Doodh Patti

Travel, Food and and Khaalis Doodh Patti Mind {and Lahore}

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:47 PM, , links to this post

Life on the G T Road

Travelling on Grand Trunk Road all my life, it captured my imagination as a cultural curiosity when I read Rudyard Kipling's Kim. At the beginning of the last century Kipling called it "a wonderful spectacle.... without crowding.... green-arched, shade-flecked ... a river of life." But Pakistan's National Highway Number 5 (N-5), alias the Grand Trunk Road, or simply the GT Road, presents a different impression now. Commuting up and down the GT Road are caravans of trucks, buses, cars, animals and animal transport also auto-rickshaws, all having equal right of the way. On the GT Road every bus, truck, and a car must pass the vehicle ahead. "The GT Road," a veteran traveller John Otto wrote says, "really belongs to the trucker." And he is right in a way.

So much has changed since Kipling's description of the GT Road, which he saw "brimming with all manner of travellers -- rich merchants with elephants and camels laden with merchandise, guarded by retainers. The aristocracy on colourful horses and elephants with gilded howdahs for the ladies, their silk drapes fluttering in the wind, the raggle taggle of the gypsies roaming from one village to the next in search of food and work." The old identities have steadily defused by the common objectives for prosperity and development. Since partition, the new social and economic objectives have been the major engines of change. The only thing that still remains on this strategic, economic and cultural artery of Pakistan is that it is "the river of life."
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:30 AM, , links to this post

Shahi Paratha Roll

Personally speaking, Paratha always takes me back to my youth when mom used to make warm and crispy paratha that would melt in my mouth (mouthwatering, isn’t it)? Alas, and then I grew up.
I still indulge whenever I get a chance. Best thing is that paratha is now available everywhere and many people, especially the youth, love to eat.

Paratha is basic part of the Pakistani and Indian recipes since old times and it has remained continuously in use. Simply put, paratha is nothing else than the fried Roti. Paratha is known for it’s crispy, sweet taste and mouth watering look. Paratha has got special appeal for people from the Subcontinent. Paratha has evolved in many types over time.

Shahi Paratha Roll offers delectable paratha in Dubai (S 20, Greece-L 15, International City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates). Their tasty and convenient, parathas have quickly gained popularity all over.

Craving for one? Try Shahi Paratha Roll paratha’s and I grantee that your taste buds would dance with joy.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:41 AM, , links to this post

Gujrat - claims to fame

While cities are dynamic centres of creativity, commerce and culture, these benefits are often undercut by environmental problems, lack of civic amenities, inefficient governance, and administration. Centuries old historic city Gujrat is a classic example where one can see all the hazards of urbanization’.

Commuter who prefer to drive on familiar and congested Grand Trunk Road rather than going on isolated Islamabad-Lahore Motorway pass through Gujrat city that has stretched from bridge on the River Chenab to the bridge on Bhimbar Flood Stream.

There are many tales about the remote origin of the place. As per one legend Gujrat was founded by daughter in law of famous Raja Rissalu. Like most historic cities it has been ruined and reconstructed many times in the era gone by. During the rule of Mughal King Akbar, it was called Akbarabad. The final battle between Sikhs and the British (under the command of Lord Gough) was fought here. In the centre of the town there are relics of Akbar’s Fort and a Bawli (bath house locally called Akbari Hamam) of the same period.

There is an airstrip in the suburbs of Gujrat from where fighter airplanes used to fly during World War II. Citizens learn driving on that disused strip these days. The people of Gujrat are motivated, ingenious, and industrious. These are outstanding characteristics of the people of Gujrat, which enable them not to be bogged down by status quo. During all Indo Pak wars, the people exhibited an exemplary courage and resilience. Nishan-e-Haider – highest gallantry military award - has been conferred upon many sons of the soils that are the testimony to the fact.

Gujrat is notable for ceramics, which brings to mind the fact that the town is the setting of the famous Panjabi romance about Sohni and Mahinwal. Folk lore has it that Sohni was a potter’s daughter who used to swim across the River to meet Mahinwal using a pot as a buoyancy aid. One night her jealous sister in law exchanged the pot for an unbaked one which dissolved in water.

On the other bank, Mahinwal, hearing Sohni’s wails of Sohni jupmed into the water but was unable to save her. Unable to face the prospect of life without her, he also let himself go and joined her in death. The folk lore has been composed in Punjabi poetry and is sung where ever Punjabi language is spoken.

Besides ceramics, Gujrat is also famous for furniture items. Special type of furniture of international quality is made and sold all over the country. What this internationally acclaimed craft of the town needs is an institutional patronization and extensive efforts for international marketing? It can be a potent source of earning foreign exchange if attention is paid to and earnest efforts are made in this regards. Sadly, the ineptitude of those responsible for export promotion do not see this and the unique potentials are not being taped yet. Similarly the fan and shoes industries are also the town’s claim to fame.

As Gujrat began to evolve into a more industrialized town, it started growing without any planning. The rapid rate of population growth and torrent of migration from countryside have strained the capacity of basic civic services. The population of Gujrat has mushroomed; unplanned abadis have sprung up around town, which has spread much beyond the defined municipal limits. Result: town is facing problems like none existing sanitation, contaminated water supplies, air and noise pollution, encroachments and congested streets. Even the new bypass around the town is packed with traffic and lined with shops and houses on both sides.

The buss terminal was shifted out of the town but the town has already grown past the terminal. The public property where in the past used to be Government Transport Service Terminal still stands deserted right on the Grand Trunk Road.

There is an acute shortage of houses and the real state prices are skyrocketing. Since land is essential for urban growth, devising equitable and efficient land development policies is one of the major challenges facing planners and policy makers in the town.

Without any proper arrangements, people deposit their waste in streets, where domestic animals are also living freely, or at any open space they find. The streets are completely littered with trash. The toxic smoke from the garbage put on fire and stinking smell coming out of waste in the streets are making the lives of people increasingly miserable.

Animal transport is probably the most pervasive and most correctable problem of Gujrat. The common means of transport in the town is sturdy and inexpensive tonga. It is Gujrat’s vehicle of convenience, which has come to symbolize the town. The tongas (and rehris) move very slow and can not keep pace with other traffic - hence cause traffic congestion on dilapidated roads where right of way has already been reduced due to excessive encroachments. The district headquarters is without any public transport system so tongas are doing good business.

Lots of young boys are also seen holding the reins of horses put before the tongas overloaded with passengers and goods. Accidents involving animals (untrained, wild, or afraid horses or unwilling donkeys) are the commonest scenes on roads of the town. Much more than tongas and rehris registered with Municipal Committee come from the suburbs to do the business in the town every day.

The units of fan industry are spread in the residential areas. The tarcole drums, electric wires, and old tyres are burnt in order to separate the iron from them in furnaces inside the residential areas that emit poisonous gases. Town traffic and heavy traffic plying on Grand Trunk Road also add to the air (and noise) pollution in this soot-choked town. These gases are very harmful for human health.

A short walk in the town reveals the neglect of all concerned. The town of saints, powerful political families, actors, and spirited people may be managed efficiently with a little attention and futuristic planning.

Stay tuned, more will come on Gujrat and University of Gujrat - new claim of the old city to international fame.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:55 PM, , links to this post

My Village

There are lessons in the first landscapes of every one's life. Mine was a vista of green paddy fields, smoking with Salt Range mist, against a setting of ribbon of River Jhelum which from distance looked like a shore of another land altogether. The rough, rugged hill range appeared uninviting against a sky withering with the morning, interrupted by the dawn's red and blue brush strokes. My first learning in life was also in the village.

In villages, people still live without assessable roads or other civic amenities of this modern age. No telephone or the Internet, even the electricity is the recent phenomenon; some are still without it. You see one village and you have seen all. This was the setting where I spent first twenty year of my life savoring the freedom of adulthood. It is where I decided what (and how) I wanted to do with life. It is where my mother, brothers and friends live. It is where I return whenever my active life allows me to. It is where I want to settle and spend my future.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:00 AM, , links to this post

Momo Khan ka Lahore

Momo Khan

Dipping into the night life in Lahore, one comes up with a wagging tail of delectable plus points which aghast us about the rapid change in the run-rate of advances. Holding uncontrollable desire for the oriental food, scrumptious spices and heavily cooked meals – come down to Lahore. A sprawling city with food variety galore, a city that never sleeps but eats day and night –rightly said “Lahore Lahore hay”. Lahore gives you handful of moments to be yourself and worries to take a backseat- though momentarily. Rightly said “jisny Lahore ne wakiha wo jamiya ne.”
Tickling the history hornet, Lahore is notoriously famous for its historic nature. Lahore is a cultural hub and ranks second amongst the advanced cities of Pakistan. Slew of Mughal emperors left their prints onto the minds of people - culture, traditions and tastes have been transmitted gracefully towards the next generations. People thrive on the sociability and fondness for the Arts, festivals, cuisines and theatres.

Lahore is part of our existence. Baring few, Lahore is the reason why some souls spread around their wings and link their laughers, tastes, likes, moods and interests to the Lahori lifestyle. Once I overheard a cook in Gawalmandi food street “we mix our lahori traditional style in the food we cook and people come over for it”. There is no different ingredient or technique to cook food here in Lahore, they just boost up the real taste of every cuisine for instance, “Biryani” is cooked using traditional spices, chicken chunks with colored layers of rice and served in a hot headed way. The fresh food, neat and clean environment filled with food lovers galore, sets the Lahore on fire as that’s how hunger pangs are tickled. I usually don’t over hear things but aa group of friends threw their conversation over my ears lately, “Mothers cook no less scrumptious food but it’s the food fondness, comfy & cushy ambience here in Lahore that people sneak out at night in a search of “Desi food”. I would second that thought as, my friend who is chubby and calls herself curvy (probably all fat girls call themselves curvy?) never flips a day without biting the famous “Bandu khan” Tikkas with Rogni naan and of course, diet cook, Ha!

Night life is Lahore is ironically growing over the past decade, gone are the days when Magrib prayer (7 /8 pm) time meant shutter down, life begins at night for the restless foodie souls of Lahore. Attribute of enormous fondness for food is embedded in every soul belonging to Lahore. Late night crawling on the streets and tasting wide variety being cooked in every nook and cranny are the traditions of the city. Having derived from the imperial kitchens of Mughal Empire the food is something to die for - “Nihari” “Pajey ke Paye” “Ghosht karahi”, “Lahori fried fish” and “Biryani” are the famous dishes served in the heart of Pakistan. It says eating late doubles the fat shield on your body but in Lahore it’s a different ball game as late night wakening and eating is every night routine.

Arrival of holy month of Ramadan brings along a reason to stay up till sehri time. Gawalmandi Food Street encompassing centuries-oldest building entertains its visitors till morning. Kashmiri-Persian architecture and the mix of fizz and flavor are endeared by the people of Lahore who drop by with families and group of friends. Along with Gawalmandi, Anarkali and Badshahi food streets are also the busiest. The staunch faith is enlightened into the hearts of people here, they begin to forbid the forbidden during the month of Ramadan – at least publically. Notoriously famous “heera mandi” for its business of selling love in musical style faces a decline and a shift in its gear. Far farm houses are set like a house on a fire during the night to endear the perky precocious elements of pleasure. “Nargis” and “Deedar” the dancers and performers are seen head covered and drooped down in prayers. The clubs and bars are not enough tempting and intoxicating during the holy period.

Every element of entertainment and refreshment pales in comparison in front of sheer delectable food variety in Lahore. Show goes on irrespective of the season, weather; mood and dispute with right ingredients at right time–Lahories live for food and hang out late night to celebrate the richness of being Lahori. Dynamics and equations of youth with living lifestyle have been changing at a faster run-rate. Fairly speaking, they tend to adopt westernized dress coats, girls getting hotter than the scorching heat of the sun and roam around late in merely jeans and tops. Although it’s yet to attain the flexibility from the parent’s section for allowing their children to stay out late, so most of them escape secretly?

Candle lit dinners, dancing in the rain, smoking or taking in Sheesha have all become part of night life in Lahore. Having freedom to adore the elements of life mustn’t be abhorred, right? Society has met a change, whether this change is drilled in through movies or not, people are at ease with accepting new ways of life. Parents, however, are creating hullabaloo on seeing dating spots at every nook and cranny as this does not belong to our culture.
Lahore remains the city of celebrations, hub of arts and culture, wide spreading message of love, staying up late during the Holy month of Ramadan and gulping down the scrumptious “Desi pakwan”, crawling on the streets and dancing in the rain. In the holy month of Ramadan the celebrations attain their peak, abiding faith sustains, group prayers and eating together are the attractions of life in Lahore. Famous slogan belongs to Lahore “Lahore, Lahore hay.”

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:15 PM, , links to this post

A Different Sort of City

Asad Badruddin

Most people will be surprised to know that urban planners can influence people’s socializing habits and their choice of friends and acquaintances within a city. They can plan cities in ways that can increase ethnic tensions and they can organize cities in a way that can help people live harmoniously.

People are social animals and human beings are inclined to meet and befriend people if the right conditions are present. And vice versa: if the correct obstacles are present (whether by design or by accident) we become less inclined to meet people. The latter can lead to dangerous cases of the ‘other’ and can strengthen existing biases of people. One example of this was in the 1970s and 1980s when low income housing and urban projects in American cities reinforced segregation because black communities would not be found in predominantly white neighbourhoods. In this essay I will highlight three things that are essential for cities to connect people: transport systems, parks and squares.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:30 AM, , links to this post

Nagar Valley

This article also appeared at BootsnAll

Sometimes we know a journey will be a grand adventure. The three-week expedition this winter with my botanist friends, who were to carry out some fieldwork, to enchanted northern Pakistan was surprising. My friends were to work in the dispersal areas surrounding the Nagar Valley and I was content with stumbling into a wonderful experience of seeing a new valley I had only read about.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:15 AM, , links to this post

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