Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Revisiting Lahore at DAWN Lifestyles

Of all the exciting attractions at this year’s Dawn ‘All About Lifestyles’ Exhibition, the most enriching is a gallery display of about 100 different epic photographs from Lahore’s past.

Lahore Revisited at Dawn Lifestyles Exhibition

Lahore Revisited at Dawn Lifestyles Exhibition

‘Revisiting Lahore A Photographic Journey’ comprises of a rare collection of the city’s history from F.S. Aijazuddin’s book titled ‘Lahore Recollected’. So, if you want to revive your nostalgia about Lahore as it used to be, vow not to miss it.

Dawn Lifestyles features display of consumer and commercial products by leading local and multinational brands. In addition to autograph and book signing sessions with eminent authors at “Books & Authors” pavilion, visitors can also enjoy an “All Breed Championship Dog Show”, a “Paintball competition” and tantalizing specialties at the Food Court.

The exhibition kicked off today and will continue up to 10 pm Sunday evening tomorrow. Like every year the venue remains Fortress Stadium’s Inner Ground.

Here’s to a fun-filled family weekend for all Lahoris to enjoy!

The Power of Community: Things Pakistan can Learn from Cuba

This might be a scary movie for rest of the world. But Pakistan and Pakistani may learn from it. Cuba after collapse of soviet union faced two major issues.

  1. Energy Crisis (Peak Oil Prices – Power Shortages of up to 14 – 16 hours a day)
  2. Shortage of Fertilizer (Leading to food shortages)

This is a story of how Cubans, who were an educated nation of doctor and engineers, stood up against all odds and survived gracefully. people believed that sharing what little they DID have (food, land, resources) with each other was more important and for the greater good than hoarding it for themselves. Also the government was very encouraging, and allowed all unused urban land to be turned into incredibly productive gardens.

Cuba's Economic Crisis

Click on the image to see the video

With shortage of fertilizers and power cuts, We are also as vulnerable to a sudden collapse of our current agricultural systems. Watch this one for some inspiration on how to get our Pakistan out of the current Mess!

Also, in last couple of weeks, I have fallen in love with again. There are some really inspirational videos over there. have a nice day!

BAY RANG: A Documentary So Hot, No One Dares to Air

Some time back, around 2 or three years, I remember reading few books on suggestion from a very close friend of mine. we were discussing diversity at that time. That dear friend not only gave me a reading list but was kind enough to share two books with me. One was Taboo by Dr. Fouzia Saeed and the other was Between Chaddor and the Market by Jasmin Mirza. Book Review here

My first reaction was shock. yes, shock is the word that almost defines what i felt for days after reading those books. During my 8 years in corporate sector, I had an opportunity to live and work with people from different parts of the world. I attended training and seminars on issue of workplace diversity and gender issues. Even then this was too big a cultural shock for me to absorb.

Can people living in the same city  be so different and isolated in their values? Can all of this still be happening in modern times? Questions, questions and more questions I was left with. The adventure boy inside me wanted me to check out the Mohalla first hand. And I did. not once but three times but in none of those trips, I was able to verify the detailed descriptions of the sub-culture as defined in the books.

First trip was during day time and second one was in Moharram, so the bazaar was not open and all i saw was just the shops and ordinary people. I was impressed with the architecture of inner city though.  In the last trip, I got a glimpse of reality. It was at perfect time. 1 A.M. and I saw the same visuals as described in the books and as you will see in the documentary below. Since, I went alone, I did not dare to enter any of the so called “Office”.  Only few friends know what happened that night.

This documentary came as a surprise. It verified the contents of the books above and contains real truth about the people who frequent these tawaifs. the interview of the police office in charge is really interesting. This documentary was originally made for TV One but they did not dare to air it. so some one published it on internet. It is a real eye opener. It shows a face of our society, no one even wants mention. Download and save this as PTA might ban these URLs too. as it contains some politically radioactive content. Here is the excerpt from the blog where I originally found the links to these videos.

These book can be bought from here or here, both books were published by Oxford University Press and thus they should be available at FerozSons on The MALL.


Lahore as Kipling Knew It

THOUGH Rudyard Kipling lived only five of his 70 years in Lahore, they were the most crucial years of his development as a writer. This rich confection of a city, whose great Mogul buildings and street life evoke the deep hues and sensuality of a miniature painting, was where the teen-aged Kipling cut his teeth as a newspaperman. Lahore provided the setting for some of Kipling’s greatest stories, as well as the raw material for his somewhat misunderstood view of East and West.

Though now obscured as a tourist destination due to its location 15 miles inside Pakistan, Lahore was the heart of Kipling’s India. Between 1882 and 1887, he worked there as the assistant editor of The Civil and Military Gazette, combing the back alleys of the old, walled city for stories and material for his later fiction. Like the Irish street urchin, Kim, the hero of his greatest novel, Kipling used Lahore as a base to explore the rest of the subcontinent.

Armed with the Penguin edition of ”Kim,” I set out for the Lahore Museum, where Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, had been the curator and where the first scene in ”Kim” takes place. The novel opens with Kim sitting ”astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher – the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum.” It was while astride the gun that Kim meets a Tibetan lama, whom the boy then escorts into the Wonder House.
The Zam-Zammah (Urdu for lion’s roar) is known in Lahore as Kim’s gun, and, except for the brick platform that has been replaced by marble, the copper and brass cannon looks exactly as Kipling described it; a massive icon of imperialism over 14 feet long, mounted on wooden wheels that are well over six feet in diameter. And the Wonder House opposite is just that; in my opinion one of the world’s great underrated museums.

All Pakistan Music Conference

At the time of the history’s greatest migration, along with geographical disorientation, the infant Pakistan was also psychologically lost and depressed. These were dire times when simple survival as a seperate nation was the only priority and arts at such time could not be given much heed. This led to further gloom of the art lovers as well as artists themselves. Apart from radio Pakistan there was no more music in the air. Music lovers reminisced the live music concerts whereas maestros in the field of music started to crumble. At such a difficult time for music in Pakistan it was cocncerned citizens that collectively volunteered to initiate the All Pakistan Music Conference in 1959. Their main objective was to rejuvenate and relive the glory of classical music and arrange seminars, conferences and concerts. (courtesy:

Today, 49 years later the All Pakistan Music Conference maintains its poise and is held every year without fail reminding us of the art that breathes in the same ambience as we do. Classical music and dance is in the air of the subcontinent. We can choose to ignore it but not eradicate it.

The remaining APMC Festival 2008 has been postponed but the last of the few events was last month when Hajrah Khan, a Social Sciences Major from Lahore University of Management Sciences read an academic paper on “Urdu Ghazal & English Sonnet” very intricately interlacing the two and reminding us , art has no boundaries, geographical or demographic. The esteemed presence of Shaista Sirajuddin to read out the English Sonnets selected by Hajrah and Dr Arfa Syeda Zehra to recite Urdu Ghazals added to the magic.

English Sonnet and Urdu Ghazal

The research paper was followed by Tabla maestro Shahbaz Hussain from Manchester, who gave a talk on different components of Tabla(solo) playing again resembling those of an English Sonnet and and Urdu Ghazal. Shahbaz Hussain is a student of Ustaad Allah Rakha’s son, Ustaad Shaukat Hussain and Ustaad Fayyaz Khan. He has also performed with Ustaad Valayat Khan on his last concert in London. Shahbaz Hussain teaches at NewCastle University which happens to be the first university in the world to have introduced a degree in Tabla. Himself being born in the UK, his parents hail from Lahore and so here’s a son of the soil making us all proud of the fact that we share his roots. This event was by far the best account of playing any classical instrument and the accompanying talk (given in English) was surprisingly free of any (greek!) jargon  and completely comprehendable by the common man.

Tabla Talk

The best part was where he told how long ago a girl from Lahore was married into a musical “gharana”(family) in Delhi and her father gave her 500 “gats” as her dowry. Shahbaz also played one of those Lahori Gats in the end.

Tabla performance

All Pakistan Music Conference is an association which is truly (and quietly) conserving our heritage and not letting it wash away with the graffiti of all things new.

Data Ganj Baksh’s 964th death anniversary

The three-day ‘Urs’ or death anniversary of the 11th century saint Syedna Ali bin Usman Hajveri also known as Data Ganj Buksh (R.A) or simply ‘data sahab’ starts today in Lahore at his mausoleum, popularly known as Data Durbar. Governor Khalid Maqbool and Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (r) Ejaz Nisar will inaugurate the event with the traditional chaddar-laying ceremony and a milk-sabeel (free distribution of milk) at the shrine. As the preparations for the 964th urs are in full swing, security has been beefed up in the city.


It is generally thought that in his lifetime the great saint was called as Gang Bakhsh but afterwards he became too famous as ‘ Data Gang Bakhsh’. Ali Hajvery (R.A.) was a Persian sufi and a scholar. The greatest saintof the sub-continent born in Hajver, a town of Ghazni in Afghanistan, in 1000 A.D (400 H) and died in Lahore in 1063 or 1071A.D. In the course of his spiritual journey to God, he journeyed physically to many countries, including Turkistan, Transoxania, Iran, Iraq, and Syria where he met innumerable Sufis and Sheikhs, many of those have been mentioned in his book ‘Kashf-ul-Mahjoob’.

During the urs the shrine and its whereabouts are beautifully lit. A large number of devotees from different parts of the country besides tens of thousands from the city will visit the Data Darbar to pay their homage by reciting verses from the Holy Quran, qawalees, and recitation of naats and poetry to the saint. Separate arrangements are made for women to visit the shrine. ‘Langer Khana’ (distributing free food) and milk sabeel also attract a large number of people. The tradition of milk-sabeels traces its roots to a time when the people of Lahore used to give tax in the form of milk to the city keeper Ray Raju Jogi. Legend has it that when Hazrat Data Gunj Baksh arrived in Lahore, he stopped them from this practice. As a result, their businesses flourished and followers began giving the milk to the saint to give to the needy. Today, milkmen continue the practice by donating milk to destitutes.

Sultan al-Hind Hazrat Khwaja Moeenuddin Chishti paid his homageto Data Ganj buksh in the following words:

Ganj Bakhsh-e faiz-e aalam, mazhar-e Noorr-i Khuda
Naqisaan ra peer-e kaamil, kaamilan ra rahnuma

“The bestower of treasure (Ganj Bakhsh) in both the worlds, the reflector of the splendour of God, An accomplished spiritual guide for the learned and a guide for the ignorant”.

Send Flowers for Justice. Make it a media event!

What if the channels are down, its not a curfew!

Pasting someone else’s mail:

We need to find Students in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad to co-ordinate this effort.

Just saw a Justice who had refused to take the new oath speaking on GEO this
morning–he had tears in his eyes as he spoke. A handful of people had left
flowers outside his gate. And the news anchor was saying that it is a pity that
so few had done so–yes it is hard to withstand a baton charge or a tear gas
attack, but leaving a few flowers is not hard. Perhaps you can use your network to encourage people to leave flowers outside the houses of the justices and the bar association officials–just leave them as far as the police will let them go. This would also be a way of catching the attention of the international media.

Dear All,

Several individuals stand out in the struggle for rule of law in Pakistan over the last few months. Most important are the honorable judges of the superior courts who have refused to take oath under this illegal PCO. These honorable judges are now under house arrest. Their refusal to bow to illegality and the state’s oppressive response are the clearest and most unambiguous expression of the nature of the forces arrayed on each side in this confrontation. Thousands of overseas Pakistanis are eager to show their support for these judges and to contribute in some form to the ongoing struggle. We propose the following non-violent, but potent, symbolic action:


Individuals as well as organizations should arrange to have flowers delivered as soon as possible to the houses of individual heroes in this struggle. This proposal was initially sparked by the sight of anonymous well wishers trying to deliver flowers to Justice Khwaja Sharif in Lahore. One proposal was to set a date (Friday after juma prayers was suggested) at which time these deliveries would be scheduled, but I think we should leave it up to everyone to pick the time of their choosing. The intention is to flood the streets on which these people live with thousands of flowers. IF the police intercept the flowers, every effort should be made to publicly display their resistance and to leave flowers at the nearest convenient symbolic point.

Dr .Zafar at ANAA has committed one thousand dollars to this project and suggested to pick one person in each provincial capital and Islamabad and send 200 dollars worth of flowers to each recipient. One list of proposed candidates consists of:

1. Justice Rana Bhagwandas in Islamabad. (Justice Iftikhar Choudhry is the obvious choice and other organizations may wish to pick him, but we felt his stature is absolutely unassailable now and we wanted to highlight the important role played by Justice Bhagwandas. But all the other “rebel” judges are deserving of this too and it would be great if other organizations could pick people like Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Raza, etc.)
2. Justice Khwaja Shareef in Lahore. Justice Ramday is also in Lahore these days and is most deserving of support.
3. Justice Sabeehuddin in Karachi (His address is as follows. Banglow # 44/2, 13 Street,Phase-V,DHA.Karachi. Ph: 5847582)
4. Justice Tariq Pervaiz in Peshawar
5. Unfortunately, all the judges of the BHC have become lotas. We are thinking that the most appropriate person in Quetta may be the president of the BHC bar association, who is under arrest.

Every person or organization should pick their own names and go ahead with their own timetable.

1. Take this in the spirit of a WIKI. This is not some kind of centralized top down campaign. Let each individual and organization take it in any direction and in any manner they wish. Spread the word. The most effective strategies will be the ones that evolve locally in Pakistan. I hope Sabahat Ashraf and others like him will help to spread the word.
2. Online ordering of flowers is easy, but those companies may not cooperate to the end. Most flowers should ideally be delivered by volunteers in those cities. Student organizations are the best place to target for volunteers. publicity in the press, over the internet and by word of mouth will be the most important factor in the success or failure of this campaign. Please contact whoever you can and carry this forward. ANAA will use its own resources to arrange or attempt deliveries.
3. Overseas Pakistanis can send cash to whatever person or entity they trust in order to financially support this effort.
5. Media coverage is key.

I am spreading the word. I hope others will come forward to take this much further. It sounded like a good idea to several of us, but if it sparks some other, better idea in anyone’s mind, please go ahead and act on that. Send us your proposals and we will try to spread the word.

Act locally, think globally…

Kill that history!


Garbage set on fire in the premises of Lahore Fort.

Image Courtesy of DailyTimes

Causing grave damage to structures of historical and cultural importance through acts of negligence, vandalism and commercialism, is a sad fact that most of the people give a damn to worry or care about.

Why are we, as a society, becoming so insensitive to everything that has anything to do with civic responsibility…!

A Researcher’s Rainy Route-Quaid-E-Azam Library

Four panicked Post-graduate students, One fast-approaching research paper deadline, Trillions of drizzling droplets of rain, and what do you get? A memorable trip down to Lahore’s Quaid-E-Azam Library, situated smack dab in the middle of Bagh-e-Jinnah, in pursuit of Library membership.

A Lahoree Poster from 1920s

Hey guys, hopefully, most of you know that BBC World has dedicated month of August to mark the independence days of Pakistan and India.

With many other interesting posters depicting the era before partition, there is a poster related with Lahore by Jankidass & Co from Neela Gumbad and O.K. Electric Works Limited, The Mall, Lahore, it is “from the 1920s, Congress advocated the boycotting of British goods and the embrace of swadeshi – the promotion of Indian products and traditional technologies.”

Though the poster looks quite nice with all the fans and tricycle, I just cannot figure out that how two traders could go for one poster, maybe because of ONE cause, i.e., independence? and now, can we think of sharing ads? NO WAY!!!!

Suggested by Atif S.

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