Notes from Lahore: Finding Values of Sufism in the Midst of Materialism and Terrorism

I carry the city of Lahore in my heart no matter where I go. I visited Lahore during July 2017, and I woke up early every single morning to take shots of our garden to capture the beauty of this land.


Our home is a bit far from the city so we actually get to hear birds and roosters in the morning and see stars on a clear night.

Syma, be safe

We spent our days catching up with good friends, family and work colleagues. Then, there was a bomb blast on a centrally located busy road in Lahore during day time. I was planning on being in the vicinity at the time of the blast, to meet a former colleague, if the driver was available. I resist driving on the roads of Lahore since years now – the traffic plays a havoc on one’s sensibilities,  drivers are often angry and living in the outer suburbs makes distances rather long. Lucky for me that the driver was busy that day.

Ants love cactus

I thought to myself like a million times before – I could have been there! The words of the Head of the Tourism cluster at the University of Queensland rang through my ears. When he found out that I was travelling to Pakistan for a short trip, he said “Syma, be safe!” At the time, I wanted to tell him  that things are not that unsafe in Pakistan, that the media only sheds negative light on the country and I was grateful that he cared. He wasn’t that wrong, was he, I wondered.

A new breed of female entrepreneurs

Lahore is dramatically different every time I visit it. The insatiable hunger for money and showing it off by all means necessary, or unnecessary, has escalated since the last time I was here. I was returning after only 1.5 years. But it gave me tremendous joy and pride to meet my girlfriends who are not a part of the rat race. Instead they are focusing on creating value through novel business ideas. These superwomen are entrepreneurs, dreamers and much needed role models for younger girls. They are raising amazing kids and making time to give away free home-cooked meals for hundreds of poor people during the holy month of Ramadan. Lahorelicious and Ovencraft – wish you all the luck in the world and some more! Remember ladies: slow and steady wins the race.

The tortoise

Lahore is a city of contradictions yet it is utterly magical and beautiful. It has a soul, which you can feel by hanging around with the right people. How do people who are poles apart in their thinking and approach to life coexist? Well, they do, with a great deal of difficulty because raising the next generation with  values (of honesty, making clean money, doing and saying the right thing) in this city is getting harder by the day.

Hoping for a better future

Every place on earth needs a balance, something that makes things work and allows progress to happen. My concern for my beautiful city is that the extremes are dividing it, making it harder for the best minds to thrive. My hope is that these minds that I am counting on are ever more brilliant and powerful, for their big and beautiful hearts to be in the right place,  and for their spirits to always soar.


Some pink for the eyes

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