Lahore Lahore Hai

Lahore's Badshahi Masjid

There is an old joke in Lahore. A hajji arrives in Mecca and is asked how he feels to be in the heart of Islam. “This is a dream come true for me,” he says, “and Mecca is more beautiful and inspiring than I ever could have imagined. But,” he adds, “Lahore is Lahore.”

It is impossible not to love Lahore. Impossible.

Were it in India, Lahore would be the cleanest, best cared for, most romantic city in the country. It would also rank among the most culturally rich. And the food is simply stunning.

Lahore is often compared with Delhi, as both cities feel as though they have one foot in this century, and one in centuries gone by. In truth, the comparison flatters Delhi. The old walled cities are quite similar in feel; but architecture from other periods, including an extremely rich collection of interesting buildings from the colonial period, are far better preserved and incorporated into the active life of Lahore than Delhi.

Most of Delhi’s grandeur and green space stems from the fact that it is the capital city of India. If governments are good at anything, they are good at architectural self aggrandizement; and politicians are rarely shy about housing themselves immodestly. But the governmental splendor of capital cities often feels hollow and soulless, and Delhi’s is no exception. Delhi’s broad avenues and generous architectural setbacks are, for the most part, reserved for the governmental and diplomatic elites. They are places for the rest of us to pass through, but not really to feel a part of. Even the one monumental space that truly belongs to the public – India Gate – is despoiled by the ceaseless blare of horns from passing vehicles and the mindless, and equally incessant flow of garbage from hands to ground.

The cricket stadiums of Delhi and Lahore – which are, of course, the heart of any city on the sub-continent – offer a perfect synecdoche. Delhi’s principle grounds for International cricket are Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. Though it has recently been through one of several renovations, the structure is an exercise in soul-sucking concrete, with seating sections partitioned by the sort of steel caging that even modern zoos find inappropriate. Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, by contrast, is a lovely-proportioned low bowl of red brick, with a lacy crown of arches at its rim. The entrances are grand and spacious, lined with beds and pots of seasonal flowers. In fact, during my visit to the stadium, there were as many gardeners tending the flowers and ornamental shrubbery as there were groundsmen manicuring the wickets for an upcoming match.

Everyone asks me to compare India and Pakistan. In truth, I haven’t seen enough of Pakistan to offer fair judgment; but I am more than happy to dig beneath the Lahore – Delhi similarities that others so often assert. All I can say is: Lahore Lahore hai!


8 Responses to “Lahore Lahore Hai”

  1. 1 Hasan Mubarak 12 August 2007 at 12:00 am

    You just got read by a Lahori…

    So, we have another witness to prove Lahore’s lahoriness to the world! Will love to have you back in our city :)

    Best wishes for India’s 60th Independence Day celebrations!

  2. 3 astounded visitor 25 January 2008 at 1:22 am

    wow…lahore..wat can i say?

    superbly beautiful
    warm friendly folks (many many)
    dusty & dusty
    great market places
    where tradition & modernity exist side by side literally
    passionate people
    wonderful place 2 visit

  3. 4 sania khan 7 November 2008 at 11:38 pm

    no doubt….Lahore Lahore hain..


    Jine lahore nahi takia O jamia he nahi…

  4. 5 Farid Jaafar 6 October 2011 at 5:48 am

    Hello Lahoris,

    I just came back from Umra and transited in Lahore on the way to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was my first visit there and Pakistan.

    Compared to Malaysia, where I came from, the place seemed less orderly BUT there is a certain charm which comes from I think the still traditional ambience that the city exudes, including its people, and not least the wonderful Mughal architectures which have stood for centuries. The food well, its heavenly!

    I hope you will all make strong efforts to keep all this charm in an atmosphere of peacefulness and I look forward to visit this city again if I have the opportunity.

    Was salaam mu alaikum!

  5. 6 FUE 8 October 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Lahore Lahore hai ,you feel when abroad and missing lahori khaney and its environment

  6. 7 Neil 20 August 2012 at 5:04 am

    In delhi metro service is available almost everywher but in lahore there is no metro service. in terms of security delhi is far secure than lahore. in lahore there is always a chance of taliban attack.

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