Tag Archives: Lahore

Does it itch?

So there was this girl, in this Lahori country club, and she was buying chicken patties. Her hair color was a disgruntled shade of ginger but it was her flamboyant jumpsuit that traumatized me more. There were buttons, front and back. Some where they should be, some where they shouldn’t. It was hard to tell where her hips were in the jumble, so I assumed her legs started two feet from the ground, making her look like an alpaca. To make matters worse this jumpsuit was a loose frilly thing with flared legs. Let me not dwell on her ships… er hips….

Has anyone in Lahore noticed the rise in females in jumpsuits? I always hated jumpsuits as a fashion trend, they make a girl larger than life. And now its polluting my town. Yes friends. IT IS A THING (*please insert gasp here*). What is this nonsense? I’m a tax-payer goshdarnit.

Pakistan Todays recent coverage of the disaster

Sure, I can’t fight crime being armed with only my fists… and wit. Heck I can’t even win a fight with a PTI-fan boy (because really, who has a counter-argument to “winning”?) But I can raise a voice against the atrocity that is the bottom half of the jumpsuit and what it does to your thighs. Where was the fashion police when this disaster came on the scene? All the repeat faces I see every week in Sunday Times and GT, wither art thou? Why have you, the powerful fashion flashers, not done the awam a favor and shunned the jumpsuit? And what is Imran Khan’s position on the issue?

Lahori girl, you are mighty fine. But your jumpsuit takes the fine out of the sentence. Does not itch? Is your midsection not in a bunch? And the pain when you stand up… is it worth it? Did you like getting wedgied in school? Are shirts and pants too much effort? Did you find yourself at a committee lunch and realized you lost your pants somewhere between home and Cosa Nostra, ergo you invested in a jumpsuit? Did you think it would make you jump higher?

I call upon the PTA, to hear me now. Sirs, a grave grave boo-boo has been made. The word ‘jumpsuit’ and its physical use is an immodest act of highly immodestilial proportions. Please add the word to your list of banned sms words (“Jumpsuit”, not “immodestilial”). Shahbaz Sharif, you handsome ban-it-bandit, you too. BAN IT.

Thus I shall end my column ala Bilal Tanweer with a poem. But unlike him, my knowledge of a poem that may loosely fit the topic is quite sparse, ala marmite on toast. Yet, I shall attempt this.

Toad. Ala Mode.

You know that you are hot 
I know that you are too
But jumpsuits can only be worn
by sweepers of the zoo
Janitors and bee-keepers
and convicts have ’em too
Skydivers and Elvis baby
and they look okay, its true
But honey your Chanel jumpsuit
surely expensive and new
make your thighs and your hips scream
“What did you do?!”

The author can be spammed by divalicious-jumpsuit-loving-fashionistas at Pak Tea House


Pedestrian pain

Published at Pak Tea House today. 

On Monday (17th Oct) a girl was shot dead on the overhead bridge on Jail Road. The young girl was a student at Kinnaird College, it is said that she was studying computer science at the FA level (makes her 17 yeas old). The circumstances are unclear, but there is speculation that it was a jilted lover who shot her and then shot himself.

I mean to write this not to try to understand the crime or the sad state of mind of the girl or boy in question. But the problem that needs to be addressed is the safety of students on the roads, especially female students. This notorious bridge has been the cause for much distress for female students in the past as many well-mannered Lahori bachelors are found loitering here. The teasing and catcalls are nothing new for the girls and they would rather risk the rabid traffic of Jail Road and cross the massive street than be subjected to the natural talents of these gentlemen.

In this regard complaints have been made to the police but to no avail. These bridges are a safety hazard for not just the KC-ites. There are seven overhead bridges situated right in front of some of the city’s largest universities. There are two overhead bridges at Jail Road, in front of Kinnaird College (KC) and Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), one in front of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), another near the Queen Mary College Lahore, while three overhead bridges are on the Canal in the University of the Punjab New Campus.

LCWU chief proctor Surayya Ahmad told The Express Tribune that at least two students had even been mugged on the LCWU bridge (June, 2011). The KC Jail Road bridge also features in many horror stories, from muggings and girls being pushed around to random proposals and harassment. The Express Tribune reports that an officer at Shadman police station, which has jurisdiction over the bridge, said that they had last received a harassment complaints from Kinnaird a while ago, but before police got to the scene, the boys had fled. He said that Shadman police were very busy and couldn’t spare any personnel to deploy at the bridge.

“The overheard bridge in front of my university has given me sleepless nights as the life of my staff and students is not safe because of it,” said LCWU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Bushra Mateen back in 2009 (Daily Times). It was then the view of the city police that it was the responsibility of the administration of the institutions to provide adequate security to their students and they should hire security personnel for the purpose, even though they were “trying their best”. But the need is clear and has been so for some years. If the police knows these bridges are trouble spots why not station an officer there during college time or at least have a regular patrol. Why wait for someone to get hurt/shot/murdered?

(I am visiting faculty at KC these days, so this is kind of a big deal for me and my students, most of whom have to take public transport)

Shehr sey tasveerain

Saad Sarfraz Sheikh’s beautiful pictures and accompanying words. Also that I adore vespas.

Kalma Chowk Lahore… before and after

The most recent changes in the Lahori landscape is the demolition of the long standing Kalma Chowk. Twitter and Facebook statuses across Lahori accounts are either upset over the attack on the naval base in Karachi, or the flyover being built on Ferozpur Road.
I write this post in a fit of nostalgia for the time when this gigantic structure loomed over me on sweltering summer days. The chowk has an eclectic mix of beggers, balloon sellers, trannies and khusras who would tap on car windows hoping for a ten rupee note before the light changed.

Kalma Chowk glory days- Photo by Maleeha Azeem http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluecheese/188874366/
Personally, the monument was a bit of an eye-sore. It seemed like something out of the mind of an ambitious general in the1980s. Nonetheless it is a beloved sight for many who are sad to see it go.

The traffic at the giant crossroads had always been a mess but the last few months have been a nightmare for people commuting through the area. App ke kia tasuraat hain? Humain likhna na bhooliyay ga. Here are some pictures of the carnage (thanks to Saad Sarfraz and Arooj Zahid).

picture by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh

Escape on Ferozpur Road

Pakistaniaat: Journal of Pakistan Studies, Vol 2, No 1, Spring 2010
It is Monday. I try to tell you about my escape.

My grandmother’s house is built on the corner of one of the streets that branches off from the busiest roads Lahore. Nights that I spend at here are often sleepless as she likes to leave lights on throughout the house. I try to find simple and effective ways to escape. So I stand in my mother’s former bedroom and look out from her window onto the street. It’s 3 am. I stare out at the trucks rolling by on Ferozpur Road. I put my hands onto the windowpane, and feel the vibrations for this grand causeway. For a few seconds, my mind hears Lahore’s diabetic frequency.

There’s an epidemic in the city. We, I try and speak of the common Lahori and not all countrymen for reasons I don’t know. We Lahori’s are addicted to our cellular phones. The poorer we are the more phone calls we seem to receive and the more we get to hear the happiest Indian songs instead of the common beeping when we answer the phone. It’s not about telecom being cheap, or frivolous entertainment, that peasants and princes are glued to cellular chips; it’s all about the momentary fragmented escape. So call me, my ringtone is Lahore’s song.

It has been four days since anyone has called me. No five actually. Its 3 am, the new day is here. Since the 27th of September, I have sent a total of eight text messages. I did however go to a wedding, where I made small talk about clothes, the weather and the dreadful sugar crisis gripping the departmental stores of Lahore. I must have tea at noon with some of my mother’s friends. I hope they talk about sugar as well. My dialogue is well-rehearsed. I need to talk to someone I hardly ever meet; it relaxes me, there is no pressure…  Hello instant web messenger. How have you been today? What is your  favourite flavor? Strawberry? Mine too. Such lies.

It is Monday. I stare at cement carrying trucks at night. It is Tuesday. I lie in my driveway at 10 pm and try to see the stars through the November haze that grips Lahore and makes it hard to breathe. It is Wednesday. I stare at the progress bar of my download manager, watching the download speed change the time left, second by second. It is Thursday. I close my economics textbook, wait for 4 am to happen when I’m sure everyone’s asleep and light up in my bathroom with the exhaust fan on. It is Friday. I come back from a family dinner and try not to think about why the boy I like couldn’t like me back and think about him for two hours while listening to the music we used to listen to, Nusrat Fateh Ali’s duet with Eddie Vedder and soundtracks to American shows… It is Saturday. I have my period, I have an excuse to mope. I sit in the dark and fantasize about dying, hospitals, and anorexia. It is Sunday. My baby sister falls asleep in my bed, and I stare at her for an hour, marvelling at how tiny the pores of her skin are.

Mornings are hard. We eat at night, we dance at night, we sleep at night, we meet at night, we stay at home because we are conservative at night, we get high at night, we sit with ourselves and get to know ourselves at night. Daytime comes, and makes me sit three exams in one day. It was morning when my aunt just bled to death it the hospital. My cook, bless his ghee laden soul, slipped on a paratha, and broke his hip. It was high noon when my best friend’s boy friend decided to drown in his own bath tub. Ever remember Lahore being bombed in the middle of the night?

There is a story in here somewhere; I am trying to say what I need to say. Lahore I love you. But let me escape for more than just a few moments at a time.

Nirala is closing down. Nirala had the best sweets I have ever had. He has stopped talking to me, he is never online anymore. He also had the best sweets I have ever had. It should be a crime, to make a Lahori so used to something and then take it away. I replace mithai with chocolate. I’ll replace all the hes with a husband. It is the wedding season; those who can’t choose, wait to be chosen. It is most perverse. This is not the story I want to tell. It would be self-defeating. Like the cramped supermarkets, the decadence of the drawing rooms, the fake accents and millions of rupees spent sending you to Georgetown and me to St. Andrews, the Karachite making fun of you, the rude beggars of the posh Defense Housing Authority where the military has sold its land to civilians, the security barriers off Sherpao bridge, the seven overlapping aazans five times a day, the children on the street without shoes, the obnoxious empty towering buildings sprinkled all over you, the men on the street scratching themselves nonchalantly, the bus driver spitting pan out the window onto your feet, the officers gone for Friday prayers while you wait for two hours, the extra tuition fees to make up for inadequacy of schools. Survival in the face of defeat. Yet, Lahore is vibrant, historical, rich and blessed by the Sufis. I need to escape to my bathroom, to have a smoke. I am not a smoker.

In Lahore for 21 years, I have never touched the Minar-e-Pakistan monument. As a child I was awestruck by it, reading about it in Urdu and soshial shtudies textbooks. Then one day, on the way to Islamabad, I drove past it. It was small. It was out of place. A colonized columnar minaret. It symbolized escape, but it was conflicted and trapped. A planned coincidence that it stands there, like a concrete dandelion, symbol of our freedom. They soon built a better escape out of Lahore so I don’t have to see the monument again. It’s a highway that ignores everything on the sides.

So I go blind. I refuse. I stop thinking about mithai at Eid. I turn off the Wi-Fi. No one calls anyway. I delete any nostalgia producing music. I stop comparing Minar-e-Pakistan to Data Darbar mosque’s magnificence. I stop listing to the man with a beard, on nine channels of cable television. I stop listening to the 25 anchormen all telling me Lahore is burning. I nod my head at whatever my mother says. I am left with myself, and I have no way to get away from me.

It is Monday again. I try to tell you about my escape.

Saadia Gardezi
Pakistaniaat: Journal of Pakistan Studies, Vol 2, No 1, Spring 2010

Lahore in 1893

A map from 1983

DHA and cantonement hardly existed. Most of the population doesn’t even venture into the actual ‘city’.

From KK Aziz book, The Coffee House of Lahore http://pakistaniat.com/2010/11/12/coffee-house-aziz-lahore/

Interview with Asma Jahangir

Asma Jahangir marching against the first invasion of Iraq, 1991
Asma at a Women Action Forum protest, 1983









So I met up with the famous human rights activist and asked her a few questions at her campaign office. She took me campaigning with her to various offices on Fane Road including climbing up four stories of broken stairs and avoiding the pot holes on Fane Road. Here are a few questions I asked her about her election campaign for the office of the President, Supreme Court Bar Association. This is an election where political leanings and group politics cannot be ignored. Asma Jahangir’s campaign has been called partisan and she has also been described by certain sections of lawyers and media as ‘pro-Zardari’. On the other hand, her opponent has been called pro-judiciary and anti-democracy (In The Friday Times, 15th October, 2010).

Why is contesting this election important? What is your motivation?
This is important because the bar has to be independent. The pressure that the lawyers are subservient to judges is a veiled threat to the lawyers and has affected the integrity and honesty of the legal system. My aim is to work towards ensuring the dignity of the bar and its independence.

Where does the support of the leaders of the 2007 Lawyers Movement lie?
I have their support, except for Hamid Khan.

What about Aitzaz Ahsan?
He has remained neutral, but he will probably vote for me.

Will the support from lawyers belonging to the PPP be a large part of your success?
Though I have the support of many of these lawyers, it cannot alone help me win the election. The votes from PPP supporting lawyers will probably be near 100 to 200 out of 2200 votes. The issue of the PPP supporting me has been given too much attention, in fact not all pro-PPP lawyers will be voting for me. I am supported also by lawyers who belong to the Awami National Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, PML-N and other parties who have said they will vote for me. I do not have a specific group that is behind me but individuals who support my stance. Continue reading Interview with Asma Jahangir