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Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rawalpindi over the Years!

Today, me and my brother visited Rawalpindi. It is a sister city of Islamabad -the two are famous as the "twin cities of Pakistan". A lot has been written and said about them-together or individually but I remember that a Islamabad based English newspaper used to run a regular column captioned as "The Tale of Two Cities" comparing the two - which does not make much sense because each city has its own character.

Anyhow, it has been a really long time that we had a chance to go there. Visiting Pindi was an exciting, extraordinary and a memorable experience. It brought back many memories. It is the birth place of one of my brothers – when the biggest hospital in Islamabad and Pindi was the ‘Central Government Hospital’ and people used to refer to it as the Central Hospital.

Rawalpindi has become much cleaner. All the roads I explored have been paved and is literally beyond recognition. Smooth flow of traffic and footpaths can be seen almost everywhere. Food stalls, accessories, ready to wear garments, sabizi mandi ( whole sale vegetable bazar), fresh fish, meat of all sorts and unbeatable prices are enough to make a person go there again.

I loved MOTI BAZAR meaning pearls bazaar which has a unique name. Moti Bazar was established in 1901. It has been the centre of trade and commerce ever since. It is called MOTI Bazar because of its proximity with the SARRAFA Bazar or the goldsmiths bazar who would have been the clients of pearls from this market for making their jewelry and maybe the place would have been the biggest hub and thus was named so.
I loved the way people anticipate, entertain and market their products. They make sure that you will end up buying stuff - whether you need it or not! I also loved the Chana Chat (Chick peas/potatoes and fruits mixed with tamarind juice and spices) and Dahee bhallay ( Firtters in yogurt topped with apricot chutney, tamarind chuntey and some other stuff) from one of the famous shops which I used to visit while accompanying my mother as a child! All sort of confectioneries - probably made at home were on display with bright and interesting colors and shapes. These can be the most fascinating gift for kids in villayat (overseas).

This place is a heaven for women and reminds me of "Myeongdong" in Seoul - where once you enter you just don't want to leave - absolutely fascinating! Oh yeah, before I forget to mention, we bought a kilogram of "small/fresh Talabia Fish" -the best I ever tasted and the price- well only 2$ US.

From one of the alleys we reached the famous 'Lal Hawelli'....it is beautiful-I wonder if there is a kitchen in the Lal Hawelli and if yes - why?? It is at the crossroads of some of the tastiest food stalls in town. Lal Hawelli is also famous for its owner cum resident Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed - who is a seasoned politician.

I also bought a few kilos of rose petals for my dad's and my brothers graves from there. They have a huge floral market near "BUNNI" ( an intersection) – that takes you to all the different directions of Pindi. We also took a ride of "neavau" Rickshaw of Pindi from Bunni - the thing is hooked with a bike - an absolute genius. Over the years, it has been my propriety that I hop on public transport - no matter where I am in the world! This is one of the best ways to explore a city like locals and you will see that it always open doors to a new world. I found Nala Lai. It is huge. They can make parks on both side of it or can develop it into a recreational place. Anyways, I must say that the ride was fun and is worth a try!

Rawalpindi caters both- the rich and the poor. It feeds them, clothes them, gives them energy and hopes to move on with their lives. As we all know, Rawalpindi has a history of a few hundred years hence, I wish that we, as a nation, realize the importance of our heritage and culture that these cities offer.

Older a city is, the more the chances are that tourists, both domestic and international, would come to rediscover it. Hopefully, we will also learn to celebrate the culture, tradition, architecture and uniqueness of these places and take pride in them as is the case all around the world.

In the mean time, I hope that Rawalpindi and its residents can figure out ways of BRANDING Pindi. It can bring business, money and stability which will in turn bring an even stronger, healthier and stable Pindi - for its people and for the world at large.
I hope that people look beyond personal achievements and goals.
I hope that we can look beyond biases.
I really, really hope that I can visit Pindi again.

NOTE: The most comprehensive website on Pindi is run by Dr.Kashif Ahmed and you can visit it at: http://www.pindiplus.com

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