Tag Archives: red light district

Lahore’s culinary feast: Phajjay ke Paye

Fazal e Haq – aka Phajjay ke Paye by Aqeel Ahmed

Here is a review of Fazl e Haq (nicked as Phajja) chain of restaurants. Now this is truly authentic Lahori taste we are talking about. Not even the neighbouring cities of Lahore have been found to be that keen about Paye (feet) or Siri (heads) of goats. It sounds gross, doesn’t it? But then again, this is us .. Lahories .. and you have already read about us eating goat testicles.


Fazl e Haq or Mr. Phajja was perhaps the first person who commercialized the idea by coming up with a Paye specialty restaurant in Hira Mandi, the Red light district (Taxali gate) named as Phajjay ke Paye. People would (and still) flock to this place every morning and wait in queues to have a breakfast of sticky and rubbery meat of goat feet. The Siri on the other hand is not a breakfast item. A typical Siri meal is accompanied by assortments like Maghaz (brain), Zuban (tongue) and Khad (Jawbone) – everything cooked of course. You eat it with Roti or Kulcha. Another reason for having started his venture in the red light district of Lahore was perhaps the purportedly aphrodisiac nature of these meals. Aphrodisiac or not, they are rich in cholesterol for sure. Continue reading

Heera Mandi – The Dream House of the Whores

Courtesy Mayank Austen Soofi

I felt like a bridegroom who had come to pick out one of the three beautiful sisters. Sitting next to each other on a blue sofa, they blushed and coquettishly glanced at us.

An old woman with a straight back and shining-white hair sat down on the floor and talked of the heat and humidity. She had a firm, commanding voice that sliced and rebuked the air with the sharp tanginess of a most refined form of spoken Urdu.

Unlike the brightly-colored and intricately designed shalwaar kameeze (Shalwar are loose trousers and the kameeze is a long shirt) of the girls, the stern woman stood apart in an off-white dress and a white netted dupatta (a scarf or covering for the head and upper body worn by women), carefully adjusted on her head.

It seemed like a cultured Muslim family, but the girls were not sisters. They were prostitutes. The old lady was not a mother looking for suitable boys for her daughters, but a pleasure-house Madam.

We were in Heera Mandi — ‘a bazaar of diamonds’ — Pakistan’s oldest red light district.

Crossing into the Red Light

Mian Naeem, a soft-spoken Lahore-based sculptor and art-critic, had agreed to take me for an excursion to Heera Mandi, a place I particularly wished to visit especially after reading an excellent book by the British author Louise Brown, The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan’s Ancient Pleasure District.

I was in Pakistan to take part in a conference for a visa-free South Asia and was tied up with a series of seminars and speeches during the day. Night was the time to explore the city and Heera Mandi had to be a necessary pilgrimage. Continue reading