Tag Archives: Pakistan

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

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

Reclaiming Lahore – LLF 2015

This article was originally published here

The Lahore Literary Festival came as a breath of fresh air on the city’s depleted cultural landscape

llf3

“Pata nahin kee hai, koi kitaaban da mela lagda hai,” one of the numerous policewomen deployed outside the Alhamra Arts Council last weekend was overheard saying perplexedly into her phone. It was easy to understand her confusion for it’s not every day that the city witnesses an event of the magnitude that was the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).

Spread over three days, the festival put up a remarkable 75 sessions that gave the people of the city, as well as those who’d converged on to the Alhamra from various parts of Pakistan, a taste of literature, politics, culture and music. The sessions ranged from tributes to Pakistan’s legends such as Madam Noor Jehan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to talks by the country’s new generation of fiction writers including Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid and Bilal Tanveer, interspersed by discussions on global and regional politics that engaged international journalists such as Roger Cohen of the NY Times and Lyse Doucet of BBC with local experts and politicians.

Continue reading

Photo of the Day: House of Pandit Shiv Narayan Edward Road

House of Pandit Shiv Narayan (1850-1929) founder of DEV SAMAJ, a religious and social reform society Edward Road, Lahore.

Shiv Kumar7

Shiv Kumar6

Shiv Kumar8

Shiv Kumar1

Shiv Kumar2

Shiv Kumar5

 

Photos and research via Maria Waseem @maaria_waseem

Photo of the Day: Paintings from Shalimar Gardens

Malik Omaid

From my recent visit to Shalimar Gardens I saw these paintings on doors on the rooms at the entrance of the garden. These paintings of Mughal period are still safe from visitors who write their names with phone numbers and many who literally destroy frescoes. I think these should be preserved in a manner that these are still in their place but safer from vigilantism of people.

Shalimar Gardens5 Shalimar Gardens6

Shazia Sikander Receiving Medal of Art from Hillary Clinton

exhibitimg.ashx

Continue reading

Shazia Sikandar Late 2000’s

2007 HomiBhabha_Page_01 2007 HomiBhabha_Page_02

Continue reading

Shazia Sikandar Mid 2000’s

2001 AlternativeModernities_Page_1

Continue reading

Shazia Sikandar Early 2000’s

2003 Fresh Talk Daring Gazes_Page_1

2003 Fresh Talk Daring Gazes_Page_2 Continue reading

Shazia Sikandar Late 90’s

1997 AsianArtNews Mar-Apr _Page_1

Continue reading

Shazia Sikandar Mid 1990’s

1994 Newsline January

Continue reading

Lahore: Future Of The Past

Lahore Nama is sharing this insightful video by Shah Salman Sirhindi on the deteriorating situation of Lahore’s heritage especially the houses of commoners. These are centuries old houses and have immense importance from heritage point of view but next generations may not be able to witness how their forefathers used to live in Lahore.

Future Of The Past – Directed by Shah Salman Sirhindi from Syed Salman Ahmed Sirhindi on Vimeo.

Fresco and Mosaic work at Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore

Malik Omaid

I visited historic Wazir Khan Mosque with my friend in a tour to explore Lahore and what I found was a bit of tragedy of ruining frescoes and mosaic treasure. Many of whom had already vanished due to ignorance and incompetence of officials. It is a tragedy that such a historical site is being used by commoners with out the supervision of experts. Some of the still safe frescoes and mosaic are under with my comments from Instagram account. (Photos by the Author and Umer Khalid)

These are last photos for my ‪‎Wazir Khan‬ Mosque‬ series. This is of numerous frescoes in the mosque used as decoration on walls. These are masterpieces of Mughal‬ art each wort of millions of rupees dating back to 4 centuries.
IMG_20150122_080430

IMG_20150122_081306

IMG_20150122_081901

These mosaic and frescoes are ruining rapidly. When I went there I saw an empty wall but if you see just ten year old photos of Wazir Khan Mosque you find a fresco work there. Now it has vanished completely. This is the case with other frescoes.

IMG_20150122_100226

I tried my best to find details on these frescoes on internet but was unsuccessful. Would love it if someone can give me details.

IMG_20150122_101344

IMG_20150122_102636

IMG_20150122_103458

IMG_20150122_104924

Imagine this wonderful piece of art is 400 years old left to ruin and fade away.

IMG_20150122_105946

Mosaic tiles forming the star of David. Back then it was halal. No one said there is a Jewish conspiracy behind this mosque.

IMG_20150122_110604

IMG_20150122_111619

Top 10 restaurants in Lahore: Where to eat in 2015

This article was originally posted on Dawn

By Foha Raza
lahore1

Clockwise from top: Mouthful, Pompei, Lakhnavi, Tiramisu.

A city that boasts of history and tradition, Lahore is also a paradise for food lovers. From the simmering rich, spicy curries in Food Street to classic fine dining, Lahore has so much to offer that one might struggle to find something they don’t like.

Over the years, the city has become synonymous with dining out in style. And so, as the new year rolls in swinging, here’s our list of the top 10 restaurants to try in 2015 in Lahore and the reasons to do so:

Cosa Nostra, La Tavola

lahore2

Costa Nostra. – Photo courtesy: Kfoods.com

Anyone living in Lahore has been to Cosa Nostra numerous times and probably knows the menu by heart. However, one of the most coveted restaurants in town now has a new and revamped menu in their La Tavola section that deserves to be tried.

The Lahore Social

lahore3

The Lahore Social. – Photo courtesy: Official Facebook Page

Located in the dead centre of the city, The Lahore Social is a fancy, new place to try this year. It has a comfortable ambiance, a diverse menu and is a definite fine dining gem.

Continue reading

Dateline Liberty Chowk Lahore

This article was originally posted on The Nation

salman taseer6

By Marvi Sirmed

If you want to commit suicide, all you have to do is defend a persecuted non-Muslim in a case of alleged blasphemy. The slain Governor of the Punjab decided to stand up for the rights of a downtrodden woman from the persecuted Christian community booked under a case of purported blasphemy. He became liable to be killed.
So told us scores of Barelvi (and some Shia) ‘muftis’ and a TV anchor-lady back in 2009. Taking an informed and brave decision, Taseer chose to go ahead with the cause. Result: he lost his life, left us in obscurity to deal with the madness, the killer became a hero and a large chunk of media and so called intelligentsia busied themselves in justifying what was a brutal broad day-light murder.
Remembering him, and remembering him with reverence has been an act of resistance ever since his guard assassinated him in 2011. Like every year, this year too we planned to hold a quiet vigil in his remembrance and to pay tribute to his struggle on the day of his martyrdom. Already in Lahore for a personal trip, I thought to join fellow activists here while requesting comrades to hold similar events in Karachi and Islamabad.
We were able to pull off tribute-vigils in Mirphur Khas, Multan, Bahawalpur, Larkana and Hyderabad in addition to Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. Everywhere they went well with small chunks of progressive citizenry who have always afforded threats to their lives while standing up for the rights of weaker communities and for democracy and justice. The vigils went smoothly everywhere, even in the restive and unpredictable Karachi. Lahore became the odd-man-out. Continue reading

A walk through heritage

This article was originally published in The News on Sunday

Haroon Akram Gill

A walk through heritageAround 600 photographers from all over Pakistan and other countries i.e. Philippines, Bulgaria, Belgium, UK, USA, and Germany participated in the Walk. — Photos by the author

The Walled City is home to the cultural and architectural heritage of Lahore. Its blind arches and the pillars of its buildings, elegant havelis, multi-storey houses, wooden doors and windows and, above all, its famous Gates are some of the old city’s glorious features, all of which have long fascinated the tourists, especially those coming from outside the city/country. Though, terrorist incidents badly hit the tourism industry over the years, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is trying hard to pull the tourists back in, by organising cultural activities; ‘Photo Tourism Walk’ being one such event.

The WCLA claims to have introduced the concept of photo tourism by holding walks in 2012. The Photographic Society of Pakistan, having almost 20,000 members (all photographers) is a major partner and has contributed to projecting and saving the heritage. Continue reading

When Jews found refuge in an unlikely place: Pakistan

Growing Up Jewish in Lahore — And in an Internment Camp

Kahan

From left, Hazel Kahan, her mother Kate, and her brother Michael, in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1948. / Photo by Hazel Kahan / The Forward

By Gabe Friedman

 

When Hazel Kahan went back to Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011 for the first time in 40 years, her childhood homes were completely different. Her first home, formerly a tan stone mansion covered in flowery vines, was now completely painted in white and inhabited by the Rokhri family, one of Pakistan’s most powerful political clans. Her second home, where her parents had run a medical clinic, had become the Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts.

After living in England, Australia and Israel, and having worked in market research in Manhattan for years, Kahan, 75, now lives in Mattituck, on the North Fork of Long Island. She produces interviews for WPKN radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and has recently begun discussing her family history in public presentations, telling a story that illustrates how complicated citizenship and allegiances were for Jews during and after World War II in Pakistan and beyond. She has presented her piece “The Other Pakistan” in Woodstock and Greenport, New York and twice in Berlin. She plans to bring her performance to Montreal in November.

“I never really cared about it, I never bothered, until [my father] died [in 2007],” Kahan said of the project. “Then I realized there’s no one left to tell this story. He did his best to pass it on to us. And we’re responsible, you know?”

The story begins in 1933, when Kahan’s parents, Hermann Selzer and Kate Neumann, left Nazi Germany separately for Italy, where Jews were allowed to study medicine. Hermann and Kate (who had briefly met in Berlin years before) met again in Rome and married in 1935. As Europe became increasingly dangerous for Jews, they decided to leave the continent. Most Jews migrated to British-controlled Palestine, but Kahan’s parents made their decision of where to go on a whim. At a dinner party in Rome, an Italian monsignor suggested that they move to Lahore, Pakistan, which was then still part of British India and a city that had an exotic reputation as a crossroads for travelers and traders.

“He said to them: ‘Why are you thinking of going to Palestine?’” Kahan said. “‘You’re young, you’re cosmopolitan, you have medical degrees; in India they need European doctors. Go to India.’”

It turned out to be a great decision — at least for a while. Kahan said that her parents were graciously welcomed in Lahore. They set up a successful medical practice, and her father became part of the British elite class. Lahore was a worldly city with a vibrant international culture.

“Lahore was a very special place because it was at the crossroads of a lot of trade from the East going to Iran and Turkey,” Kahan said, who was born there in 1939. “So people came through and the whole place became a room for travelers.”

That didn’t mean that there were a lot of Jews in Lahore. In the 40s, around 2,000 Jews lived in Pakistan, and most of them were settled in the port city of Karachi.

Kahan’s family lived a largely secular life. For Passover, Kahan recalls eating chapati (more commonly called roti), the unleavened flatbread found throughout India and Pakistan, without really knowing why. The annual sign of Yom Kippur was her father’s fast, which gave him a headache each year.

“It’s kind of difficult to be a Jew if there are no Jews around,” Kahan said.

In December 1940, in the early stages of World War II, Kahan’s family was forced by the British-Indian government to move to internment camps in Purandhar Fort, and later in Satara, in the southwest of India. This happened because the Selzers were “stateless,” and thus considered enemy aliens by the government. Poland had passed a law in 1938 that revoked citizenship from any Polish citizen who had been abroad for at least five years. The Selzers fit this description: Hermann was born in Poland, but his family had moved to Oberhausen, Germany, when he was a child. Kate was born in Germany but assumed Polish nationality when she married Hermann. They had Polish passports to travel to British India, but ceased to be citizens of Poland after the new citizenship laws took effect.

“I think there were maybe like 200 families [in the interment camp],” Kahan said. “They were classified as German Nazis, German anti-Nazis, which we were, and then Italian fascists. So the camp was kind of divided in that way, and we were lopped in with the German anti-Nazis, who were mainly missionaries.”

In the internment camp, the family had a house and lived a relatively normal life under supervision of local officials for five years. Nevertheless, the Selzers had to abandon their medical practice and move away from Lahore. Most interned families faced financial hardships. Their relations to the government and those around them inevitably changed.

In the internment camp, Hermann Selzer began to write down his experiences. He continued to write until he had a stroke, a few years before his death in 2007. Many of his writings, in addition to a collection of his letters, legal documents, and photographs from the 40s through the 60s are now archived on microfilm at the Leo Baeck Institute, a research library of German-Jewish history housed in the Center for Jewish History in New York. Selzer never published any of his work.

“He was a very disciplined man,” Kahan said of her father. “And I bought him a typewriter. He sat writing every morning and then I bought him an electronic typewriter, and he wore it out so I bought him another one.”

After the war ended, the Selzers moved back to Lahore and restarted their practice. By the Six Day War in 1967, relations between Jews and Muslims had soured (Pakistan is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world). By 1971, the atmosphere had gotten so tense that the Selzers decided to move to Israel. Kahan said that her parents wanted to spend their entire life in Pakistan, and dreamt of dispensing free medical care to people throughout the Middle East after they retired.

“But being Jewish was no longer being Jewish, it was being Zionist,” Kahan said. “And that was the problem.”

In Israel, Hermann worked part-time at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and kept writing. By this time, in a testament to the international turmoil they lived through, the Selzers had accumulated four passports: They had retained their Polish passports, earned Pakistani passports, were given German passports after the war (as a recognition of suffering, Kahan explained), and obtained Israeli passports upon settling in Jerusalem.

Decades later, Kahan went through her father’s letters and documents and wrote two unpublished memoirs — “A House in Lahore” and “An Untidy Life” — about her childhood; both were subtitled “Growing Up Jewish in Pakistan.”

The title of her new presentation, “The Other Pakistan,” refers to the seemingly unexpected hospitality and warmth that she has repeatedly experienced as a Jew in a predominantly Muslim country. (Today, at most 800 Jews live there.)

“Pakistan is obviously a really horrible country, with everything bad from Taliban to whatever you want to say,” Kahan said. “But the point is for me is that the other Pakistan is this hospitable place.”

Despite having gone to boarding schools in England and living in various other countries throughout her adult life — not to mention being forced to live in an interment camp as a child — Pakistan is still close to Kahan’s heart. She explained that she has been graciously welcomed back into the Pakistani community every time she has visited.

“I feel because I was born there that in a very profound way it’s my home,” she said. “Even though I’m not of it, I’m from there.”

This Article was originally posted here

Lahore Updates 16-10-2014

Dengue virus claims first life in Lahore

LAHORE: A 26-year-old patient suffering from dengue breathed his last on Friday, becoming the first person to have died from the virus this year in Lahore.

Awais was among the 44 patients in Lahore who have been diagnosed with the dengue virus, which has now infected hundreds of people across the country.

The total number of dengue infected patients now stands at 386 in Punjab alone.

See more

Lahore High Court Upholds Death Penalty of Aasia Bibi

Members of the Pakistan Christian Democratic Alliance march in support of Aasia Bibi, 2010. Arif Ali—AFP

Blasphemy convicted woman’s lawyer vows to appeal the ruling before Supreme Court.

The Lahore High Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet during an argument with a Muslim woman. “A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Aasia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 percent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

See More

Trade display: SAARC fair to be held in Lahore

The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) announced that it will organise the 12th Saarc Trade Fair at the Expo Centre, Lahore from January 30 to February 1, 2015.

This will be the third Saarc trade exhibition hosted by Pakistan and first of its kind in Lahore. Exhibitors from Saarc member countries and its observer countries will exhibit a range of products at the exhibition, TDAP press release said.

See More

PTA unearths illegal gateway exchange in Lahore

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its ongoing efforts to control grey trafficking unearthed another illegal gateway exchange in Lahore.

According to details, a successful raid against the grey operators was carried out along with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team at Nain Sukh and Shahdara areas of Lahore, a press release said on Monday. During the raid, an illegal VoIP exchange comprising of six illegal gateways, 24 ports, one PC, one LCD, three network switches, three routers, three line switches, PTCL modem and hundreds of SIMs were confiscated.

See More

Saving Lahore…uphill task

A bunch of starry-eyed do-gooders, under the banner of the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, are trying to raise their voice against the further expansion of the Canal Road. Over the years, and under the tender ministrations of chief ministers who for the mischief they have caused in the name of development deserve a spell in some Stalinist re-education centre, the Canal road has been double-widened, then triple-widened and tunnelled under.

Trees have been cut – Pakistani officialdom and Pakistanis generally nursing some kind of a primeval grudge against trees…if they see one standing honour is not satisfied unless it is pulled down – and an iron railing has been put up, of no use whatsoever and on the wrong side of the footpath. The visionary behind this planning deserves a prize.

Yet Punjab officialdom, and for that matter the far-seeing administration of the Khadim-e-Aala – they no longer even smile when this title is used, such being the prevalent sense of humour – are resolved to vandalise the Canal thoroughfare further. They want to ‘improve’ the underpasses and create some U-turns, as if U-turning was not already a national art. If memory serves, a sum of over eight billion rupees is set aside in this year’s provincial budget for this purpose.
Continue reading

Kabir in Lahore

A four-day long festival in Lahore celebrating Kabir Das, the revered 15th century poet and mystic who defied the boundaries between Hindu and Muslim, ends on Thursday.

 

The Kabir Festival (Sep 29-Oct 2, 2014) has been organised by the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in collaboration with the Kabir Project in India, a unique and acclaimed initiative by documentary filmmaker and musician Shabnam Virmani.

 

The aim is to promote the philosophy of spirituality and harmony through film screenings, live musical evenings, photo and video exhibitions, storytelling, and interactive sessions. The performers include classical and folk singers, scholars, artists, and students of Pakistan and India, who share a passion for the mystical world.

Continue reading