporary thoughts of religious and social hierarchy. The whirling dervishes on the tunes of drums sing kafis at the Mela. It is a rare event of whirling and dancing on the beats of drum. Its rhythm is a heart catching as Shah Hussain’s Kafis carry rich musical values and element of entertainment, liked by folk of Punjab.

A down-to-earth explanation of the current financial downturn

Sent by friend Q. Isa Daupota

(Phajja is a famous seller of siri paya and nihari in old, walled city of Lahore.)

fazl-e-haq-mutton_karahi

Phajja is the proprietor of a Siri-Paya and Nehari Shop in Lahore . Sales are low and, in order to increase them, he comes up with a plan to allow his customers to eat now and pay later. He keeps track of the meals consumed on a ledger. Continue reading

It’s time for Lahore’s 4th Critical Mass cycling event

critical-mass-march-20091

The Long March Rap

This in from friend Sami Shah who hosts News Weakly on Dawn TV. Absolutely brilliant. He takes “the Long March to 8 Mile.” And nails it!

You can view more of Sami’s News Weakly clips on his Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/newsweakly