An Indian’s love for Lahore

Published: April 15, 2015
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The writer has been in top media and entertainment corporations in Bollywood for over a decade and can be found on twitter @tanuj_garg

The writer has been in top media and entertainment corporations in Bollywood for over a decade and can be found on twitter @tanuj_garg

Is jahaaz ke kaptaan aur unka amla aapko khushamdeed kehte hain. Hum 20,000 feet ki bulandi par pravaas karte huwe, inshallah ek ghante aur tees minute mein Karachi pahunchengay.

And just for the joy of hearing such exquisite Urdu (a huge turn-on), I chucked the flat bed, and sat on a narrow seat in the first row of a tired looking PIA aircraft. The carpet was damp (courtesy of the water seeping out from the washroom), the armrest was dilapidated, the wallpaper peeling.

Three years back, I made my Pakistan debut. I braved my way through fear, concern and anguish from friends and folks who were convinced that I was on crack. I mean, heard of someone saying he’s visiting Pakistan on holiday?

After boot camp of the worst kind at the visa office in Delhi, I was ready to swap Pakistan for Peru. But an emotional sucker like me gladly fell for the coaxing from loving Lahori friends, one of whom I had met in the course of work in London. (So deep was the love that I began observing a roza every Ramazan — the Laylatul Qadr one.)

As I sat in an aircraft that looked ready to fall apart, a million thoughts zoomed in and out of my head. Was this for real? Was I for real? Had I lost the plot? Was I ready to get bombed, kidnapped or gunned down?

I was en route to Lahore (via Karachi), a city I had heard and read so much about. Most North Indians like us are blessed with forefathers from Punjab. My great grandmother was from Lahore. I remember Mr Bachchan telling me about his mother’s early days in Lahore and Rawalpindi. Something about Lahore draws you to it — call it a raw cultural charm or an inexplicable kind of exotica.

After suffering PIA, I finally landed in Lahore, gripped by palpable excitement. The city where Bhagat Singh died, where the Ravi flows and where the declaration of the Indian independence was passed.

Lahoris are unequivocally hospitable. Their undying spirit of hard partying is infectious. I felt like I was at a pumping Ibiza bash that was happening behind closed doors.

Old Lahore was a treasure to traverse, like Delhi or Amritsar. Everything’s the same. Only the sign-boards are in Urdu, not in Hindi. We’re one race. One can’t but help think about the tragedy of partition.

The city has a heart. A deep one. It extends the warmest embrace. It loves unconditionally. It feels like a home away from home.

I returned to Mumbai

In one piece. Untouched, unscathed. I was thronged by curious friends excitedly waiting for me to unravel the Pakistan enigma. I said it was a crazy, fun-filled ride. Incidentally, I’ve returned to Pakistan thrice to relive it. From being a mad-hatter venturing into ‘enemy’ territory, to turning into an unofficial goodwill ambassador of Pakistan in my city, it’s been a helluva journey. Let’s say Alhamdollilah to that!

Bollywood takes On Karachi

Possibly the first Bollywood film that refers to Pakistan in its title was “Welcome to Karachi”. Featuring ace comic actors, Arshad Warsi and Jackky Bhagnani, the forthcoming film’s incredibly cheeky and humorous trailer released earlier this week. Two Indian bumpkins make their way into Karachi by boat, and the usual madness follows. Some of its content could bother the touchy souls, but if it’s seen in the right spirit, the trailer makes for a great, innocuous laugh. Check it out if you haven’t.

Lakhvi Dampener

So the biggest mood-spoiler for Indians in the week gone by was the release of the 26/11 mastermind. When Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was allowed to go scot-free by the Lahore High Court, it eroded the value of assurances repeatedly given to India by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism. Understandably, no one holds a favourable view of the development and Pakistan will have a lot of explaining to do if it genuinely wishes to rid itself of the ‘T’ tag that it carries in global eyes. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • SK
    Apr 15, 2015 - 6:41AM

    A well known pioneer of Indian IT industry who hails from NWFP (KP), studied in Lahore and lives close to the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai, which were attacked by terrorists on 26/11 was really touched that when the fighting was going on terrifyingly close to his home, the first call he received enquiring about his well being was not from anyone in India but from a friend in Lahore who asked “Khairiyat hai?” So there is nothing wrong with people on both sides but the cancer of terrorism is a curse.Recommend

  • Pity
    Apr 15, 2015 - 11:40AM

    It would have had been great if the author would have had mentioned his experience of visiting Karachi and Lahore in detail. Recommend

  • Haye rabba!
    Apr 15, 2015 - 2:19PM

    Well, too much vocab, but nothing much about Lahore. Sad. I only see the promotion of the film mentioned elaborately.Recommend

  • Atif
    Apr 15, 2015 - 3:51PM

    Glad you had a good time in Pakistan..Recommend

  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Apr 15, 2015 - 10:07PM

    “…20,000 feet ki bulandi par pravaas karte huwe…”

    Dude – at least get the language right, if you are going to make up stories!!

    ‘Pravaas’ is a Sanskrit word; ‘Safar’ is an Urdu word. Guess which one PIA uses!!Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Apr 15, 2015 - 11:15PM

    I am hoping to visit Lahore and enjoy a drink with my favourite Pakistani columnist Mr. Ayaz Amir! Hope to do so before I make my final exit!Recommend

  • Kalabagh
    Apr 16, 2015 - 3:30AM

    “we’re one race” Yeah, we’re one human race…..duhRecommend

  • rukhsar
    Apr 16, 2015 - 2:56PM

    Yeah it was certainly film’s promotion….or else why would anyone visit pak…. :(Recommend

  • Razi
    Apr 16, 2015 - 4:13PM

    @3rdRockFromTheSun:
    Dude, shallow knowledge is a dangerous thing, Pravaas is a Sanskrit word, but that’s not the word PIA used. The word for flight or flying is Parwaaz, which is not Sanskrit or even Hindi, but Urdu of Persian origin.Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Apr 16, 2015 - 10:31PM

    @Razi:
    Thank you so much. I was also wondering about the origin of parwaz. May be Persians picked it up from Sanskrit. Sanskrit has really a large spread on all World languages. Malaysian & Indonesian languages have about 20% Sanskrit words!Recommend

  • Apr 17, 2015 - 8:22AM

    @K B Kale:
    Anybody gives a doozy? About Sanskrit?Recommend

  • vickram
    Apr 17, 2015 - 10:15AM

    Really touched to know that you started observing Ramzan-fast to be on the good books of your friend.

    I am sure this can be explained to some type of syndrome !!Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Apr 17, 2015 - 4:32PM

    @Gopeet:
    I am happy that you have correctly spelled the word Sanskrit! May be you are an Indian?
    Today, very few people in India also follow this ‘Geerwan Wani’ (meaning language of Gods), but that doesn’t stop me from admiring it, its glory & its expanse in the bygone era. As I learned that language in my school years, I love it but I know it is a tough language to learn & tougher to master. But then it is Gods’ Language!Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Apr 18, 2015 - 5:53AM

    When I went to Indonesia, I also started following fasting during Ramzan month as i would feel odd to eat when everybody was fasting. But then once climbed on the crane to find all of them enjoying a hearty meal on top. When my face showed surprise, the leader of the crew signalled, “Shhhh!” I caught many people cheating like this in closed or outlandish places & then I stopped observing fast!Recommend

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