|At Baoli Bagh, Rung Mehal. Walled City of Lahore|
|At Noor Haveli, Interior Lohari Gate, Walled City|
|Roaming around inside Mochi Gate area|
At first, the feeling to belong to Lahore was overwhelming and indescribable but now that I am recognized as Lahori, I can proudly say that this city has given me an identity. I feel that Lahore belongs to me and I belong to Lahore. I completed my studies here, and also started my career from this city.
During my stay in Lahore I never thought about leaving this city, in fact, I could not believe that I was actually leaving the city till my last day in Lahore.
Now that I am miles away from Lahore, I remember Lahore for many good reasons; actually there are hundreds of good memories related to Lahore.
Firstly, I miss the city! For me, Lahore is not just a city, it is a living character, a companion, who gives you company, and who listens you, who never lets you alone. Then, I miss gathering of my friends and places where we used to sit together late night and Tea and discussion ware essential parts of our meetings.
Just imagine sitting in front of an old house, where prestigious Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto used to live, at an open air tea stall in Old Anarkali, families and young people walking around and eating. Students, lawyers, activists and all kinds of people sitting nearby you, and you are sitting at a tea stall, busy in discussing ‘Literary Criticism’ or’ Magical Realism and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ or perhaps new aspects of Urdu poetry. That is how I spend many nights in Anarkali like that. And I miss it now.
|Dhol and Dhamal at Urs Data Gunj Baksh (Photo: AFP)|
Other place that I used to visit frequently is Al-fazal Hotel in Laxmi chowk, Lahore. This is a bit different place as compared to Anarkali. It’s an ordinary hotel, where poets, artists and other like-minded people sit together. It was quite ‘school’ of a group of writers, but with the passage of time many people quitted coming here due to some reason. But I always enjoyed sitting there. One of the key memories of that place is that we never ate anything or took tea from this hotel despite of sitting several hours there. Our tea usually came from a tea stall adjacent to hotel and ‘Channay’ from famous Tooba restaurant, located at the right side of Al-Fazal hotel.
|Pak Tea House, The Mall (Photo: Google images)|
Lahore, at its peak, was better known for its lively Lahori culture and festivals such as Basant festivals, Jashn-e- Baharaan, Rafi Peer Festivals, Cricket Matches, Mela Charaghaan, Weekly Dhol performance of Pappu Saayn at Shah Jamal Darbar. And also known for the world famous Food Street, Gawalmandi.
Unfortunately, I also witness this rich culture of turning into a nightmare. During the past six years I have seen several dramatic changes in Lahore. First of all Food Street of gawalmandi was demolished by the Muslim League (N)’s government because it was the initiative of General Pervez Musharraf. It was a big blow to the Lahoris and people visiting here. But I realized that it was just the beginning of the worst.
|Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team (Photo: AFP)|
|Interior Sherwanwala gate area|
The great personalities of this region also once used to pass these paths.
I have a different approach about Lahore. Although Lahore is a modern city, and as a metropolitan city it has many shopping malls, skyscrapers (though no very tall), some lavish food places (such as M.M Alam Road), markets like Liberty, Moon market, Y Block DHA and several others. But so What? Almost every metropolitan city in this world has all these facilities.