“Go straight, then take a left and then a right and again go straight and you will be around the Old Campus.”
I still remember the man explaining to me the location of the Old Campus of Punjab University from the Punjab Civil Secretariat. He is yapping in Punjabi.
The man is a bystander and I am new to the town, famous for giving ‘no-birth certificate to those who haven’t visit Lahore’.
I am in Lahore to pursue my higher education and a career.
“Where are you from? Are you new to the town?”
Without waiting for my reply, he goes on: “You need not worry (about anything). The Old Campus is near to here.”
As I move straight, he calls me again: “No worries.”
In the heck of ‘no worries’ pleasantries, I just draw a blank of the location of the Old Campus, which he explained to me a moment before.
On my way to the Old Campus, I have to take the help of two more people to find my destination.
“No worries, my prince,” says another man while asking me to take lefts, rights and straights to reach Old Campus. He gives me a different route.
“In fact, my Seraiki brother, this is the shortest way to reach Old Campus.”
“No worries,” he reminds me as I move to the direction he told me.
It was one and half decade ago.
– – –
Everyone who is new to Lahore notices the pleasantries exchange by the people.
These pleasantries surprise me.
The Seraiki belt where I’ve come from does not extend such warm, open banters to strangers.
There people would show extreme help and respect to a stranger but no banter.
In the beginning, it feels odd to be addressed as ‘pai jaan’ but after sometime you become a part of this ‘brotherhood’ chain, says my friend Mushtaq Badani, who now calls Lahore his first home, and his native town Alipur the second,
Other than ‘pai jaan’ you are addressed as ‘shazada (prince), padsha (king), and pehlwan (wrestler). The titles work as antidepressant and make you feel as superman.
The social diversity of the Lahore city is unique.
It embraces every new entrant and makes them feel at home, though it takes a little bit time.
Many a guest of mine often complain to me that the Lahori people are ‘loud’.
They talk loud. They laugh loud. They cough loud. They sneeze loud.
The only time they are not being loud are when they are not talking loud or eating something.
After a few days, either the guests become loud or they are used to the loudness.
“Loudness runs in the blood of Lahore people,” says Syed Hussain Abbas, a Lahori veteran for 30 years.
“Loudness and noise are signs of life, while silence rules graveyards.”
Other than loudness, the other thing frowned upon by immigrants is the eating habits of Lahore people.
In this part of world breakfast is a full meal; lunch is a full meal, and dinner is a full meal.
If you cannot stomach a heavy breakfast, it’s not a big deal. Start living in Lahore, and after sometime, you will find yourself struggling to get a nihari plate and a naan chapatti at a roadside kiosk early in the morning.
Talk loud and eat a lot.
This is what I noticed in Lahore one and half decade ago.
– – –
The good thing is that after so many years, Lahore has not left out its loudness.