Just like Delhi
In my recent trip to Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, I pretended to be a Delhiite. I travelled in an auto rickshaw. I rode on a bike. I boarded a city bus.entertainment Updated: Apr 01, 2010 07:40 IST
In my recent trip to Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, I pretended to be a Delhiite. I travelled in an auto rickshaw. I rode on a bike. I boarded a city bus.
I strolled on the Mall Road. I purchased an antique Shakespeare from a second-hand bookstore near Regal Chowk. I had fresh musambi juice at a stall in Hall Road. I watched people play cricket opposite the colonial-era Tollinton Market building. I stood outside the now-closed Pak Tea House, a legendary café once frequented by great intellectuals.
Outside the ticket stall at Shahi Quila (Lahore’s Red Fort), I purchased the Rs 10 ticket that is given to Pakistani nationals, and not the Rs 100 ticket for foreigners. Since we were all brown, the man at the counter didn’t take me as an outsider. At noon, I walked in the shaded corridor of the grand Badshahi Masjid and took a siesta in its cool prayer hall.
Later, I had peepal leaves falling on me in the ground around Minar-e-Pakistan (Lahore’s India Gate). I then took a rickshaw to Lahore Museum where I ordered a soft drink at the canteen. Next, I attended the 79th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Shadman Chowk. I also roamed around in the campus of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan’s most prestigious business institute. I met students who dressed and spoke like the baba-log Stephanians of Delhi University.
While taking photographs on the Mall Road, a cop asked for my shinakht (identity). When he discovered that I’m Indian, he asked, “And still you are so openly taking pictures?” I said, “But I’m your friend.” He was satisfied.
At night, I passed by Lahore’s lovely canal (Delhi has nothing like it). It was lit up with decorations. There were giant models of lotus flowers floating on the water. In the end, I went to Bhati Gate and paid respects at the Sufi shrine of Daata Durbar. Its sprawling courtyard had pilgrims sleeping, praying and sitting meditatively. I was among my own people.
First Published: Mar 31, 2010 18:07 IST