By Sir Cam
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
Aah, thank you Prof! Just remember me in your duas,
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!