Lahore Again
By Sir Cam
Cambridge, England

Back from another brief trip to Pakistan. Stayed with Prof KK Aziz in Lahore. Super chap. Still going strong. Masha-Allah.
His two-volume "The Meaning of Islamic Art" is out. As is his latest "A journey into the past (Portrait of a Punjabi family, 1800-1970)". Cute of him to inscribe the latter for me: "With love, a very inadequate and humble gift in appreciation of the kindnesses received, and which are completely unrepayable".
Aah, thank you Prof! Just remember me in your duas, that's all.

Dr Ajaz Anwar, the Director of the Art Gallery at the NCA, Lahore, was late. Oh, the traffic in Lahore these days! It drives you mad. What really drives Ajaz mad is the destruction of old buildings, the uprooting of trees, and anything and everything related with conservation in Lahore. Besides wandering around Lahore, looking for old mansions to paint and "conserve" on canvas, he is a busy campaigner for the Lahore Conservation Society. "Lahore Bachao (Save Lahore)," he shouts.
And rightly so. Enough of the concrete jungle and the super widening of the roads at the cost of our heritage and environment. Got a signed copy of Ajaz's "Forty years of Painting: Reminiscences of Lahore". Lovely man. A treasure. National heritage.

Traveled in a Pakistani taxi lately? Here's my experience. Belching smoke along the way, the creaking vehicle – an ancient 1970s Datsun rescued apparently from a scrap heap -- made its way slowly along the dusty road. There was no interior to speak of, only the bare skeleton of a dashboard and windows that couldn't be wound up or down. A burning smell got me extra worried. It was going to conk out any moment, I thought. "CNG, Sahib," soothed the taxiwallah. Most taxis, and many other vehicles, in Pakistan now run on Compressed Natural Gas. Which explains the burning smell of gas. The taxi I had the luxury of traveling in was effectively a cooker on wheels with an oven thrown in for free. It really was like an oven inside. By the time you get to your destination you're right proper cooked up.

Ramadan starts today in Cambridge. Everyone is excited. Inexplicable how a people can love to be without food and drink all day (today the fast is from 5.06am to 6.59pm) and then to undergo rigorous exercise in the form of tarawih prayers in the evening. But then it's to do more with the spiritual rather than the physical. It's the nur, the sakinah, the spiritual vibes of the month that is exciting, thrilling. Gimme more Light, I say. Ramadan forever!


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