Saturday, June 25, 2022

Vintage Beauty of Lahore Walled City

We travel not to escape life but for life to escape us”

old lahore

Lahore has a mesmerizing quality about it. Its gravitational pull always seems stronger than other places. You feel like a spectacle in the hustle bustle of all the businesses, all the people, all the life yet you are also lost in the spectacle, the sea of commodity overwhelms you, beguiles you, enchants you. They say,

If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t been born.”

A group of rather well-off kids talked about going to some special place in Lahore. There were so many, they could hardly come upon any decisions. Some talked of fancy restaurants, some wanted to visit the museum, some would rather entertain themselves with animals at the zoo. But one came upon a rather different suggestion.

“Have you guys ever went to Old Lahore?”

A girl screwed up her nose. Others looked at him with ambiguous expressions,

“It would probably be smelly and unhygienic,” the one with the perked up nose said. The boy smiled almost sympathetically, as if in possession of the ability to enjoy a treasure that was rare but rich in culture.

This aroused my curiosity. Perhaps there was something we all needed to see that would be of a worth we had never known. After a lot of quarreling, it was concluded that we would go to Androon Lahore. I braced myself for the heaps of dust and lots of pushing around from people as we got off from our Uber near a place famous for their “Paaye”. As I stepped down, I turned around to look. The houses were stacked one upon another or at least that is how it seemed like at first glance.

I was instantly reminded of the bizarre and fantastical castle from a recent movie I had watched.

fantasy land

The place was bustling with people but besides that it felt as if it had a life on its own to like the place was a living breathing human, a majestic one.

I stationed myself near the window as everyone chattered about this and that. I was barely hearing anyone over all the chatter. As I looked down at the roads below, I was eerily reminded of the nineties. Had I travelled back into time? Were we time travellers able to enjoy the riches of the past for this moment?

Our breakfasts arrived. I was fascinated to see the large glasses of Lassi and the thickest of gravy in our Paaye. As I ate, I completely lost myself while reveling in one of the most flavorful breakfast foods I would ever have. The Lassi was so satisfying and fulfilling that even after having the largest of glasses I have ever had, I found room for more.

After having that Tagra (strong) breakfast, we were ready to explore the Lahore fort. Fortunately, nature was kind one us and the warm June day had an unexpected turn of events as the wind starting blowing softly and the clouds simmered the sky. We trudged through the fort and meanwhile me and my friends bought cotton candies. A variety of tourists were present there. I had never seen so many people from different nationalities in one place before. It put a big, wondrous grin on my face.

While walking around in the fort, we found so many different people selling beautiful, hand-made jewelery, pots, clothes, etc. I thought to myself what a blessing site, like these are for these people and in turn for economy of Pakistan. If more and more sites are preserved for tourists, it would make such a difference for so many people.

Then we went to the large, famous mosque named as Wazir Khan Mosque. It was truly such a beautiful spectacle for all of us. As a small downpour of rain occurred, it rinsed so much dust from our souls. We found refuge in a shaded area and just sat there for a while in quiet. And I found the uttermost state of joy is the one where your heart is too full to say anything, when silence speaks for itself.

We walked back to Lahore familiar to us. As I looked up at the sky I saw a small rainbow while the sun had come out and reflected in the puddles on the road. It was evening and many perhaps were returning to their homes. It was such a beautiful sight and would be forever etched in my heart. We sipped our coffees with small talk back in a fancy cafe.

The sub urbanization had come upon us again. Laughter was contained, laughs constrained. Sighing, I realised the beauty was I had left behind was the one that walled-city. It was a portal back into the time where souls were open and cherished and where dust was not dust but an element of which we are a part.

It was a place where a loud burp is must after a heavy load of breakfast, everyone is busy but their eyes have wrinkles around them, wrinkles for smiling too much. Here we did not have time and we could not stop and look around and there we could not help but do so. Here we looked at each other with cold indifference, and there we looked at each other with a new found endearment. It is perhaps, people not places, periods not stages that determine much of our attitudes and sentiments towards one another. What is one way on one land, is different on another. That is the sad truth. Perhaps that is why we lose ourselves in all people and places we love. They can not be retrieved. Those parts can only be remembered, reminisced and cherished as precious memories. I conceded that perhaps I left a bit of my soul when I had travelled back in the time, in those crooked streets and dusty roads.

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Category: Travel

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