Tuesday, November 15, 2005

La-Whore!

"Lahore—the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu kings, the courtesan of Moghul Emperors, bedecked and bejeweled, savaged by marauding hordes. Healed by the caressing hands of successive lovers. A little shoddy... like an attractive but ageing concubine, ready to bestow surprising delights on those who cared to court her—proudly displaying Royal gifts," writes Bapsi Sidhwa in her introduction, quoting from one of her earlier books, "A Pakistani Bride" in her latest anhotlogy on the city, "City of Sin and Splendour: Writings on Lahore".
Having always been fascinated by the city and brought up on a generous diet of stories, movies and tid-bits of factoids about the city, I've always wanted to visit it as it is. My first brushes with this city was through an Indian "tale of two cities" which was aired once a week on National TV called "Buniyaad", then came Chugtai and Manto, "Garam Hawa" and "Tamas" and ofcourse the cricket matches with camera panning to capture "honey shots" of stunning women wearing shades. Probably I have a fixation with Pakistani women, I don't know.
The city's discussion can't be complete without it's domes, minarets, Kinnaird College , gardens and it' s red light area, Hira Mandi (and the eating place there, Cuckoo's).
The City has bled, turning the waters of the Raavi red but has endured the gashes and stabs to have come out scarred and mellowed. There probably is something about Lahore like Lucknow and Delhi which is dying but ... isn't that a part of the continual evolution? Probably I can sometime visit the city which is like a "bitch in heat on a sultry summer afternoon" before the cycle of evolution moves over...

3 comments:

Rustling_Leaves said...

I've always wanted to go to Lahore myself. There's an old saying that if you haven't seen Lahore, you haven't been born! ("Jinne La'ore ni takkeya, oh jammeyan nai") My grandparents, both maternal and paternal, migrated to India from Pakistan after partition. So I'd love to go explore my roots there. Also, I've quite a few friends from Lahore who have been praising it to the skies! And most of them being male, I got to hear a good deal about Lahori women too (supposedly the prettiest in Pakistan):). I remember my friends looking down upon women from Karachi, saying that they're nothing in comparison. I might be going there next month, if things work out. Will definitely write about it if I do.

A friend of mine visited Lahore last year and happened to meet an ageing architect. The gentleman was complaining about how the city is losing it's character. There used to be a time, he said, when you could find a house just by saying "Lal ghar" or "Peela ghar" because each house was so distinct. He was very saddened that now every house looked more or less the same. Evolution is definitely painful for some!

Apart from the Punjabi connection, I'd like to visit Lahore because it's just such a colourful city with so much character, culture and history. And I'd definitely like to be born! :)

Rambler said...

@sarangi
hey, nice to know that! i am sure u'll get there, the sooner the better ... so leaves will be rustling soon in lahore?

Rustling_Leaves said...

Inshallah...