Despite Lahore being well known for its art, architecture and history, it is still associated with the dark image of Pakistan —terrorists, bombings, poverty or lack of education. Many of us decide at an early age that we would rather live a safe life someplace abroad than here, never knowing when the next bomb’s going to drop.
Sure, this country is damaged beyond repair and things are way worse than anyone will actually publicly admit. But at the end of the day, it is still home for us near two hundred million Pakistanis. Despite all the violence and hardships we face, there are a lot of things you could only find here, such as the power being cut for 20 hours of a day but miraculously coming back during a Pakistan cricket match.
People rarely look beyond the dark side of Lahore, never being able to see the humour in everyday things that take place in this city that make it so lovable and unique.
Quite frequently will you see hilarious misspelled advice plastered behind rickshaws such as “Panga is not changa” which means “Don’t mess with me,” or even cars with messages such as “Yeh meray baap ka paisa hai aur maa ki dua” on the rear screen which roughly translates as “I’m driving because of my father’s money and my mother’s blessing.”
Driving around in the city you are bound to read something that will leave you in tears while clutching your stomach as you wait for a traffic light to open.
Another phenomenon that makes Pakistan so unique is the change that overcomes us all during a cricket match. Even though cricket is not our national sport, every time there is a Pakistani cricket match, the patriotic being inside us is unleashed while we swear and yell at our television screens damning the players from the opposing team to hell.
Nothing unites us Pakistanis like a good old cricket match where we might even turn on our own players if they miss a catch or get out. It really does bring out the best in all of us. Only in Pakistan will you witness teenage boys racing on motorbikes while cheering through the streets after a victory for Pakistan in a cricket match.
My cousin once told me that there’s always more room to fit people in a car. Normally, I would disagree. However, I myself on countless occasions have witnessed this. Lahore, like any other Pakistani city, has been witness to this. You can find every vehicle you can name, stuffed and overflowing with people. It is a common sight to witness a motorbike, meant for two or at the most three people, carrying a family of six, consisting of two or three young children.
Even Public Transport, such as buses and trains are stuffed to the brim with people, creating a hazard due to instability of the vehicle because of so much excess weight. Even the roofs of these vehicles are covered in people holding on to dear life. The new metro buses are also always stuffed with people, barely breathing. Most people seem to be riding the bus for entertainment rather than transport purposes.
During the summer, most of the cities in Pakistan turn into infernos. Summer in Pakistan has a way of slowly creeping up on you. In March and April, you enjoy the pleasant weather of spring and then before you know it is 90 degrees and you are being scorched to death under the blistering summer sun while all the air conditioners are out of order.
Only in Lahore will you see those without air conditioned houses to retreat into, truly enjoying the essence of a hot Pakistani summer, by taking a dip in the canal that runs in between the main Canal Road.
It seems as if almost half of the men in Lahore decide to take a day off, leaving behind their woes with their kameezes on the canal bank, jumping into the muddy water without a single care in the world. By mid afternoon when the sun is feeling least merciful on all of us below its glare, the canal is overflowing with people and it seems as if it cannot hold one more person, yet it proves us wrong, never denying anyone the pleasure of cooling off on a hot summer day.