The Curious Case of…. Allama Iqbal Town
I normally don’t talk about myself (and I wouldn’t, for the most part), but I’ve decided to write about things and places which are close to me. It is because I have decided to re-discover my middle-class roots through some blogposts. Perhaps it is part of the same process, which made me embrace Lollywood, by externalizing an idea of my identity whilst I’m displaced. So I’m going to talk about, Allama Iqbal Town.
I live there, you see. And, I have learning to love it after all these years.
Ever since I’ve started climbing the social ladder in my teenage years, this one thing always irked me: Why did my parents decide to build our home in such an uncool area, like totally?
Cool areas in green, Uncool in red
My friends lived in posh localities like Gulberg, Model Town, and DHA etc., and I was way out there missing on all the cool Playstation 2 parties. It’s very much like if you lived on the wrong side of the bridge in Karachi, i.e. you are a social pariah, more or less, as demonstrated by the fictional (or not!) date at a fancy Dahi Bhalla place
Me: Hello Jaani!
Not Me: Hello Jaani!
M: Bari pyaari lag rahee ho! Tumhari ankhon ka kaajal meray dil ko tarpa raha hay!
NM: Oh you! Khekhekhe! Never change!
M: Kaash Main Tumharay Haath Ka Kangan Hota
Choomta Phir Main Teri Kalaee
Dekhta Jalwoon Ki Ranaee
Jhoomta Rehta Aur Chamakta
Kaash Main Tumharay Haath Ka Kangan Hota!
NM: HOW ROMANTIC! You have won me over! *gives me a teddy bear*
M: Haye! Kasme! *blushes*
NM: So… whats your name?
M: Whats in a name?
NM: smarty pants! So where do you live? Here in DHA?
M: No, ermm, I live near New Muslim Town.
NM: Oh nice! Nice area. What do you mean near? Where do you live exactly?
M: Oh yaar, Allama Iqbal Town… it’s next to Muslim Town, you see….
NM: OO ewwW! O! eWW! My kaam karne wali maasi lives there, U knW. Ewww!
M: Well I’m from a good part of Iqbal Town, you see!
Also there was this stigma associated with the place I live, because almost all the Lahore thinks the following.
And no! I don’t know of any kothas around my place, nor I’ve been to any mujrahs!! (I’ve been asked about this, more than a few times).
NM: I bet you get your cheap poetry from all the mujrahs you go to in Iqbal Town!
M: I DON’T KNOW ANY KOTHAS, BITCH!
Located in the South west of a geographical city centre of Lahore, Allama Iqbal Town was established sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, and only really got populated in the 90s. Multan Road makes the northern and western boundary of the settlement, while Wahdat Road (and Punjab University new campus) constitutes its’ southern boundary. It came into the news for all the wrong reasons last winter, when two bombs went off in the main market, Moon Market, killing around 50 people and injuring a few hundreds. It was a heart-wrenching moment as Moon Market was my fav destination for lemon tarts till my local Cakes N Bakes made me a convert. (In all seriousness Lahoris, Cake N Bakes kicks Gourmet’s ass, at least in lemon tarts!)
Also, Allama Iqbal Town has a lot of interesting neighbours/inhabitants. Three major film studios in Pakistan (Bari Studios, Evernew Studios, and Shahnoor Studios) are based in Allama Iqbal Town, which explains the reputation about the locality. Also, we’ve got Mansoora (headquarters of Jamaat-e-Islami) just around the corner, as well as the Punjab University New Campus (which is essentially run by crazier, younger, feistier mullah wannabes i.e. IJT).
All in all, when Taliban take over, Allama Iqbal Town would be one helluva battlefield. I’ve got my machete, ready jee!
Allama Iqbal Town also, apparently, has great shopping. Perhaps it doesn’t have the variety (like I care), or any high-fashion brand (like if I could afford those), but if you want anything decent for cheap: AIT is the place for you. The Kareem Block market is home to all the cheap urban-wear you can think of! Also, somewhere very secretive, there’s this shoe shop which I adore! Genuine leather shoes for $15-$20, with some very interesting designs! (I have a list from some of my amreeki friends for the next time I’m home). Also, Allama Iqbal Town is home to Brain Net which was famous for being the first dial-up ISP in Pakistan, which was also, apparently, the birthplace for one of the earliest computer virus ever made (according to the folklore).
M: But you see, it’s the home for the only TOEFL test center in Lahore, which has a generator!!!!!!!!!
NM: You’re so sad! I’ve gotta go! You pay the bill!
M: But I thought we were going dutch! I’ve only got a 100Rs. Note, you see!
NM: Typical, Iqbal-Town-wallahs!
In all seriousness, even though it has its problems like: not being remotely near to anything that’s fun or hip; killer bottleneck traffic junctions; threat of a clash of civilizations, of sorts, between Islamists and the Dallals – but Allama Iqbal Town is home. Its’ sheer middleclass-ness is charming. Plus, it has a lot of great foods you can think of, thanks to an influx of immigrants from the Walled City. Also, fun place to be when you are learning to drive! Drive on Multan Road for a minute, and you would instantly know all the driving you ever need to know. Also, it I have some good old memories associated with it!