Woman cycle-rickshaw driver on Mall Road, Lahore. Dated post-Partition. (p.81, Ab woh Lahore Kahan)
Via Musharraf A. Farooqi
Woman cycle-rickshaw driver on Mall Road, Lahore. Dated post-Partition. (p.81, Ab woh Lahore Kahan)
Via Musharraf A. Farooqi
This article was originally posted in Dawn
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.
A play at the Alhambra was like being a part of the cast; a cricket match at the Gaddafi Stadium was like a fashion parade; we all had our favourite cricketers whom we fancied, my poster boy being Ijaz Butt (don’t go rolling your eyes, he was quite a looker then); ice cream at Chalet on the Mall was like sitting in a Swiss cabin with a school buddy (mine being Zenobia Khurshid, now Mrs Akhund, and Nasreen Muzaffar, now Mrs Iqbal); book browsing at Ferozesons on the Mall with my two older brothers was a trip to wonderland and textbook buying with parents at Imperial Book Depot was a growing up activity, each new school year signalling a march towards maturity; orange juice binging at Hall Road in winter was a drink from heaven; grocery shopping at Tollington Market lent its own colonial aura and jiving at the Gymkhana (Lawrence Hall) if one was lucky to find a partner, well let me continue…
Teenage Ball was an annual winter affair at Lahore Gymkhana Club, the building also known as Lawrence Hall. With promises made to be goody good, permission to attend would be reluctantly granted by parents who ensured that big brothers went along to keep an eye on their kid sister. But big brothers being big brothers had their own conquests to tend to while forgetting about me and my cousin Kaye (that was her nickname) now Mrs Imran Ahmad. While popular Kaye would be on the floor, yours truly, awkwardly attired in an ill-fitting half coat (that’s what they were known as then) with a bulging behind packed in a sack shirt (the fad in the 60s) would be sitting like a wallflower waiting to be asked to dance.
‘Teddy boys’ that’s what the St Anthony crowd were called. The late Shahid Rehman was our Rock Hudson. Girls liked him. Others like Munir Akram (our ex ambassador to the UN) Dawar Shaikh, the late governor Punjab Salman Taseer, aka Billo for his blue eyes, and Sunny Saeedudin (son of Brigadier Saeeduddin) were the regulars at ‘mixed’ teenage parties which, while other teenagers attended, were a no-go area in our household. Among girls, the talented and beautiful Naveed Rehman stood out as all-rounder. She was a student of Queen Mary College. We were next door at the Convent of Jesus & Mary. Our head girl, Syeda Abida Hussain aka Chandi, was a stunner.
As alumni, each year she’d return for a summer break from her finishing school in Switzerland and she’d be invited to talk about her experiences. It was awesome. As a rare embodiment of beauty and brains, (with wealth thrown in) Abida’s taffeta dresses and smooth delivery brought about a lively sense of happenstance. We all wanted to copy her.
Ah! The movies of those times. Plaza, Regal and the Odeon cinemas were our watering holes. During intermission, we’d recognise our friends from school — Lahore was so cliquish in those days, it still is till today! As teenagers, we easily related to movies featuring teenage love affairs like Splendour in the Grass starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty whose story of sexual repression, love and heartbreak played havoc with young minds like ours. Peyton Place was another sizzler. The exposé of the lives and loves of the residents of a small town in the US where scandal, suicide and moral hypocrisy hid behind a veneer of pretentious living introduced our impressionable minds to the American way of life. Lolita was another bombshell. (The government film censor board must have worn blinkers then!)
Magazines like Playboy and True Romance had already ‘educated’ the teenagers of Lahore about the ‘birds and the bees.’ But it was the American movies that captured our attention about teens across the Atlantic. We considered ourselves liberated (not in the sexual sense though) but America appeared downright promiscuous. Alongside the adult stuff, one still stuck to reading Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer, Daphne du Maurier’s haunting love story ‘Rebecca’, the Bronte sisters and of course Jane Austen. We had already graduated from Enid Blyton mysteries.
On balmy nights we’d sit and listen to Noor Jehan or Farida Khannum or Iqbal Bano sing Faiz at the open-air theatre in Bagh-i-Jinnah. On one such event, a senior official shushed a lady who was rather loud. The lady, wife of a senior bureaucrat, turned around to slap him. The news spread quickly. Yes, Lahore had its scandals hitting it all the time. That’s what made the place so ‘sexy.’
Foreign dignitaries, including emperors, empresses, queens and first ladies visited Lahore. After empress Farah Diba of Iran came, we teased our hair into a beehive hoping to have a ‘Farah Diba bouffant.’ Memorable was the vying for attention by US First Lady Jackie Kennedy and her sister princess Lee Radziwill from president Ayub Khan. He must have appeared a conflicted man, having to choose between two ethereal beauties.
Fashionistas, the devoted followers of fashion alongside their lesser trendy sisters, the hidebound ladies of Lahore learnt firsthand how women (Jackie and Lee) across two continents, dressed and lived a life celebrated for being direct, free-spirited and open.
The rich and stylish culture that the 60s embraced still makes Lahore the heartthrob of Pakistan. Nasir Kazmi’s verse says it best: Shehr-e-Lahore, teri raunaqain dayam aabad: Teri galyon ki hawa khainch ke layi mujh ko. (O city of Lahore, may your lights never dim; It was the breeze of your streets that pulled me back).— Anjum Niaz
This article was originally published in The Huffington Post
I am a voracious traveller and have had the good fortune of visiting about 40 to 50 cities across continents in the last two decades. Whether it is Naukuchiatal or New York, Periyar or Paris, Delhi or Denmark, I have enjoyed and celebrated each of my travels with equal zest, always discovering something unique and special about the place. And it’s never been about the facilities or the comforts, as much as it is about the energy and attitude of the place and its people.
So for someone like me, an opportunity to officially visit Lahore — to speak at the prestigious Women Leadership Forum organized by Nutshell & AIMA — came like a blessing in disguise, as Pakistan is one country that most Indians wouldn’t consider for a pleasure trip. I was delighted at the thought of visiting our closest neighbour and the birthplace of my parents. Finally, I thought, I’d be able to bring some life into their stories about Pakistan as a haven of large houses, warmth and camaraderie before the lines of geography came in the way of humankind. My mother would reminisce about her father’s cinema hall, named Lakshmi in a small town near Sindh, and my mom-in-law still talks with yearning about their 22-room haveli with its badminton court. Continue reading
یہ آرٹیکل BBC Urdu میں شایع ہوا۔
لاہور شہر تاریخ کی ایک کتاب کی طرح ہے، جیسے کتاب کا صفحہ پلٹتے ہی الفاظ سے تراشی گئی ایک نئی تصویر ابھرتی ہے اسی طرح سر زمین لاہور کے سینے کو کریدیں تو ہر کونے میں خطے کی خوبصورت ثقافت اور روایتوں کی نئی داستان سامنے آتی ہے۔
ایسا ہی کچھ ہوا ہے اندرون شہر کے دلی دروازے میں جہاں مغلیہ دور کے شاہی حمام کی کھدائی میں ایک انتہائی سائنسی انداز میں بنا نظام دریافت ہوا۔
دلی دروازے کی شاہی گزرگاہ میں جڑا پہلا نگینہ مغلیہ دور کا یہ حمام ہی ہے جو سنہ 1634 میں شاہ جہاں کے گورنر وزیرخان نے عام لوگوں اور مسافروں کے لیے تعمیر کروایا۔ ماہرین کے مطابق یہ مغلوں کا واحد عوامی حمام ہے جو اب تک موجود ہے۔
تاہم اب اس کی عمارت میں بہت سی تبدیلیاں آ چکی ہیں۔ 50 کمروں کے اس حمام کی تزئین وآرائش کو دیکھ کر یہ تاثر ملتا ہے کہ حمام صرف نہانے دھونے کے لیے استعمال نہیں ہوتا تھا بلکہ یہ لوگوں کے میل ملاپ اور ذہنی آسودگی کی جگہ بھی تھی۔
These photos were first published here
The ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore houses the many Christian sons and daughters of Lahore, who have immensely contributed to its growth and development. Located next tot he Lahore Gymkhana, this old graveyard has beautiful graves adorned with 19/20th Century artwork, which angel statues guarding the graves.
By Akbar Shahid Ahmed
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.
Progressive Pakistanis who value their country’s musical heritage have been making that case for decades. Continue reading
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
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
لاہور مجھے مقناطیس کی طرح کھینچتا ہے۔ اس کی قدیم تاریخ، اس کی گلیوں میں اڑتی ہوئی غزنوی، غوری اور تغلق لشکروں کی دھول، ان کی تلواروں سے قتل ہونے والوں کی کراہیں اور ان کے چنگل میں پھڑپھڑاتی ہوئی عورتوں کی آہیں۔ تمام مناظر آنکھوں میں زندہ ہوجاتے ہیں۔ مغل بھی فاتحوں کے انداز سے آئے تھے اور پھر لاہور کے ایسے اسیر ہوئے کہ اس کے در و بام پر اپنے نقش چھوڑ گئے جو آج بھی سانس لیتے ہیں۔
یہاں نورجہاں ایک معتوب اور معزول ملکہ ہونے کے باوجود اپنے محبوب جہانگیر کا شایانِ شان مقبرہ تعمیر کراتی ہے اور خود ایک ایسی قبر میں سوجاتی ہے جس پر خود اس کے کہنے کے مطابق یہ مصرعہ صادق آتا ہے کہ برمزار ما غریباں نے چراغے، نے گُلے، نے پر پروانہ سوزد، نے صدائے بلبلے۔ نادر شاہ درانی اور احمد شاہ ابدالی نے اس لاہور کو کس طرح نہیں روندا جس کی آبادی میں مسلمان بہت زیادہ تھے۔
مہاراجہ رنجیت سنگھ نے اسی لاہور میں اپنا دربار سجایا اور اسے لاہور کی تاریخ کا ایک یادگار باب بنادیا۔ اور پھر آج کا لاہور جہاں پھولوں نے سرخ، عنابی ،اودے اور نیلے پیرہن پہن رکھے ہیں، جہاں فوارے اچھلتے ہیں اور برابر سے گزرنے والوں کو اپنی پھوار میں بھگودیتے ہیں۔
یہاں کے تعلیمی اور تہذیبی ادارے صدیوں کی تاریخ رکھتے ہیں اور اسی لیے لاہور مجھے مقناطیس کی طرح کھینچتا ہے۔ وہاں سے کوئی دعوت آئے تو دل شاد ہوتا ہے اور دعوت بھی اگر ہماری طرح دار شاعرہ یاسمین حمید کی طرف سے ہو جن کی دل گداز شاعری اپنا ایک خاص اسلوب رکھتی ہے اور جنہوں نے کئی برس سے لمز کے گرمانی سینٹر برائے زبان و ادب کا انتظام و انصرام سنبھالا ہے اور اپنی ذمے داریاں بہ حسن وخوبی نباہ رہی ہیں۔
مضمون کا بقیہ حصہ پڑھیے
When actress Nandita Das crossed at the Wagah border, she found a place that was both familiar and different.
This article was originally posted on Scroll.in
It is always bittersweet crossing the Wagah border. The insanity of Partition, the lines drawn in the middle of Punjab, these are thoughts that invariably replay in my mind. And yet having made the journey several times, I look forward to the interesting conversations with porters, security staff and immigration officers on both sides, who live the result of that insanity every day and have many insightful stories to share.
This time the coolie I got on the Pakistan side was an old man, who had been doing the job for the last 25 years. All those years at the border had made him a philosopher and he had clear views on the mindlessness of the animosity between the two countries. He spoke in Punjabi, just like his counterpart who took my luggage till the Pakistani border.
This trip was primarily to research my directorial project on Saadat Hasan Manto, the writer of the 1940s who I am in love with. I felt very fortunate to stay with his middle daughter, who along with her family made me feel completely at home. The last time I had met Manto’s three daughters was over a meal in Lahore. But on this trip I was able to spend extensive time with them. Their many anecdotes were precious nuggets that I could not have got from any book. But most of all it was their warmth and trust in me that was most touching. Continue reading
The Disco Laari Project offers a fun and engaging tour along Lahore’s historical paths
Ever wonder how Lahore’s infamous Heera Mandi got its name? Or who the architecturally magnificent Wazir Khan Mosque is named after? Ever felt the desire to follow in the footsteps of Mughal royalty, wander the narrow streets of Lahore’s inner city where princes and nawabs once roamed, all the while sampling authentic Lahori delicacies as you browse through tiny shops in markets that can be traced back to a hundred years?
The Disco Laari Project makes it possible to do all this and much more. A guided tour of Lahore’s walled city that starts off in a pimped-out bus and ends with a meal had in the shadow of the imposing Badshahi Mosque, the Disco Laari Project is just a couple of months old but already garnering the attention of locals and visitors alike.
The initiative is the brainchild of three friends – Faisal Naeem, Asser Malik and Taimur Ehtisham, two of whom gave up lucrative job offers post-college to take the plunge and do something they all believed in wholeheartedly. “We wanted to show people the real Lahore, discover its hidden gems and experience its rich culture so we can be proud of our city, instead of taking it for granted as most of us do,” says Faisal.
“I have been in the field of design education for almost 23 years now. I was born, brought up, educated, and married in Lahore. I live here and eventually whenever that is, hope to die here too. I feel Lahore has shaped and moulded me into what I am today. Data Darbar, Mian Mir Sahab’s Mazaar, Bibi Pak Daman, Mela Chiraghaan, Masjid Wazir Khan’s tiled decoration, Maryam Zamani mosque’s frescoes, Taaveez Dhaagay on different mausoleums around Lahore, hence my thread and Taweez collection of various motif and design all speak profoundly of the cultural and the socio-political concerns that are owned and celebrated in my works. Shahi Qila’s Haathi darwaza, the old city with all its enclosed gardens and alleys, colonial buildings on the mall, Shalamar Bagh’s picture wall, Alhamra by Nayyar Ali Dada, Lahore Museum, National College of Arts, popular Punjabi food, the cinema hoardings that I experienced when going to school on a Tonga, the trucks and the colorful imagery ….these are all part of my being. This imagery constantly informs my work. The basant that we have lost, how we no longer can accept and appreciate diversity is an ongoing tragedy for me, I am constantly incorporating these in my works through metal, stones and cloth.”
See complete article here.
This is a Photo from Daily ‘Mashriq’ newspaper reporting on the difficulties students face in Public transport in 1970’s.
Lahore: Punjab government on Friday started ladies-only Pink Rickshaw service in Lahore for the low income women to generate revenue for their families, thesenlive reported.
The service was started in order to empower Pakistani women and to take them from low status to the opportunity to travel in comfort and at the same time gave them the financial independence.
The ladies-only pink rickshaw will also provide the female commuters to travel without any fear and harassment in the city. It will be a safer option for the ladies to use the local transport without any fear.
This article was originally published here
One of the most significant Mughal structures, carrying some of the most spectacular tile mosaic examples, is the Gulabi Bagh Gateway. It is located on the northern side of G.T. Road, east of Buddhu’s Tomb, and past Begampura Road on the left. Although of considerable height (it is a two storey structure), it can be missed easily since it does not carry a dome, or other terminating elements, As is evident from its name, this remarkable gateway was originally the entrance to a garden known as Gulabi Bagh or (the rose garden), no longer extant. The name however, is also a chronogram, from which the date of construction of the gateway AH 1066 (1655) is obtained. Although the gateway has endured much damage to its decorative features, it is in a tolerably well-preserved state. It was constructed by or in memory of Mirza Sultan Beg, a Persian nobleman and cousin of Shah Jahan’s son-in-law Mirza Ghiyasuddin (married to princess Sultan Begam). Due to his cousin’s relationship with the royal family, Mirza Sultan Beg rose to the exalted position of Mir-ul-Bahar (Admiral of the Fleet). He was obviously on extremely good terms with the emperor, who, aware of his love of hunting, presented him with a much-admired English rifle. Just two months later, the firearm proved fatal for him due to the bursting of a shell during a hunting expedition at Hiran Minar at Sheikhupura. He died in 1063/1657. A lofty Timurid aiwan—a popular architectural rendering for gateways—rises to two-storey height, and incorporates a 40′ long covered walkway defined by a single storey cusped arch gateway. The aiwan is flanked on both sides with 5′ deep arched alcoves expressive of the two storeys of the structure. The covered walkway is lined on either sides with a 12’x12′ chamber, which no doubt provided accommodation to the guards, from where an internal staircase leads to the first floor. The 50′ wide facade, subdivided into slightly sunken panels presents one of the finest examples of kashi kari (tile mosaic). Continue reading
This article was originally posted here
Even more than eight decades after Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ martyrdom, an important bunch of files related to their trial in the Lahore Conspiracy Case are lying in oblivion in Lahore.
More than 160 files titled ‘Crown vs Sukh Dev, Lahore Conspiracy Case 1929-1931′ are lying behind closed lockers in the Punjab Archives in Lahore, Pakistan. According to sources, no international scholar on Bhagat Singh so far has been allowed to access them.
Amarjit Chandan, London-based poet and independent researcher on Bhagat Singh, who has tried to access those files numerous times in the past said that these files are of immense historical importance as they are from a special tribunal, which was formed for Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ trial. “I myself went to the Lahore Archives and there are many academics who have tried to access the files. I was shown just one file and my request was turned down to take a copy of the catalogue of the collection,” he said.
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.