Category Archives: old Lahore

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

The rich history of South Asia is the history of Pakistan too

The rich history of South Asia is the history of Pakistan too. Renaming areas of Lahore with Muslim names encourages supremacy of the majority faith and is a deliberate attempt to erase our diverse heritage.

Used toys’ market in Lahore

Second hand toys’ market in #Lahore. Low income families have little or no access to recreation. We need economic justice and redistribution of wealth

Rare Image of Advertisement of Nedou’s Hotel from 1880

Please note that the advertisement announces that the hotel has electric lights and fans.

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan writes about the history of Nedou family.

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I thought I’d provide some interesting information (historical backdrop) about the Nedou family, which is from my book, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014):

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My Grandmother Akbar Jehan’s paternal grandfather, Michael Adam Nedou started out as a photographer and architect, but destiny had willed otherwise. The decisions that he took shaped that destiny as though with the finesse of a calligrapher’s brush. His first venture in hoteliering was the acquisition of the Sind Punjab Hotel in the port city of Karachi. He built the imposing and courtly Nedou’s Hotel in Lahore, characterized by charm and grace, in the 1870s. He and his heirs later built the Nedous’ Hotel in Gulmarg, Kashmir, in 1888. The hotel in Gulmarg sits on an elevation, overlooking the once luxuriantly lush meadow, with its cornucopia of fragrant, beauteous, and flourishing flowers. The riot of colors in Gulmarg in the summer has always had the power to revive my spirits! The cozy cottages around the main lounge, furnished with chintz drapes, chintz covered armchairs, soothing pastel counterpanes on the canopy beds, and hewn logs around the fire places would warm the cockles of any anglophile’s heart. Despite the rapid growth of monstrous concrete construction in Gulmarg, Nedou’s Hotel has always retained an old world charm, maintaining, against all odds, its historical association, environmental importance, and architectural significance.

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Yearning for home: A Jewish woman’s memories of Lahore

This article was originally posted in here

Hazel Kahan recalls the city 40 years after she left with her parents

By Taha Anis

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“What do you think about Lahore? Can you believe how much it’s changed?” I was asked over and over again there, as my friends listed the traffic, the crowds, the new subdivisions, the restaurants, the box stores. Yes, of course (I’ve changed too in 40 years), but really their question was rhetorical. They were telling me how their Lahore has changed, how it has been transformed from the green and pleasant place of my youth, a place of order and predictability, still basking in the afterglow of the British Raj, where we worried about contracting dysentery from improperly washed fruit or about being jostled by hideously mutilated beggars in the bazaar. Today, home, sweet home requires high walls and iron gates, reinforced by fierce dogs and quasi-uniformed men. Today, my Lahore and theirs has grown to a city of over 10 million…

— Hazel Kahan in the New York-based weekly The East Hampton Star

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A view of Hazel’s childhood house. PHOTO: HAZEL KAHAN

55 Lawrence Road, Lahore. Or as Hazel Kahan called it, home. Perhaps the last living Jewish woman to still associate Pakistan with that most hallowed of words.

And while she may have left it behind for the comfort and solitude provided by the woods of Long Island, New York, Pakistan refuses to leave her.

“When did I leave Pakistan? I left Pakistan many times. I left it every year to go to boarding school, I left when my parents moved in 1971, I left in 2011, I left in 2012 and I left in 2013,” she says. “Every single time, I never knew whether I would ever go back.”

Every single time, she did.

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Celebrating Diwali in Lahore

By Hum-Aahang
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Most people would think of Diwali being celebrated in Pakistan as an exclusively Hindu event, and mostly focused around Sindh where the majority of the Hindu population of Pakistan resides. However, this time around we made it a point to celebrate this holy festival in our university in order to celebrate diversity that exists amongst us, and as a gesture of respect for a sizable Hindu community that resides in LUMS.
Since most of the problems in the country revolve around a collective lack of empathy and intolerance, it becomes all the more important to hold such events to promote amalgamation and unity between people of different faiths that live with us. Continue reading

Why I Love Lahore

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post

Child lost in his thoughts

Child lost in his thoughts

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

لاہور کے شاہی حمام کا انوکھا نظام

شمائلہ جعفری

یہ آرٹیکل BBC Urdu میں شایع ہوا۔

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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۔

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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۔

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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