‘Lahore – a sentimental journey’ : Renowned Indian writer expresses his love for the ancient city

“Need-based developmental changes should not unnecessarily be resisted or criticised, as they can’t change Lahore,” he added.

The 94-year old writer was addressing launch of the latest editions of his books “Carefree days” and “Lahore – a sentimental journey” at the Government College University. Lahore Arts Council Chairman Kamran Lashari chaired the books’ unveiling ceremony, which was also addressed by noted playwright Madeeha Gauhar, actress Feryal Ali Gauhar, artist Dr Ajaz Anwar, theatre and television director Shahid Mahmood Nadeem, political scientist Dr Istiaq Ahmed and GCU Vice Chancellor Dr Hassan Amir Shah.

Nevile said that the city is not merely its roads, buildings and bazars. “It is its atmosphere, ambience, moods of joy and sorrow, madness and sadness, fun and excitement and above all, its people, who constitute its soul,” he added.

When a student asked Nevile to compare the existing and pre-partition Lahore, the writer said, “You can’t compare the two beauties. I admire the present Lahore as much as you are admiring the 1930s Lahore. We must welcome and cherish the changes in lives.”

However, he said that he missed the voices of Bo-Kata in Lahore, as kite flying had been a passion with Lahoris who were eloquent of their kites and boasted of their accomplishments in the field.

“It was said that there was no other place in the world where kite flying, as a sport, had reached such commanding heights as in Lahore,” he said. However, the Indian writer also believed that safety must be priority in every sport.

On a question regarding hostility between the two countries, Nevile said politics is not his area of interest. However, he believed in spreading positivity and love between the two nations whose art and culture are somehow integrated. He explained that the revised edition of his book “Lahore – a sentimental journey” includes a chapter about Government College, an ‘epilogue’ and an ‘afterward’ with his latest perceptions of the city of Lahore, the heartbeat of Punjab.

Feryal Gauhar on the occasion read some extracts from the books of Pran Nevile, saying that Nevile’s reminiscences no doubt took the reader into the heart of 1930s Lahore, which was a hub of arts and literary activities.

Dr Istiaq Ahmed said Pran Nevile was an ambassador of Lahore in Delhi. His work was influenced by his three life experiences; his earlier education at a school of Arya Samaj movement, attraction towards fairer sex, and third is his stay at the Government College, where he experienced cosmopolitan society in which students coexisted harmoniously, unfettered by considerations of religion, region and caste.

GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Shah said Parn Nevile was born in Lahore in 1922 and studied for six years at the Government College Lahore, adding that to the best of their knowledge, Pran Nevile was the oldest of living old Ravians. “We hope six years later, his alma mater would be launching his new publications at the occasion of his centenary birthday,” he added.

The speakers also highlighted the distinguished career of the author in Indian Foreign Service and United Nations after which he became a freelance writer and had written extensively on Indian art and culture.

Dr Ajaz Anwar presented a Takhti, a traditional wooden writing-board, to Pran Nevile, which he had repeatedly mentioned in his book.