Silly Seasons
By Shoaib Hashmi

So it is the familiar ‘silly buggers’ season again! I think perhaps it is the onset of the heat that loosens the synapses of the brain and we go off on some strange tangent. This time round a committee met and deliberated and came up with the gem that many of the streets and localities of Lahore were named after obscure dead people who were heathens to boot, and so they thought up equally obscure and dead people to rename them for!
Fortunately the season was short lived, and good sense has prevailed and the whole thing has been shelved, aided no doubt by the hornet’s nest of conservationists one is liable to stir up in such a venture. It is all a familiar scenario, like the seasonal sniffles and runny tummies one is liable to get at change of season, and it is no great shakes because nothing ever comes of it. The Mall in Lahore is the same despite decades of efforts to name it after the founder, and most people will tell you to go sit on an egg if you asked them to go to Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees! No offence to the gentleman, whoever he is!
On other fronts though, we are still fighting tooth and nail and refusing to give up. Like for instance on our great talent for ‘Banning’ stuff. As the first and oldest of Lahore’s demarked suburban ‘Communities’ we Model Town Wallahs, led by friend Zim are always particular about our communal rights. Hence we were the first to ‘ban’ the entry of noisy rickshaws into out territory.
We forgot two things. First that Model Town is no longer the exclusive preserve of the prosperous, and a lot of our neighbors use the rick as their normal mode. And second that Model Town is no longer the end of the road, it is the short cut between major residential areas.
And two more. No he-man Lahori rickshaw wallah is going to make a detour of three miles for your fetish over noise. And our usual enforcers are not Elliot Ness and the Lone Ranger. The only equivalents of the ‘untouchables’ are the Military Police, and the people who have them to do things are going to town!
The Cantonment has not only banned the entry of rickshaws, it has then gone right on and banned plastic bags too. I am not too sure about the latter. For one thing plastic bags are not known for making too much noise, and if someone wants to sneak one in in his pocket, a glassy-eyed MP cannot know short of a strip search.
In any case one gets the impression that people whose communities have anything to do with ‘Defense’ like to ban things just because they think they can. Some time ago they dug up the road going into LUMS and no one get in or out for weeks. When asked they said LUMS was not their baby and could hire a chopper or grow wings for all they cared.
Now it is the turn of the Lahore School of Economics. They use the Burki Road to get to school, and that has been dug up, and looks likely to stay dug up for a few years. We started using the brand new Defense Phase 6 Boulevard, although that was still incomplete because some more retired defense personnel have their houses on chunks of it and refuse to move.
We managed taking small detours, and the society was happy enough to charge us ten rupees a trick for our pains. Then they woke up to the fact that some people were actually using a road that is theirs. So they have gone and stopped us. You know why? Because they can!

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.