Tag Archives: DHA

Following in his footsteps by Haroon Khalid

My friend Iqbal Qaiser, a Punjabi intellectual, sometime ago, made an interesting comment. He says that the names of some people are recorded in the history because of the monuments that they have built. Shah Jahan is one such character, remembered because of the Taj Mahal and not vice versa. However, there are others because of whom some spaces become important. Baba Bulleh Shah belongs to the second category of people.

Bulleh Shah’s Murshed or his spiritual leader Shah Inayat, was from Lahore, whereas he used to live in Kasur. To meet his master Bulleh Shah used to travel frequently between the two cities. The route taken was the same Ferozpur road that drives through the Chungi Amir Sadhu, Ichra, Mozang and then Lahore. On a car today the journey is likely to take no more than one and half an hour, however in his days, when commuting toke place via, a cart, or on foot, it would have been a much more difficult task. In a Punjabi book called ‘Dhondla Chanan’ written by Iqbal Qaiser in 1992, he mentions that on his way to Lahore Bulleh Shah used to spend some time at a village called Amir Sadhu.

Upon taking a left turn from the Chungi, facing DHA, after a couple of left turns one needs to take a left on small road. This would lead us to a mosque called the Bulleh Shah Masjid. This mosque now stands on the spot where Bulleh Shah used to spend his time resting. Adjacent to an open ground, where there are two banyan tree, with a few graves under it, this mosque is no meaning a remarkable architectural construction. Next to it is a small complex, with a couple of rooms, where the current Gaddi Nasheen sits. This mosque is meant to honor the legacy of Bulleh Shah, and this is what he had to say about his adorers.

Dharam Sal dhardwaye rehnde, Thakar daware thug,

Wich maseet kosete rehnde, ashiq rehan alag

Traders (read those who cheat) live in Dharam Sal, Frauds in Thakar daware,

Uneducated live in the mosque, lovers stay aloof

Much has changed around the complex, yet with the open ground and the trees, this place retains its essence of centuries past by. Minus the buildings, the complex and the graves, the rest of the location is exactly how Bulleh Shah would have seen it.  Today not even the inhabitants of this mosque know the historical significance of this site. The name of the mosque is coincidental to them.

About 20 years ago, this place became the site of another incident. A young teenager belonging from the area decided to spend his chilla of 40 days inside a grave, just outside the mosque. This was to mark his rite of passage. His name was Baba Ilyas, who eventually became famous as Saeen Guttu. He interred the grave. A small hole was made where his face would have been, and a thread was passed through it. From the outside the string used to be pulled, and the occupant of the grave used to do the same from the inside, to confirm that he was alive. Accompanying his grave was also some food and water. After 40 days the man reappeared from the grave, alive, and became a living Saint. This incident was widely covered by the newspapers of that time.

Saeen Guttu is still alive, and I happened to meet him, when I visited the mosque. He claims to be in his early 30s, even though he looks much older. He supports a grey beard, and has round features. He was skeptical of us, as he claimed he was harassed by the authorities, once he successfully completed the chilla, so he doesn’t allow us to take his pictures. He plans on repeating the same thing, but wouldn’t disclose the details, because of the negative reactions he is likely to encounter by the authorities, he tells us. His father and grandfather are buried in the same ground, and locals pay homage to them regularly. One day he is also likely to be elevated to the same status. I was expecting Saeen Guttu to be some sort of a local Saint, but that didn’t happen. In fact the new peer was a Kashmiri Butt by the name Baba Murtaza. I asked him a few questions about the incident and this is what he had to say.

He remembers the incident of Saeen Guttu, as he was present when it happened; in fact both of them are neighbors. Saeen Guttu became a Peer but he could not handle it. He became lazy, always asking for people to do his things. He started thinking of himself as being larger than people, so eventually he was disposed, and was replaced by this gentle fellow. Baba Murtaza is a medical practitioner, or as some people would say a quack. Now finally, (as if he is doing all of us a favor) he has taken up the ‘business’ of Peer Mureedi. He was surrounded by his admirers, doing different chores for him, while he went on and on about his role as a Peer. Saeen Guttu also was one of his devotees, according to him. He remained the sole spoke-person for everyone present, while I was there.

History is replete of examples, where a prominent character is taken up by various, divergent school of thought, to bring legitimacy to their claim. The case of Muhammad Ali Jinnah would also be an interesting study in the context of Pakistani context, where all political parties (including those, which were vehemently against him) claim to be his rightful successor. The poetry of Bulleh Shah was an attempt to break away from the institutional nature of religion, however after his death, and the ascendancy of his status, the very same people he criticized have taken up the cause of his vision and claim.

 

 

50% poplar trees on Lahore’s canal need to be replaced

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: More than 50 percent poplar trees (Euramericana guinier) on the banks of canal have completed their average age (10 years) and need be replaced, because they can be hazardous to the environment and health, botanists and environmentalists told Daily Times.

They said, however, removal of the trees from the banks of canal would result in soil erosion and affect the city’s beauty.

More than 70 percent trees on the banks of canal are poplar while other species include jaman (Eugenia jambolana), shishum (Dalbergia sissoo), mango, amaltas (Cassia fistula) and Alphitonia excelsa.

They said, “The Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has adopted a better policy for tree plantation keeping in view the long-term environmental effects. Trees planted by the DHA have an average age of 50 years.” Continue reading

Lahore’s Defence Club has much to offer

“A welcome addition – A club that offers Moroccan, Mediterranean, Thai and Chinese besides local food”, writes Ali Sultan for the NEWS on SUNDAY.”

It’s a hot summer night as we enter the Coffee Shop of Defence Club. Set amidst, a large lush green lawn and overlooking the tennis courts, it’s a welcome addition to the eateries of the Defence Club.

The Coffee Shop’s decor is warm, comfortable and elegant. The cafe is nicely lit; the lights bounce off the wooden floor and illuminate everything in a soft glow. It’s crowded and people, mostly families sit either around small glass tables with wrought iron seats or the couches set in the middle of the place.

The coffee bar is housed in a large cabinet and trained baristas prepare a variety of coffee drinks, made from gourmet South African beans. The cold coffee is not extremely sweet, its cold enough and the tongue can feel a bit of bitterness — the flavour is just right. The Coffee Shop also hosts an assortment — like all other cafes — cakes, brownies, cookies, tarts and hand-made ice cream. What it does have and others don’t, is a Middle Eastern sweet (which looks like a carrot cake) known as a ‘basboosa.’ It’s quite popular and should be tasted, at least once. Continue reading

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