Monday, March 10, 2014
In nearly seven decades of the country’s existence, the painter of the ‘Photography Prohibited’ sign has never known poor business. Though the powers-that-be keep the identity of this person a tantalisingly guarded secret, his artwork adorns every bridge, culvert, railway station, airport, dam, power grid and rubbish dump around the land. For his meritorious and assiduous service to the country he must have received the highest awards from the government.Read more »
Running the Achieves
Sunday, March 9, 2014
The staff was helpful in that they got me a cup of extra-sweet tepid tea while I looked through the catalogue. I asked for some documents going back to the 1840s. More tea was ordered as the peons hurried around with exaggerated displays of activity. This was the procedure with each insistence of seeing anything beyond the catalogue. After my fifth or so demand to see the material, the Chief Moron of the Punjab Archives invited me to his desk.Read more »
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Brits had a strange way of naming things in official jargon. For example, in the army, we had an Officer’s Office Chair which was inventoried as Chair, Officer’s Office. That is, last name, comma, first name. Just as David Atkinson is Atkinson, David.
Years ago, in those beautiful days when Pakistan Railways ran its cocksure way proudly across the length and breadth of the country, I rode trains just for the fun and adventure of it. Of course, there had been an earlier period in the Seventies when I rode trains out of necessity. There was hardly a working line in the 1980s that I did not travel on and scarcely a rest house or railway station waiting room where I had not tarried – even if there was no need to tarry.Read more »
Friday, March 7, 2014
Related: Review - Deosai Land of the Giant, BBC Podcast Urdu
Chinky and Pinky in Lahore
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Though I did not attend the Literacy Fair (as I insist on calling these shows), I did meet the good Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Nishtha (whose last name I never asked) together with their colleague Tasungtetla, nicknamed Atet. Together with our one and only Ahmad Rafay Alam, they came to dinner on Sunday, 23 February.
Now, Nishtha is slightly built while Atet is a big girl, tall and large-boned. Nishtha’s grandparents were from Lahore and Atet is a native of Nagaland in the far northeast of India. And if you don’t know that, that is what makes the Indian subcontinent the most interesting part of the world: Nagaland is just another country whose people are a beautiful mixture of Chinese and Indo-Aryan blood. Naturally enough Atet has a button nose, high cheek bones and somewhat chinky eyes.
We talked of everything under the sky and at some point the Lahori sense of humour was mentioned. The girls had a beautiful story to tell. This particular day, Nishtha was dressed in pink and the two were walking from Liberty Market to the terminus of the Lahore-Delhi bus only a few steps away when they saw this young man walking towards them.Read more »
History of Jhelum - II
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Shandar Chowk ( 01-03-2014) by Kay2TV
A simple man and a confirmed bachelor, Waite had served as the chief of police in Jhelum besides several other districts and had fallen in love with the Salt Range. After retirement though he lived largely in Kalabagh, he spent a great deal of time in these parts where he became a legend. Men in their forties remember receiving gifts of toys from him as young boys. Others recall his giving away a bicycle to a man who in the course of a conversation had said that his son walked ten kilometres to school and back daily. There is also the story of Waite lending some money to an acquaintance who failed to return it as promised. Until the day he died, Waite steadfastly refused to see his debtor again, even turning his face away when driving past the man’s village.
An eccentric and a misogynist to the soles of his boots, Waite is reputed to have never entered a rest house if a lady was known to be present – even when he might have arrived after a long journey at a late hour. It is also said that at the beginning of every winter he gave all three of his servants either overcoats or achkans according to their preferences. And that one time he even gifted a block of land to one servant to build his house. Upon inspecting the newly constructed house Waite found that the only thing lacking was the traditional wall-mounted crockery rack and gave an additional sum for that fixture as well.Read more »