March / April  2006




March/April Contents 

 Real Issues
 Malnourishment in
 South Asia


 South Asian issues
 Getting to know the
 past better



 News from elsewhere
 New animal species
 found in Indonesia

 Veggie chemical
 repairs DNA damage


 Bhera - the town that
 time forgot
- Part II

 World Bank in
 South Asia
 Grant to Afghanistan

Land management in

Urban services in


 Tollinton Market



 South Asian










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Lahore Lookout - Tollinton Market Saved

Tollinton Market was built in 1864 as the First Punjab Exhibition Hall in Lahore.

Being emotionally attached to my beloved Lahore, I am deeply disturbed to learn about the present plans to demolish the Tollinton Market building , the historic and prominent landmark of Lahore which housed the first Punjab Exhibition held in 1864. No other city can boast a more stirring and chequered history than Lahore, the gateway to the sub-continent. It will indeed be a pity to demolish this glorious structure built by the British rulers but with the labour of nameless artisans and workers of Lahore. We should make a fervent appeal to the authorities to preserve this landmark at all cost. I have seen other nations take pride in their national heritage and with painstaking efforts struggle to rebuild their historic structures destroyed by nature or in wars. The Polish people worked for decades to rebuild the old town of Warsaw completely destroyed during the last war. They had to refer to the old photographs and memories of their senior citizens. [Pran Neville – author: "Lahore : a sentimental journey ", 1993 ]

Tollinton Market – 1864

Lahore’s Lovers :

The good, the bad and the ugly, along with beauty, elegance, contradiction, irony and bad taste are the qualities/characteristics that form the ambience of the city of Lahore. Like Khushwant Singh’s [himself an old Indian Lahori] book on "Delhi", Lahore has welcomed the embrace of many lovers and admirers who entered her city Gates from the west and east after returning from plundering Delhi [a further 260 miles east]. Lahore received a "double whammy" as Punjab was like a "half-way" house both on the way and going back towards central Asia. This gave rise to the warm and bon vivant nature and character of the Lahori folk. Hence the proverb – " Khao Piao tey Aish karo , nahin tey Abdali lai jai ga ….." [eat drink and be merry other wise, Abdali will take it away….. ] . A story that Faiz Ahmed Faiz was fond of narrating was about the Qat-Ie-aam" of Nadir Shah raging in full fury in Delhi. The story goes that word spread in Lahore that there was a Qatl-Ie-aam [mass slaughter] going on in Delhi- the capital of the empire. It is said that half of the Lahoris began marching towards Delhi. But that is to digress.

Lahore was impossible to resist. Such was its attraction that it led many an amorous adventurer to sandwich her from the west and the east after sacking Delhi. Alexander the Greek was tempted. The hordes from Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan [1790’s Abdali] plagued it with their affection. The Central Asian Tartars sharpened their teeth and kissed it. Then the Mughal cavalry thundered across it with their love and warmth. The Sikhs too had a "petite ardour" with Lahore, and the European John Company Bahadur [the first Multinational Corporation] had a 300 year picnic / "affaire grande".

Today Lahore is falling apart as a city. It staggers under the cumulative weight, travails and benign indifference of its past and present day lovers. Its present day lovers, through an arranged, gun-point wedding of the nouveau rich buffalo thieves and khaki gun-runners have hastened the demise of this beautiful city. Lahore’s most recent ruling Romeos have a natural affinity for the high rise Plazas. The Plaza in its Pakistani form is the finest urban structure to rise since the discovery of the no sweat / cost-benefit approach to life, which in its rural form took the shape of stolen buffaloes.

This article is a short story of how one of Lahore’s most prominent buildings, the Tollinton Market escaped being butchered at the hands of its present day ruling Romeos.

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