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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.