By Mahwish Qadeer
Lahore International Book fair is being organised in Lahore for the past 25 years. This year the event opened at Expo Centre Johar Town Lahore from 7th April and will continue till 11th.
Remembering the royal graces and monarch-like demeanour of Lalu the tiger at Lahore Safari
By Rizwan Mehboob
Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined the devastation and agony that I would be living through in writing the obituary of my dear friend from Sunderban, Lalu – the lame Royal Bengal Tiger of Lahore Safari Park. Though lame by birth, Lalu, much like his illustrious historical counterpart, Taimur the lame, never allowed his infirmity of be ever taken for a free ride. Any instances of infringement to his royal decorum by his own species or safari visitors were swiftly and ferociously dealt with. Bleeding wounds in fellow tigers or tattered tyres in rowdy visitor’s vehicles were the typical outcomes that were liberally meted out as retribution for any untoward liberties with Lalu.
Lalu was brought to Lahore Zoo Safari around 2006 as a full grown tiger and since then had been paired with a number of tigresses. However, the only time he produced a progeny was with a tigress named Rozee acclaimed to be the finest and comeliest specimen of her species, ever brought to a zoo in Punjab. As a matter of fact, Rozee was the main cause for a string of blood curdling fights that involved Lalu and a few other tigers who shared the bushes of tiger safari with him in recent years. Lalu was a great believer in wisdom of nipping the evil in the bud. It was therefore no wonder that after an initial fight or two, each new male inmate of tiger safari thought it prudent to stay clear of harm’s way by leaving Rozee to Lalu.
My acquaintance with Lalu spanned several years during which my relationship with Lahore Zoo Safari and Lalu underwent major transformations. From an avid and common visitor to Safari Zoo, begging mercy of gatekeepers for an ever closer access to wild animals, to the privileged status of a senior functionary in Wild Life department hierarchy, I had seen Lalu in all possible moods and dispositions. However, what remained unchanged all through these years were the royal graces and monarch-like demeanour with which Lalu carried himself through good and bad times.
To be sure, like many other wild animals living in our zoos and safaris, bad times were actually far too many for Lalu. From vicious behaviour of visitors or not so uncommon apathy of animal keepers to the less than ideal living conditions in captivity, Lalu shared the usual plight faced by most of inmates of our zoos and safari parks. At times, shenanigans of finance department mandarins who had the audacity to apply economy cuts to a few million rupees worth feed charges of parakeets, hippos, big cats and other zoo animals on the same pedestal as hundreds of millions belonging to highways or building contractors, saw substantial reduction in 12 kg beef ration daily supply for Lalu. However, unlike many other captive animals, Lalu took these privations in a graceful manner, allowing fellow tigers a greater share of feed, displaying a noble restraint, fit for sovereigns. While taking away some steel muscles from his body, these acts of royal restraint only added to the stature of Lalu as rightful king of the Safari in the eyes of all and sundry.
Last winter season started ominously for Lalu as his favourite empress – Rozee, the tigress – had to be shifted to another zoo as part of a regular system of animal exchange, meant for discouraging inbreeding. Her place had been taken by ‘Poonam’ who was one of the most temperamental animals ever to be introduced in Safari. Poonam lost no time in pairing with another white tiger that Lalu had kept at bay during last several seasons. Emboldened by winning the new queen, the white Albino tiger – a huge animal of monumental proportions started challenging the suzerainty of Lalu every now and then. Like all twilight monarchs, Lalu could see the sun setting on the kingdom he had won through his blood and perpetual struggle over the years. Knowing by instinct the iron-cast inscriptions of law of jungle regarding kingship, Lalu braced for the epic fight that all of his predecessors had been through annals of evolution saga.
The end came early than Lalu might have expected. With closing of tiger mating season towards end of winter, everybody thought that Lalu had got a lease of life till next winter. But as much to Lalu’s bad luck as to the disbelief of many of his admirers, Poonam, the tigress sped him through his ruin. One late evening, when tigers usually start retiring to their night confines, Poonam unexpectedly came intimately closer to Lalu. That was like showing red rag to the white albino tiger who lost no time in pouncing upon Lalu. Even with his aging energies, Lalu did not go down without fighting as was clear from uprooted bushes and huge splinters of tree barks that were scattered all over the place. But what was remarkable was the fact that Lalu did not utter the slightest noise or sound, confining his great pains to his large heart. By dying a graceful death in some secluded bushes around midnight, Lalu proved his title as a "large-hearted gentleman" ascribed to tigers by legendry Jim Corbett during last century.
Next morning, safari keepers saw Lalu, who lorded the safari for several years, dead with fatal wounds to his neck and vertebrae. With a length of eight feet and five inches from head to tail and standing an impressive 3.5 feet high, Lalu was a great specimen of his specie. The displaced beast from Sunderbans had finally reached the happy hunting grounds to be united some day with his favourite queen, Rozee, the tigress. As to the Safari, it has got another royal coronation as a huge albino tiger roared his victory song alongside Poonam, the devious tigress.
Lure of an aged book
By Ammara Ahmad
Old books have a charm of their own. As a child, I had an aversion to them and to the old, dark and dingy Anarkali streets my father went to, to buy them.
I knew lots of girls in my class who read glossy, new books. But, somehow, that’s just not the same experience! Once you hold a seasoned, colourful childrens’ classic with pictures of goblins, rabbits and witches drawn inside you are bound to examine it. Initially, the previous owners’ names caused disapproval and envy, but eventually this became a fascinating part of the experience. Some Paul, John or Jamila once prowled the book now so lovingly possessed by you. You are part of a ‘tradition’ of sorts, now, a living linkage where ‘owners’ own and are owned by the book it’s rather like buying an old manor house, or farmhouse, with a history of long previous ownership which nominates you to a select fellowship. Sometimes these books would carry letters, chits or phone numbers, too, which would add new mystery and allure.
Slowly, as I fell under the enchantment of these old books, I grew uninterested in new ones. New pages lack a past and character, coupled by the fact that new books are incredibly expensive in Pakistan – hence second hand books are always in demand. Every imported book eventually reaches this market, though the price varies by the locality where it is sold. These shops contain newer editions as well. And then additionally of course, there is a huge market of pirated books in Lahore, the pace and effectiveness of which never seize to surprise one. Opposite Hafeez Centre, there are some half a dozen old book shops offering a wide array of old and pirated books at reasonable prices.
Books on the Anarkali footpaths (very few left now) cost between Rs. 5 to 10 and those in up-town old book shops would be ten times more expensive. So many of my Sundays were spent on these footpaths with my father. The Lahori old book markets cannot match the variety abroad, say in the USA. Americans, unlike Pakistanis, write, print and read many more books. Once they have read one, they dispose off the book which is then available for a few cents in garages, shops and thrift stores.
Old books have an exclusive rusty colour to their pages, which give out a unique scent of wood, aging paper and ink. Once I bought a copy of. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad from the Anarkali footpaths, in which the person gifting it requested the friend he gave it to, to never give the book away or lose it but here it was, barely three years afterwards.
It is perhaps not justified to support pirated books. But new books are way too expensive, and the third world public cannot afford it. Plus most of the masters whose classics I have enjoyed (Kafka, Hardy, Tolstoy, Dickens, Austen and many others) have long been dead and ceased to get the royalties.
I have quite a problem with books. They need a proper surrounding to be placed in. Beautiful book-racks have always struck my fantasy especially the library in the animated movie Beauty and the Beast. Books need to be treated well, deserve a beautiful (clean) book shelf, a lot of light and regular human touch. You need to open it once in a while and make it feel cared for.
I have had to struggle with my own book dilemmas. Are all books equal? Or are the loved ones more equal than the rest? Can you ever really ‘possess’ a book? Or do you just keep it for the next generation? Which book is yours, the one you bought or the one you read? That beautiful copy of City of Djins I borrowed from the library was never mine? What about all the love I bestowed on it during the one week it was on my bedside? And finally, the most potent question disturbing every booklover what will happen to my books after I am gone?
Over the years, I have realised that almost everyone I have known so far has rolled out of a book. My best friend is Miss Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, my father has shades of Macbeth, my favourite professor is like Hamlet and my great aunt is a happier Mrs. Dalloway. And I am a Peter Pan, sadly stuck with people who cannot fly.
*Exhibition of Tahmina Ahmed’s works at Rohtas Gallery till Sat, Apr 16.
*7th Anual Exhibition of Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics and Graphic Art by Young Artists 2011 opening tomorrow at 5:00pm at Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall. The exhibition will continue till Thu, Apr 28.
*SOFTEC 2011, the sixth international and 15th All Pakistan event at FAST-NU. Today is the last day.
*The Art & Craft Debate today at 4:00pm at Hast-o-Neest Centre for Traditional Art & Culture, 10 Commercial Building, Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, crossing Anarkali & the Mall.
*A History of Katchi Abadi Struggles By Zahid Ali Anjum at Cafe Bol from 5:30-8:30pm.
*LUMS Play ‘The Mousetrap’ at Ali Auditorium. Today is the last day. Time: 7:00-10:00pm.
*FAST Drama Festival 2011 on Fri-Sat, 15-16 April at FAST NU, B-Block, Faisal Town at 6:00pm.
*International Mystic Music Sufi Festival at Peerus Cafe till Mon, Apr 11. It showcases Sufi poetry and music that was created more than 1000 years ago.Venue: Rafi Peer Cultural Centre, Plot 1 Green Acre Farm Housing Society, 7km Raiwind Road.
Faring under fear
People who make a living by selling things on push carts are at the mercy of city administration with no legal space allotted to them yet
By Ali Sultan
Link Temple road is a rather quiet, small road opposite Temple road. The road is filled with repair shops, home appliances, small and large, car workshops spitting off jet black oil and dirty hands and pushcarts selling either various food items or chewing gum, paans and nicotine. The description might sound like that of a common enough commercially inclined area, except the fact that while walking every few inches there are signs of rubble.
Amidst the slow bustle of the street and a small layer of dust, Ahmed stands in a large plot further down the street and is making tea. Ahmed’s face, deep brown, is coloured by the harsh sun and his hands hardened by scalding water and time. "I have been making tea for as long as I remember," he says as he pours tea into a small cup to a customer. The empty lot doubles as a junkyard of sorts, so it sees a small share of scrap dealers, friends of Ahmed and, most of the times, bums who are either lost in drugs or have nothing better to do.
"My clientele has shrunk to half," says Ahmed, his face further darkened by sadness. It wasn’t like this for Ahmed before the drive. "I was outside on the street and had much more clients. Now it is getting harder and harder to survive. I give thanks to the warm-hearted guy who owns this plot who has let me use his place. I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t."
The rubble: broken bricks, a destroyed footpath, ripped off concrete steps of shops are the result of the Punjab government’s encroachment drive.
"The rubble was this high," Safdar points to the upper part of his sloping belly that contrasts nicely with his full white hair. Safdar’s shop was not touched but he was very disturbed by the clean up. "The LDA came 15 days ago and just started destroying everything, it’s just unfair. After they were gone there was so much rubble that you couldn’t see the street clearly, there was so much dust," he says angrily. "After waiting for them for at least a week, we had to clean the rubble ourselves, as much as we could."
Fayyaz and his brother Saif’s fridge repair shop was however heavily affected. "Look at this," says Fayyaz as he points to the jutting steel rods coming out of the shop’s front wall. Look I can understand the idea of encroachment. Especially on roads where there is a huge traffic of people and vehicles it is understandable that the pushcarts and the illegal encroachments should be removed. First of all this road is quiet most of the time and secondly how is our steps encroaching the road? Our shop isn’t even on the road! The government really doesn’t care for people. How is the customer going to enter my shop, by jumping? "
Others have found rather interesting ways to deal with the problem. As lunchtime approaches, Afzal who runs a tikki pushcart is swarmed with customers. He is middle aged too like Ahmed, but there are no traces of bitterness in his voice. "I am a qualified person," he says in fluent English, "but in times like these no sane person can survive on one job. So I work in a private institution in the morning, finish by noon and then come here. I have a lot less risk in setting up my pushcart because I am done in a few hours, so I just take my pushcart home." When asked if he has been asked to take his pushcart out of the street by the authorities, Afzal smiles and replies "all the time, but I just pay the challan they issue to me and resume my work. My morning job pays for the fees of my children, and this one pays for the household, I can’t leave any of them."
Mustafa, whose long black hair is slicked back with oil and red T-shirt is rather well worn, is not as optimistic as Afzal. Mustafa runs a paan pushcart with an assortment of biscuits in jars, colourful bubble gums and a variety of cigarettes. "I am the only son and it’s getting harder and harder for me to run the house with the fear of always being thrown out. I don’t have the luxury of doing this for a few hours; I have to stay here the whole day. But because of this encroachment drive I shift my pushcart from street to street, but when I am caught I have to pay up."
The first of its kind shopping festival in the city that brings local and foreign products together with fun
By Khalid Zeeshan
Lahore Shopping Festival is a pleasant waft of wind for the people of Lahore. There are stalls from Iran, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan besides local products which have added freshness to the shopping festival.
The organisers hope this event will take people out of their homes to shop some of the most amazing things on offer at discounted rates and see for themselves that the situation is not as bleak as sometimes portrayed.
"With love from Iran" is the logo of the crockery on display at a stall set up by our Iranian brethren. Each item is worth praise and the prices are reasonable. This along with another stall of the famous Persian rugs is representative of Iranian culture.
At a stall of security products from Taiwan, stall owner Abdul Rehman hopes to sell products equal to what he could otherwise sell in a month. "Here we are offering original security products at discounted prices than the market, with subsequent provision of service."
Muhammad Atif, a visitor with his family, was there in the centre even well before the launch of the event, manifesting keen interest and excitement found in Lahorites about this festival. "My daughters are interested in buying garments while I am more into electronics, all of which are available here."
A joint venture of Indonesian and Pakistani traders offers a variety of goods ranging from noodles to choppers. It may sound quite surprising to many that salesmen from Indonesia are promoting not only their delicious food products, artistically unique furniture, attractive building material but also Indonesian helicopters and jet aircrafts. Indonesian salesmen Adam and Saud told TNS that the products on display are available at low rates to attract local customers.
Amir Rauf, a Thailand based Pakistani is introducing an artistic folding and arrangement of Pakistani currency notes in the form of flowers and wreaths." We have really been very excited to be here in Pakistan and to display an art which we have developed over the years and it is well appreciated abroad," he told TNS. This floral arrangement of currency notes is beautiful. These money flowers are considered an omen of good luck.
This festival has a lot to offer for every age group. Sports goods from Sialkot and a beautifully designed football, not stitched with thread, is a major attraction. Cricket bats and the specially designed football used during the recent FIFA football world cup is drawing youngsters’ attention. Moreover, sports bicycles along with bikes have great attraction.
Decoration pieces of art take us into another era as these items have a royal touch making them suitable for those who take keen interest in having such unique decoration pieces exalting the look of one’s drawing rooms.
Kamalia’s khaddar along with other garments make the Punjab Corporate stalls worth visiting. These stalls are arranged by Oberois in collaboration with the Punjab government. "This is an excellent opportunity for us to display our goods and bring them close to the people", says the owner of these stalls.
Dresses are available at discounted rates at stalls of designer female and children garments. Not only this, the fabric is excellent and the texture second to none.
Effectively advertised, the event is expected to draw people from all classes and generate business in a country hoping for a vibrant local and foreign investment. Successful holding of the festival will go a long way in casting off fears in the minds of the people regarding security in the city.
"Our country needs festivals such as this one where foreign traders are also invited; it will improve the image of Pakistan as a moderate peace-loving country and will also draw foreign investment," says Muhammad Rashid, a businessman.
Although some of the visitors complain about lack of proper advertising of the event; the venue being new to many and the event not starting on the advertised date which was 7th April but despite all this, the festival is a crowd puller with shopping, food and entertainment at one place. This mega event will conclude today with the cultural show, followed by a concert where renowned singers will perform.
"Secure environment, excellent products and wonderful entertainment is here on offer for Lahorites to shop and enjoy", says Basharat Ahmad, the organiser of the Lahore Shopping Festival at the Expo Centre in Johar Town. Although we are organising it for the first time we will ensure that it becomes a great success and a memorable event in the city."
Book fair has brought a number of publishers under one roof as before
By Mahwish Qadeer
Lahore International Book fair is being organised in Lahore for the past 25 years. This year the event opened at Expo Centre Johar Town Lahore from 7th April and will continue till 11th.
Books ranging from children’s to physical sciences, fiction, language, history, social sciences, and religious books in good quantity are there under one roof. Many stalls at the fair are offering books and material which promote interactive learning. Many keen parents are seen buying books with audio video aids for their children.
A number of publishers from all over Pakistan and neighbour country India have come to the 25th Lahore International Book Fair. Sang-e-Meel Publications, Caravan Book House, Readings, Liberty books, Al-Huda, Multi-Lines Books, Paramount Publishing Enterprise Lahore, Taj Company, Punjab Text Book Board, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Text Book Board, Galaxy Books, Iqbal Academy of Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Ferozesons, Dogar Brothers Lahore etc are some of the names which were at the book fair from all over Pakistan. NCBA Exports (Pvt) Ltd India, UBS Publishers Distributors (Pvt). India, Pearson Education, India, Cambridge University Press India were the publishers that made it to the book fair. There are stalls of different departments of Punjab Government namely; Punjab Education Foundation, The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund, Danish Schools and Centres of Excellence.
Present among the publishing houses are Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) for the promotion of their Urdu service in Pakistan. Their programmes are broadcast on radio and reading content in Urdu language is also available at their website. They are working to provide quality information and entertainment to the masses. They do not compromise on quality of work, avoid sensationalism and provide constructive information.
About publishing and printing in India, R.K. Ahuja of NCBA Exports Pvt Ltd India says that books production is quite affordable as most of the paper is manufactured in India. Also, many Indian publishers have the right to reprint books by foreign authors. That’s why those books are not only sold in India but are also supplied to the whole of subcontinent. Although there are always visa issues between Pakistan and India, the Indian publishers managed to be here at the book fair.
The state of publishing and printing in Pakistan is not good as in other sectors. Publishing houses need more subsidies which are simply not there. The prices of books are higher as compared to that in the last book fair.
A visit to the book fair makes it quite clear that our market has great number of quality books on English language but notable research on Urdu language is missing. Language students like Filza can only complain about lack of educational books in Urdu language even at book fairs of such high level.
People from different walks of life and of all ages are visiting the fair. Although books are expensive as compared to last year, serious readers like Major Mahmood cannot stop reading them. It was good to see mothers like Noreen and Sidra help their children choose books at the fair. Developing book reading habit among children is a good investment in mental growth. Parents should make an effort to introduce their children to the world of books. Declining state of public libraries calls for more book fairs. Charles W. Eliot once said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friend; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers".