Lahore red carpet for Indians | india | Hindustan Times
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Lahore red carpet for Indians

If you don't pay too much attention to the clothes (most men are in salwaar kameez) and the cars, you could almost be in New Delhi, writes Kadambari Murali.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2004 13:19 IST

If you don't pay too much attention to the clothes (most men are in salwaar kameez) and the cars (more exotically foreign than at home), you could almost be in New Delhi. Almost. It's about 30 degrees Celsius, there are wide, beautiful roads, gracious government buildings left over from the Raj — the squalor is not in view.

But the people here are that much friendlier to an outsider than they tend to be at home — and the minute you say you're from India, you're immediately a favoured guest.

It's something special to be an Indian in Pakistan at the moment. Airport officials, Naeem, a bellhop, Chand Zeb, the cab driver who shows off his Saarc summit driver I-card, and Mohammad Bashir, who's looked after Gaddafi Stadium for 45 years — everyone wants to talk to you.

While Bashir saab assures the Indians that he's prepared sporting wickets, Zeb tells you that Lahoris are waiting to welcome their Indian brothers and sisters. "The ladies can even wear jeans if they want," he says. "This is an open city."

It's overwhelming, the emotion that is released whenever someone mentions cricket. Everyone's talking about the series. But questions about who will win are dismissed with: "It doesn't matter."