Red, White and Black

Lahore, Lahore Hai!
20 January, 2006, 8:16 pm
Filed under: lahore

Over the last week or so, I have been reading Bapsi Sidhwa’s collection of writings on Lahore : Beloved City.Given that it was a collection by Sidhwa, I always had high expectations of it. And I have not been disappointed. The book is a delightful collection of historical accounts, personal narrations and fictional stories. The collection is arranged by the Eras that Lahore has seen and one gets to know the ancient city from the times of the Mongol pillagers to the troubled times of Partition.

The historical accounts include writings on the Lahore of Akbar, the Lahore of Ranjeet Singh and of Kipling’s Lahore. The writings look at both the glamour, glitz and the fables of the Mughal Lahore and the turbulent history of the city as invaders came and left. The British came to Lahore and we live through the taming of the city. And yet the collection doesn’t neglect the romanticism of the city within the thirteen gates, of Anarkali and of Hira Mandi. Every single piece has been tastefully selected and that doubles the worth of the journey.

But it is the writings on the Lahore of the Partition that have truly touched the chords of my heart. The collection from that time period is composed largely of personal accounts and thus lends a very humane touch to the cold ‘Partition’ of the history books. Not only do the accounts provide a real sense of life to the city, but they also highlight the attachments of many a people to a place they called ‘home’ as kids or young individuals. These accounts make you question the cruelty of political decisions and how they ended up altering so many lives. At the same time, they highlight the prowess of the political and communal forces that turn neighbours on each other, subordinates on their masters and even family members against one another.

This book is highly recommended to both die-hard lahoris and curious world dwellers. I am not yet through with my encounter with Lahore through this book, but I have already come to cherish my city in ways that I never have before!

P.S. You must read through the excerpt of the book provided by Books and Authors here. 😛


7 Comments so far
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Certainly sounds enchanting, she does have a flair for words. makes one dream of meandering through the streets in a foregone era.

Comment by Afzaal

Not meaning to take away from Ms. Sidhwa’s eminence as a writer, but I ‘d be curious to know when the novel was written because it is so reminiscent of Khushwant Singh’s novel titled Delhi, written some ten years ago. Baghmati, the protagonist, a enuch/ prostitute is a personification of Delhi, the ancient city that was ‘loved, romanced, marauded, and raped’ by its many inhabitants down the years. Some of who claimed to be her natives, others who came in as visitors/ businessmen and stayed on, and then there were the invaders who, allured by stories of her beauty and wealth, ravaged her.

Comment by Id it is

I think I might have ended up giving the wrong impression but the book is anothology of sorts that has been put toghether by Bapsi Sidhwa. So we have writings by Iqbal, Faiz, Khushwant Singh, Krishen Khanna, Ved Mehta, Manto, Bina Shah, Mohsin Hamid, Khalid Ahmed, Ashfaq Ahmed and Bano Qudsia among many others. Infact there are excerpts from a couple of Sidhwa’s books as well.

And the book was just published last year. If I recall correctly it was launched in Pakistan late Nov or early Dec. This is the oxford store page on the book.

Comment by Ayesha

Apparently blogger is messing up links:

the correct link.

Comment by Ayesha

Thanks! I would definitely like to read this one!
I was misled by the following quote from the link which is from another novel of hers :
“The very spelling of this hoary city causes one to indulge in linguistic antics — as I did in my first novel, A Pakistani Bride:

“Lahore — the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu kings, the courtesan of Mughul emperors — bedecked and bejewelled, savaged by marauding hordes-healed by the caressing hands of successive lovers. A little shoddy, as Qasim saw her; like an attractive but ageing concubine, ready to bestow surprising delights on those who cared to court her — proudly displaying Royal gifts.?

Comment by Id it is

i agree with you.

Comment by sania khan

Off topic – Help with PM?
lost password
Boss Resurfacing
Boss Resurfacing

Comment by Boss Resurfacing

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