Inspiration Pakistan: Nehr Waaley Pul Tey

Posted on May 17, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, Photo of the Day, Society
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Adil Najam

I must confess that the goriness of my last post still leaves me drained and shaken. I offer this picture post on the simpler pleasures of life in Pakistan, partly as a way of shaking myself off the shivers but much more as a way to highlight that not only is another Pakistan possible, another Pakistan actually exists.

Barber, Pakistan, Lahore, Naai

It is the Pakistan of this naai (desi barber) in this beautiful picture, from K.M. Chaudary of AP, who has set up his “open-air” barber shop by the canal in Lahore and, while waiting for customers to show up, decides to give himself a little grooming. The charming composition as well as the subject reminds me not only of my own memories (the best shave I ever had – after a period of growing an unruly beard – was from one such naee), but of the fact that very vast majority of Pakistanis are neither robbers who would hold children hostage nor a community of such unbridled anger that it would burn that robber alive. One must never forget this reality either. Largely because this reality gives hope and the possibility of better things. The reality of yesterday only breeds more anger and discontent.

This is not to say that we should ignore or underplay the reality of desperate people brutally burning robbers to death. We at ATP did not. It is to say, however, that the only thing worse than ignoring the ugliness amongst our own is to let it define the entirety of who we are; to let that ugliness make us forget all the beauty that also exists.

The beauty of the simple life lies in the daily struggles of the simple life. But also in the simple joys that give respite from those daily struggles. The life of the average Pakistani is never idyllic. It cannot be. But it is one that can be inspiring. There are few places better than the banks of the canal in Lahore where you can see on display those daily struggles and how people can find ways to enjoy life despite their struggles. Without having to shout at each other, abuse each other, kill or burn each other. This picture set below, also from K.M. Chaudary of AP, show just a few familiar scenes of how.

Lagore Canal PakistanCanal, Pakistan, Lahore, heat waveCanal, Pakistan, Lahore, heat waveCanal, Pakistan, Lahore, heat waveCanal, Pakistan, Lahore, heat waveCanal, Pakistan, Lahore
An earlier post from Owais had shown that such scenes are to be seen not just in Lahore but elsewhere too. The reason I put these pictures up is because they highlight that even those who live depressing and tough lives do find ways to release their tensions. To enjoy themselves. To laugh. The two larger pictures were taken a few days ago and the four smaller pictures are from a year ago when the temperature had hit 46 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). But the point they make is the same.My work has taken me to some of the poorest communities all over the world. And the one thing that is always striking is that people do find simple ways to put a smile on their own faces and on those of others, despite their hardships. Indeed, that is a survival mechanism in itself. So, as I see the kids here frolicking in the water – a literal mela in the canal – they give me a sense of hope but also a sense of responsibility. Let us channel our energies – individual and national – to putting smiles on people’s faces and not anger in their hearts. That is the responsibility of all society; of government above all, but of all at the end of the day.

Post Script: Although I have mentioned that evergreen song from Noor Jahan, “Sannu Nehr Waley Pul Te Bulla Kay” in the headline, I will not post it now (even though I love the song) just because it does not quite match the mood of the post (or my own right now). For some reason the song that has been playing in my head today is not the one in the headline above but Baba G.A. Chishti’s epic super-hit “Tangay Walla Khair Mangda.”

As I had suggested in a post a year-and-half ago, that song – probably more than any other – describes (for me) what I and ATP do or are trying to do. Today I seem to be in a mood very similar to what I was feeling when I wrote that post, so I have been replaying that song again and again; in my head and on my computer.

23 responses to “Inspiration Pakistan: Nehr Waaley Pul Tey

  1. ASAD says:

    Discovered this post by following the “ATP 1 Year Ago” tab. What a wonderful post and even more true today.

  2. Kazim Hussain says:

    Beautiful thoughts and beautiful pictures.

  3. Aisha says:

    Simple, Beautiful and Captivating. It is so easy to reflect on my own childhood (in the USA) in these pictures. A time when life seemed so easy and carefree yet so rich in innocent adventures…a time when the world and people seemed so much more alive. Thanks for sharing and awakening the memories.

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