The food we
Carving new roles
Who would have thought of girls doing caddies' job but they are, and doing it well
By Bushra Sultana
Over the past decade, women have entered the public sphere rapidly. From working at fast food restaurants to becoming traffic wardens and airforce pilots, Pakistani women are finally coming a full circle. Long past are days of stereotypical professions, such as medicine or education, deemed 'proper' for females. Women are now standing up, demanding to be noticed as equals.
One such area which has remained an unchartered territory for women is golf. Not the sport, which has seen its share of privileged women indulging in it for recreational purposes, but the support staff for the players – the caddies.
For the past three years, two women have been working as golf caddies at Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, Lahore -- Ana James and Zebunnisa, two friends who joined the golf club together. They had little knowledge of golf when they started working. "We used to work together at a pharmaceutical company before we applied here", Ana, 23, says with a smile on her face. "We were taught the basics of the game for the first six months." The two friends praise their coach Siraj Khan for helping them every step of the way.
Rising inflation is one reason which has led more women to shed their traditional roles and join the workforce. Ana and Zebunnisa have both studied till Matriculation but then had to start working because of financial reasons. "The club members have offered to pay for our education many times," Zebunnisa says, "but we are not in that frame of mind anymore."
Assisting golfers through 18 and sometimes 36 holes of golf fields is not an easy task. It requires physical stamina and emotional strength. "At first the work seemed very hard and we thought about leaving," Zebunnisa says, "but then we got used to it".
With the management's eagerness to recruit more female caddies, Zebunnisa and Ana recommended another woman for the job. The woman did not last long since the work was too hard. The two friends, however, not only got used to the environment, they also fell in love with the game so much that they started playing it after their work hours. Their dream is to play in a golf tournament some day.
Speaking of the members' reaction, the girls said that initially the members were reluctant to take them on as their caddies. Since golf is a game of "tension and pleasure" according to Col Khalid, director of golf and recreation at Royal Palm, the men felt their natural expression was hampered as they could not freely express their emotions. It did not take them long, however, to get used to having the girls around. "Now we are considered one of the boys", Ana laughs.
Talking to TNS, Lt. Col (Retd) Jameel Khalid emphasised that it was a conscious decision on part of the management to hire female caddies. "We are still encouraging females to apply for the job as we have seven to eight positions open." The primary reason for this shift in policy, according to him, is that, just like men who feel uncomfortable with women caddies, there are some women players who prefer to be assisted by female caddies.
Class discrimination and rural-urban cultural divide is prevalent in Pakistan. Even within urban settings, the cultural gap is fairly large. Hailing from Shahdara, a conservative area on the outskirts of Lahore, the two friends found commuting via public transport uncomfortable. "This is a completely different world", muses Ana, "people here do not judge us. They don't care about what we wear or do. But the people on the outside judge us a lot". So the girls decided to be proactive about their impediment and took the initiative to buy a motorbike by pooling in money. Ana's brother taught her how to ride the bike. Proud of their independence, Ana says, "Travelling is not a problem for us anymore. We come to work together every day. And on our off days, we go roaming around the city for sightseeing or shopping."
The touch of rain
By Madiha Mujahid
Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
-- Langston Hughes
I love my city. I always have. All my memories are linked to this place… the happy, carefree and giddy days of my childhood, the more turbulent ones of my teenage years, and the recent ups and downs of my life; all my joys and triumphs, all my troubles and failings are intricately woven together against the backdrop of this city.
I love how good an icy lemonade feels on a hot summer day, how you can see your breath misting up the air on particularly chilly winter mornings, the way the wind blows into your face when the sky is clear and you feel this sheer unbridled freedom coursing through your veins, enabling you to feel like you can spread your wings and fly towards the sky, the way the streets are a jumble of cars, cycles and all kinds of vehicles, the colourful carts of vendors hawking their fares on the street sides, the many sumptuous delicacies that taste so good, the call of the muezzin that rings out five times a day to call the faithful to prayer no matter which part of the city you might be in.
These are the things that are familiar to me; that define my home, my existence, my life.
What I love most about Lahore is the feel of the city when it is about to rain; be it the gushing deluges of the monsoons, the pleasant drizzles during springtime or the frosty downpours in the winters; the city is at its best when the clouds roll in. And as the clouds build up, so does the feeling of anticipation in the air; the volatile charge that sparks countless imaginations and minds; the certainty that something special is about to happen.
The rain falls and as it does it washes away the dirt from the city, the unhappiness that clings to so many people, the sighs of a million broken dreams and unrealized hopes, the daily woes and tensions of the citizens.
When it rains, it is time to rejoice, to marvel at the wonderment of God's many miracles, to give in to the child within you… to splash through the puddles, and to play in the rain, to revel in the wonderful feeling of the raindrops falling upon your face and your fingertips.
Life will always continue to be grueling and at times it will be a hard taskmaster, but at the same time, through these simple pleasures we are given hope too, the promise of a better tomorrow and the will to carry on living and making the most of our capabilities and opportunities. The rain reaffirms our belief in God's benevolence; the certainty that our life and our destiny will always be guided by a higher force; that problems are transitory and that they too can be as easily swept away as the rain washes away the grime from everything that it comes in contact with.
I love it when it rains because it represents a symbolic cleansing of the city and its many inhabitants; offering them a chance to dream again, hope again, to escape from the daily grind and to leave behind for a little while their troubles and worries. It is in the most fundamental sense, a celebration of life; as evidenced through the hordes of laughing children playing in the streets, the transiently glimpsed joyous smiles on the otherwise weary faces, the smell of frying pakoras and samosas, the feeling of jubilation pervasive in the air.
At no other time does Lahore come as fully alive as it does so on such occasions, and in those precious moments, all that is required is rejoicing in the present; putting the past to rest and hoping that the future holds the promise of much more happiness, joy and contentment.
Though I may not always live here, no matter which corner of the world I am in, a little piece of Lahore shall always reside in my heart; and whenever it rains, I shall always be reminded of my home; which is transformed into a magical place when the heavens open up and a part of the skies descend to the earth.
• Lahore's 4th
Weekend cycle ride today from Zakir Tikka, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantt at10am.
• Play: Tom, Dick and Harry, a play by Shah Sharabeel at Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall from 8:30pm to 10:30pm daily till April 12.
• Panjabi Sangat every Friday
at Najam Hussain Sayed's (Punjabi poet, playwright, critic) house,
where Punjabi classical poetry is read, interpreted and sung. The sangat has been going on for the last 30-40 years.
Any person who chooses to visit the Sangat can freely and actively participate in the above mentioned activities. Time: 7pm.
One of the oldest buildings in Lahore
The mausoleum of the saint that stands intact in Qila Gujjar Singh, is an example of late Lodhi and early Mughal architectural work at its best
By Haroon Khalid
Standing on the Qila Gujjar Singh Chowk, if one is to take the first left, a few buildings away, one would come across an entrance leading into a small mausoleum. This is the tomb of Hazrat Sheikh Musa Lohar. It is a square building with a small green dome on the top. On the border of the dome is intricate art work. A modern mosque accompanies the tomb. At the back of the tomb are graves of the saint’s devotees.
What makes the tomb stand out for me is the art work that is found on the ceiling of the dome. From the outside the tomb doesn’t catch the eye but what lies inside is in sharp contrast with the exterior. The ceiling is adorned with an octagonal star. The basic colours used are yellow, red and blue, creating a somber environment. In between two sides are circles, which include further rounds and are intensively complicated. The complete building is embellished with niches, and mehrabs. Honey-comb like pattern is covering most of the niches. The building is a genuine example of late Lodhi and early Mughal architectural work at its best. On the exterior wall, various incidents from the life of the saint, and personalities associated with the construction of the building, are mentioned.
Hazrat Sheikh Musa Lohar belongs to the era of the end of the Lodhi Sultanate and the beginning of the Mughal Empire. As is obvious from his name, he was a black-smith. During his early years, he became a follower of saint Sheikh Shehr-Ullah bin Sheikh Yusuf, who was a successor of Bahawal Haq Multani. However, after his death, Musa Lohar decided to look for a new spiritual teacher. This time he chose Abdul Jalil Chudh Bandagi, whose tomb is just a few streets from here. Like the tomb of his follower, his tomb also would have been rich in artistic and architectural splendour, however forlornly, a contemporary devotee of the saint, out of his magnanimity, has razed the original building and has constructed a modern building in its place.
Chudh Bandagi was a famous saint of his time, because of which he had some property at his disposal. From his lot, he allotted three acres to Musa Lohar, so that the latter could cultivate this land, and sustain himself. He also made a residence for himself on this piece of land, and it is on this very spot that today his tomb stands. At that time the basti that was populated here was called Kot Karod; Kot meaning Fort in Punjabi. Now this locality is called Qila Gujjar Singh, on the McLeod Road.
On one of the walls of the tomb, the following incident from the life of the saint is recorded in Urdu. “Once a beautiful woman came to him to get something. He, instead of giving to the lady what she wanted, kept on staring at her for a long time. The woman was offended and rebuked the saint for having transgressed his boundaries. Musa Lohar in reply picked up a hot burning rod and said that if he had been staring at her then let God burn his eyes with these rods. Having said this he placed the rods on his eyes. Instead of inflicting him any injury the rod turned into gold. He then explained to the lady that he was not staring at her but at the beauty of God’s work. This way Musa Lohar was able to win the heart of the woman, who accepted Islam. The lady repudiated everything and served the saint for as long as he lived. She is still resting near the body of the sufi. Her grave is an underground room, just behind the tomb of Musa Lohar.
Great historians from the 16th Century like Abul Fazl, the court historian of Akbar and Nazamuddin Ahmad give the years 1557-8 as his death. Outside his tomb, there is a plaque, placed there by a man called Meer Hashmi who happened to be a minister during the tenures of father and son, Humayun and Akbar. In those times, it was a common practice to inscribe elegies on the tomb and to engrave the year of death on it. His year of death is recorded to be 962 AH, which comes out to be 1555. The poem inscribed on the building says it was completed in the year 1558. It is cited by Maulvi Noor Ahmad Chishti that Akbar’s mother bore the expenses of the building.
This small tomb in the heart of Lahore is not at par with the famous tombs of Data Darbar and Mian Mir but an extremely important aspect of the tomb is that it is a standing testimony of the architectural and artistic trends of the late Lodhi Sultanate and early Mughal era in Lahore. It is one of the few edifices that have managed to survive for such a long time. It could easily be called one of the oldest buildings in the environs of Lahore. It is this aspect of the building that makes it so very special to Lahore and all of its inhabitants.
Spray of harmful pesticides on fruits and vegetables calls for making the authorised products affordable for farmers
By Sajid Bashir
Excessive and unchecked use of pesticides on fruits and vegetables is causing an alarming increase in the diseases of liver, kidney and nervous system in the country.
The pesticides used generally for killing insects in vegetables and fruits, are very harmful for humans because they contain dangerous chemicals.
World over pesticides are used in prescribed quantities on fruits and vegetables.
Unfortunately, farmers here do not know the importance of judicious use of pesticides. The growers and agriculturists need guidance to check indiscriminate use of pesticides. As a result their harmful effects are showing in human beings in the shape of various diseases, say officials of the Pest Warning and Quality Control of Pesticides Punjab (PWQCP).
They say the recommended authorised pesticides for fruits and vegetables are Endosulfon, Organo Phosphate, Synthetic Pyrethroids and Carbamates which can only be used in prescribed quantities according to the area under spray for producing desired results.
These officials expressed concerns that the official standards are openly violated in Pakistan’s market where uneducated farmers do not follow the prescribed procedures which result in damages to human health. What is more alarming is sale of fake and substandard pesticides being sold openly in the market which are playing havoc with public health.
Officials of PWQCP told TNS that it has launched a campaign against adulteration of pesticides in the whole province. They conduct surveys and take samples of pesticides for laboratory check. If the laboratory reports prove that these pesticides are not pure and are not made from pure chemicals then they confiscate all the stock present in the market and seal the shops. The officials told TNS that generally those involved in selling adulterated and illegal pesticides are not license holders.
A farmer, Atta Ullah said that the recommended pesticides available in market are very costly and still many of them are contaminated. Most of the farmers, he said, are poor and have no option but to buy cheap
pesticides like Limdasae and Sypher Methreen.
He said, “Quantity of poison in these cheap pesticides are very high, that’s why they are very effective.” There are other problems as well. “Insects have been a major cause of low production of fruits and vegetables every year but these pesticides help increase the production.”
Dr. Shafiq, a kidney specialist says that the effects of dangerous pesticides are devastating on human health because they are poison. “These pesticides are nephrotoxic which is a major cause of most of the kidney and stomach diseases. They are also responsible for problems of the intestines to a large extent like gastro-enteritis, diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery,” the doctor goes on to say.
“Most commonly”, he says, “the excessive and unauthorised use of pesticides is causing ulcer of the intestines. Every year a large number of people die because of serious abdominal complications caused as a result of the use of these pesticides. Except for limiting the use of pesticides, there is no other method that helps people escape from their harmful effects.”
Dr Syed Shahid Ali, a pesticides specialist, while talking to TNS, said that indiscriminate use of fake and substandard pesticides is playing havoc with our lives. Farmers use these pesticides in large quantities for larger profits at the cost of public heatlh.
He said that even washing of fruits and vegetables cannot remove the dangerous effects of pesticides and the amount of deadly chemicals still remains within them.
Dr Shahid said the effects of authorised pesticides on fruits and vegetables generally last for one or two days after which the dangerous effects vanish while illegal and fake pesticides carry high amounts of dangerous poisons which set deep inside the peel of fruits and vegetables, and eventually go into human body. Sajidthenews@gmail.com