“If you could visit just one place in Pakistan, where would you go?”

Compiled by Chintan Girish Modi

As part of the Friendships Across Borders: Aao Dosti Karein initiative, I posted this question on my Facebook wall exactly a week ago, inviting Indian friends who have never been to Pakistan to share their responses for this collaborative blog post. I received some truly heartwarming responses, and they are listed below.

Karthik TMK: “Lahore for sure, I have had an unexplained spiritual connection with that place for a very long time. I don’t know why. My heart screams every time I know someone from India has visited Lahore. Till I go there, breathe that air, and bring a bit of the mitti from there, I haven’t lived.

Zena Chhatwal: “Rawalpindi. My grandfather migrated from there.”

Tulika Bathija: “Shikarpur, because my dada and his family grew up there. They had huge acres of property and a big house with excellent facilities. Back then, owning property and business in Shikarpur, which was the epicenter of trade and commerce was considered quite remarkable. Hopefully, I would also like to find out where they lived and visit the rubbles of their joyful memories. I feel like Harry Potter, falling into a pensive of someone else’s memory and witnessing everything silently.”

Tisha Srivastav: “Mohenjodaro — civilizational curiosity. Also, I love left alone archaeological sites.”

Aaditto Shen: “Peshawar. Somehow, the Khyber region has always held a sense of awe for me. Te city’s strategic location on the crossroads of Central and South Asia, which has made it a hub of cultural exchanges thoroughout history… it’s Gandhara history… Sher Shah Suri… and also the terrain of the region. I can’t really pin-point. I have always found that city, even its name — Peshawar — quite enchanting!”

Bhavana Mahajan: “I would love to go to Lahore. My grandfather went to university there, and met my grandmother there.”

Amrita Suresh: “Karachi. My mom’s family is from there. It will be awesome to see the city my mom could have grown up in. Anything connected with my mom makes me emotional, considering it’s been a month since i lost her.”

Rhea D’souza: “My friends’ Salman and Shabnam Rashid’s home.

Aakash Chandran: “Lahore! To meet my friend Fatiq, explore LUMS and to visit the law school there. Oh! How can I forget Rizwan Sahab? I have to dance with him too.”

Aditi Rao: “Quetta, to be able to see my friend Sadiqa Sultan’s home and life, which I hear so much about.”

From left to right: Sadiqa Sultan and Aditi Rao

Megha Radhakrishnan: “If I could visit one place in Pakistan, I’d like to go to Karachi. My nana-nani (maternal grandparents) are from there. They were married there, lived there, and would have raised a family there; however, being Hindus, they fled from there to (what became) India, amidst the partition-induced violence and turmoil of 1947. I’ve always felt like there’s a part of my heritage there, a part of my family’s history. I don’t think I’ll find any remnants of their life there, or people they knew. Even so, if I could, I’d love to visit at least once — because there’s a part of me that belongs there.”

Swathi Abhijit: “The one place that I would like to visit in Pakistan is Lahore … the music, the food, the streets, the architecture, the people. It is believed and was said that jo mehman nawazi labore main hoti hai woh kahin nahi. In our customs, it is believed how you behave with your guests shows your cultural growth. Also I had heard stories about Lahore being the first modern city of the subcontinent that boasted of the cultural achievements and education standards of people. I would love the streets which is layered with history and warmth of people … love of both countries enmeshed in the bricks and stones of the monuments … would love to be a part of this city — its history and its future. Walking the streets can make you feel as if you belong to a place. While writing this message, I am envisioning myself walking in Lahore, as it is a part of me. Yes… that is the reason — there are few places that makes you feel and believe you belong there — the stories, conversations, pictures and images, sounds and language — everything. I feel the same with Lahore.”

Lakshika Kapadia: “Ruins of Mohenjodaro!”

Deepto Ghose: “Lahore! I have heard a lot about that vibrant city. That’s why. And my friend Sheharyar is from Lahore. That’s another reason.

Jamuna Rangachari: “I would love to go to Lahore as I have read many stories about that city. In fact, I do wish to go to Pakistan and would like more Pakistanis to come to India and bond better. This may sound unrealistic but I do dream that we are one country again, and the hatred between Indians and Pakistan ceases.”

Shruthi Vishwanath: “To Karachi, where a friend of mine whom i met in Germany lives. and I know she wants to come to her ancestral hometown somewhere on the border of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Even she doesn’t know the exact place — the family lost touch after Partition.”

Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere: “Lahore. I have just heard a lot about Lahore from my friend Sehr Nisar who is studying there at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and she keeps telling me about the city. I believe it is a very multicultural, cosmopolitan and happening city of Pakistan. Also, I believe that Lahore is a lot like Delhi, hence I am curious to see the similarities between the two cities especially in terms of culture.”

Ruchi Parikh: “Mohenjodaro!”

Rajashree: “Lahore. Just thinking of the place makes me misty-eyed. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because of my Punjabi grandfather. Jis Lahore nai dekhya…”

Ruqia Jabeen: “I want to see Neelam, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur. To see the cultural, linguistic and especially topographical similarities between my Kashmir and that part of Kashmir.”

Ridhi D’cruz: “The first thing that came to my mind was Mohenjo-daro (although deeper interactions with people all over is what really interests me and they will unfold in their own time). Mohenjo-Daro because sometimes I feel like the past is a pathway toward understanding our common ancestry as human beings, as mammals, as animals, as all part of the same life source.”

Mayuree Pandit: “My first thought was — Lahore! After a while, I felt a stronger urge to go to a place in Pakistan that i have not heard of… probably in Sindh! There are some reasons that I do not know yet. I took long to respond as I was waiting to find out from my mum where my grandaunt lived in Pakistan. She does not know. Lahore, because I am waiting to visit my friends Salman and Shabnam there and meet other friends…and also because I like the sound of it. And there is an unexplained attraction to go to Punjab/Sindh in Pakistan…may be past life connection.”

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Thanks to everyone who participated. Look up the sequel to this post — Pakistani friends answering the question, “If you could visit just one place in India, where would you go?”