A Travellerspoint blog

Qawwali and Sufi sessions


Thursdays at the Regale Internet Inn had become an institution on the small backpacker scene in these parts, There were 2 separate live performances which though not tourist attractions per se were open to all. Beforehand however I manged to catch the last day of a book fair at the King Edward Medical University, a very nice colonial building with twin white domes, where the boys played cricket outside on the lawn and many pretty Med. students in Sarees strolled about with uncovered hair. On the way back I also had a peek inside the cathedral too, its twin square turreted front looked just like Notre Dame. Outside I also found a memorial to a certain Donald McLeod, Governor General of the Punjab until 1872.

Later we all decamped out to a local shrine, where the order of the day was Qawwali, mystic chanting. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the impending Ashura holiday, the only performers were 2 impromptu blindmen whom I blessed with a few rupees. I also came across an old boy here inexplicably wearing a Royal Mail winter cap who I just had to have my photo taken with, indeed the locals were very friendly and it seemed that in turn it was us who had become the major tourist attrraction. Plan B then was a walk out through the Old City where brightly adorned wedding carriages fit for Cinderella were made, which led me back to the Fort and Badhashi Mosque again. Despite attempts, the normally hospital Sikhs wouldnt allow access to the temple here, it was one of the major sites of Sikhism and had been built by Emperor Rajput Singh, founder of the short lived independent Sikh Kingdom. The walk back through the narrower heart of the Old City revealed a fascinating mix of very friendly people all trying to scrape a living together in pretty grim and meagre circumstances. If you looked up you could see periodic ornate but very decrepit buildings, forgotten gems of a bygone era now cracked, crumbling with trees growing out from some of them. We eventually spilled out of one of the old city gates and found ourselves in modern trendy Anarkali (read anarchy) where the well heeled went to buy designer gear and wedding outfits.

Back for a pit stop Biryani and then it was out to Baba Shah Jamal, a Sufi mystic centre where the deal was hypnotic drumming by a famous local brother duo, one of whom had been born deaf. These were accompanied by hashed out dance freaks, violently shaking there heads from side to side incessantly for hours and spinning in uninhibited dervishes, with lots of rattling of leg bracelets, sweat saturated hair flailing wildly. The tiny performance area was squeezed in amongst a swathe of more smack headed devotees who made impromptu picnic tables of the adjacent gravestones.

Next day I screwed up as my intended visit to the Lahore Museum was scuppered by it being the one day closed. I worked on the net and burnt photos before jumping on the train for Peshawar, with Swedish guy Alex in tow as well as Matt the Ozzie.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Pakistan

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint