Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Gaamaa, Phajja and Pappu

Of course, its not the name of my directorial debut for FiLUMS ;), not Ajoka’s new stage play, and even not some famous personalities around me, but they are the “words” that are full of affection, care, warmth and friendliness. Most of the Lahoris use nicknames to call a person whether he is a neighbor or a passerby, just to show friendliness and frankness. Other than our rural areas, it only happens in a big city like Lahore that Fazal is called as Phajja, Mahmood is known as Mooda, Ghulam as Gaamaa and many others are known by other famous nicknames like Guddu, Munni, Nanhi, Pappu, Chota, Munnu and Chunno and lot more. Moreover, its not only the name but its the eccentric way these names are called with, a special tone with a tinge of interwoven musical notes, a Khalis Lahori Style (a true Lahori style). I still remember a kid Abid from Lahore, who was known as Abud :)

O ChoooouuuutttTayyyyyYYY :)

Media used to portray such phenomenon and Lahori style is always loved by people, when we were kids we used to copy Lahore Television’s most celebrated characters, specially the way they talk and their “takya kalams”, …….Pachanaaa, Nai Pachana?

Now unfortunately, these names have become extinct or may be the integral warmth related to these names has just vanished. Most of the new generation of Lahore has now turned into Sunny, Bunty, Micki , Jef etc. etc. Even the people from walled city now prefer to be called with their real first names, not with caricatured nicks.

I think we are going to lose “Gaamaa” and “Phajja” and associated friendliness, in fact our true style somehow, and as well, we failed to keep the essence of our style of communication so far, which we are famous for.

October 8, 2005 – Experience of the Horror

Imagine yourself sleeping comfortably on your bed. Suddenly, you feel violent shaking that wakes you up. You sit up and try to figure out what’s going on. Windows start rattling in high pitch while wall-hangings, things on your fireplace and study desk start falling off. Scared like hell, you put your feet on the ground just to feel it pounding like if you stepped on a strong water current.

You know something dangerously deadly is going on. At last, gain of full consciousness triggers you to run for shelter under the nearest door panel. As the realization comes, fear overcomes your whole body and mind while you experience a violent, ground shaking earthquake.

It’s 8:55 in the morning and five minutes of fierce ground movements have made you feel like you are standing on board a ship in severe thunderstorm. The earth, that you always took as unharmful for granted is in wave motion under your feet as you feel violent thuds and whirlpool movements under each of your feet.

The noise and shaking mounts to an extent when you are feel sure that a railway engine is just going to rip the wall in front of you and turn your place into a rubble. Every single second dreads you with the fear that this structure, under what you are standing for shelter, may fall down of violent shaking with everything coming to an end.

Victims of 8th October Earthquake – We remember you

Today is the first anniversary of devastating earthquake which destroyed most of Azad Kashmir and a number of major cities and towns like Balakot in Frontier province. There will be a one minute silence in the morning to remember the victims. Special Dua ceremonies will be held for those who lost their lives and for those whose lives have been changed forever. Apart from that I am sure president and prime minister along with their brigade of ministers will pass on long lectures (bloody liars if you ask me).

Yesterday I was sitting in an Iftaar dinner with my friends and one of them said that it’s human nature that with time, we forget bare se bara saniha (even the worst disaster) and same has happened in case of 8th October Earthquake too. It was supposed to be a permanent wake up call for most of us but slowly, we seem to have forgotten it. I can’t really say that we have forgotten the 8th October victims but we definitely have moved on and got busy with our lives, back to the usual and routine life. Probably it was government’s job to keep the momentum going and take appropriate steps to keep the jazba alive which really united Pakistani nation; a rare thing in our history. I have to say government has failed miserably on that front. There was a plan to have a national youth program lead by that clown Durrani, who btw is propaganda minister these days, and I remember that he came on TV saying that we will do this and that to keep the youth involved in volunteering activities in affected areas. Well what happened to that Sir?

It really frustrates me to see on television that even after 1 year, when so much money was donated from within the country and around the world, all we hear from victims is that nothing much has been done. Those who were living in tents a year ago, are still there and all the talks about providing them with shelter sounds like bullshit to a large extent. It’s confusing when you hear officials repeating the same story that the magnitude of quake was such that it’s not possible to rebuild everything in a year and at the same time, others saying that the whole process is painfully slow and that money has not reached to most of the deserving families. End of the day, the ground reality is that majority of people haven’t got any money to build their houses, towns and cities like Bagh, Balakot, Muzaffarabad etc have still not seen ANY reconstruction activities and after one year, we are again talking about how to save people from cruel winter which is just a month or so away.

So whose bloody fault is this? A few weeks ago I was watching an interview by Sardar Sikandir Hayat, who was the prime minister when quake hit Kashmir and has quit politics now because of the hopeless situation, and he gave a very logical explanation about why we don’t see much progress in reconstruction and rebuilding. He said that he chaired 3-4 initial meetings of the Federal Govt’s Authority (ERAS I think) responsible for rebuilding and reconstruction and in all those meetings they couldn’t discuss any reconstruction plan because civil and military officials were fighting on salaries, staff and official jeeps and cars to be allotted to each of them. One of them refused to work until he gets an official car. They were least interested in doing their real job in his words. Being there myself a number of times, I believe him.

Anyways, I hope that all this changes for good in really quick time and I hope that Allah gives victims and their families strength and courage to recover and rebuild their lives.

Jugnu (firefly)


I was just wondering if anyone has seen Jugnu (angerezi mein firefly) in Lahore in last 3-4 or even 5 years? Where have they gone? I don’t remember seeing even a single one anywhere in Lahore in a long long time. Has anyone of you?

As a little kid, I spent a part of my childhood in my Nana’s haveli in androon shehr (old city) and there was a huge garden just behind my bedroom where we had like 8 Anar ke darakht (pomegranates trees). That part of haveli used to light up at night because of hundreds of Jugnus and it presented a wonderful view from my bedroom window. I always thought they were performing one of their traditional tribal dances around pomegranates trees (yes, I actually thought they were part of a secret tribe :P).

So Jugnu was the most fascinating insect that I can remember from my childhood. To me, the million dollar question was how da hek the glow? Where that light comes from? I had, somehow, developed this weird theory about glowing part of their body that it was a tiny room where each Jugnu’s little kids study for their exams and it glows because of a huge bulb inside that room (ok I know I was silly little kid so what?:D). It took me a long time to understand and accept the grown ups wala reason which you can read here and here :).

We, the kids, also had a competition that who can catch most Jugnus and we used to run after them during the night. I never caught one though. If you remember, Lawrence garden also had plenty of them. I can’t remember where but that part of the garden where most Jugnus used to be found; had a lot of trees with Salman loves Tina and similar kind of messages written with knives. I haven’t been to Lawrence garden in ages, especially at night, so I can’t comment if Jugnus still exists there.

Like the old book shops of Mall Road and Regal, I think Jugnu has also disappeared, gone, and we haven’t even noticed when and why it happened. I feel bad for the kids of this modern age because if my guess is right and Jugnu is really no more in Lahore then they are really really missing a wonderful experience. At least I can still remember watching their tribal dance from my bedroom window. I could watch them for hours and you have to trust me on that, it was fun :).

LAHORE LAHORE AYE: Lahore, the way it was


A Hamid, the distinguished Urdu novelist and short story writer, writes a column every week based on his memories of old Lahore. People in their late-twenties like me, remember him well for his novels. It was later that I discovered him as a columnist and perhaps as a historian. I am talking about the era when Ishtiaq Ahmed and Ibn E Safi were still read by a good percentage of our youth. This one, published in Daily Times, has been translated by Khalid Hasan (I am a BIG BIG fan :)) and I thought it would be very appropriate to share it here today.

On the lawns facing the Punjab Assembly, there used to stand a statue of Queen Victoria under a canopy, ringed by magnificent trees. If you walked towards the Assembly from the Plaza cinema side, so thick were the trees that you could barely see the entire Assembly building. They were such lovely trees that I could never tire of looking at them. For many years after the establishment of Pakistan, the trees stood at that spot in all their splendour, but then they were cut down, for what reason I am not sure. One day, as Munir Niazi and I on our stroll down the Mall, came to Charing Cross, I looked towards the Assembly building and said, “There used to be such lovely trees there with impenetrable foliage, but since they were axed, the beauty of this spot is gone.” Munir replied, “But have you not noticed that the removal of the trees has opened up this vista and brought in heaps of sunlight that could never reach it before.”

From London to Lahore: Qissa Ek Flight Ka

Last year, while flying from London to Lahore I made the following observations:

The Senior Purser, the man in charge of the cabin crew, was quite an older man – perhaps in his late 50s. May be it was the classic “naukar-shahi” attitude, may be it was sheer fatigue of traveling at his age, or may be the classic Pakistani chauvinism; he spent most of the flight sitting down and ordering young cabin crew, mostly female stewardess, around. The stewardesses were visibly tired and weary towards the end of the entire journey, and understandably a bit agitated.

But it was not just their boss who was ordering them around. I was in the section of the plane that directly faces the cockpit. And the cockpit had the cabin crew bringing them water, tea, sandwiches, meals, dessert (once Nirala’s ras malai) throughout the entire flight. Seriously, I was flabbergasted to see the cabin crew spending more time serving the cockpit crew than the passengers. Every fifteen or so minutes the cabin staff would be knocking at the cockpit door to take dishes out and bring something else in. It felt as if there was a party going on in the cockpit being catered by the flight stewardess.

Someone I know who has been working with PIA for the past 26 years told me that more than 250 directors run it. Even Wasim Akram was one of the directors. Most of money earned are used to make those directors Happy and Live Safe. The amount of money spent on the directors can better be spent buying a couple of new aircrafts for PIA fleet each year.

All that we want!

Wow an excellent rainy season going on!!! time for some hot pakoras han!! well all that glitters is not gold even when we look at the bubbling gutters even on main roads like Davis Road. Oh My God! all the road gets shallow deep in the filthy mud wid so stinky and lousy smell…yakhh!!!

And what not else to talk about. I must say we should all be switching to some very cheap mobiles as well for our own security. Mobile snatching is getting common these days in this crowded metropolis. Why dont i quote the incident happened to me. It wasnt late in night and around just 8pm while i was just standing on the bus stop at McDonalds Gulberg when two guys came over and snatched my mobile with cash as well. I was in a hysteria for few moments before coming to senses what had just happened to me. Then i just went home empty pockets wondering if i had only argued with them (a big mistake indeed it would’ve been). With that I would also share with you that a guy (mechanial engineer in early thirties) had been shot dead for the similar incident in garden town just because of the row started with the gansgters.

What comes to your mind now? I really think the authorities better strongly notice it and make ourselves realize that we live in the same old lahore which is a fun place to live after all.

Do You Remember

I know I am in the wrong season but do you remember those bygone winters in Lahore? It would get dark around 6PM…sitting at home around the heater with your family. Everyone was covered in a shawl or a blanket. All of a sudden you would hear a faint sound of a man selling hard-boiled eggs: “Garm-a-garam aanday”….”garm-a-garam aanday”….For me, that was the most eerie of the winter experiences…some unfamiliar guy walking in the dimly lit street, selling eggs on his bicycle….sent shivers down my spine.

And do you remember sitting around the heater eating roasted moong phali (peanuts), or chalghozay (pine nuts), or even singharay (water chestnuts)….listening to the stories of your elders. Grandfather’s stories about the independence movement and how the young college men would go on tours with the Quaid’s train, shouting slogans at the “jalus” to inform people about the movement and playing as much part in the creation of Pakistan as the big leaders.

Where have those people gone…where has the time gone? Everything just seems to be passing by at light speed nowadays and you cannot sit down to enjoy anything…but I will always have my Lahori winters.

When it rains in June…

Ah, such a lovely morning here in Lahore. I am glad to report that its been raining since ‘late yesterday night’/’early morning’. I have been out in rainy roads. Wish I had a camera with me and I could take some pictures while I was on my way to office this morning. By 1:22pm, I can still feel raindrops keep falling on my head.

I was talking to my buddy few minutes ago who is in London at the moment, telling me that its raining in London too but shares how much he enjoys when it rains back home. Nothing’s like when it rains in Hottest month of June. And with all the stocks of mangoes in fridge… :)

Here’s some of his feelings that I want to share with metrobloggers: “How i wish i could be in Lahore…enjoy a good meal at zouk or maybe waris nehari..and then give in to kami’s demand for a pan from barkat in main market…stay up all night reading or watching all the latest movies that are yet to be released in london…and just before the morning down the empty roads for halwa puri at ‘capri’..the nashta spot for my generation or perhaps royal park… “

I guess he was just too hungry but, Man, he misses Lahore. :) Especially when I tell him its raining here!

Samosay, pakoray anyone? *wink*

Ravi Kinaray

Lost in its own silent rhythm, the Ravi sings its song.
In its undulating flow I see the reflections in my heart —
The willows, the world, in worship of God

I stand at the edge of the flowing water
I do not know how and where I stand —
In the wine-coloured dusk
The Old Man shakily sprinkles crimson in the sky

The day is returning to where it came from
This is not dew; these are flowers, gifts from the sun
Far off, a cluster of minarets stand in statuesque splendour
Marking where Moghul chivalry sleeps
This palace tells the story of time’s tyranny
A saga of a time long spent

What destination is this?
A quiet song only the heart can hear?
A gathering of trees speaks for me.
In midstream, a boat hurtles by
Riding the relentless currents,
Darting beyond the eye’s curved boundary.

Life flows on this river of eternity
Man is not born this way; does not perish this way
Undefeated, life slips beyond the horizon,
But does not end there.

Muhammad Allama Iqbal

– Translated by Parizad N. Sidhwa

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