NEW DELHI, Sept 5: For the septuagenarians who had gathered to discuss life in Lahore, it was a rollicking time. Nostalgia peppered with old Punjabi jokes conjured images that had laid buried for a long time.
The congregation was discussing Pran Nevile’s Lahore: A Sentimental Journey. And it was a sentimental journey for listeners who were taken down Mall Road, allowed to browse through the book stalls on Mohanlal Road, shopped in Anarkali Bazar and felt the cool breeze on Thandi Sadak.
Reminiscing about those days, Nevile said: “I hope that someday we will have a Himalayan Union. Let us all get together, all Indian and Pakistani states alongwith Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Each state will have its own government but we would be one. And Lahore will be the heart of a new Himalayan union, not Delhi. It does not quite have the history that Lahore does.”
Describing the book as `an enjoyable read’, publisher D N Malhotra, who was one of the panelists on the discussion, said: “One of the mostbeautiful sections of the book are the old pictures and the photostats of old news items. The book brought out the `zindadili’ (liveliness) of the Punjabis.”
However, Shaheed Nadim, a noted playwright from Pakistan, who was present on the occasion, said that Lahore, which was once known as the `Paris of India’, was not the same anymore. “Your Lahore is different from mine. Now it is known as the seat of oppression as the ruling elite is based there. Old markets and buildings are being systematically demolished, only to be replaced by new monstrosities. Regal Chowk on Thandi Sadak has become the center of fundamentalism, from where hatred is preached.”
However, Nadim admitted that despite state pressure to move away from the culture of the sub-continent, the commonality that they shared with the Punjabis, especially those in India, had a pull that could not denied.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.