Twenty things I love about Lahore

Published: November 11, 2012
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The dholaks, and the dance ─ sufism seeps pure and chaste through the city. PHOTO: AFP

I love Lahore because it is ours! PHOTO: TARIQ HASSAN The dholaks, and the dance ─ sufism seeps pure and chaste through the city. PHOTO: AFP I love how Lahore forgive and forget. In the first half of a second, you see two men dash and break each other’s teeth. In the next half of the same second, you see them going to the dentist together. PHOTO: AFP

Lahore and I have always had a complicated relationship. The city can plunge me deep into an abyss of depression at will, yet it’s the sole antidote to depression I know of. It reminds me of various people, family members and others, who passed away; yet it’s a place that still makes me want to live. I would choose Lahore over any other city of Pakistan if given the choice.

So it’s only after 20 years of my acquaintance with Lahore, countless memories, ample experiences and an article in The Express Tribune Magazine entitled ’10 things I hate about Lahore’ (which was widely misinterpreted and earned me some considerable bashing) that I thought about writing on the 20 things that I love about the city of sin and splendour.

1. How Lahoris forgive and forget. Though belligerence seems to be the natural order of the day in Lahore, the news doesn’t end right there. In the first half of a second, you see two men dash and break each other’s teeth. In the next half of the same second, you see them going to the dentist together.

2. The shrine of Mian Mir Madho Lal Hussain, Data Darbar, the langar, the divine verses, the dholaks, and the dance ─ sufism seeps pure and chaste through the city.

3. Driving through the canal road. There are few things as joyous as passing through the underpasses besides the melodious canal, especially in the summers, when the canal plays host to a number of heat-struck kids!

4. Food. Ah, the food is the best, but since the culinary aspect of Lahore has been written about to death, skip to the next one! (However, this isn’t to say that checking out the new food street shouldn’t be aim of your life from this moment on!)

5. The rapidly increasing fly-overs and modern structures. I’m ready to forgive the massive amount of hapless trouble the Kalma Chowk fly-over recently gave me. Environmentalists may hate me for this, but I do have a thing for concrete.

6. The wonderful, strong people Lahore has produced, which includes the likes of Maulana Maudodi, Bano Qudsia, Sufi Tabassum, Saadat Hassan Manto, Habib Jabib and Ashfaq Ahmad, and, of course, my mother!

7. Lahore never sleeps and it is downright aversive to the idea of keeping mum. It remains abuzz with activity even in the unwonted of all hours. When all else is calm, the rickshaws come to play, or the blaring vocals of Naseebo Lal!

8. Amidst the elegant harmony between Badshahi masjid, Gurdwara Dera Sahib and Krishna Mandir, Lahore remains devout to its faith. Most of the times, religion tends to remain in the city what it’s intended to be: an ideology rather than an accessory.

9. Old Lahore. Narrow streets ad wide havelis speak of a spectacular past. And the thirteen gates (theoretically speaking). One cannot leave out Wazir Khan mosque, Shahi Hamam, and paan-chewing uncles playing cards.

10. Of how Lahore is a sensitive place ─ there is so much feeling to the city. Everything in Lahore has a story to tell. Since I’m much of a loser at poetic expressions, can I please get away by just saying that the city itself lives?

11. The vehicles. Lahore is the city where I first saw a limousine, desperately trying to make a U-turn on the narrow road of an underdeveloped neighbourhood. To complete the picture; years ago it was also the city where I first saw a rickshaw! ‘Itna bara scooter?’ a five-year-old me had shockingly posed at my aunt!

12. The splendor. Thanks to the Mughals (and, err, to the British, too), past blends flawlessly with the present in Lahore and gives rise to an aura peculiar to the city. A special salute to Noor Jehan for giving us her husband Jehangir’s tomb, which tops the list of my favourite Mughal structures! They don’t really say ‘Lahore, Lahore hai’ for nothing!

13. Lahore is home to Pakistan’s state-of-the-art, premium, international standards (pun intended) film industry: Lollywood. What’s life without laughter? What’s Lahore without Lollywood?

14. I especially adore how welcoming and hospitable the city is. Despite the barbarous invasions throughout its timeline, Lahore isn’t the least bit sceptical or cynical. In fact, it has been irrationally abused too much by all the separatists, that it rightfully doesn’t seem to care anymore. When others refused to bow and went for arms, Lahore surrendered, not because it was weak, but since it was ready to evolve.

15. That market near that road I do not remember exactly, but it has a note-worthy collection of impressive pets ─ cats, dogs and birds. Lame? Sorry! (But they even sell African Grey Parrots and Japanese Spitz(es)!)

16. Lahore is an absolute delight for shoppers. There’s an infinite list of options to choose from; Fortress, Anarkali, Gulberg, Liberty, Sunday Bazaar (and even Landa Bazaar).

17. The parks. In the mood for jogging, or just enjoying the serene nature in intimacy? Lahore won’t disappoint you.

18. The festivities! Lahore calls for celebrations galore at the slightest hint of a chance. It doesn’t just make merry; it has to do it. Had all cities been the same, just think about the numerous holidays we’d be having!

19. Because it’s a (ignoring certain aspects) classy example of how a city should be. It has even braced itself to get Pakistan’s first metro rail transit system. It’s just that no one really knows if/how the project turns up – but we won’t go there.

20. Because it’s ours!

Read more by Asif here or follow him on Twitter @asifnz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz is a doctor from Abbottabad who's either traveling or writing while not procrastinating. He tweets as @asifnz (twitter.com/asifnz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Although I am a Karachiwalla through and through, I think you have summed up Lahore quite well. You could have stressed a little more on the ‘history’ and ‘culture’, which sadly not enough is being done to preserve or promote.Recommend

  • justasincereobserver

    Good article ! except its habib jalib and not jabib :)Recommend

  • Ahsan Zeb

    while reading your article Mushtaq Yousafi’s writing came to my mind in which he says “lahori jannat ma b ja k kahen gay LAHORE LAHORE HA”Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Some of my fondest memories are of this great city of Lahore. Great blog Asif, points # 4, 9, 14, 16 and 18 are best! (p.s = Loved the Landa Bazaar bit, made me laugh)Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    Please stop posting about which city you love and which not. Being a Pakistani, you should each city.Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    Bano Qudsia was a Sikh before marrying Ashfaq Ahmed and she was from Ferozepur not Lahore.Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Ilahi

    Maulana Maududi, Strong wonderful??? The man was the mastermind behind 2000 deaths of a minority muslim community which had left everything in India and decided to migrate to Pakistan.. He was sentenced to death for the 1953 riots, but was saved due to Saudi Intervention and you call him great?? I would have chosen great men produced in Lahore such as Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Ranjhit Singh, Bhagat Singh, Bhai Ram Singh and Ghamidi.. Rest all of the article was quite good =)Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/asifnz Asif Nawaz

    @Mohammad Ali Ilahi: From whatever (limited) I’ve read of Maudodi, and through my parents’ acquaintance with his family, I have always thought of him a non-conformist. But I admit I should have been more cautious in the selection and shouldn’t have included a controversial figure. And thanks for adding to the list of names! :)Recommend

  • Zeta

    @Nouman Ahmed:
    Its fine as long as some one doesn’t disses other cities. You can be happy about certain aspects of your cityRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/BajiPlease Baji Please

    Whattay beautiful piece to start my morning with. Dude Asif Nawaz, you made my day by speaking so beautifully about my dear city. Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    hope to feel the same about lahore when i visit..!!Recommend

  • I.

    Despite spending Olmst 19 years of my life life in Islamabad,I agree to ol ur points.
    Lahore Lahore ae :DRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/FoozKhan Fooz

    loved it :D “Lahore, Lahore hai!” Recommend

  • lone liberal

    The great Maulana Maududi was not from Lahore, please do some research before posting, he was from Aurangabad in India.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/asifnz Asif Nawaz

    @lone liberal: Neither were Ashfaq Ahmad, Bano Qudsia and the rest. Wish you had read the line. I wrote ‘produced’ – it had nothing to do with birth places!Recommend

  • lone liberal

    @Asif Nawaz

    I dont know whether to laugh or cry at what you have written. It is a common trait of Pakistani people, never accept their mistakes and just do behas upon behas.

    You need to understand a concept which for some odd reason you havent understood. When we say someone is from somewhere, or produced somewhere or whatever along those lines, we take their birthplace, not where the person later settled on in their life.

    KHUDA KAY LIYE FAZOOL BEHAS MAT KIYA KARO

    Thank you,

    An Indian BrotherRecommend

  • Majid

    I want the 1 minute and 20 seconds of my life back that I spent on reading this marvelous piece of literature.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    @Asif Nawaz well you could have mentioned that personalities like Bhagat Singh, Nobel prize winners like Dr. Har Gobind Khorana and Dr Abdus Salam got educated from Lahore and perhaps Lahore influnced them in a way. Interestingly, English author Rudyard kipling also resided in Lahore for some time.Recommend

  • Laila

    Awesome!Recommend

  • Roha

    One of the best pieces i’ve read on the city so far. Living abroad, these are precisely the things that i’d say when asked about Lahore. Loved the read. Recommend

  • osama saleem

    @Asif nawaz well you know i have never visited lahore and i never thought of visiting it but after reading your article.i am eager to visit lahore.
    your article has really inspired me.Recommend

  • anwar suhail

    Should have mentioned. Faiz, madam Noorjahan, Imran khan. You could have emphasized more on historical and cultural aspects. Refreshing piece though…Well done Recommend

  • Amna

    Exellent article…thanks for this!Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Would you acknowledge the cultural contribution of Punjabi hindus to this glorious city? Lahore wouldn’t have been Lahore if Punjabi hindus had not established educational institutions, the film industry and the glorious buildings.

    Since you mentioned Lollywood, you should have also mentioned that most earlier actors, directors and producers of Bollywood have their origin in Lahore (Yash Chopra, Karan Johar’s father Yash Johar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Prem Chopra, Anil Kapoor’s grandfather, Muhammad Rafi, Govinda’s grandfather and many others). All of these people shifted to Mumbai after partition and contributed their talents to Bollywood.

    The film industry in Lahore is the oldest in Pakistan and the first silent movie of British India was made in Lahore.

    Novelist Khuswant Singh has his origins in Lahore.

    Surinder Kaur, the nightingale of Punjab, has her origins in Lahore. Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Lahore has such strong cultural foundations….a little about the origin of this glorious city:

    According to Hindu legend, Lahore was founded by Loh, or Lava, son of Rama, the hero of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.
    In 1036 it was conquered from a Brahman dynasty by the Muslim Turkish Ghaznavids, who made it the capital of their empire in 1106.
    It passed in 1186 to the Ghori sultans, also from Afghanistan.
    India’s first Muslim emperor, Kutb-ud-din Aibak, was crowned in Lahore in 1206 and is buried there.
    The city, which suffered Mongol raids in the 13th and 14th cent., entered the period of its greatest glory in the 16th cent., when it became one of the capitals of the Mughal empire. Lahore declined after the reign of Aurangzeb; it was annexed in 1767 by the Sikhs, who, under Ranjit Singh, made it their capital. It passed to the British in 1849.
    When Pakistan won independence in 1947, Lahore became the capital of its West Punjab; from 1955 to 1970 it was the capital of the entire province of West Pakistan, composed of all provinces in the western wing; and upon the province’s dissolution it became the capital of Punjab prov.Recommend

  • saba

    @lone liberal: and our Indian brother starts the blame game again. A hobby i guess :)Recommend

  • saba

    @Anonymous:
    Thanks for informationRecommend

  • Anonymous

    Nice article, well written.Recommend

  • irfan

    @Nouman Ahmed: hahaha truly funny you are!!!Recommend

  • xain

    very well wriiten asif nawaz… while reading every point ,i was just lost ,assuming my self in lahore,,,:P
    your last blog on Abbottabad was also a great piece , really man you got marvelous way of writting…. keep entertaining us by writing sucha traditious blog….:)
    .God bless you dudeRecommend

  • joy

    my grandpa studied at FC college and I want to visit the city,,,hope the visa regime is relaxed sooner.Recommend

  • Ayesha Nadeem

    A very interesting read, Love Lahore!! :)Recommend

  • zaeema

    a gud oneRecommend

  • Aviator

    @ author

    You read my mind! You mentioned all the best qualities of Lahore, which bring back my own fond memories of the city. From my heart I say it is one the best cities on Earth! It has been a few years since I have visited, how I long to see it again!Recommend

  • ss

    @ auther
    None of the following ppl that you mentioned in your blog actually hailed from lahore:
    Maulana Maudodi, Bano Qudsia, Sufi Tabassum, Saadat Hassan Manto, Habib Jabib and Ashfaq Ahmad.Recommend

  • Mlh

    Mian Mir! that thing in Lahore’s air! <3 Recommend

  • Muhammard Rizwan Ali

    haha
    nothing intrestingRecommend

  • Huma

    very well written,you summed up almost everything,Proud to be a LAHORI,….LAHORE,LAHORE Hai! :) Recommend

  • Sohail

    As being Resident of Islamabad, I visit Lahore couple of time and every time I notice that there is festivity is going every time. The food street is always full of people. Lahoris are joyful people celebrating every aspect of life.
    The most interesting and revered place in lahore is Badshai mosque , gurdawara and mander, which show the harmony of lahoris belonging to different religon and gives us lesson to respect each other paith. Recommend

  • http://Pakistanhour.com PakistanHour

    Canal drive in the beautiful city of Pakistan, Lahore is the most amazing of all, besides food. Though I think its more interesting when its raining rather in summers. Recommend

  • stenson

    @Anonymous: You forgot to mention that Lahore was also part of the ancient Indus Valley civilization that existed long before Hinduism ever existed. Lahore has the mark of many civilizations which is part of its history but but can you Indians ever give it a rest and stop trying to claim Pakistan’s rich history for your own? Lahore is a beautiful city which remains vibrant, safe and well developed thanks to its people and the provincial government which spends money on its upkeep unlike other provinces in Pakistan. Lahore is developing and preserving its history which makes all Pakistanis proud. Lahore is the real gem and heart of Pakistan for good reason! As they say in Punjabi, “jisnay Lahore nai vekhya, oh jamiya nai!”Recommend