Adil Najam, Asma Mirza, Darwaish and Owais Mughal
Each Independence Day we have been inviting our readers to share with us what ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Pakistaniat‘ means for you. In our 2006 Independence Day post we offered the verses of Faiz Ahmed Faiz – aaiye haath uthain hum bhi and hum daikhain gay – as manifestations of our Pakistaniat, and sought from you your own ideas about what Pakistaniat at its best means to you. In our 2007 Independence Day post each member of our editorial team offered the verses, the pictures, the songs, the memories that evoked their own Pakistaniat.
Today, to mark the 2008 Independence Day we offer to you our lists of things to do in Pakistan that represent for us our quintessential Pakistaniat. We ask you to share with us your own lists of things that bring out your Pakistaniat. These may not be things that are unique to Pakistan. But they are things that are unique to our expression of Pakistaniat. Some are things we do regularly. Some are things we dream of doing one day. For most part these are ordinary things. But they become extraordinary in the ways in which they evoke our Pakistaniness. All are things that make us feel Pakistani in that moment. Not just the representation of, but the essence of our individual Pakistaniat.
We ask of you to share your own lists of things that you do or would like to do as expressions for your Pakistaniat. Everyday things. But things that you can do yourself. This is not about building castles in the sky, or pointing fingers, listing all the things that are wrong everywhere. We have a blog full of posts where you can vent those thoughts. This is not one of those posts. We seek here not the cynical takes that we hear all year round (and will moderate out here), nor the sanctimonious artificiality that is laden on us on auspicious occasions. Instead, we seek the authentic flavors and smells and sights and sounds and memories that bring to each of us the essence of that which we consider to be the core of our own personal Pakistaniat
So, let us get the ball rolling with each of us offering you a list of five things each.
My Pakistaniat is everywhere around me. But most of all it is in my memories. The memories of times gone by as well as the memories of times that have not yet arrived.
- To go back to Thandiani. One of the most magical places I have ever been to, anywhere.
- To eat yet another challi from Khan Saheb the challi-walla. The way I have eaten it always, every opportunity I get, all the time, and anytime. No masalla, no namak, only a little nimbo.
- To drive a Rickshaw in Lahore, a Tonga in Peshawar, and Qingqi in Quetta, and a Minibus in Karachi. Just once. Just for a few minutes, please.
- To do once more what I used to do every other night when I was a student at UET Lahore: To bicycle from Mughalpura, Lahore, a little after midnight, to have Qulfi Falooda in Purani Anarkalli.
- Picking up my time-weathered copy of Nuskha-hai-Wafa and just reading it, for no reason at all.
I think all of us have that very desi Pakistani confined within the walls of our soul, heart and mind. Every thought comes back at full throttle back to the Pakistaniat in us. My list of things that bring out my Pakistaniat includes:
- A trip to Lahore’s mosque de grandeur, Masjid Wazir Khan, holding a camera in my hands and shooting the splendor scattered around. Sitting calmly, listening to the fluttering wings of pigeons. My ultimate dream.
- Eating tonnes of gol gappays from the thella wala near Bagh e Jinnah, Lahore.
- Tavel to the Deosai plains and read Mustansar Hussain Tarar’s Deosaayi there, feeling the heavenliness.
- Spend a day roaming around with no fears and insecurities. And no staring brothers.
- A truck ride from Peshawar to Karachi route.
How does one say which things to do, foods to eat, places to visit, are the most important to my Pakistaniat? They all are. But here are some that are special to me.
- To visit Mozang in Lahore and have some famous Atomi Tikke.
- Camp at River Swat, catch some trouts, if I can, and enjoy a yummmmy trout in lunch. Makes me very sad when I hear news from friends in Swat about violence and killings. I never thought this could happen to such loving and friendly people of Swat.
- Attend World Performing Arts Festival to be held in October/November 2008 after a gap of two years. Can’t miss it this year! Also, to check out Museum for Puppetry in Lahore setup by Peer Group.
- Travel all the way to Nathia Gali just for the love of Patakha Chicken. And then go all the way from there to Mushkpuri Top to enjoy sunrise and sunset.
- Visit F.C. College (present day Forman Christian University) on a rainy day, riding my old racing cycle (Korean made Orient) and meet some of my old teachers there.
The simple things are always the most meaningful. And the most representative of what Pakistan and Pakistaniat means to me.
- A walk at the beach. It sounds simple, but it can be a deep deep experience on Pakistan’s often ignored beaches. A walk at a Pakistani beach, when it is not crowded, can be very soothing. If one is willing to try, one can always find a less crowded parts. Afterall:
har taraf har jagah be-shumar aadmi
phir bhi tanhaaioN ka shikaar aadmi
- Buying and reading Urdu books. There is a treasure trove of books to read and never enough time. One thing I always miss being away from home is Urdu reading. Therefore as soon as I am in Pakistan, I start on my Urdu book buying and reading frenzy. Old book sellers at Meena Bazar and Hyderi Market as well as new book sellers like Oxford Press and Liberty books are the places I frequent.
- Going from Karachi to Lahore by train. There is no better way to see and capture the glimpse of whole country in a day than by travelling by train. Passengers in a train also form a microcosm of our society and one gets to see both good and bad behaviors. Perfect place for anthropologist observations. e.g. this poem by Girgit Ahmedabadi
rail ke dabbe mein ye qissa hoa
ek bacha zor se ronay laga
maa ne samjhaane ki koshish ki buhat
os ko behlaane ki koshish ki buhat
thak ke aakhir loriaan gaane lagi
bijliaan kaanon par barsaane lagi
das minute tak loriaaN jab woh gaa chuki
tilmila kar bol utha ek aadmi
behn ji itna karam ab kijiyay
aap is bache ko ronay dijiyay
- Taking Street Photos. There is so much spontaneity and action on Pakistani streets that whenever I get chance, I like to capture it. However one needs to be careful while taking street photos otherwise following situation happens quite often:
mohallay waale naa-huq khafa ho gayay
wo to ek andaaz tha os ke pyar karne ka
- Reading the poetry at the back of rickshaw, trucks and buses. It always make me smile and sometimes think too. Many a life lessons and philosophical matters are discussed on the backs of these mirrors of society. e.g. think about the depth of message in this sher written on a Pakistani bus:
malik ki gaaRi
driver ka pasina
chalti hai road par
bun kar hasina