Lahore

We planned to leave relatively early. But as always with plans in Pakistan, they very rarely run to their proposed schedule. We met in the afternoon along the busy side carriage of the main road into Islamabad, ready for the journey ahead. Lahore, a 3 hour drive down the bustling GT road with a few stops for snacks and some food. My main mission in Lahore was to find mind grandfathers grave. I had an address, a number for our family grave keeper and no real idea what area it was even in.

That night we settled in to our friends house and went out for dinner in the same restaurant I visited the last time I was in Pakistan as a 12 year old boy. Spice village. It was fantastic. A wide range of buffet style foods, live entertainment and amazing desserts. Lahore is known for it’s food and this was one of the best meals I had in Pakistan.

The first full day in Lahore we visited the Waga border with India, with amazing VIP tickets from our host Adil who’s father was colonel in the Pakistani Army. The patriotic cheers and overtly aggressive displays at the border were particularly strong due to the previous weeks tensions and bombing on the Kashmir border (as well as Pakistan’s victory in the recent cricket tour!). As the sun died we had a tour of the grounds and tea in the compound. An absolutely amazing experience.

Lahore is a city that never sleeps and we found ourselves in a downtown Nihari restaurant at 3am after an evenings stroll around the famous Liberty market.

The next day we had to return to Islamabad but I of course had to fulfil my plans of visiting my grandfather’s grave. With the help of Adil’s driver and a few phone calls to the elusive grounds keeper I found myself in the old town dodging motorcycles, rickshaws and trucks through the dust with my friend Sham in search of the graveyard. Lahoris are renowned for providing bad directions and this was clearly apparent as  we were pointed in varying directions. We finally found the mosque with the grave and I began paying my respects, shakily. It was a real blur as I stood over the grave of my grandfather. The last time I had seen him alive, I was only 7 in his house in Bradford, eating Crunchy Nut Cornflakes before he departed for Pakistan. Sham kindly went and bought flowers and petals whilst I cleaned the grave. We humbly made our prayers and made our way back to the car by rickshaw through the blocked streets of Lahore’s old town.

Lahore was amazing. It really is a city that never sleeps and is always mindful of it’s stomach. A drastic contrast to Islamabad, Lahore some would argue is a true reflection of Pakistan. I would tend to agree.

-U.Mirza

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