As spring sets in and the warm rays of sun beam through the random clouds, Lahore remains the same – never changing, just as the people who call it home.
We continue to build more bridges, underpasses and flyovers, leaving no road untouched, just as the historic Jail Road has recently been invaded by construction company containers and large machines appearing out of nowhere. However, under all the rubble, cement and steel lies the same old Lahore with its numerous residential areas and fine dining restaurants.
Lahore is not an ordinary city. It is constantly alive, never asleep. It is kept busy by the hordes of cars during the rush hour in the afternoon or the throngs of people rushing towards MM Alam Road or Liberty Market or the very famous food streets in ‘Androon Shehr’.
The constant chatter of people discussing the many crises in the city over an intricately adorned dish in a restaurant, and the popping of popcorn in the ever growing number of cinemas in the city never leave any moment of silence throughout the year.
On a recent trip to Islamabad, I explored the idea of living in a different city, perhaps Islamabad or Karachi. However, Islamabad seemed too quiet and dull, whereas Karachi seemed more eventful and crowded than needed.
A friend commented on my dilemma by saying, “Islamabad is too clean, Karachi has too much trash but Lahore has just the right amount of trash.”
While the statement may seem controversial as to which city is actually the cleanest, the main idea behind it was that for us Lahore is perfect in every way.
Even when the scorching summer locks us into cold air-conditioned rooms, or the cold winter winds glue us to our heaters, the city is as lovable as ever.
Moreover, just when you get bored of your usual eateries and cafes, a bunch of new ones seem to pop up, exciting us and pulling us towards them to try each and every item on the menu.
Lastly, just as we get bored of spending our weekends at home, some new exhibition, food festival, or music night seems to take up all our attention with pointless questions like what clothes we are going to wear, or who we’ll be taking with us.
We, the Lahoris, tend to immerse ourselves in our busy lives, never letting anything stop us. Any terrorist attacks may draw us back into our houses, in front of our television screens, as we watch the death toll increase by the hour, not long after do we become ignorant and switch the channel from the news headlines to our daily sitcoms. We return to our normal routine, pushing the haunting tragic headlines to the back of our minds, only remembering them to join in the pity comments during social gatherings. Lahore doesn’t stop for anyone, and the festivals and exhibitions continue on.
While we may not be the best kind of people in our country, nor the most humble, each one of us takes pride in being able to call Lahore ‘home’ and to have memories in this city which no one else can relive.
Lahore may have its dark side, but which city in the world does not? For now we continue to live our lives day to day and savour each moment, not knowing what the city is going to throw back at us.
With all its imperfections, the city is home to nearly eight million people who love the city’s hustle and bustle and would pick it any day over the other cities.