Category Archives: Art

WHEN Larry Niblett left Lahore for “greener pastures”

WHEN Larry Niblett left Lahore for “greener pastures” in the US, his celebrated father, the “angreez” DIG (Traffic) of Lahore, Mr. Niblett, headed the other way to Australia. The loss of both these “pucca” Lahori characters was immense. But then father and son never did see eye to eye. In the end, they headed in opposite directions.

The senior Niblett we had seen since we started going to school. He was a smart police officer who brooked no nonsense.

I have three enduring images in my mind’s eye of DIG Niblett. The first was when as a school-going student I violated the one-way traffic rule on Lawrence Road. He rode up on his motor bicycle and stopped me. “You must be bloody well Larry’s friend riding your bike up a one-way road, having no lights. I will confiscate your bicycle and send you to jail”.

I trembled in fear at such an outcome. Imagine me, a school student, in jail, my father would kill me. “He bloody well should,” roared the police officer Niblett. “Who is your father?” he asked. I told him so. “Oh, in that case I will give you a bloody good hiding”, he said and got off his motorcycle. One clip round the head was enough to make me walk with my bicycle to school with the tyres having been deflated. I was ashamed of myself. In those days students used to be ashamed if Niblett stopped them. In the evening I told my mother about what had happened and got another good hiding. But she was kind enough not to tell my father, because Mr. Niblett had already phoned him and asked him to “educate the brat”. Oh, I shall not narrate what followed. But then Lahore was like that, one big family where everyone cared.

My next image is as a student in Government College, Lahore. The anti-Ayub troubles had seen a massive crowd surround the Governor’s House. The mad mob was baying for blood and the cry went out to storm the gates and take over the premises. The angry mob attacked. The gate chains were broken and the crowd began to surge in. This had never happened before in the history of the Governor’s House. The police guards had fled. In the middle of the road, behind the gate, stood one man alone … Mr. Niblett, then a DSP. Pistol in hand he shouted over the megaphone Wapas chalay jao varna goli maar doon ga (Leave or I will shoot you). The crowd surged. A shot rang out. The crowd stopped. Then three rapid shots whizzed over the head of the crowd hitting the walls. Panic. The crowd rushed back. More shots followed. Total panic as everyone rushed out. DSP Niblett had saved the Governor’s House alone. What he did with his panic-stricken staff later is also history, like almost making them eat hay out of horse bags. Many years later he told me: “I never shoot to kill. The kids were doing the right thing, but in a wrong way”. He remained a sensitive father to all the students of Lahore, and they feared and yet loved and respected him.

Several years later, his son Larry indulged in an illegality. The DIG was like a man gone mad. He personally arrested his own son, sent him on a three-day remand, ordered that he be given the terrible “channa and one roti” diet as stipulated by law, then appeared before the judge and testified against his son and sent him to jail. Even the judge requested him to soften up. “No way my lord, the son of DIG Niblett would not have the easy way out”. This glorious police officer saw to it that his name was not soiled. “If I had my way, I would lock him up and throw the keys away”, he would say when reminded of the incident. But Larry was his father’s son. He more than made amends, spent his time and apologized to his father. Ask any old police constable or officer in Lahore about DIG Niblett, and you will notice that they still pride themselves in the fact that he was one of them.

Just 30 years ago Lahore had such a healthy mix of religions and people. The Christians of Lahore made up a very lively portion of Lahore. The few remaining Anglo-Indians, or Eurasians as they were originally called, still contribute much more than their numbers. But then thousands have fled the rages of intolerance. But their hearts remain in Lahore. A friend recently informed me that in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5 to 11, 2004, a world gathering of Anglo-Indians is taking place. There they will remember the old Lahore, of fun and joy. I went on the web page that lists people coming, and I was amazed at the names I recollected.

A year senior to us in the St. Anthony’s High School, Lahore, was a pretty girl called Perry Young. She will be there. Then Gomes the boxer of Beadon Road will be there. Peter Snell, of Temple Road, a close friend of my younger brother Karim will be there, too. Imagine all these names of the years gone by. And then Noney Anderson of Garhi Shahu will be there. From Lawrence College will be Duckworth and John D’Souza. From Karachi Grammar will be Rita D’Souza, Dennis Rebeira and John Stringer. From Quetta will be Monte Clements. The list reads on and on. This is going to be the largest collection of Pakistani and Indians of Anglo-Indian origin to collect to remember the land of their birth and origin. It makes one sad to see that the sons and daughters of our soil should have to be chased away by a set of beliefs that have been distorted beyond measure. Yet they remember their homeland with such fondness.

The people of the city of Lahore, both old and new, till very recently considered the inhabitants as a bunch of beautiful flowers, each person, each religion, each sect, complementing the other. Most of the original inhabitants had been lost to the Partition. Yet the city still had a healthy mix of religions and people with immense toleration. My old man called the new arrivals the “47” variety, and with time he scorned their ‘claim mentality’, a purely materialistic approach to life. He often cursed them for not understanding the ethos of Lahore, one of the seven great cities of the old world. There were Christians, Parsis, and even a few Hindus, with a few Sikhs living inside the walled city. The festivals of Eid, Christmas, Nauroze, Basikhi belonged to everyone. The world was love, not hate and suspicion. We have come a long way up a one-way street. Probably against the one-way …. And no DIG Niblett now serves to give us “a clip to bring us to our senses”

.— Majid Sheikh

Lahore Cinemas Then and Now

Lahore’s rich culture of cinemas has deteriorated over decades. This video reminds us why we need more accessible, low-cost cinemas for the public. #publicspaces Lahore was once known for its rich culture. The city had numerous large screens, but now, most of the city’s old cinemas have been demolished. Some cinemas have turned into plazas and other businesses. Author Saeed Ahmad tells Naya Daur that before 1947, filmmakers from Bombay used to release their films in Lahore first to evaluate the response of the audience. And only then was the film released in other cities of the Indian sub-continent. One of the cinema owner tells that there was a time when cinemas used to get sold out for films but now things have changed. The modern cineplexes are not meant for the masses. Saeed Ahmed also blames ZIa-ul-Haq for the decline in performing arts.

The Lights of Lahore: A Cartography of Loss

This article was written by Farha Noor for Coldnoon.com

Ae roshnion ke shahar
Kaun kahe kis simt hai teri roshnion ki raah
Har jaanib be-noor khadi hai hijr ki shaharpanaah
Thak-kar har soo baith rahi hai shouq ki maand sipaah

Oh city of lights
Who could say in what direction is the road to your lights?
On every side stand the unlit city-walls of banishment:
Weary, in every direction, the exhausted army of ardour is sitting (Faiz Ahmed Faiz, trans. by V. G. Kiernan)

 

I went to Lahore in search of a dead woman – a woman who belonged, more in death than in life, to this city she decided to make her own. I went to know about the unknown, to throw some light on the darkness of her past. In belonging to a city in death, one often imparts life to the city itself. My journey to Lahore made me realise much more than I could imagine: that the search for the dead can often lead one to many more deaths, to being trapped within the apparition of an illuminated city that thrives on darkness. For me, Lahore now translates into an enigmatic sense of loss. It is a loss that is not mine, that would never be mine, that could never have been mine. I am an outsider, a mere traveller. Yet, it is this loss that reaches out, connecting dots on the map of Lahore, darker than any other line. It is this loss that I have gained. It is this loss I accidentally inherited as I went astray in the glittering alleys and gardens of the ruining city I thought I escaped. Continue reading

Profile: High life, Lahore

This article was originally posted in Dawn

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Soaked in the golden age of the ’60s, Lahore was an island of hedonistic pleasure. For teens who had yet to say goodbye to the loss of innocence that perforce visits every adult when real life issues strike, ours was a fairytale existence. Who can forget ‘Mr Chips’? With his bagful of packets of chips he would pop up from every corner of Anarkali bazaar to accost you. His voice, 50 years later, still rings in my ears. The channa chaat at Bano Bazaar had to be eaten after mom would finish with her petticoat and blouse matching with the saris she’d tote around.

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Song Of Lahore: Pakistan’s Musicians Affirm Their Place In A Country That Threatens To Forget Them

By Akbar Shahid Ahmed

Asad Ali, the guitarist in the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, is one of the musicians featured in "Song of Lahore." | Mobeen Ansari

Asad Ali, the guitarist in the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, is one of the musicians featured in “Song of Lahore.” | Mobeen Ansari

The value of one’s soul is hard to measure, but Baqir Abbas, a musician in the Pakistani city of Lahore, has it worked out for himself. Abbas’ soul is slightly less precious to him than the delicately designed bamboo flutes he carves. “All the stories of the world will play from it, God willing,” he says, before kissing his latest instrument and touching it twice to its forehead.

Abbas explains his philosophy in “Song of Lahore,” a new documentary about an intergenerational community of musicians skilled in their own mix of traditional Pakistani music and the Western orchestral scores demanded by Lahore’s once-booming film industry. He and his fellow musicians “find God in music,” Abbas says.

Their critics do not, and the very act of practicing their craft now makes them targets in a more conservative Pakistan. Followers of the increasingly influential, hardline Deobandi school of thought in Sunni Islam consider music to be sinful and musicians to be apostates who have no place in an avowedly Muslim nation.

“Song of Lahore” is powerful because it shows these musicians do have a place in Pakistan.

Last week, the 82-minute documentary won multiple standing ovations and a joint second place in the Documentary Audience Award category at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. But the feature’s greatest triumph is that it proves the Deobandis wrong: These musicians are quintessentially Pakistani and essential to the nation’s cultural identity, Islam and all.

Worshippers gather at Lahore's historic Badshahi Mosque on April 25, 2015.

Worshippers gather at Lahore’s historic Badshahi Mosque on April 25, 2015.

Progressive Pakistanis who value their country’s musical heritage have been making that case for decades. Continue reading

Lahore on a fantastical journey

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This article was originally published in TNS

The Lahore Biennale, expected to be the premier showcase of contemporary arts from all over the world, is all set to have a finale in 2016

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Imagine a walk through the fabulousness of Venice, feel like a Venetian or a traveller, drown in the city’s hopeless romance — without having to fly over continents, without braving the mundane drudgery of travel… ah, really, it’s so dreamlike!

Renowned contemporary artist Rashid Rana is about to take Lahoris on this fantastical journey. His installation, an extension of his Venice Bienalle project, ‘My East is Your West’, to be put up in Liberty Market soon, will replicate Plazzo Benzon in Venice. This space in Lahore will feature a video projection of live feed from a mirrored space in Venice. The backdrop will be the same, yet you will view completely different faces and activities on either side of the world. It will be in one sense a replication and yet a dislocation of space.

Rana’s artwork, and a bundle of other art activities, will together form the Lahore Biennale, which is expected to be the premier showcase of contemporary arts from all over the world.

Set up in 2013, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), a non-profit organisation, run by a team of prominent artists and curators of national and international acclaim, through their initiative of Lahore Biennale hope to cover “critical sites for experimentation in visual expression and experience, seeking to challenge and expand the scope of both”, explains the Foundation’s manifesto.

“We want to bring art in the public sphere. We want to break institutional boundaries, reach out to as many people as possible, and encourage platforms where dialogue can go on,” says Qudsia Rahim, executive director LBF, while sitting in a square room with white walls in a senior architect’s office in Lahore’s Muslim Town. Her team comprising young art school graduates surrounds her. Talking on their behalf too, Rahim excitedly adds, “We just want to have fun with arts”. Continue reading

Photo of the Day: Sunset in Lahore via BBC Weather

BBC Lahore

Stunning sunset in , Pakistan last night. More world pics:

A little bit of India in Lahore

 

Naseer ud din shah

The third edition of the Lahore Literary Festival concluded last weekend, a three-day extravaganza attended among others, by prominent Indian writers as delegates and visitors.

Distinguished historian Romila Thapar gave the inaugural keynote address, “The Past as Present”, introduced by Ayesha Jalal, whose recently published book The Struggle for Pakistan also featured in one of the sessions. Both historians participated in a later session on “Living with Internal Differences: The South Asian Dilemma” with human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir and journalist Khaled Ahmed.

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لٹریچر فیسٹیول۔ اُردو سے زیادہ انگریزی میں

کشور ناہید

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ہال نمبر4میں کل 70 کرسیاں لگی تھیں۔ کم از کم 500 لوگ اندر آنا چاہتے تھے۔ مسئلہ بھی ایسا تھا۔ عبداللہ حسین کے ساتھ ایک گھنٹے کا پروگرام لاہور لٹریچر فیسٹیول میں ہونا تھا۔ شائقین فیصل آباد، اندرون شہر لاہور، شیخوپورہ، گوجرانوالہ اور لاہور کے سارے کالجوں سے آئے تھے۔ وہ سب عبداللہ حسین کو دیکھنا اور سننا چاہتے تھے مگر ہال کے اندر گنجائش صرف 70 بندوں کی تھی۔ اس وقت بڑے ہال میں کرکٹ پر مذاکرہ ہورہا تھا۔ اس میں گنجائش 750 لوگوں کے بیٹھنے کی تھی۔ بتانا مقصود یہ ہے کہ اول تو اردو ادب سے متعلق سیشن آٹے میں نمک کے برابر رکھے گئے تھے۔ ان کے لئے بھی چھو ٹے ہال منتخب کئے گئے تھے۔ جبکہ سیاسی موضوعات سے لیکر ملکہ ترنم، نصیرالدین شاہ اور سارے غیرملکی ادیبوں کے لئے بڑے ہال محفوظ کئے گئے تھے۔ Continue reading

Reclaiming Lahore – LLF 2015

This article was originally published here

The Lahore Literary Festival came as a breath of fresh air on the city’s depleted cultural landscape

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“Pata nahin kee hai, koi kitaaban da mela lagda hai,” one of the numerous policewomen deployed outside the Alhamra Arts Council last weekend was overheard saying perplexedly into her phone. It was easy to understand her confusion for it’s not every day that the city witnesses an event of the magnitude that was the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).

Spread over three days, the festival put up a remarkable 75 sessions that gave the people of the city, as well as those who’d converged on to the Alhamra from various parts of Pakistan, a taste of literature, politics, culture and music. The sessions ranged from tributes to Pakistan’s legends such as Madam Noor Jehan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to talks by the country’s new generation of fiction writers including Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid and Bilal Tanveer, interspersed by discussions on global and regional politics that engaged international journalists such as Roger Cohen of the NY Times and Lyse Doucet of BBC with local experts and politicians.

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Photo of the Day: Paintings from Shalimar Gardens

Malik Omaid

From my recent visit to Shalimar Gardens I saw these paintings on doors on the rooms at the entrance of the garden. These paintings of Mughal period are still safe from visitors who write their names with phone numbers and many who literally destroy frescoes. I think these should be preserved in a manner that these are still in their place but safer from vigilantism of people.

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Shazia Sikander Receiving Medal of Art from Hillary Clinton

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Shazia Sikander

22feb2014 DAWN

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Shazia Sikandar Late 2000’s

2007 HomiBhabha_Page_01 2007 HomiBhabha_Page_02

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Shazia Sikandar Mid 2000’s

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Shazia Sikandar Early 2000’s

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2003 Fresh Talk Daring Gazes_Page_2 Continue reading

Fresco and Mosaic work at Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore

Malik Omaid

I visited historic Wazir Khan Mosque with my friend in a tour to explore Lahore and what I found was a bit of tragedy of ruining frescoes and mosaic treasure. Many of whom had already vanished due to ignorance and incompetence of officials. It is a tragedy that such a historical site is being used by commoners with out the supervision of experts. Some of the still safe frescoes and mosaic are under with my comments from Instagram account. (Photos by the Author and Umer Khalid)

These are last photos for my ‪‎Wazir Khan‬ Mosque‬ series. This is of numerous frescoes in the mosque used as decoration on walls. These are masterpieces of Mughal‬ art each wort of millions of rupees dating back to 4 centuries.
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These mosaic and frescoes are ruining rapidly. When I went there I saw an empty wall but if you see just ten year old photos of Wazir Khan Mosque you find a fresco work there. Now it has vanished completely. This is the case with other frescoes.

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I tried my best to find details on these frescoes on internet but was unsuccessful. Would love it if someone can give me details.

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Imagine this wonderful piece of art is 400 years old left to ruin and fade away.

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Mosaic tiles forming the star of David. Back then it was halal. No one said there is a Jewish conspiracy behind this mosque.

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Walking Through History | The Walled City of Lahore

Saira A Nizami

The Old City, or the Walled City of Lahore is in the northwestern part of Lahore, Punjab. The visitor is given access to the city by 13 gates, few of them being Bhati Gate, Lahori Gate and Roshnai Gate.

As he visits the Walled City, Razi Rumi shares these rich moments and his thoughts while walking through streets of Lahore:

FortMughal architecture: Lahore Fort’s beautiful wall with original frescoes. Has survived amid history’s atrocities and government’s negligence.

Faqir Khana Museum

Lahore’s heritage: Inside the Faqir Khana Museum, Bhatti Gate. Some of the carpets are from the Emperor Shah Jahan’s era.

Haveli Naunehal Singh

Imagine living in a room with such amazing frescos – A hidden corner of Haveli Naunehal Singh, walled city of Lahore.

Balcony

Wouldn’t you love to have balcony like this? Spotted in walled city Lahore.

Little Girl in Hijab

Met this young girl in walled city Lahore last week.

Wall

Unfortunate graffiti on one of the 17th century walls of Lahore fort. However there is a guy out there who loves US.

Twinkle School

Twinkle Scholar (private) school has great advertising. Also shows what is valued as success.

School in walled city

Clever combination of modern and traditional education: Madrassa Safeena-tul Quran.

Spices

Ready for artwork? Look again, these are walled city Lahore’s colorful spices

Victoria School

A majestic structure that survives the vagaries of time .With those breathtaking frescos — Haveli Nonehal Singh, Lahore

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A hidden jewel in the densely populated walled city of #Lahore. Haveli Nonehal Singh, Victoria School since 150 years.

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When I was procuring old plates, saw this too. The guy got the sign made and only 22 years later had to leave Lahore.

Colonial Plate

A spode plate – India Tree- found in the rubble of Lahore‘s colonial past.

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Mobeen Ansari

Mobeen Ansari’s sensitive photography tells tales of vibrant lives lived out amidst wistfully neglected structures

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History speaks out..

 

Lahore is not my city. This allows me to view it with a mixture of foreignness and belonging; as simultaneous insider and outsider – removed enough to be endlessly fascinated by it, close enough to be able to photograph it consistently. The Badshahi, Wazir Khan and Lahore Fort may be clichéd photographic pursuits but I never get enough of the new angles and insights they afford me each time.

Early morning view of Wazir Khan Mosque

Early morning view of Wazir Khan Mosque

I went on my routine old Lahore photography trips around fajr time each time I drove down to Lahore from Islamabad; had been doing that for a few years, but i wanted to get into the heart of these neighbourhoods, really peek into people’s lives and capture their stories. One day I got lucky. Walking into Masjid Wazir Khan – it was my second time there – I struck up a conversation with the Imaam of the masjid, sharing with him my curiosity about the man said to have built the mosque – Ilm-ud-Din Ansari. Since I shared his surname I wondered if I also shared his lineage. The Imaam asked for my ID card, squinted at my full name and asked me to follow him deep into the neighborhood, into alleys beyond Delhi Darwaaza that I could never have discovered on my own. He knocked at a door and asked for keys, I think to different areas of the mosque; one of these keys he gave to me, of a minaret I had never expected to be allowed to climb, knowing as I did that it is ordinarily closed to all visitors.

Back at the mosque I lugged my heavy camera bag up the high Mughal-era steps. The suffocating dankness of the minaret gave way to a clear Lahori dawn that I observed from a unique vantage point. The height afforded fascinating aerial glimpses into the lives of the residents of the old city sprawled out below me.

Andron Lahore on the occassion of 12 Rabbiul Awal

Andron Lahore on the occassion of 12 Rabbiul Awal

 

Once every week I go to Lahore for work – meetings, shoots etc. So I had gone to Lahore for one night only for a meeting. When I got done with my work I met up with a friend from college who was also in town. Both of us had laptops and camera bags but no car. We had dinner, took a rickshaw to a cinema to watch a movie, and at midnight came out into the freezing and foggy Lahore night. We walked and rickshawed (changing six of them!) till we reached his place, warmed ourselves with some chai and set out for androon Lahore, managing to get there just before dawn. It was the morning of the 12th of Rabi-ul-Avval (the Prophet’s birthday) and the night’s lights hadn’t been turned off as yet. In the eerie twilight glow, before many people had woken up we roamed the labyrinthine alleys of androon sheher and experienced it like never before in the magical hours between sleeping and waking. Why I am so obsessed with going to these places early in the morning is because there’s no rush at that time and you can see history clearly.

run-down houses in Lahore

run-down houses in Lahore

Click here to see wonderful collection of pictures by the writer:

WCLA Holds “Wekh Lahore” — Biggest Amateur Photography Contest

Courtesy: Daily Times, South Asia Revealed, WCLA

68428_720936144607103_739959613_nThe Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) launched city’s biggest amateur photography contest, Wekh Lahore, on Fiday this moth. Large number of Lahoris took to the Alhamra Arts Council to attend the event. WCLA Director-General Kamran Lashari, Communication Expert Tania Qureshi, country’s leading photographers and a large number of people participated in the event.

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The jury included some notable photographers such as Atif Saeed, Abrar Cheema and Umair Ghani; and a painter, Zulfikar Ali Zulfi.

The first second and third prizes were won by Mudassir Madni, Hashim Aslam and Abdul Rahim, respectively. The event was a treat to visitors eyes. They duly appriciated the works of emerging photographers.

1604625_770081949688091_1748367199_nClick here for further information.

Closing ceremony of Wekh Lahore contest was also held at Alhamra Arts Council. Pakistan’s renowned journalist Sohail Warraich served as cheif guest of the ceremony.

Please see details of closing ceremony here: