Posts Tagged ‘ Sri Lankan Cricket Team ’

Liberty Market, Lahore’s Hub

By Nagwa Malik

Pakistan is a country of historic and cultural importance. Lahore, the heart of this throbbing culture and history, was referred by Max Robinson as the “Pearl of the Punjab” in his article “Rebranding Lahore”. So what is Lahore to the common foreigner? Unfortunately nobody knows because we have an out-dated website of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation which does nothing to attract tourists. Lahore is claimed to have existed 4,000 years ago and history has established records of its existence go back at least 2,000 years. This city of vibrant culture, with its outlandish monuments and its commercial centers has changed over the years whilst still keeping the essence of the city itself. This change is reflected in the changes brought about in Liberty Market, the commercial hub of Lahore, set in the center area of Gulberg (originally the Gul-Bagh).

How does a commercial center signify the importance of any city, or its cultural out-look? Relatively! Any shopping center is designed according to the social and cultural needs of its citizens. Lahore is a modern city steeped in a history of thousands of years. It is the crown of Pakistan, originally the crown of Northern India. This is reflected in the architecture of its bazaars, and its modern shopping centers and malls. Liberty Market fits the bill of reflecting Lahore’s modern society. It is a half-souq/bazaar half mall in structure, where you have a huge plaza dominating the area, and then you have rabbit paths very much like those in Anarkali, those that twine from within the closed structure and out to the back where a bazaar like scenery hits you with food stalls, the embroiders, the tailors, walk back inside and you’re inside a branded shop. Liberty Market is the middle-class chic center, where you can find anything and everything, from clothes and accessories to shoes and restaurants. You can go there in the middle of the night and still find a place to sit and relax with a cup of chai and a shwarma. You can enjoy your shopping, breaking it with cool slushes from anyone of the cafes. You think of any type of food, from the traditional to the westernised or Arabian snacks and you have them, all in one area.

The facelift planned has come in handy. The parking space planned and worked on is made more secure, and with parking meters set rather quaintly, coupled with assistants to put in the “quarter” for you (only in this case it’s not a quarter). You have less bombardment of traffic-well; actually there is still the tiresome bombardment, but more controlled. This has helped induce discipline in our public which was lacking miserably these past years.
The commotion with the Sri-Lankan team also added to the, albeit negative, fame of Liberty Market. The worst part was best described by Max Robinson in the very article, when he said, “when the news broke about the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, my heart sank. There was Liberty Chowk, a place full of memories of fun, joyful evenings and feeling ever so slightly too full after gorging on chicken handi at Salt ‘n’ Pepper. If only the people watching that horror knew of the feelings and experiences that I and so many others associate with Liberty, the incident would have felt more like an anomaly or a tragedy. But, alas, the good name of Lahore was to be dragged through the mud and added to the list of dangerous terrorist-ridden holes to be avoided at all costs.”

This calls for an emergency upgrading of Liberty Market and of Lahore. This chic market which is one of the most delightful areas in Lahore is now known to the world as an area unsafe for Lahoris, let alone the tourists. Why? Liberty does not need a physical uplift. It does not need alarming blaring announcements over the speakers as each shop announces its sales, it does not need new plazas- it needs marketing. Yes, our market needs marketing and that even to the outer world. A reflection of its citizens, it should be used in overhauling the image of Lahore in particular and of Pakistan in general.

I mean if the few tourists that come to Lahore feel they have entered the “safest” city in the world, and move around Liberty as the “safest and most colourful” modern epic of Lahore, why shouldn’t it be trumpeted? Apart from those classic monuments of the walled city, what have we for the man of average social tastes? We have Liberty Market, more so due to the negative fame it achieved during the rare terrorist incident. Now people hear of Lahore and they associate it with Liberty Market. That can be propagated positively now, to promote tourism, to promote Lahore’s old name of “one of the most peaceful cities in the world”, to promote the Lahore of today, a modern city with its eons of culture and tradition.
If to one Max Robinson, “Cultural differences mean that a holiday in Pakistan will never be exactly like a vacation to India or Thailand. No boozy full moon dance parties or seedy cruises up and down the beaches here. But there is a market out there for cultural tourism. People who want to enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells of a place totally different to home.” What would it mean to many others once we invite them to come over, to pour in? And once they realize they do not have to go all the way to the walled city to see, in their own words, “wonder after wonder” that “thrills them”, but can enjoy the mundane act of shopping in a center like Liberty and still have a unique experience. Heck, it is a unique experience for our own Pakistanis who come to Lahore just to shop here…imagine what it would be to the foreigners who would greet an up-to-date mall-cum-bazaar well within reach, with products that are also well within reach.

India’s World Cup Cricket Victory: The Measure of a Nation

By Gethin Chamberlain for The Guardian

It is 3pm in a small British bar in the tourist state of Goa about 550km south of Bombay – where the country’s cricketers are harrying Sri Lanka’s batsmen in the early overs of the World Cup final.

It is 28 years since India last won this most cherished of titles in a nation so crazy about the game. There are fewer than nine hours to go until it does so again. But we don’t know that yet.

Mohinder Amarnath, the man of the match in the 1983 World Cup, is certain, however, that the moment has arrived to repeat his team’s success. Every Indian can realise their dreams through the 11 men on the field today, he says.

He need not have worried. Corrin, the eponymous owner of the Goan bar, is reaching for a brush, and dipping it into the pot of orange acrylic paint on the table in front of her. She holds the arm of the little Indian girl in front of her, draws the first rectangle of the national flag, hands the brush to Sonny, the barman, and watches him draw the white and green stripes. The girl, the daughter of the beautician who runs the shop upstairs, beams, delighted, and skips away to show off her affirmation of support for the home team.

In the street outside, a truck thunders by, horn blaring, Indian flags fluttering in from the cab. The picture is repeated across the country; millions are glued to their televisions or radios, donning their replica shirts, daubing themselves in the national colours. India is partying; each successful delivery from its bowlers greeted by a round of beating drums. The country that has made cricket its national game is certain that this year, finally, it will capture the ultimate prize, the World Cup.

India is certain that this is no more than it is due. It has already celebrated what many in the country regard as the real final, victory over its most reviled opponent, the notoriously unpredictable – unless you happen to be a friendly bookmaker – Pakistan team, which on Wednesday managed to throw away a magnificent bowling performance to lose ignominiously.

And India was desperate for this victory; the humiliation of the Commonwealth Games corruption scandal was still fresh; the country’s recent diplomatic successes – not least towards a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – has been overshadowed by fresh concerns about its aspiration to be regarded as a first world nation.

This is a nation demanding international approval: buoyed by the news that projections now show it will overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030, there is a sense that its time has come.

As Saturday dawned, prayers were said, puja [offerings to the gods] were made, anything to give the Indian team an edge. Across the country, people painted themselves in the blue of the national team strip or in the orange, white and green of the flag, and prepared to party.

Bars and hotels hiked prices and charged admission to the more rarefied environments. In many places, TV screens were set up and even when the big screen was not an option, the nation gathered anywhere that a television was on, peering over each other’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of the match.

In Corrins’, even Sonny was applauding as Sri Lanka upped the ante in their final overs, smashing the ball hither and thither. Then a nation of – according to the new census figures – 1.2 billion fell silent as top batsman Sehwag fell to the second ball of the Indian innings.

Yet important as the game was, some felt that there was a sense of anticlimax after the Pakistan game. “The excitement among people is lacking,” Manoj Kumar, a hotel manager, told the Times of India.

Not so among the Sri Lankans, who had sidled into the final without the fireworks of the Indian progress. Captain Kumar Sangakkara pulled no punches when he explained what it meant to a country even more desperate for international approval after the end of three decades of bloody civil war: “It means everything. We have come through a very tough period. A lot of people have laid down lives for our country. In this new future, hopefully we can take home the World Cup, and that will be even more occasion for celebration.”

Gautam Gambhir, the Indian batsman who stabilised the nation’s innings after the loss of influential opener Sehwag, was no less compelling when he told a news channel that India had to win to honour the dead of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai: “For me it will be dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the 26/11 massacre.”

For India, the desire to be taken seriously by other nations in sport is perhaps more important than diplomatic point-scoring. Like its neighbour China, it has been unable to translate a mass of bodies into international sporting success. In terms of international trade, it has come on in leaps and bounds, yet still it is unable to project that power into other fields.

Such desperation for success was reflected in the way many in the country fell back on superstition in their desire to ensure success. One fan, Ritangshu Bhattacharya, from Delhi, assured journalists that he would be attempting to tip the odds in India’s favour by defying nature: “I won’t pee in the entire match… I feel whenever I go to the loo, a wicket falls or India drops a catch.”

Even his stoicism was outdone by one politician from the state of Madhya Pradesh, who stood from 10am to 10pm during the India-Pakistan match.

In Corrins’, there is no doubt about who should have won: “You have to support the team, don’t you?,” she said. “We live here, we have to support the local team, however it goes.”

It is 10.45pm, and MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, is hammering the ball to the boundary again. Six to win, two overs. There are fireworks going off everywhere, drowning out the commentary. India knows it has won. It is the Pakistan game all over again: victory from defeat, India defiant.

Six runs, and he smacks it over the boundary. The fireworks explode. In the cities, there is madness; in the villages, too, people are hugging and screaming. The firecrackers are exploding, the night a blur of colour. India wins.

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