Day 1: From Lahore to Kot Radha Kishen
Locations: Lahore, Chamru Pur, Sharif Complex, Sundar Industrial Estate, Prem Nagar, Kot Radha Kishen
(Click on images to enlarge)
I left Lahore a bit later than planned. I didn't want to start the journey in a hurry and well, last minute reminders, hugs and vows are always worth the delay. I have never been away from my home and office for this long.
The dera of a candidate, in Chamru Pur was where I applied the brakes first. A nice courtyard with a shadowy tahli and relaxed seating arrangement. A kitchen in the corner was spreading the aroma of tea. A person was talking on the phone, finalising details of some mechanical repairs for a 4x4 vehicle. The candidate was not yet awarded the ticket by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. So it was all lights and camera, while the final queue awaited with visible anxiety.
When the Raiwind Road turns towards the Sharif Complex, it turns into a 'motorway' and remains so till the Mull village from where the Sundar Industrial Estate starts. The road was almost empty. I had a plate of guavas, fresh from the orchard and served from a rehri in front of the Sharif Medical Complex that is in front of the palace.
Dhabba Mittran Da (friends' roadside restaurant) is right in front of the gate of Sundar Industrial Estate. I wanted to meet the labourers here but these were the working hours. 'Mittar' suggested that I better wait at the point where a company sets up a free-lunch service for poor labourers at noon. So my first lunch out was free and it was a great learning experience.
I briefly stayed at the tiny railway station, Prem Nagar, just before the town of Kot Radha Kishen. It was amazing to see the lineman talk to the kantaywala through a hand wound phone. No passenger trains stop here anymore and the ‘goods’ trains serve the nearby industries.
A friend of mine in Kot Radha Kishen was waiting. He was very generous and supportive. We took a round of the town which has somehow retained its original name. After visiting some deras, we came to the 'epicentre' of politics: The grand charpoy in front of Punjab Sweets.
April 19, 2013