So I am back in London and I miss Lahore. In Lahore I missed London.
Why do I miss Lahore? It had one of the most worst petrol, electricity and gas crisis in the middle of one of the hardest winters in Lahore. Fog out ruled any possibility of enjoying sunshine at regular stretches of times. At times I thought London had more sunshine and was more warm!
Even then I miss Lahore for its familiarity, its laid back attitude towards life and its incredible ability to remain calm in the face of turbulence.
Bombs may explode, conflicts may go on. Lahore will keep its head down and focus on its own growth for Lahore has sense and sensibility along with sensitivity and creativity. Whereas other capital cities like Peshawar, Quetta and even Karachi have struggled to have infrastructures and cleanliness, Lahore is a model of developed infrastructures, centre of learning and by Pakistan standards a clean city.
People of Lahore have been rewarded for their unflinching support of Shariff brothers. Whereas the rest of Pakistan has experimented, Lahore has played safe in electing representatives.
To very high energy people, it gives space to breathe for sometime for it is highly predictable.
When I started working in Lahore, I could not understand as to why tea was always accompanied with many things to eat.
I could not understand as to why the welfare of all the family members and friends have to be inquired about before the meeting would start. I could not understand as to why more important than my ability to do work right was my family background.
Over the years I have come to understand. In Lahore everyone who matters knows everyone who matters. You need to prove you have credible family lineage.
Food is the main entertainment of people of Lahore. On a rainy day they would skip the office to enjoy samosas and pakoras! By nature Lahoris are generous. They are home to a shining example of generosity, the Shaukat Khanum hospital.
Personal networks are as important as professional networks and very thin line separates them.
The safety people of Lahore feel is rare in Pakistan. It is as if Lahore is a mini state within Pakistan, peaceful, prosperous, posh and pretty. This is the Pakistan every Pakistani would want and maybe that is why I love Lahore.
London is similar and yet opposite to Lahore. It is a high energy city but with plenty of places to relax and ponder. London is not judgmental. London aims for inclusiveness. London tolerates diversity. London knows when to raise a voice. The kind of crisis Lahore goes through due to petrol, electricity and gas shortages would have made London protest.
In London it is easy to ask from where are you for no matter from where you are, London would make you feel at home.
Yet in London I miss Lahore and in Lahore I miss London. Maybe they are two extremes. In London everyone leads their own life, in Lahore your life could be everyone’s business. They are both right and maybe I want both the approaches in my life.
Maybe I at times I want to gossip, maybe at times I need my own space. So I am content splitting my life between the two cities and having the best of both the worlds.