Kicking off this section with a heart-to-heart with Tülin Khalid-Azim. If you don’t know her already, she is a freelance theatre director who dabbles in modern calligraphy, hand-lettering and design. Here’s what she has to say about how she came to accept Lahore finally…
Defence is Islamabad within Lahore. My husband and I came to that conclusion the first time we moved here in 2010 from Islamabad. I had been determined to bond well with the city during our first move. But Lahore! Ah! Lahore! We have a complicated relationship.
I began this complicated relationship by refusing to drive here, relying entirely on my husband and the driver instead. The traffic here terrified me, especially the assault of motorcycles and rickshaws from every angle.
And then my husband and I went from having a toddler to a toddler with a newborn. It didn’t help our relationship, Lahore and mine. I am not ashamed to admit that I was overwhelmed, struggling with postpartum depression, and living in a self-imposed isolation while trying to care for the kids. I was relieved when my husband changed jobs, and we moved back to Islamabad in 2013.
Fast-forward to 2014, and my husband got a great job offer based in—you guessed it—Lahore. This time, though, I vowed to not make the same mistakes, starting with the decision to take on Lahori traffic head on. Oh my! The traffic still drives me crazy, but that one decision has been the most empowering. I have learned the layout of the whole city, taking time to explore Gulberg and the Western side in ways that were impossible for me the last time. I have joined a yoga class, which forces me out of the house regularly, and into a happy, friendly environment regularly. I’ve made good friends with other moms at the kids’ school, and, perhaps most importantly, I have kept myself busy. I don’t work full time, instead taking on freelance projects or working on my modern calligraphy practice, allowing me to spend more time with the kids, and set the pace of my life as I would like.
I’ve understood that Lahore is a different city for those who have grown up here, and they will maintain that their soul belongs to this city. For the elite, it would be summers spent at the pool at Gymkhana or Royal Palm, winters spent riding at the Polo Club, exhibitions, openings, and the winter party and wedding season. For Lahoris in general, it means eating out together regularly (the options are fantastic, and has become a weekend ritual for our family, too), meeting friends and family, going to Liberty or Fortress Stadium on the weekends, enjoying the Shalimar gardens, and generally having fun in public spaces. That’s one thing you have to give credit to Lahoris for: they are bon vivant, and it’s difficult to not get swept away by that love for life when you’re here.
Have I integrated myself wholeheartedly into the Lahori lifestyle the second time around? I can’t say that I have, but it does finally feel like home. And Lahore, now that I’m showing you some love, if you could do me a solid and cool down a few degrees, our relationship would be a lot less complicated.