Whatâ€™s the one thing about Lahore that makes it your favourite city?
The atmosphere created by Lahoreâ€™s lush greenery, coupled with the monsoon rain in the summer is the epitome of home for me. The beautiful red brick layout of Lahori architecture, combined with the petrichor of rich Punjabi soil is like no other.
Whatâ€™s your favourite historic place in Pakistan?
Itâ€™s unfair to choose just one, as we have such a rich history â€” ranging from the 800-year-old Baltit Fort in Hunza to Jehangirâ€™s Tomb in Lahore, to the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh. For me the most significant is The Lahore Fort though: whenever I go there I like to visualise how life must have been back in the days of the Mughal grandeur â€” the river running by it, the hustle and bustle of the walled city â€” it represents a magical era to me.
How important do you think it is to look after our national treasures?
I think itâ€™s imperative that we look after our national treasures. It breaks my heart to see whatâ€™s become of places like Tollinton Market. However, Iâ€™m glad that theyâ€™ve started to conserve older landmarks and bring back the essence of old Lahore through restaurant experiences that also highlight other significant landmarks like the Badshahi Mosque and the Fort.
The historic quintessence of Lahore always has captivated me. Being one of the oldest cities, it has held ancient civilizations for over 7000 years old. Previously, Lahore was called Kachi Sehr, preceding the Mughal empire and carries meaningful antiquity. So itâ€™s highly important to protect these cities, because they carry the last link to our former heritage. Thereâ€™s more to Pakistan than being a country that got separated from India. What we have is absolutely precious and it should be a top priority of the government to preserve it.
Describe your perfect day out in Lahore.
Itâ€™ll have to be a winter day, where I leave early in the morning to visit Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque and the rest of the inner city. Iâ€™ll then have a picnic in Lawrence Garden, followed by a nice dinner at Coocoâ€™s Den. Soaking up old Lahore in all its glory is the perfect day and thankfully I make it a point to do that almost every year.
What is that one eastern dish that you cannot go long without?
My motherâ€™s biryani, which she makes without potatoes mind you. I love halwa puri and chicken karahi also, but the biryani for sure, because itâ€™s super spicy.
Whatâ€™s that one place that you think holds the most amount of cultural heritage in Lahore?
Lahori culture has varied so much from the Sikh to the British and the Mughal reigns, so I donâ€™t think there is one place that I can pinpoint. Anarkaliâ€™s Tomb, which was a Mughal building, later turned into a church and taken over the by the Sikhs definitely holds a lot of culture and is very significant because it represents different eras of rule.
The lushness of Punjab or the beauty of Sindh?
The lushness of Punjab. I have a bias since my roots are from Lahore. I was lucky enough to explore a bit of central Punjab (Pak-Pattan) and the Sufi heritage there was mesmerising. Iâ€™d love to go deeper and explore Malika Hans as well.
How important do you think it is to understand the ethnicity that comes along with every culture?
Recognising and appreciating our diversity is vital. The traditions, clothes, food and cultures that have trickled down from the pre-Islamic pagan era, to now of people from Hunza, Kailash and Naran are so distinct. The splendour of the Sindhi culture and the simplicity of the Pakhtoon culture have so much beauty that it completely consumes you. The folk tale shrines of Punjab carry so much multiplicity that it is a tragedy if we donâ€™t appreciate the elements that make Pakistan what it is.
What is your favourite tradition since childhood?
I havenâ€™t gotten to see this particular tradition in recent years, but our home in Lahore was near one of the signature canals and I remember on 12 Rabbi-ul-Awal the canals would be decked out with decorative floats and people would make really nice colorful decorations outside their houses. The festivity wasnâ€™t dissimilar to what I grew up with in Canada around Christmas. Neighborhoods, especially the inner city ones were lit up with candles and oil lamps and I would always insist to help around.
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