Building that gives name to Lakshmi
Lakshmi Building may not be a monument but what makes it important and a national heritage are its years. Is it too late for the government to stop it from being demolished?
By Muhammad Imran
Punjab Government and Archeology Department appear too keen to preserve all the historical buildings and monuments in the city. In this context, Lakshmi Building has been in the news for some time. The owners of Lakshmi Building have sought permission from government to demolish the current structure and rebuild it on modern lines.
It should be noted that the Punjab government had declared it a special premise under Punjab Special Premises (preservation) Ordinance 1985. Conservationists are therefore justifiably worried over the current situation.
The building was bought by the Lakshmi Insurance Company in 1935. It remained under its use till the partition of subcontinent. After that it was used for political and social gatherings till 1956. Later it was used for commercial and residential purposes.
The offices of Evernew Pictures, Shabab Pictures and Oriental Films are also located in this building who are major makers and distributors of Pakistani films.
Subhan, the owner of the building, says: "This building is not a monument. It is important because it is located at an important place adjacent to Mcleod Road. The Lakshmi Insurance Company also constructed other such buildings; Lakshmi Mansion in Lahore and Lakshmi Building in Karachi. These buildings have been used for commercial purposes. Lakshmi Insurance Company was housed here and after partition it was used for business purposes till recently. Now we have decided to rebuild it on modern lines. It has never been used for residence".he claims.
"The building is in a very bad condition and is in dire need of being rebuilt. This is still to be planned. It is almost three feet below the road level and its verandah becomes a pond in rainy season. I do not acknowledge the criteria on which the Archaeology department declared it a special premise in a declaration 'Punjab Special Premises (preservation) Ordinance 1985'. There are almost hundred such places in Pakistan which require more government attention. In my point of view it is neither a monument, nor a cultural heritage and it should be treated as such," says Subhan.
Riaz Chaudhry, the owner of Oriental Films, who is doing business in this building for the last 27 years, says: "This building should be renovated, keeping the same design and structure. It is an important place for showbiz people. A number of films have been shot here because of the traditional outlook of this building. The latest movie pictured here was 'Yeh Wada Raha'. The people, who are living and doing business here shouldn't be thrown out like this. Besides us, Evernew Pictures and Shabab Pictures have been doing business since partition."
While the owner of Lakshmi Building, Subhan says there is no residence here, TNS learnt by visiting the building that 14 families lived here. Eleven of them have been forced out of the building either by payment or by threat. Only three families are still living here.
A resident of this building Qurban Ali says: "I have been living in this building since my birth, that is 1950." The court gave this building to the Custodian Department in a petition in 1957. I don't know in what way the owners have gotten this place. The office of Property Claims was established in this building after partition. We are poor; we haven't got any resources to compete with the owners. It's a historical building, the leaders of Pakistan movement used to gather here at the time of independence. The very chowk derives its name from the building. The government should give this building to the Archeology department and it should protect this national heritage."
"Lakshmi Building is a historical building with historical design. Years count and this is what makes a place important. If the Archeology department declared it among the Punjab special premises then it must be preserved. Everything should be dealt with according to law in this regard. It has old architectural design which is unique in its nature", says Kamil Khan Mumtaz, architect and conservationist.
"The Lakshmi building shouldn't be demolished, it should be protected at every cost to set a precedent that a building of national heritage is public property. It should not be destroyed for financial benefits. All members who participated in the several meetings held under the chairmanship of chief secretary Punjab, agree to preserve it," he adds.
Renowned conservationist Dr. Ajaz Anwar says: "This building remained the office of Muslim League after partition. If the government agrees to the proposal of self-pronounced owner, it will be dangerous for other such buildings. It will be a bad precedent. First of all it should be investigated as to who is the owner and on what terms he got this building. A committee should be established to look into the matter."
"This building holds unique importance because after the partition many buildings were constructed on its design. Destruction of the Lakshmi Building will raise new questions: If it is demolished, what will be the reason to call the adjacent chowk, Lakshmi chowk? This will destroy the whole history of this chowk and the building as well. It is a sensitive issue, it must be dealt with carefully. We can't deny history," adds Dr Ajaz.
We don't need no education
By Ali Sultan
This is A levels. My friend Usman and I have our Law exam in exactly seven days. Instead of hitting the books and cross examining each other with difficult questions about manslaughter and harassment, we wonder if we'll meet any cute girls in the examination centre and play a video game called Quake II every day.
After our law exams we never played Quake II again.
Another friend of mine watches every left hook, every bloody punch of the national boxing matches on national television in the run up to an Urdu exam.
He slept through half of it, claiming of exhaustion.
These are the stories about our generation that never liked going to school. Of cramming up notes and figures and hundred of dates that would never help in the real world. About the ingenious plots of missing classes, of cheating on tests and the things people watch or do, preparing for an exam which they might never do again.
Most teenagers, at some time in their lives, will openly defy the advice and authority of their parents and other authority figures.
Sarah was a quite law abiding student in her college but she does remember how her classmates would make the most serious faces and tell the most amazing stories of why they missed an assignment.
According to a poll, the foolproof 5 reasons of missing an assignment are: 5. I got engaged! 4. My dog ate my assignment 3. My printer got jammed 2. My computer crashed and of course the no.1 position goes to I got sick.
Getting sick on a school day must get its own international holiday. I remember my sister always passing out before an Urdu exam. One friend ate all the junk food he could find so he would get sick and miss a science quiz but sadly nothing happened and he had to take the quiz. Later he got so sick that he missed his own welcome party. We all have tried heating thermometers and putting onions in our armpits, but if anybody takes the Oscar home for sickness acting, it has to be my friend Zoya.
Zoya as a teenager was what one would call an ingenious prankster. So the day when Zoya either wanted to stay home or miss some test (she doesn't remember) she took a healthy concoction of tomatoes, yellow powder and water and mixed them up. Then she threw all this into the toilet and called her mother, telling her that she had been vomiting. She missed school.
We can hear everybody clapping.
This story my mother doesn't know. I hated mathematics as long as I can remember; I was horrible at it, simply did not get it and was always flunking. So in my O levels I had to take tuition classes for improving my math skills. For two months I struggled to grasp an inkling of mathematical equations, algebra and other formulae that sounded like gibberish to me. All I could think of was poetry and music in that class. So I took a chance. With the last month's fee for this math class, I brought the whole collection of the 'Doors' on tape.
As one could expect I did flunk my mathematics exam. But I probably learned more by listening to those tapes than all the years I studied mathematics.
Someone told me how a class of students averted their Islamiat exam twice by cutting off the power supply of the whole building.
I remember how the wind was blowing on my face, on my first road trip. All three of us, me and my two friends in our uniforms. Bunking college for a whole day. The trip was in order to go and meet some girl who was a high school sweetheart of one of the guys.
I don't remember the girl, but I do remember the notes of our laughter and how the car was full of smoke and how this all felt of sadness, of how we were growing up.
Being young, means that you should try everything, anything at least once.
The major reason for rebellion in teenagers is for them to find their place in the adult world, to find where they belong in the greater scheme of things. Like all children, teenagers cannot know the limits of their behaviour without first exploring the edges. We are not born with an innate sense of right and wrong; we learn the difference through trial and error as we mature.
So take that chance. Bunk a class. Ask the person in front of you to tell you the answer for question 7. Take a road trip. Read everything except your textbooks. Ask that girl out. Flunk an exam. Get your heart broken. Enjoy laughter. Pass notes around. Play a prank. Make friends.
Because all this is what education is really about.
• Drama Tukkay pe Tukka (fluke after fluke) at Alhamra Arts Council Hall 2 tonight at 7pm.
• A folk theatre from Bahawalpur will present the story of Heer Ranjha tonight at Alhamra Arts Council.
• Exhibition of Paintings by Khalid Mahmud at Ejaz Art Gallery till April 24.
• Interactive Theatre Panj Pani Festival at Alhamra Arts Council
till April 23.
• Drama and music festival at Alhamra Arts Council The Mall till
• Today is the last day of 'Pakistan Information Technology Exhibition' at Expo Centre Lahore.
• AFL calligraphy exhibition at Alliance Francaise de Lahore from Saturday April 28 to May 12.
• Grand Ghazal Night at Peruz Cafe tonight at 8pm. Ticket Rs 2000.
• Comedy drama 'Toteya Mun Moteya' at Alhamra Arts Council Hall 2 on Tuesday, April 24 to May 1.
A proud presentation
This year ICAS, the International Campus for Advanced Studies, presented Lion King as its annual play. The invitation card with a baby lion on all fours and a naughty little tail standing up in the air, was just a prelude to what was about to come.
Think of the title Lion King and the level of interest is already saturated. The 1994 Disney hit animated film has done tens of replays in every household, and there is nothing new to discover after all. It is an oft heard story of ambition and betrayal and of the cycle of life where an ousted heir returns to claim his throne. And then there is this common belief that most of the extra curricular events hosted by private schools are nothing more than publicity stunts.
The skeptic, as it turned out, was in for a mega surprise. "ICAS plays are generally very colourful," said Shahid Jalal, a painter and an artist who was there as a special guest. "I was invited because they know I have a love for the theatre."
Why a professional artist and theatre lover would be there to attend a school play was clear in a few minutes when The Lion King opened in all its glory. It was one of those vibrant, colourful visuals that take you by surprise and you are on your toes without thinking; clapping, and applauding the artistry that has so cleverly contrived that effect on you. It was the magical Pride land where Mufasa's kingdom rejoices in the birth of Simba. With the joyous beat of the music, the colourful animals swarmed on stage from all sides. There were ostriches, elephants, giraffes, the feline pride, the deer and many more. Sitting in the audience one's heart filled with an unexplainable pride, for those little children who walked on stage as if they owned it and why not? They knew they were there to win.
The director of the play for ICAS, Mashal Peerzada is one of the Rafi Peer clan. More than anything else, the play was a triumph of the puppetry craftsmanship and its manipulation on stage. For an unbiased audience the set and costumes by Shahzad Tufazzal and the choreography by Raza rightly declared them the men of the show. The detached heads of the hyena costumes, the depiction of the thronging deer and above all the stampede, were the best scenes of the play. The pride of Nala, Simba's childhood friend, had lion head gears with cat eyes that shone with a real eerie sparkle across the hall.
As for acting, there was not a single character that did not make its mark. Aaron Abbir Edgar as Simba was a delight to watch and most convincing after the stampede where he sobbed at the death of his father. The ever popular meerkat Timon played by Arbaz Ghani and a soft-hearted warthog Pumbaa played by Sumd Raheem, provided comic relief and a welcome dose of Hakuna Matata. Old Rafiki was played by Mirza Abdul Wasay and he was the best of the actors. Although he looked more like a Red Indian than a baboon,.yet his acting and body language made up for his misleading costume.
The only thing missing from the play was a choir and live singing, but even that was taken care of, as most of the background songs were recorded by the young actors themselves. All in all, the play was was a reflection of a vision to promote performing arts and do it the right way. So if there is a theatre lover there in a position to make things happen, a little suggestion from a supporter of the indigenous cause is to take up stories from our own culture and give them the same magic touch. If Africans can perform Lion King with a local cast may be we can perform the Lion King in Urdu. Or may be we can promote home-grown drama and show the world that we can do more than Heer Ranjha and Anarkali. The ICAS Lion King was taken to the youth festival. Such platforms sure could be excellent opportunities for local drama to thrive and make a mark for itself.
(The writer is a faculty member)
Women can now adorn themselves with gold without burdening their pockets
By Farooq Khattak
The wedding season in Lahore is in full bloom. This season, imitation gold jewellery has replaced real gold and the women of Lahore have given a new style to imitation gold jewellery in the wake of rising social demand to look their best in gatherings, particularly wedding ceremonies.
Not everyone can fulfill the demand of the weddings, spread on several days. Women have opted for imitation gold jewellery with modern designs, gold plated and embedded with real jewels like rubies, garnets, topaz, sapphires, aquamarines, pearls and lapis lazuli beads.
In the backdrop of ongoing wedding season in Lahore before the start of summer, rush on goldsmiths and jewellers' outlets in almost all parts of Lahore is increasing with demands for better bargains and merchandise. Answering to these calls, scores of jewellery outlets have opened up in the alleys of famous Liberty Market, Icchra Bazaar, Sooha Bazaar in the heart of the city and places like Township and Model Town Link Road markets. The famous goldsmiths and jewellers of the city have also started offering gold plated jewellery.
Talking to TNS, Ahmed working behind the counter of a small shop with just space enough for him to stand, said, "We get a rush of girls and young women who demand new designs in gold plated imitation jewellery all day long, without a break."
He showed this scribe samples of jewellery of Rajhistani, Cholistani, Sindhi and antique designs embedded with beads and precious and semi-precious stones. "Customers prefer to buy ornaments that look heavy but are not weighty, so we offer gold-plated designs that give a weighty look but are actually light."
Proprietor of a famous jewellery shop at The Mall also gets orders for imitation jewellery for wedding ceremonies from those who don't want to spend much but have new set of ornaments for every occasion.
Prudent and well versed in society's ways, women usually order silver ornaments and then have these gold plated. A real deal, it is economical too.
A shopper for imitation jewellery, Hina Jamil, at a big departmental store in Model Town, said: "Newest designs of jewellery adorned by actresses in an all-time favourite Indian soap opera on cable TV channel have actually prompted us to look for new designs here. It is impossible to afford a new set of real gold ornaments for every occasion and one does not want to look old-fashioned wearing same old jewellery every time."
Her companion, Afshan Omar, said wearing artificial jewellery has twofold benefits for women. "The first is that it is cheap and second, it saves us from the fear of losing."
However, proprietors of some outlets dealing in imitation jewellery in Liberty Market told TNS that these ornaments now cost much more than in the past, owing to their huge demand. What one could have bought for Rs 500 now costs thousands. Tony, owner of a small shop there, said the rates are going up because artisans have to work harder on creating perfect replicas of the genuine stuff which is labour intensive. "There has been unprecedented increase in the price of gold itself so gold plating is not as cheap as people might think."
The ever-increasing gold prices cannot keep women from wearing jewellery. You still find them adorned in beautiful ornaments which don't look cheap anyway.
RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'SQUESTION
Top 10 Socialites
1. Nina & Nadia Akbar
2. Amna & Salman Taseer
3. Zainab Khar
4. Misha Pervez
5. Tony (Navaid Rasheed)
7. Nickie & Nina
8. Farhad Humayun & wifey
9. Mian Salli (alias Uncle Joe)
10. Amir Mazhar
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