At every turn, there is a new building being built. Skyscrapers and flyovers begin to pop out of nowhere. It seems like every road is being broken down to build a new one. A common theme around Lahore these days is ‘change’. Maybe for the better but it means an end to an era.
Soon Lahore will be better known for its malls and suburban housing societies rather than the historical side of it that seems to be slowly pushed backwards into the city with the constantly enlarging boundary of the city. Already being such an overpopulated city of Pakistan, we refuse to put a stop to these new projects.
Not everyone copes with change in the same way. Some may find the changes we see in Lahore every day as a sign of modernisation or building Lahore to be a greater city, at the end of the day it still is change. Old traditional family houses are being sold and given away for a more modernly built house in a posh housing society. There seems to be no shortage of places to live. Prices for a house within or even close to the heart of Lahore have soared as areas become more commercialised and more and more people are choosing to move to a housing society under the pretence that it is safer when really the crime rates are quite similar in both areas.
It baffles me how the people are willing to give up a piece of their history and a symbol of their family prestige to live in an overcrowded society. All that history turned to rubble only to build a wedding hall or a restaurant. In a world so captivated by money and its importance we all seem to have lost sight of the greater things in life. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers didn’t build these houses so we could abandon them and give them to strangers. They built these houses with every penny they had, pouring their sweat and hard work into them, trying to provide a life of extravagance and comfort for their children and the generations to come.
We didn’t spend years making memories within their brick walls to have it all go away within in a blink of an eye. People say that the Quaid-e-Azam would be disappointed to see what has become of the country he worked so hard to create. But he is not the only one that would be disappointed with what we have done to our city and country.
Lahore has enough restaurants, cinemas, and shopping plazas. However, it seems it’s about time we started preserving our history -- before nothing is left of it.
Having lived in the same house since I was born in a central part of Lahore, the idea of leaving our house seemed so absurd to me. But it was "safer" in our new house and since that is the only thing that seems to matter these says I didn’t have a say in the decision to leave 50 years of our history and our own memories behind. Everyone told me it was time for change and so we moved on to a ‘better’ place.
I may not be so quick in embracing change but Lahore is moving faster than the rest of us and isn’t going to wait for anyone. Maybe in time I will learn to love my new house like we all are coming to love the new Lahore. But the beauty and the history destroyed under this notion of modernisation, just like the memories and history of my childhood home, will never be returned.