LAHORE – THE SOUL OF PAKISTAN AND TALE OF PAKISTANI’S HOSPITALITY

When I made a plan to visit Pakistan, I hadn't initially intended to visit Lahore. I ache for mountains, forests, and valleys. My first dream place to visit was Islamabad. But as more as I researched about Pakistan, the more I got drawn to the beauty of Lahore and its startling places. So, I thought it would be a pity not to visit Lahore and its chaotic streets after all; who knows if I ever get a chance to revisit Pakistan?


Exploring Lahore with Ayesha was truly an exceptional experience.


Sparkling, cluttered, and busy! That’s what I felt putting my first feet on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. I was standing near Lahore museum which was an art itself. Even though I was outside, I can still feel the warmth, energy, and beauty of aesthetic sculptures from inside. My mind truly wanted to go inside, but the drained energy from a tiring flight stopped me, and I just stood there, waiting for my friend Ayesha. She said she would be here at 11 pm, but it was already 11:30, and I didn’t see a sight of her until I saw her waving at me from an old Mustang, which really felt like it came straight from a classic 80s movie. I waved back at her, on which she excitedly came out of her car and ran towards me. She was wearing a long traditional shalwar kameez with black shoes, and I must say, she was looking gorgeous. Ayesha welcomed me with a broad smile and a warm hug, which instantly gave me the first taste of Pakistanis hospitality and kindness.

Due to the busy and frantic ajaib ghar road, it was hard for me and Ayesha to cross the road all by us with two backpacks and one luggage when unexpectedly, one man offered to help. I still remember the loneliness, hard work, and solitude he had on his face. He carried my suitcase on his head while the other two behind his back. With him leading the way, Ayesha and I quickly crossed the ajaib ghar road and sat in the car. While leaving, I offered him some money, on which he replied, “Miss, we don’t take money from foreigners, you are our guest, and we are your host.”


That one actual moment flashed back so many memories of mine, but above all, it reminded me of the quote I read in 6th grade “True hospitality consists of giving the best of yourself to your guests” He gave me everything in that one minute, but in return he took nothing.


Lighten up your mood with an Interaction of Rose at signal


Before the heat dispirited my enthusiasm for visiting Lahore, we took off for Lawrence View Hotel. While traveling, our car stopped on a red signal where I came across a girl selling flowers. She had tied her hair in two braids, Dupatta in the middle of her neck, and had worn shalwar kameez.

I rolled down the window of the car and asked her, “How much for one?” on which she replied, “where are you from” I was quite astonished at how straightforwardly she asked me, but the innocence yet desperation on her face made me answer her question “I am from America, I came here to visit Lahore” she kept staring at me for a while, and said “your eyes are beautiful” I smiled and said “Thank you, you are beautiful too” The signal was about to go green, so she rushed to the corner of the road but before that she quickly gave me a rose for free of cost and said “A beautiful rose for a beautiful lady.”

That day still makes me smile, how that little rose bloomed a rose in my life in just a minute.


Get lost in the miraculous sight of Anarkali Bazar


Ayesha was a great person to talk to; whether it was about traveling or fashion, she had the reply for everything. We had an amazing conversation while driving when all of sudden Ayesha took a right turn to a busy street, and my jaw dropped. There were thousands of people wandering here and there. I have never seen such a crowd of people in one place. I was observing the entrance of the street when Ayesha told me, "its Anarkali Bazar, the most famous yet amazing Bazar to shop in."

I have been to many Bazars before but what makes Anarkali exceptional is its valid look and environment. It is a spot that catches the indigenous bazaar life of Lahore. A road merchant sells dates near a neighborhood mosque with a blue arch ("Neela Gumbad"). Ladies customers with plastic packs stop at a well-known café to appreciate some "Channa chaat." Or a beggar follows guests escaping vehicles as they advance toward the shops. It was one hell of a view I sighted while sitting in a car. The euphoria I felt was mind-blowing, and the intense sensation of buying "Jhumkas" (Earrings) from the street vendor or eating "Dahi bhala" from the nearby chaat shop took over me, but the pain in my feet was enough to hold my excitement inside myself. While making the last turn out of Anarkali Bazar, I unexpectedly moved my face out of the window and screamed, "I will be back, Anarkali Bazar."


Brunch to engrave your hunger


After an hour of a car ride, we finally reached the Lawrence View Hotel. I was already exhausted due to check in procedures when they finally allotted us the desired room; Ayesha helped me in settling my bags in the room. The room was huge; it was an amalgamation of sophisticated decor and homely comfort. Most of all, it had a wooden bed contrasting with an appealing wall and a red rug. It was spacious having majestic interior, safety locker, high definition smart curved led, a wide bathroom and an access to soothing Jacuzzi. I was looking forward to sleep in it after such a tiring flight and car ride.

Ayesha left the room, and while leaving, she waved me goodbye with placing a handwritten note on the door. I smiled at her gesture and went close to the door to get a good look at it. It said, “Have a great sleep because I have a surprise for you tomorrow morning that can make you tired” I Laughed and straightly went to grab my shawl. I was hungry, so I thought of fetching food before I sleep.

Instead of ordering room service, I went downstairs. The Lawrence View Hotel had already amazed me with the room, so I thought of viewing their customer’s services and dining area.

As I walked past the entrance of the dining area, my eyes wandered across the hallway. It was heavenly designed with white and black tiles contrasting with the brown furniture and red wallpaper. The floor had comfortable creaks, and above all, there was staff standing all over the area with a polite yet compassionate smile on their face. They truly implicated the art of service.

The soothing environment lessened the tiring feeling in my bones as I sat down on the chair. I ordered a club sandwich with mineral water, but one of the staff suggested me to try “Biryani,” The specialty of Pakistan food, which I happily accepted. The denim jeans, white t-shirt, and blue eyes were indeed a representation of me being a foreigner. Even though it had so many drawbacks but the best thing about it was, people were genuinely hospitable towards me.

The food finally arrived after the long wait, but as soon as I ate the first spoon of “Biryani,” the wait was worth it.


Unleash your patriotism with the trip to Wagah Border


With delicious food and comfy bed, I had a fantastic sleep, and I got up at 8:00 am with the knock at my door. I was expecting room service, but as soon as I opened the door, I saw Ayesha standing with "Naan and chane bathure" in her hand. I was astonished at how Ayesha is so punctual in following the schedule. Apparently, while we were in the car yesterday, I asked her to pick me up at 8 am, and there she was standing with food in her hand.

After breakfast and gossips, Ayesha and I left for the Wagah border. I didn’t have much idea of the Wagah border, but as Ayesha said, it was a surprise. I didn’t even ask her anything.

The trip from the Golden Temple to the Wagah Border was a carefully long hour. It is about 35km, and there were six of us pressing on the Rickshaw – one next to the driver, three at the secondary lounge, and 2 of us sitting at the rear of the Rickshaw. Ayesha suggested it would be an amazing experience if we take the Rickshaw instead of a car inside of the Wagah border.

Even though it was, but I was too tall to sit in a back seat. I consistently wind up, extending my neck. The rough ride also meant that I ended up practically falling now and then had to stick onto the seat frantically.

It didn't help that I was additionally in front of the searing sun, and numerous times local people would just stare at me like they have never observed a foreigner before.


And, it begins


After a long hour of standing in a queue, I was already feeling tired and drained. But as soon as I acknowledge, the individuals in Wagah border decked in bright sarees and conventional ensembles filled the pitch, and officers adorned with identifications and pins stood firm, guarding the renowned function. My mood lighted up. They guided us towards the traveler seats instead of locals.

Ayesha and I sat on these seats, which seemed to be like an hour until all of sudden the music blasted. Girls were gradually moving their bodies to the music, and when more ladies went along with them, they broke out into a lively dance. It was charging – ladies were moving, hollering, and transmitting their pride for the nation. Just ladies were permitted to join the gathering while men viewed from the stands with their cell phones and cameras up high.

After the females went back to their seats, some of the ladies were invited to hold the flag and run to the border gate and back. They bore the flag like it was a shield and ran like they were in a race. It was the most electrifying yet patriotic moment one can notice. Ayesha and I were enjoying each and every moment of it.

After an hour of stimulating performances, electrifying Wagah border parade, and cheering, the ceremony finally reached a conclusion with officers from each side standing off and shaking hands. I asked Ayesha about why they shake their hands at the end, to which she replied, "It symbolizes an image of the two nations' competition, fellowship, and collaboration.


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