Six Indian students from Mumbai spend a memorable week in Lahore with Pakistani host families and students
By Waqar Gillani
When she learnt that her granddaughter was going to visit Lahore, Shershah Chadhar's face broke into a huge smile, followed by spontaneous tears."You cannot imagine her facial expressions at that time. She was so emotional and nostalgic because she grew up in Bhati Gate inside Lahore's Walled City. Her family left Lahore after the Partition," says Mumbai-based Ira Chadhar Sridhar, a young student of St. Xavier's College.She visited Lahore for the first time last week as part of a six-member student delegation facilitated by Seeds of Peace (SoP), an international non-government rganization working to build bridges among the youth in the conflict zones like Pakistan-India and Palestine-Israel.
Ira's mother's family, including this grandmother (her mother's mother, Nani) moved to Rampur after Partition and later permanently shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai). Ira's Nani's father had been the manager of Lahore's then popular Minerva cinema and had a big family in Bhati Gate.Ira first learnt of the famous proverb Jinhay Lahore nai dekhia o jamia e nai (The person who has not seen Lahore has not been born) from her Nani."She was initially a little apprehensive because of what we hear about the security situation in Pakistan but then she was okay," Ira said. "She stressed that I must visit Bhati Gate and try to find the place where they lived, and of course, take lots of pictures for her memories. My grandmother loves Lahore and is always very nostalgic when she talks about Bhati gate and Lahore's culture."Ira, along with the other students of her group, felt at home in Lahore. All of them found the people, food and environment here to be very similar to what they were used to in India.The Seeds of Peace visit by the Indian students was aimed at improving people to people contact between the two countries and sharing experiences through this programme, explained Sajjad Ahmad, SoP country director. The cross border trip provided both Indian and Pakistani students a rare opportunity to interact with one another on a human, individual level, by sharing conversations, meals, as well as making each other aware of their respective cultures and countries.
"We should encourage people to people interaction between Pakistan and India which can only lead to improved relations between the two nations," said Ahmad. He said that Seeds of Peace Pakistan really appreciated the cooperation and hospitality of the host families of Pakistani children who were also Seeds of Peace alumni, adding that they hosted the Indian students during their week long stay "despite the fact that their children were in the midst of exams".The visit provided the Indian students with a unique first-hand experience about life in Pakistan while staying with their host Pakistani families. They ate out, went sightseeing to Lahore's historical buildings and gardens and witnessed the flag ceremony at the Wagah border from the Pakistani side. They also had the opportunity to interact with students other than their hosts at various government, semi-government and private schools in Lahore, where they learned more about the Pakistani education system.
The trip provided the Indian students with great memories. "We enjoyed spicy Lahori food and found many similarities, and much more variety than India," said Gaurav Bhawani, another student of St. Xavier's College. She said she now felt that Lahore was like their second home.The Indian students felt loved here and their visit served to shatter the stereotyped image of a country full of terrorism, she added. "We came to Pakistani with pretty open minds and wanted the maximum exposure to this society and culture. We have lot of to share when we go back."
"I wish that the visit could have been much longer and that the Pakistani students weren't having their examinations. It would also have been nice to stay at least until the (last) Sunday when India
and Pakistani were playing a match in the Asia Cup," said Jay Shah of KC College Mumbai.
"It has been a great experience. I am so happy to be part of this peace process here. It is amazing. It is also catharsis for all of us," said Mehreen Arif, a Pakistani Seed host."It has been very surreal to be here in Lahore. This is an experience that I will never forget; I will carry it with me wherever I go. I found many stark similarities between the home of my host family and my own home; I felt like I was at home all over again and having that feeling of being loved," Ira said.
The writer is a reporter with The News on Sunday.
Pakistan and SoP
The Seeds of Peace is a non-profit, non-religious and non-political organization dedicated to preparing teenagers from areas of conflict with leadership skills to promote co-existence and peace.
At its annual international summer camp SoP brings together children from several countries to spend three and a half weeks interacting with people from all over the world and particularly with their 'enemy'.Pakistani teens first attended the SoP international camp in the summer of 2001. Since then a small delegation of students have attended these camps each year. The NGO works towards onflict resolution in many regions of the world, including Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. SoP recently held an interfaith harmony camp with Pakistani Sikh, Christian, Hindu and Muslim students in Lahore.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By Amir Zia
NEW DELHI: The first of its kind two-day Pakistan-India Business meet concluded on Wednesday with a res .....more
May 19, 201 .....more
By Amir Zia
NEW DELHI: Prominent business and corporate leaders from Pakistan and India on Tue .....more
Page 152 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw