Lahore, if you want to believe me, is a city about food. The second most popular gossip in Lahore is about specific sites/corners in the city and the specific foods available there. The first most popular being a vehement disagreement/challenge/let-us-go-RIGHT-NOW-and-SEE about that food-stuff. Or maybe, this is just my Lahore. I mentioned earlier that I have been reading memoirs of Lahore and it is seriously messing with my head. I know Lahore, intimately in some areas, cursorily in others; but I know Lahore. I can usually imagine any intersection, any particular cluster of shops or houses. As I read memoirs of Lahore (most concentrated on the 1940s and 50s), I began to notice some oddities in my recollections. I was somehow sublimating those memories as my own memories of Lahore.
A. Hameed, noted writer, in his Lahore ki Yadeein (Memories of Lahore) (2000) describes drinking chai at Pak Tea House and a particular gentleman seated on the table over, who delightfully would lean over and openly eavesdrop on everyone’s conversation (everyone being people like Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Ibn-e Insha). I swear I have that same memory. Except I am sure that I never met Qasmi or Insha. Almost certain, actually. There are other oddities – F. E. Chaudhry, one of the greatest news photographer of Pakistan, describes a meeting with Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the Pakistan Times office in his memoir Ab woh Lahore Kahan? (Now, Where is that Lahore?) (2009). I was there. I think.
My problems with memory seep into things other than Lahore. I mis-remember people. I forget that someone was funny. Or that I had already read something and that this spark of a misshapen “new” thought was really the blob of a half-memory. These things, the worry about these things, seem to prey on me only when I am not paying attention. Or when my attention is diverted by memoirs or by food.
The thing about food is, I am not actually a foodie or someone who cares a lot about gastronomic pleasures. All my food memories are people memories. All my taste-buds are conversation-buds. I like to be with my friends, my loved ones. I like to see them enjoy the food. Probably why I like cooking so much more.
So, when I say Lahore is a city about food – I am saying Lahore is a city where I like talking about food. That’s a quirk of my memory.
There will be more pictures of foods, but these are street pictures – taken hastily, in passing, walking, talking. Except for two meals which are documented in this series, I ate at home every day. I will post those later.
You can see a lot more street food on Flickr.
You can see earlier entries in the Lahore Snaps series here.