That Lahore, of late 80s, is no longer there. Neither is the Lahore of the 90s, or early 2000s. The city has changed, most rapidly, between 2002-2009 and further in the last few years. The roads have been widened, new beltways built, farm land confiscated by the Army and parceled out to its million-strong leeches, built to the height of urban horror and resold. Lahore is more a palimpsest than a city, and to scratch away the ugliness of the present, requires incessant trips to the libraries. I will, as this series on Lahore, enfolds, talk a lot more about such things. Perhaps too much and perhaps to no one listening.
I read some memoirs of Lahore recently and I did some walking on my own. It was good to breathe Lahore for longer than two weeks and it was good to visit parts I hadn’t visited in a long while. It was quite early in my trip that I stumbled upon trees as a way to scrap away the encroachments of present Lahore. My bike ride to my high school was marked by trees. As in, I marked my distance/time in relation to specific trees along the way, and sunlight that reflected through its leaves. It was one small ritual but it was effective. As I graduated to a car, and then to a motorbike, things changed. Still, the specific trees in specific streets, on specific times of the year remain inscribed in my mental map of Lahore.
This is one of those trees that I saw every day. In the summer, a chabhari walla sits under it, or used to, and sell jamon, or shatoot. For two rupees, he’d wrap em in a small torn piece of newspaper, and sprinkle atrocious amount of masala on it.
I remember this tree with much more dread. It is inside the compound of the Lahore Cantt Thana (police station). I went there a few times to get friends bailed, or to get myself some paperwork processed. None of those memories are pleasant. But look at this tree.
You can see a lot more trees on Flickr.
You can see earlier entries in the Lahore Snaps series here.