The many sides of Lahore
The capital of the Mughals and Sikhs, the land of the majestic Badshahi Mosque and the mysterious Lahore Fort, the shining pearl of the province of Punjab has now established a keen hold of the crane of modernism as it wrenches the city of gardens out of its glorious past and into the fast changing world dominated by capitalism.
As Lahore rids itself of its traditions it’s inhabitants see the emergence of McDonalds and KFCs, the population of over a seven million look in amazement as their city transforms into an urban metropolis. As malls with the best brands open across the city and high rises begin to form a skyline, to many who tell tales of German cars and the fancy MM.Alam road while coming back from Lahore to their villages, the city has made it. The rural population of the land of the five rivers dreams of life in Lahore. They might not be aware of what this western culture which surrounds the city is, but the shine and glitter attracts them towards it. We see the glamourous image of Punjab’s largest city. The land of Lollywood, I-MAX cinemas and Italian restaurants where American fast food chains offer 24/7 home delivery services, where the population uses 3G mobile networks and has the finest private grammar schools. A city which enjoys a cup of coffee from Gloria Jeans as its people cruise down the massive underpass systems lined along the BRB canal. With Model Towns and Bahria Towns, Metro Buses and flyovers, Lahore is no longer a picture of pigeons flying over the Wazir Khan Mosque; it is at the height of its development as it has embraced capitalism with open arms.
However this is just the shiny side of this ancient city. As an exclusive few visit I-stores and cry over a TV show an observer can easily find the other sides of Lahore. The successful continue to flourish as the failures continue trying. The beautiful face of Lahore is seen only by those who can afford to see it. The modern Lahore is for the elite. The traditional business men, the modern business men, top professionals, bureaucrats and the feudals. As the west continues to flow into Pakistan, children of an exclusive class get fatter on their daily dose of BigMacs, laughing about Alex from Target and anxiously waiting for Burger King to open in their city, children of another class are hungry and are floating in the dark waters of illiteracy.
What some forget is that Lahore also hosts the inhabitants of the Mian Mir Society, Nishat Colony, Jeewan Hana and countless other underdeveloped areas. Every day the poverty stricken class emerge from their poorly constructed dwellings to serve their masters residing in Gulberg and Defence. With poor sanitation, narrow alleys and overcrowded houses these areas portray the image of a typical slum. While some from this class serve the elite as Ayyahs, Khansamas and drivers and their children as choutas and chotis others are Rickshaw drivers or laborers. For them are the poorly administered government schools some send their children others use them to earn a few more rupees.
The city is confused. Lost and looking to find it’s identity. Modern Lahore is undoubtably the result of a one night stand between modernism and capitalism. The city was then left out on the street to discover itself. Falling deeper into a dark hole the city clings onto its culture and traditions with religion infused deep within it. As the west sweeps into the city a middle class emerges. A class educated in cheap private institutes, a class which is aware,confused and anxious to climb the ladder of success. As many line up to climb the ladder its foundations get weaker and weaker. Soon it will fall and collapse. Soon there will be a state of chaos. The sirens of a revolution can be heard in the horizon.