Tag Archives: book

A passage from Bapsi Sidwas book : Beloved City

For, above all, Lahore is a city of poets. Not just giants like Allama Iqbal or Faiz Ahmed Faiz, but a constellation of poets. Given half a chance, the average Lahori breaks into a couplet from an Urdu ghazal, or from Madho Lal Hussain or Bulleh Shah’s mystical Punjabi verse and readily confesses to writing poetry. But if I toss up the word “Lahore” and close my eyes, the city conjures up gardens and fragrances. Continue reading

The history of Basant

Manzoor has authored a great post on Basant. We are cross posting it here – given that many Lahore Nama visitors are talking of Basant and expressing their great enthusiasm for the festival.  Raza Rumi (ed)

Basant is a centuries old cultural tradition of Punjab. Over the years, it gained an element of controversy as the fundamentalism wiped the norms of tolerance and co-existence in our society. Disregard of law and for the lives of fellow citizens turned it into a bloody sport.

Recently I came across a book “URS AUR MELAY” by Aman Ullah Khan Arman, published by Kitab Manzil Lahore in 1959. I am reproducing the chapter on Basant (p.276-277) here: “Basant (a Sanskrit word for spring) is a seasonal festival of Indo-Pak sub-continent and it has no religious bearings. Basant is the herald of the spring and celebrated in winter (Magh) on the fourth or fifth day of lunar month. This is the reason why it is called Basant Panchami. Basant season starts on this day, therefore, Basant is regarded the herald of spring, wheat grows, and mustard blossoms in this season. (Old Aryan tradition divides a year into six seasons each having two months. Mustard blossom that is yellow in color is considered the color of spring and accordingly yellow outfits were worn).  Continue reading

Lahore in the “Naive & Abroad” Series

Book Reviews: The “Naive & Abroad” Series

I’ve just finished reading some really great books. You should, too.  This being Christmastime, they would all make excellent gift ideas.

He really looks like this in real life, too.

He really looks like this in real life, too.

They’re by a local author named Marcus Wilder who had this idea to write a book about his travels in Pakistan 20 years ago.  Originally conceived as notes on his travels to quiet an insistent friend, his 10 page manuscript has grown to a 200 page critique and insight you won’t find in any other book available. Written in a style reminiscent of Hemingway’s short, punchy word pictures, Marcus almost overwhelms the senses with sensory input from his descriptions of “pungent” room cleaners in Pakistan, the sheer grandeur of the Taj Mahal, or the simple pleasure of a succulent orange in the Hindu Kush.

Marcus’ manuscript, just as an outsider viewing an Islamic society in passing, has shown me more than I learned in a college-level comparative-religions course that contrasted the three faiths of Abraham (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.) Take his observations on the prophet Mohammed: that unlike the teachings of Christ or Buddha, Mohammed’s teachings do not project well into a modern, literate world. Education is the Koran’s worst enemy. (p.60)

Marcus also doesn’t mince words when analyzing the opposition to both America and Israel, as well as our basic inability to grasp the problem facing us: For them it is about killing infidels. For us it is about understanding their point of view. What twits we are. (p. 167)

And yet, as Paul Harvey likes to say, “It is -not- one world.” Marcus’ description of Lahore Pakistan made me laugh out loud: “Lahore–in Muslim Pakistan–has one of the largest, oldest, continuously operated red light districts in the world. (A bawdy editor penciled in, “La Whore.”) In some families, prostitution has been the family business for uncountable generations. No family member–male or female–is too young to serve in the family business. Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan.” (p. 40) Continue reading

Mughees Ejaz’s Art book launched in Lahore

A river runs through it: Mughees Ejaz displays work, launches book

LAHORE: An art exhibition and book launch titled “A River Runs Through It” by Mughees Riaz was opened at Ejaz Art Gallery on Friday.

The show features a number of prominent personalities and artists from across the country. Professor Saeed Akhtar graced the occasion with his presence. Talking to Daily Times, he said the artist’s work was simple and showed a lively attraction for bold designs.

Riaz painted the River Ravi bank, skim tides and luminous skies of Lahore, which illustrate the development of increasing skills over the years. Colin David wrote that Mughees was a painter with strong sense of design. Continue reading

Lahore: the City of Sin and Splendour

Courtesty Pakistan Paindabad blog

Food Street, LahoreBapsi Sidhwa’s Lahore is a lovingly embroidered family heirloom.

[By Gaurav Sood; the author is a US based political and media analyst. He occasionally writes at Spincycle; picture by Asif Jafri]

A city hasn’t been showered with such love since Dalrymple wrote about Delhi. Bapsi Sidhwa’s edited volume on Lahore in fact far exceeds it. After all, Dalrymple was nothing but a foreigner who had only spent a few years in Delhi when he wrote the book, while Sidhwa in her endeavor is accompanied by a range of distinguished authors and intellects, only tied together in their love for Lahore.

The love for the city, its landmarks, its famed cuisine, its gourmets, its brutalizing summers, its people, its stories, and its relationships shines through on every page.

Every great city deserves an admirer and chronicler of the calibre of Bapsi Sidhwa – someone who will perspicaciously and assiduously collect stories that celebrate her beauty and look unflinchingly, yet lovingly, at her bruised soul and her warts.

The Book

The book strikes an immediate rapport that is akin to being invited to an intimate familial Punjabi gathering. I felt alternately like a kid sitting on the lap of my maternal uncle being told stories about the city, a young adult guiltily listening to the adult conversation about the brutal tales about city’s history, and an objective adult reflecting on history, and politics.

There is a warm intimacy that suffuses each of the stories in City of Sin and Splendor: Writings on Lahore. The additional element of emotional immediacy comes from stories that talk about things we South Asians have grown up with. All of it is made available ‘naturalistically’ by the craft of authors who rarely go beyond what is known. It is an important talent. For authors are always tempted by superfluous cleverness. It is the Jane Austen method of writing in some ways – writing honestly, perspicaciously, and often with great wit about what is known without flirting with the unnecessary or the arcane. It is grounded writing. The authors use words that are well worn and apt and not ones with peripatetic grandiloquent pretensions. The resulting atmosphere in the book is not stifling because of the self restraint, but educated and homely. Continue reading