When I was 10 years old, my father decided to leave our village, chak 42, to set out our journey for Lahore to gain advanced education. This urbanization came with modernity and industrialization. They uplifted people from their own places to the cities where there was no proper security, healthy food, and adequate housing. The ratio of urbanization is, surprisingly, more in Asia and Africa. Whenever I criticize modernity people say I am against modernization. Not at all! But it is a question of how to deal with the machine and technology.
However, I was very down in the dumps on leaving my village and cousins behind, In fact, my cousins were dejected too. Lahore was the first city I had ever entered into. So, after reaching and settling in Lahore, the first thing I observed here was that people used to hang out till late night and I loved this thing because in the village we were habitual of sleeping early at 7-8 in the evening. I felt very uncomfortable in Lahore in the beginning because there was no relative, no friend of mine. But gradually I started accepting this new place. Moreover, I found that the people of Lahore were very friendly.
As time went on and I grew up to the age of maturity I started exploring Lahore. Lahore is remembered as the “City of Gardens” but it 9;s better to call it the “City of monuments.”
Lahore has a history of thousands of years and many historical buildings are located here. My favorite place is Pak Tea House, situated on the Mall Road next to the Anarkali. I first discovered this place after joining the University of Punjab. A very interesting fact is that before joining the University I even had never visited the Badshahi Mosque, one of the finest architectures of the great Mughal era before because during my school and college days I wasn’t a vagabond. Anyhow Pak Tea House is a place where the intellectuals and commoners meet every Saturday-Sunday. A coffee house by name but it is also the center to promote leftist ideas. Many organizations organize literary and political sessions there among them, Halaqa-e Arbab-e-Zauq and Progressive Writers’ Association are prominent. PKT also contains a library, containing hundreds of books on Urdu poetry and prose. Students from different universities come here and spend their time in such a literary atmosphere. Above all, the tea is fantastic here. I visit PKT every Saturday and every time I feel like I am in heaven. And I call it my second home.
The other place which I like the most is the old Anarkali bazaar. I’ve never seen this bazaar empty. At night, different families belonging to different classes come and chill out. There is so much fun walking this bazaar with friends at night. Waris Nihari Wale is a famous restaurant here. Every Sunday, the footpaths of Anarkali bazaar are filled with precious books on almost every subject. Poor and even middle class come here and buy the used books at a very low price to quench their thirst for knowledge. Lahore is not only a cultural hub but also the walled city of Lahore is famous for the food streets. These food streets are located on the backside of the Badshahi Mosque. Haveli restaurant is very popular due to its unique location.
Lahore’s Texali gate is also very famous. I remember when I first visited this place. On its entrance, there is very famous shoe market located here known as Sheikupurian bazaar. The red light area is also situated here locally known as ‘Heera Mandi’. I’ve visited this place. It is said that Mughal Emperors used to keep their royal consorts here. But when I visited this place back in 2018 to my surprise this place is no more a cultural hub but it is taken by the “uncivilized” prostitutes. Now the place is known as Shahi Mohalla. Today, when I am asked about Lahore, I just say, “If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t been born yet.”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.