Category Archives: Lifestyle

Lahore’s ‘quietest’ areas exceed WHO noise limits

* Health expert says noise pollution can trigger both physiological and psychological problems

Abdul Manan writing in Daily Times

LAHORE: Though the affluent areas of Lahore are quieter than rest of the city, the noise level in these areas is still far higher than the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), an Environment Protection Department (EPD) official told Daily Times on Monday.

Noise intensity is measured in decibels (dB) to illustrate different noise levels. The WHO standard for residential areas is 45dB, for commerical areas 55 dB, and for industrial areas 65 dB. People can normally bear noise up to 45 dB, but from 120 dB the ear begins to experience pain, and this level of noise can also impair hearing if experienced over a long period.

The EPD official said the noise level was recorded at an average of 75 dB in Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Gulberg and Model Town. He said the average noise level in the industrial areas was recorded as above 120 dB. “Noise pollution could be dramatically decreased by banning rickshaws,” he said.

He said noise should be considered a nuisance rather than an environmental problem, but that the EPD had not yet established any standards of noise pollution. “The EPD should propose amendments in the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 in this regard,” he said, and added that major sources of noise were generators, vehicles, poor urban planning, factory machinery, construction work, aircraft, and railways.

Noise injures both physically and mentally: Mayo Hospital’s Dr Khalil said unwanted sound was defined as noise pollution. He said noise affects a person’s level of happiness and ability to perform activities. “Noise pollution can cause annoyance, aggression, and hypertension, and can impair hearing. Excessive exposure to loud noises can even cause tinnitus, a disorder in which a person hears sound in the absence of corresponding external sound,” he said. Continue reading

Romancing the city of Lahore

Khalid Hasan writing for the Friday Times

I first came upon Pran Nevile when Saeed Ahmed Khan, a gentleman from Lahore, whom I unfortunately never met but with whom I used to correspond, told me about him. He said the two of them were classmates back in the old days and the best of friends. He also sent me two or three clips of Pran Nevile’s Lahore reminiscences. Some time later, I was able to lay my hands on his book, Lahore, a sentimental journey, and we began to write to each other. Some years ago, he came to the United States and we met. On my last visit to New Delhi I spent time with him and his family and we talked about many things, but mostly Lahore. Pran Nevile is and has been a “ chalta phirta Lahore” as Saadat Hasan Manto was a “chalta phirta Bumbaii”.

Pran told me that in all the years he had been away from Lahore, there wasn’t a day when he had not remembered and longed for the city where he was born, where he had played as a child, where he had spent his early youth and where he had gone to college. Lahore has been the love of his life. Last year when he came to Lahore, his third visit, he brought his grandson and his daughter-in-law with him so that he could show them “my city.” This time, what had brought him back was the release of the official Pakistan edition of his Lahore book. Pran Nevile also recorded a long interview with the progressive journal Awami Jamhoor Forum, in the course of which he remembered Lahore as it was and as he had found it.

Pran said it had taken him 51 years to return to Lahore. The year of his return, something he had waited for and dreamed about all along, was 1997. When asked if he agreed that Lahore (which to him has always been “Le-hore”) had changed, he replied, “That may be true but man himself has changed, so has the world. Hasn’t London changed in the last 50 years? There is no city in the Subcontinent that has remained the same during these 50 years. Change is part of life. I don’t say that those times were better and these times are not. Every age has its high and low points. While the present generation should know the past, the old generation should learn from the present and move on. I am not one of those who find fault with everything contemporary. I don’t bore the young of today by telling them, for example, that pop music is rubbish and there has been no voice like that of the old Nur Jehan. I never bring these things up, which is why the young like me.”

Pran said he was delighted with the way the city looked today. “The way you have maintained and taken care of the Mall’s upkeep is a wonderful sight to behold. From Charing Cross to Tollinton Market, the Mall has been preserved. What changes have been brought about, I find most pleasing. The Dinga Singh Building, which is Lahore’s hallmark, is still where it was. The High Court, the Sir Ganga Ram Trust Building, the Laxami Mansion, the Dyal Singh Mansion are all still standing.” He recalled that when some people wanted to demolish Tollinton Market, he too joined hands with the Lahore Conservation Society to save this historic 125-year old Lahore landmark. After all, it was built by the people of Lahore and it belonged to them. Nobody had any right to bring it down. Continue reading

Where are the kites?

VIEW:  Syed Mansoor Hussain (Daily Times)

Every culture has some form of a Spring Festival. To suppress such activities is to suppress the cultural aspirations of those that enjoy them. No, I am not in favour of bacchanalian excess, but some fun, please

The incarcerated CJ of Pakistan might be a great man but for me he will always be the person who put the kibosh on Basant. I have said it before and I will say it again, in my book he is a conservative jurist more in line with Islamist thinking. I do not, for instance, remember his court ever taking any suo moto action to help women incarcerated under the infamous Hudood laws or non-Muslims jailed under the blasphemy laws.

But such quibbles aside, my immediate concern is Basant. The reason ostensibly given to ban kite flying is the use of metal strings that can be hazardous to ordinary people. I entirely accept this premise but I cannot help but wonder why the famous Punjab Police that can, in a matter of minutes, arrest every known opposition member or recalcitrant lawyer in the entire province is unable to find and arrest those that manufacture the illegal metal strings.

Illegality can only flourish if law enforcement is involved in it at some level. The lower-level police force in Pakistan is known to be extremely corrupt. I am convinced that metal string use could be prevented if there was determination to do so. But more than the metal string, the real problem is that Basant has become an issue that pits the killjoy Islamist types against the fun-loving people of Lahore.

I don’t know what stand the expected government in the Punjab is going to take on this issue. I do know that based on his past reputation, if Mr Shahbaz Sharif does come back as CM, and if he decides to take this matter in hand, metal strings for kite flying will not be sold in Lahore or anywhere in Punjab. Sadly, Basant season will have passed by the time that happens.

The reason why Basant and kite flying is such a big deal for me is that it represents one of those ‘soft’ issues that are used by Islamists to beat up on all those they hate for daring to have fun. After all, many more people die in a single day from vehicular accidents than many a Basant and yet there is no hue and cry to ban vehicular traffic or even to improve it! Continue reading

Amrita Sher Gil’s Lahore

Khalid Hasan
Published in the Friday Times    

 Amrita Sher Gil was once asked by Iqbal Singh, who was to write her biography 43 years after her death in Lahore in 1941, at the age of 28, why she had never painted a portrait of Jawaharlal Nehru, whom she knew and liked. She replied, “Because he is too good looking.” And so he was, and so was she. Col Ronny Datta, who as aide-de-camps to President Radhakrishnan, would often get to see Nehru, told me once that there was always such a glow on Nehru’s face that you couldn’t keep your eyes on it for long.

Amrita met Nehru in Lahore when he came for a day to team up with Congress workers and address a public meeting. He was staying in a house just across the road from Faletti’s Hotel with Diwan Ram Lal, a judge of the Punjab High Court, and elder brother of Dewan Chaman Lal, with whom and with his wife Helen, Amrita was great friends. Nehru, Ram Lal, Dr Khan Sahib, elder brother of Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, had shared a flat in London as students. Although Nehru and Amrita met no more than three times, they often exchanged letters. As her most recent biographer Yashodhara Dalmia has written, “The exact nature of their relationship is difficult to gauge, because many of Nehru’s letters were later burnt by Amrita’s parents, much to her chagrin, while she was away in Budapest getting married” to her cousin Karl. Her mother was Hungarian and her father a Sikh landlord from Punjab, Sardar Umrao Singh Majithia. (It is to be wondered if the Majithia Hall on Empress Road in Lahore has some connection to Amrita’s father’s family.)

She wrote to her father after learning what had happened, “I had left them behind not because I thought them dangerous witnesses to my evil past but because I didn’t wish to increase my already heavy luggage. However, I suppose I have to resign myself to a bleak old age unrelieved by the entertainment that the perusal of old love letters would have afforded it.” Continue reading

Lahore’s bifurcated laws – the perils of smoking sheesha in DHA

“SMOKING sheesha is the latest craze among the hip young crowd in Lahore. Cafes which offer sheesha are the latest ‘in’ thing and draw a big clientele because of the novelty of their ware. Youngsters can be spotted hanging around these places, cooling their heels by inhaling the tobacco-laced smoke through fancy sheeshas. But, according to a newspaper report, Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority has told cafes in its jurisdiction not to serve sheesha because medical authorities have declared it to be injurious to health. In some cases it is being used to consume addictive drugs. While many parents will feel relieved after the imposition of the ban, it still leaves some important questions unanswered. Do we have definitive medical evidence suggesting that smoking sheesha is a health hazard? Do cafes need official permission for serving sheesha? Why is it still being allowed to be served in other parts of Lahore?

If the government already has the evidence about the harmful effect of sheesha, it should waste no time in issuing health warnings to sheesha smokers as it does in the case of cigarette smokers. If otherwise, it will serve all and sundry well to initiate a medical probe into the effects of sheesha and make its findings public. Given the widespread use of sheesha in the Arab countries and some nations surrounding the Mediterranean, it is very likely that Pakistan will not be required to carry out a probe on its own. But before we embark on a probe on our own or get one done from abroad, a sensible course of action is to adopt the same official stance on the practice throughout all parts of the country. It defies logic and common sense to ban sheesha in one city and allow it in another. Even more bizarre is the situation when it is not allowed in one part of a particular city but has no bar in other parts of the same city. If sheesha is bad, it must be so for everyone around. It does not make any sense at all why the administration outside Defence Housing Authority in Lahore should not ban it.”

Courtesy DAWN