Two hours after arriving in Lahore, Pakistan, I was taken to a concert of Pakistani classical music in a private home.
In the four days that followed that amazing experience, I have had the opportunity to see this amazing city from all angles. From the slums to the grand palaces. The ancient walled city of Lahore has to be my favorite place I have visited. Stepping onto this area can be overwhelming as the chaos of foot traffic, horse carts, and motorcycles flying past you from all angles, all at once, can initially give you a bit of anxiety. But within the ‘slums’ of the walled city is actually a massive, vibrant network of bazaars, with thousands of shops manufacturing textiles right before your eyes. Ironsmiths, carpet weavers, bottle makers, shoe factories, and the crafting of all types of musical instruments, all done by hand, in tiny shops right on the street.
I am staying with a very loving family, in a stunning house just outside of the city center. It is a calm oasis here. I know that when I leave the house, I will step out of the calm oasis and into the extreme chaos of traffic, so every morning, I regret having to leave… but then 45 minutes later, I am in the game of survival by dodging cars, carts, and scooters, and absolutely loving it.
When/If I come back to Lahore, I would like to spend a lot more time in the Ancient Walled City. It is dirty and disorienting, but it is also an endless labyrinth of amazing bazaars. When talking to a lady that has done extensive research into the sociology of the Ancient Walled City of Lahore, I was shocked that she used the term “Disneyfication” as she expressed fear of what increased tourism might do to the Walled City. Yes, it might get cleaner. Yes, it will be more attractive to yuppies and bring in more money… but at what cost? All of the small shops working in hand-made textiles replaced with Starbucks and Gap stores. I am glad I am here to see the walled city in its current state because it is already clear that investments are coming in to make big changes.
Yesterday, I got a stomach virus. I drank water from a fountain I thought was safe. But it only lasted 24 hours so not so bad.
Tomorrow, I head to the mountains. Out of the chaos.
It will be amazing.
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