Sunday, November 14, 2010


Song of the lonesome soul: Zeb and Haniya

by Hindol Sengupta

More on the little luxuries that you just can't help fall in love with when in Pakistan.

Note for WoP readers: At the moment when we Pakistanis have been plagued by suicide bombers, drone attacks, sectarian killings and things of that sort, many people may not be knowing that we receive guests from our neighbouring land, a state that has all the negativities to portray against us as far as their mainstream media and their corridors of power are concerned. Yet as it’s the case in blogosphere, there are so many in the print media as well, who are working and   practically doing everything to promote friendship between the peoples on both sides of the border.

Ever since I started this blog, I have been receiving comments, emails and believe me, curses also, from many readers on the other side of the subcontinent. Some are so much intimidating that you feel you had been humiliated from their end, but as we all know these are all sick minds of which there is no dearth in Pakistan either. They are the stuff who find refuge in calling names, cursing, taunting and sometimes using foul language.   So I never take them seriously. For me those beautiful minds in India, who love our homeland as much as they do their own one, are more valuable, more respectful and worthy of my love than those hate inspired cocoons.

Through pages of this web site, I have always stood for people to people dialogue. One beautiful example of this is Hindol Sengupta of the Bloomberg UTV India who visited us twice. Preceding this post was his Affluenza…The Luxury of Loving Pakistan, and as he then promised us, he’s back now with second part of this series.

A mere glance at this article will tell you how badly do we need guests like Hindol, for its people like him who can clear up this mist [of misunderstanding] that has existed between our two countries ever since 1947. Both India and Pakistan are entwined and therefore, have to live together, better live in friendship and peace than in a state of war with no war. So there is a need for a firm resolve on the governments both in India and Pakistan to solve the disputes through mutual negotiations. Europe did it already, so can we do too. [Nayyar]

As promised, since the last time I wrote this column, I have made one more trip to Pakistan. This time I smoked honey cigars in Lahore, shopped at the Islamabad's spectacular Saeed Book Bank, heard Abida Parveen sing and went down tunnels dug by the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in the Hindukush hills of Bajaur in the north-west frontier province of Pakistan.
As promised, I spoke to Noor Rahman who still promises to swing by Delhi.
As promised, here is the second of my two-part series on all the things I like (should I say love and face more hate mails?) about Pakistan.
A song, what else?
Someone in Pakistan told me that this is the ultimate song of the lonesome soul. This voice is that sublime thing, music that cleanses that tedium of the mundane. Zeb and Haniya's Paimana from their album “Chup” strings melodies from melancholia and seeks solace from the silent. When you listen to it, you will seek its meaning. Here's what the words, partly in Darri/Farsi and partly in Pashto, mean:
Part one, translated from Darri/Farsi: Paimana bideh ki khumaar astam;/ Man aashiq-e chashm-e mast-e-yarastam;/ Bideh, bideh, ki khumaar astam… (Bring me the glass so I may lose myself;/I am in love with my beloved's intoxicating eyes; Bring (the glass), bring (the glass), so I may lose myself…)
Part two, translated from Pushto: Dilgeer garzama labela taana;/Khabar me waakhla, raasha jaanana;/Khabar me waakhla, raasha jaanana;/Tarso ba garzay te bela mana?(You have captured my heart and I wander aimlessly without you;/My love come/return, and see the state I'm in;/My love come/return, and see the state I'm in;/How long will you wander without me?)
For all the Atif Aslams and Stings and Junoon, this song is Pakistan to me.
Saeed Book Bank in Islamabad
Add this bookstore to the list of India-Pakistan rivalry. A bookstore so big that it is actually called a bank. The book store to beat all bookstores in the subcontinent, I have found books I have never seen anywhere in India at the three-storeyed Saeed Book Bank in leafy Islamabad. The collection is diverse, unique and with a special focus on foreign policy and subcontinental politics (I wonder why?), this bookstore is far more satisfying than any of the magazine-laden monstrosities I seem to keep trotting into in India. This time I went in to buy one book on the Taliban and came out with nine, including a delightful hardbound collection of Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poetry.
The meat
Yes, that's right. The meat. There always, always seems to be meat in every meal, everywhere in Pakistan. Every where you go, everyone you know is eating meat. From India, with its profusion of vegetarian food, it seems like a glimpse of the other world. The bazaars of Lahore are full of meat of every type and form and shape and size and in Karachi, I have eaten some of the tastiest rolls ever. For a Bengali committed to his non-vegetarianism, this is paradise regained. Also, the quality of meat always seems better, fresher, fatter, more succulent, more seductive, and somehow more tantalizingly carnal in Pakistan. I have a curious relationship with meat in Pakistan. It always inevitably makes me ill but I cannot seem to stop eating it. From the halim to the paya to the nihari, it is always irresistible and sends shock shivers to the body unaccustomed to such rich food. How the Pakistanis eat such food day after day is an eternal mystery but truly you have not eaten well until you have eaten in Lahore!
The leather
Let me tell you that there is no better leather footwear than in Pakistan. I bought a pair of blue calf leather belt-ons from Karachi two years ago and I wear them almost everyday and not a dent or scratch! Not even the slightest tear. They are by far the best footwear I have ever bought and certainly the most comfortable. Indian leather is absolutely no match for the sheer quality and handcraftsmanship of Pakistani leather wear.
The roads
Yes. Yes, you read right. The roads. I used to live in Mumbai and now I live in Delhi and, yes, I think good roads are a great, mammoth, gargantuan luxury! Face it, when did you last see a good road in India? Like a really smooth road. Drivable, wide, nicely built and long, yawning, stretching so far that you want zip on till eternity and loosen the gears and let the car fly. A road without squeeze or bump or gaping holes that pop up like blood-dripping kitchen knives in Ramsay Brothers films. When did you last see such roads? Pakistan is full of such roads.
Driving on the motorway between Islamabad and Lahore, I thought of the Indian politician who ruled a notorious —, one could almost say viciously — potholed state and spoke of turning the roads so smooth that they would resemble the cheeks of Hema Malini. They remained as dented as the face of Frankenstein's monster. And here, in Pakistan, I was travelling on roads that — well, how can one now avoid this? — were as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks! Pakistani roads are broad and smooth and almost entirely, magically, pot hole free. How do they do it; this country that is ostensibly so far behind in economic growth compared to India? But they do and one of my most delightful experiences in Pakistan has been travelling on its fabulous roads. No wonder the country is littered with SUVs — Pakistan has the roads for such cars! Even in tiny Bajaur in the North West frontier province, hard hit by the Taliban, and a little more than a frontier post, the roads were smoother than many I know in India. Even Bajaur has a higher road density than India! If there is one thing we should learn from the Pakistanis, it is how to build roads. And oh, another thing, no one throws beer bottles or trash on the highways and motorways.
And oh, here's the best thing. Indian rupee is worth almost double the Pakistani rupee, so everything is at a 50 percent discount. Naturally, I love Pakistan!
Hindol Sengupta is Associate Editor, Bloomberg UTV
Source: The Hindu


1 comment:

  1. I think it is very important for journalists from India and Pakistan to bring out the positive aspects of each others' countries in this manner, so that balanced public opinion can be built.

    Thanks for publishing this here! :)



Custom Search