To Lahoris, with love Top ten places in the city
By Haneya Zuberi
Lahore, they say, is just like a beating heart. Full of vigour and energy, pouring out liveliness with each and every beat. Some look at it as a cultural capital while others link it to its historic background. Some associate it with mysticism given its strong bond with spiritual leaders and many look at it as an eater's paradise.

MOOD STREET
Sunbathing in July
By Ammara Ahmad
Every tragic Shakespearean protagonist succumbs to a weakness. I too have a weakness — for certificates — and fell from grace this year, when I desired a private Punjab University degree.
Punjab University has built examination halls on Wahdat Road. As I entered the venue, a huge building looked down on me. From far away, it appeared to be a mismanaged wedding, with torn tents, no seating arrangement with excited fully-dressed women waiting in the scorching sun.

Town Talk
*Freestylers Live at Cafe Miami in the basement of Cafe Zouk, 43 L/A Opposite Levi's Store, M.M Alam Road, today at 7:00 pm.
*Auditions for National Songs Competition tomorrow at
Alhamra Arts Council, Hall No III, The Mall from 10:00 am
to 3:00 pm. Visit www.rohpk.org

theatre
Only 2-play old and mature enough
Hellbox Productions' Khatra e Jaan had a lot going for it than just a few funny moments
By Usman Ghafoor
Here's a sort-of-didactic comedy that isn't guilty of becoming preachy at any point. An episode from the life of a medical doctor whose incompetence killed a patient of his, Khatra e Jaan avoids getting into the moral-conclusion rut and, in a refreshing surprise, ends with its main protagonist 'still not inspired enough' to feel remorse or the need to reform.

Rains choke drains
Lahore's sewerage system is not designed for rains
By Syed Ali Abedi
Rains, especially in summer, bring joy to people, animals and birds alike. However, sometimes rains become problematic for people, especially those living in low-lying areas. They also disturb life in areas which have poor sewerage facility. Rains turn the low-lying areas into rivulets, creating problems for the people. There are also some parks and playgrounds which turn into ponds after rains as they do not have drainage system.

Serious offence
Lodging FIRs against cheating in exams has been accused as harsh punishment
By Arshad Shafiq Nizami
"My son was an intelligent boy," says Muhammad Irshad with remorse. His son, Muhammad Tahir Irshad, had not given his teachers any reasons to complain — "till he got into bad company. His studies got affected. Resultantly, he failed in Biology and English in his matriculation exams. He reappeared in the 2010 supplementary examination — and was caught with a mobile phone, prohibited in examination halls."

 

 

To Lahoris, with love

Top ten places in the city

By Haneya Zuberi

Lahore, they say, is just like a beating heart. Full of vigour and energy, pouring out liveliness with each and every beat. Some look at it as a cultural capital while others link it to its historic background. Some associate it with mysticism given its strong bond with spiritual leaders and many look at it as an eater's paradise.

The latter requires no explanation. Lahore has the largest number of restaurants and eating out spots in Pakistan.

This also explains the gluttonous lifestyles of its inhabitants. Since the assortment of restaurants is very diverse, you can grab an instant bite anywhere, anytime! Same is the case with the Lahori community; it is vibrant, diverse and full of life.

Picking top ten places in such a diverse city with people hailing from equally diverse socio-economic backgrounds was no wonder a daunting task but fun nonetheless. Another tough strike was preventing favouritism of any kind to come in my way. I tried my best and this is what I came up with.

Ladies and gentlemen, in no particular order here are the top ten places in Lahore.

Shalamar Gardens

The ShalamarGardens are reportedly the best preserved Mughal gardens having survived in the last 400 years. Others in Delhi and Kashmir with the same names were reported to be not in their original forms but much in ruins with some patches of paintings.

Anyone going there would first encounter a high red sandstone wall interrupted by small decorative kiosks. This is a hallmark of Mughal architecture.

The first glimpse of the garden usually covers a line of fountains in a water channel stretched a long way. The garden has three levels.

Standing by the edge of the pavilion on the upper terrace, one can see the middle and lower terraces. The gardens are surrounded by a wall with intricate fretwork or interlaced decorative designs in geometric patterns giving an overall view of an oblong parallelogram. The Shalamar Gardens serve as an excellent picnic spot on a Sunday and a great place to visit as they make you relive the memories of the great Mughal dynasty.

Data Darbar

Lahore drew its mystic and spiritual contours around this place. Thousands of devotees from Lahore and other cities, are emotionally dependent on this shrine.

Numerous food stalls, flower sellers and numerous beggars are dependent on shrine visitors. Free food for the poor is available here round the clock. On special occasions, the shrine is lit up with lights and free dinner is prepared for hundreds of people. Its corridors are full of devotees and other visitors.

Within the boundary of the shrine, complex, devout Muslims from all walks of life recite the Quran and pay tribute to Prophet Muhammad. A notable distinguishing feature is that, around the saint's shrine, the Quran is read incessantly, round the clock, as visitors come in at all hours of the day and night. The fact that there is never a single minute when the Quran is not being recited makes Data Darbar one of those few places where Quran recitation is always "alive".

Linear Park, Model Town

The Linear Park is famous for its well tended, watered greenery and a jogging track of about 2-3 kilometres which provides as a very sound walk/jog around the park. Plenty of well maintained trees stand parallel to the track, thus being an excellent source of fresh oxygen.

The park has a beautiful pond with a fountain in the middle that shoots water high into the air. Many benches surround the pond where people can sit and watch water fowls. Another brick path runs through the length of the park as well. There is a huge play area which is well equipped with monkey bars, slides, swings, tunnels, and swinging bridges. Boating facility is also available, with motor boats or paddle boats to choose from.

Fortress Stadium

Located in Cantt; a very pulsating life exists around the stadium. What makes it attractive is the fact that all sorts of entertainment are present. From restaurants to boutiques, you can find everything here and now even buy your groceries, thanks to the opening of Hyperstar!

The famous Joy Land is also here. It is indeed a joy land, both literally and metaphorically. It has the most adventurous and thrilling rides that the city can offer. Dodging cars are a personal favourite. Your trip to Joy Land is incomplete if you don't glut yourself with the ice cream cone, popcorn and cotton candy. The Stadium is also a site of the famous 'national horse and cattle show'. The show not only includes a display of livestock, but also many spectacular feats of dressage, camel dancing, racing, folk dances, pomp, pageantry, horsemanship, tent pegging, , mass-band displays and grand fireworks known as 'Tattoo Shows' in the evening.

Diversity of entertainment comes full circle with the presence of a bowling alley! Last but not least, Sozo World cinema is also present in the stadium. It plays numerous Urdu and English films at a reasonable price, an economical alternative to the cinema in DHA.

Coffee, Tea and Company (CTC)

What started out as a bakery has now become one of the leading restaurants of the city. What makes it different from other restaurants is that it is a conjoined bakery and restaurant. It is the only place in Lahore where you cannot only order an appetising and delicious meal but also enjoy a complete range of bakery items for dessert. It also serves as an excellent coffee place in the evening as well and a great spot for breakfast too! Excellent décor is another plus point. On Thursday nights, a party of five ladies gets a discount. This is for all the Lahori aunties looking out for a nice place to chit chat while enjoying tasteful food. For all the youngsters avoiding places with an influx of "aunties", Thursday night is a no go!

CTC is one of the very rare places in Lahore where you can simply go for coffee, tea or company!

Liberty Market

Liberty market is truly a shopper's paradise. It is the hub of all shopping activity in the city. The huge variety of shopping one can do in this area is almost remarkable. Dozens of boutiques along the liberty circle offer trendy ready-to-wear formal and casual wear for ladies, gents and kids. There is a tremendous range of shoes, perfumes, cosmetics, designers' jewellery, decorations, gifts, toys and other accessories. Al Fatah and HKB, two major shopping malls, are also present there. Their super markets provide all kinds of local and western brands.

Located in the back lane of Liberty is the famous Khussa Mahal. People from all over the country come here to buy khussas and chappals as they have exceptional designs and are lasting.

Readings

Until the arrival of Readings, the book lovers of Lahore mourned the lack of good book stores and reading places in the city. Over the years, many book shops gradually vanished but the opening of Readings suddenly pumped life into the old reader's soul and within a few years, Readings has become one of the most popular spots in the city.

It stocks rows of used books, encyclopaedias and other literary material from the US along with brand new ones at very decent prices. You can even get a novel for Rs. 10-20. Organised categorisation of books makes it easy for readers of various interest groups and different ages to find the kind of reading material that suits them the most. The carpeted environment along with floor cushions and a coffee shop makes Readings an excellent place for book lovers of the city.

Bhaiyya Kabab

Located in the D Block Model Town market, also known as Mandir market, is the famous Bhaiyya Kabab. You can find many rival BBQ spots around the place with names which are synonymous to Bhaiyya but it won't be much trouble for you to find the "asli bhaiyya kabab shop". It is a roadside restaurant but you can order and enjoy the scrumptious kababs with naan and raaita in your air conditioned private cars as well. Bhaiyya uses a very different recipe for his kababs. That is the reason they stand out from the rest of the BBQs in the city. Even in the early a.m. hours you can find this place, crowded with people enjoying BBQ while sitting on plastic chairs by the roadside with pedestal fans. Nothing tastes better than Bhaiyya's kabab along with sodas. The kababs seem very tiny and tangled at first sight but once you start devouring, there is no looking back!

Yusuf Falooda

If you ask all the Lahoris to gather in a camp and raise the question of who has a sweet tooth, believe me, diabetes or no diabetes, all will raise their hands.

Yusuf Falooda is a place which is brimming with customers throughout the year, especially during the summer. Falooda is not just a scrumptious dessert but also a trademark of Lahore.

Falooda is an adaptation of the Persian dessert Faloodeh and was brought to the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal period. Yusuf Falooda offers heavenly tasting falooda and rabri and also provides additional sheera for those who have more of a sweet tooth! Most of the people enjoy the falooda in their cars while some take pleasure in a roadside dessert feast.

Lahore Chatkhara

Lahore Chatkhara is the place where all spicy food lovers of Lahore unite. Its menu is very wide-ranged. It offers Hyderabadi specialties along with many other chat patti delicacies. The most famous snacks it offers are Gujrati Puri, Pani Puri and Bhel Puri. According to Shah Shamyl Alam, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lahore Chatkhara, "We believe good taste is to be shared and made available to the maximum number of people". Numerous spicy and flavoursome additional ingredients are rampant in all these delicious treats offered at Chatakra and they truly satisfy the eater's appetites. Many, like me, overeat each time they go there.

 

 

MOOD STREET

Sunbathing in July

By Ammara Ahmad

Every tragic Shakespearean protagonist succumbs to a weakness. I too have a weakness — for certificates — and fell from grace this year, when I desired a private Punjab University degree.

Punjab University has built examination halls on Wahdat Road. As I entered the venue, a huge building looked down on me. From far away, it appeared to be a mismanaged wedding, with torn tents, no seating arrangement with excited fully-dressed women waiting in the scorching sun.

Only on the first day was the gatekeeper interested in our roll number slip. On subsequent days we could just walk in.

The halls were huge and sunny, though sunbathing is out of season. Perhaps the University had suffered from chair-table robberies. This time they embedded both in the ground. Although Pakistan's water availability is a meager 1500 cubic meters, there was always a puddle of water near the bathroom and water cooler.

The invigilators often yelled "Kisi nay sheet laini hai?" (Anyone wants a sheet?) and reminded me of a Shadman market vendor who shouted "Garam aanday lainay hain?" (Anyone wants boiled eggs?). Most of the activity in the hall was about "entries". Whenever a student took a new sheet, she had to sign. Some criminal-minded students, thinking that the FBI would follow them later, didn't enter their details and caused frenzy among the invigilators.

In daily life, especially in companies, NGOs, private institutes etc, you acquire the awful habit of being treated like an individual a person with a say, job, independence. But these centres soon rob you of this; making you feel commonplace, just one of the herds like the secretariat staff or government hospital workers over-worked and irritated.

After a few days I noticed that women in the Punjab University examination centre did act like herds. Before and after the exam, girls would start running haywire, pushing everyone in the way to reach the gates faster. They stuck together in groups, sat at the back of the buses together, often completely covered and silent while the boy students walked around relaxed and cheerful.

One phenomenon rarely seen elsewhere is "paper boycott." Some students of Physics refused to take the exam. It isn't the government's fault that you couldn't solve the paper while a few others could.

The common method of excelling in a board exam is to write neatly and endlessly, with marker headings. After the first day, I enviously realised that some students are more prolific than me. The secret, I discovered later, was their enormous Urdu calligraphic headings and widely spaced words.

There is something very uncomfortable about the ambience of the huge examination halls. Can examinees be checked with metal detectors instead of with hands? Will that cost the government too much? The other request is to train invigilators. This might remove the chances of frustrated students taking malicious paths in the world.

My concern is not that the parliamentarians forged degrees but that they didn't share this exam hall torture with us. If all of them spend one hour each, sunbathing in those halls, my frustration will finish. In fact I might also need a fake degree on failing these exams but I don't know where to obtain one because Babar Awan didn't answer my queries. Anyone else's help would be appreciated.

 

Town Talk

*Freestylers Live at Cafe Miami in the basement of Cafe Zouk, 43 L/A Opposite Levi's Store, M.M Alam Road, today at 7:00 pm.

*Auditions for National Songs Competition tomorrow at

Alhamra Arts Council, Hall No III, The Mall from 10:00 am

to 3:00 pm. Visit www.rohpk.org

* Alif Laila Book Bus Society presents a fundraising carnival

'Rock Paper Scissors' on Tue, Aug 3 at 6:30 pm. The carnival

will also have numerous stalls of food, rides and a fortune teller.

Venue: Green's Gardens. If you're standing on the Liberty

side of Hussein Chowk, you take a right turn and

you'll see this ground next to Ziafat.

*The Getaway: A musical evening on Sat, Aug 7 at 6:00 pm that will feature some of the best underground bands of Lahore.

*Tea Party at Cafe Bol every Tuesday at 8:00 pm.

 

*Play: 'Noises Off' at Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall, Hall #1 from Aug 5-9. Gates will close at 6:30 pm.

 

Only 2-play old and mature enough

Hellbox Productions' Khatra e Jaan had a lot going for it than just a few funny moments

By Usman Ghafoor

Here's a sort-of-didactic comedy that isn't guilty of becoming preachy at any point. An episode from the life of a medical doctor whose incompetence killed a patient of his, Khatra e Jaan avoids getting into the moral-conclusion rut and, in a refreshing surprise, ends with its main protagonist 'still not inspired enough' to feel remorse or the need to reform.

Put together by Hellbox Productions, a merely two-year-and-two-play old theatre group of dramatically inclined students from different educational institutions of Lahore, Khatra… generated quite a lot of buzz among the young even before it opened recently at Alhamra, Mall, riding on a clever, Facebook-driven publicity 'campaign'. (By its first night of performance, almost the entire team and cast members had the play's colourful poster as their dp!).

Khatra… boasted a few 'star' attractions as well. For one thing, it was a rendition of a 1985 script by leading intellectual and writer, Dr Enwar Sajjad. Secondly, its director, Talal Ali Jan, a BSc Hons student at LUMS, was coming back after the mega successful Ishq with a Twist. And, last but not the least, the young crowds of audience were looking forward to yet another 'crazy' performance by the increasingly popular Hamza Kamal (of LGS Paragon).

As the not-quite-friendly ghost of the deceased patient Sheeda Baatli Wala who haunts his 'killer', Dr Rehmat Din (there's pun in his name, too!), Hamza Kamal lived well up to his reputation and turned out to be Khatra…'s scene-stealing performer. No two opinions about it. This 15-year-old slip of a boy was a riot on the stage, the way he used his body language and the way he uttered his lines (regardless they were very funny lines or not!). His poker-faced comic act brought the house down, literally, every single time.

As the haunted and miserable but incorrigibly corrupt doctor, Arsalan Nasir, an A-Levels student at SICAS, also acquitted himself convincingly and proved to be a strong foil for Hamza's inimitable Sheeda.

There were a few other, relatively minor, characters also, which provided base to this one-Act play. For instance, Dr Rehmat's lovestricken neice Bano, played well by the gorgeous Mahnoor Khan from LGS, and her troubled beau Khalid — a very confident Bilal Syed of LUMS. Priya Sajjad, the talented daughter of Dr Enwar Sajjad and Zaib Rehman, also looked bright and bubbly in her rather smallish part. But, LGS's Meher Bano, as the burqa-clad patient in the waiting room, was quite over the top.

Overall, Khatra… entertained the young and family audiences. According to director Talal, it took the Hellbox team a great deal of sifting through a number of Urdu scripts before they came upon Khatra… "I liked it especially because it didn't just entertain but also made a social comment," he tells TNS. "It's a satire on the state of healthcare we provide to our common people. Here you have a 'neem hakeem' and his inefficient dispenser, among others."

Talal also reveals that the script was contemporised "by adding a few modern-day references here and there, so that it should not appear dated". For instance, Sheeda's 'angrezi' dialogues were not part of the original. Besides, the length of the play was reduced by 30 minutes. "We did it all with due permission from Dr Enwar Sajjad," he adds. "In fact, when he saw the opening performance, he liked it so much that he called me personally to congratulate us. I consider it a big achievement for us!"

 

 

Rains choke drains

Lahore's sewerage system is not designed for rains

By Syed Ali Abedi

Rains, especially in summer, bring joy to people, animals and birds alike. However, sometimes rains become problematic for people, especially those living in low-lying areas. They also disturb life in areas which have poor sewerage facility. Rains turn the low-lying areas into rivulets, creating problems for the people. There are also some parks and playgrounds which turn into ponds after rains as they do not have drainage system.

People, especially children, enjoy heavy rains as they swim in the water collected after rains which inundate low-lying areas. Some of the areas where water collects include the Fruit and Vegetable Market, Kot Lakhpat, Green Town, Township, Shahdara, Dharampura, Samanabad, Mozang and Temple Road.

There are also some localities in Lahore, where rainwater entered the houses and shops such as in Misri Shah, Bund Road, Sanda, Shah Jamal and Shadbagh.

Although the Wasa employees managed to drain out rainwater from the low-lying area, including Garden Town, Faisal Town, Shah Jamal, Misri Shah and Sanda, after a struggle of four to seven hours, there was no one to drain out the same from parks and grounds.

If rainwater remains stagnant for many days in parks and other areas, it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, outbreak of malaria and other diseases. Foul smell that standing water generates, is besides that.

After a two-day rain spell the Punjab University ground in Krishan Nagar, some portion of Minto Park (Minar-e-Pakistan) and Bagh-e-Jinnah are still submerged in rainwater. There is mud along swings in Bagh-e-Jinnah, creating problems for children and their families. Doongi Ground in Samanabad is not looking less than a small lake while a stadium beside Badshahi Mosque is presenting the worst scenario.

It is worth mentioning that the Wasa has laid drainage pipes at Awais Qarni Road, Abu Bakr Road and other roads in Krishan Nagar to drain out accumulated rainwater there almost a year ago, but the system has still not been made active. The manholes have been blocked with mud and garbage with the passage of time as they were without covers.

Asked if anyone has lodged a complaint regarding blockage of drainage system, a shopkeeper, Masood says he cannot visit the Wasa office at the cost of his business.

Kashif, a resident of Bund Road, says even a little rain renders their area muddy as there is no proper sanitary arrangements. Moreover, the roads of their locality are in poor condition which further adds to their problems after rain.

A resident of Shah Jamal says there are several reasons for accumulation of rainwater in his area. The main reason is poor planning while constructing roads.

Rajgarh Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Muhammad Iqbal Bhutta says localities including area from MAO College to Yateem Khana Chowk, Babu Sabu, National Town, New Chauburji Park and Wasa Colony, come under the Rajgarh sub-division office.

About submerging of low-lying areas in rainwater, he says Wasa has never prepared sewerage system keeping rains in view. Therefore, when it rains the low-lying areas give a look of rivulets, putting extra burden on the sewerage system, which is already under burden due to increase in population.

He says old sewerage system was prepared according to the ratio of one acre per 70 people, but now more than 70 people live on one acre. He says the main trunk sewer coming from Outfall Road and passing beneath the Government College University is one of the oldest lines and was laid down in 1943.

"There is a need to replace it. The Wasa has prepared a plan to overhaul the Lahore sewerage system and has submitted it to the Punjab government. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 42 billion and the government has shelved it due to lack of funds. Once funds are provided to the Wasa, it will take about one to two years to complete the project," the SDO says, adding that there will be no submerging of low-lying areas in rainwater after the completion of the project.

He says some houses have caved-in in Hunza Block, Iqbal Town, not due to the recent heavy rains but because of the collapse of an old main sewer line on which they were constructed.

 

Serious offence

Lodging FIRs against cheating in exams has been accused as harsh punishment

By Arshad Shafiq Nizami

"My son was an intelligent boy," says Muhammad Irshad with remorse. His son, Muhammad Tahir Irshad, had not given his teachers any reasons to complain — "till he got into bad company. His studies got affected. Resultantly, he failed in Biology and English in his matriculation exams. He reappeared in the 2010 supplementary examination — and was caught with a mobile phone, prohibited in examination halls."

Tahir was taken to Civil Lines police station, and was "manhandled by the policemen ", says his father.

They put him in a lockup after registering a case on the complaint of Superintendent Lawrence Road BISE Examination Centre Muhammad Hafiz. He was kept in prison for two days because of which he missed the English exam and hence wasted another academic year. "He is really upset. He refuses to meet friends and family, and spends all day sitting in front of the TV."

Irshad, a mason by profession, had difficulty putting together Rs 8,000 to 10,000 to get his son released on bail.

Superintendent Muhammad Hafiz informs The News on Sunday (TNS) that Tahir, Roll No. 12343, entered the examination hall with a bandage around his left arm. "But I got suspicious because his arm made easy and free movements. I checked his bandage and found a mobile phone hidden inside it," he informs.

Irshad was handed over to the police and a case was registered against him under Board University Ordinance (University Act III).

But, Hafiz regrets, Irshad was unable to take the next exam because the courts are closed on Sundays, hence bail was not possible. "At that point I thought the punishment awarded to him was severe. He was after all only a class nine or ten student," he admits.

Talking to TNS, Lahore Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Examination Controller Manzoor-ul-Hassan Niazi says such exemplary punishments reduce the number of cheating incidents. "Before 1998, booti mafia was very strong in every examination centre. To counter this, the Punjab Boards Committee of Chairmen (PBCC) introduced strict laws. Registration of FIRs was one of them," he adds.

He refused to disclose the number of UMCs in BISE matriculation and intermediate examinations in 2009 and 2010. This information is supposed to be kept confidential.

Consequently, a special litigation department has been set up in the board office, which follows FIR cases in courts and ensures exemplary punishments to cheaters.

Further, to prevent cheating in examination halls, PBCC prepares four versions of multiple-choice questions (MCQs), with each row of students getting a different version.

A BISE official says: "A student caught cheating may face a two to six-year-ban. If he is caught using helping material, he may be disqualified from exams for two years and if he is caught impersonating he may get six years. A three-member disciplinary committee comprising senior educationists award punishments. The student has to appear before the committee and if proven guilty he has the right to appeal. If his petition is rejected, he may file a review petition after paying Rs 3000 fee to the board.

Punjab University (PU) Monitoring Team Member, Tariq Hussain, says it depends on the centre superintendent to get a case registered against a student.

Cheating is not unusual among students. But treating it as a criminal offence is unique. Comprehensive High School, Ghoray Shah Vice-Principal Muhammad Bakhtiar says: "Cheating in examination halls can be checked if we have honest officials serving the board offices. Why else would students approach invigilators, especially the superintendents, to offer bribes?"

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