Many would wonder why Dawat-e-Shiraz(i) or a lunch at an educational institution is important and worth writing a blog post about? Well for not good reason for me either as I never studied at Lahore School of Economics (LSE) nor my did my two siblings. So why have a lunch at LSE after-all?
|Lahore School of Economics|
I was in Lahore yesterday for a very quick visit. I went to Lahore along with my younger son by Daewoo and were in much hurry to have the thnigs done as early as possible and be back in Islamabad before sunset. And it so happened that LSE was within a few kilometres of our zone of activities. after we were finished with the the purpose we had gone to Lahore, I rang up my friend Syed Asghar Javed Shirazi, who is the deputy controller examination at the LSE. Without wasting his breath, he asked me to join him over lunch at LSE. Since it has been a long time that he has been asking me to come over to LSE whenever I go to Lahore, I decided to finally make it up and should not turn down his kind offer of lunch, as we were otherwise famished and needed some grub to munch.
Going to LSE wan't easy as the premises is on the other end of the criss cross of under developed huge DHA of Lahore. In fact if I say that the LSE has been intelligently designed and placed in between the thriving Lahore city (at its back) and the rural Lahore (where the main entrance faces), I may not be wrong. For the students of economics, nothing could have been so very well sited - an institution situated on the economic divide of a modern thriving economic Lahore and funds starved rural area.
Since Shirazi has sent over a guide, it was easier to find way to LSE. The building was obscured from outside with wall covered with green plants, so one couldn't find out what actually is inside the walled compound - I was soon to find out.
After parking the car in the huge parking lot, our guide started walking ahead of us and we followed. We walked and walked and my bones started to ache as we continued to walk. It seemed as if the paths and lawns would never end. Finally after lot of pre-lunch exercise, we saw a familiar face and we had a sigh of relief. Shirazi with his familiar smile, which his greyish mustaches failed to hide, met us outside his single story office building and took us inside. Since we had no time for any formal gup shup, we decided to go for the lunch and have gup shup over the lunch. We came out of his office and started walking once again.
Again after lot of walking, now joined in by crowds and pairs of students walking and sitting in the green lawns, enjoying the beautiful sun in the cold Lahore afternoon, we finally came to the cafe or the staff canteen. The cafe had lunch tables nicely laid and a few faculty members were already having their lunch. A menu was ordered, but I left it to the host to whatever he 'deemed' fit for the two famished Isloos to be served with. So for me a 'biryani' was ordered while for my son french fries and fried chicken was called for. As humble as he is, Shirazi ordered for himself a very modest lunch of 'Mong ki daal and chapatis.'
|Da'wat-e-Shiraz(i): Top -Chicken Biryani (L), Chicken fried (R), Bottom - Mong ki Dall (L) and fuming oven fresh rotis (R)|
While the lunch arrived, we had our gup shup unleashed. In the meanwhile a sober and decent looking guy came in and sat on our table. But finding unfamiliar faces except Shirazi, he decided to change over to the other table where a few faculty members were already engrossed in a post-lunch conversation. I was told that the man none other than the rector of LSE. I was impressed by his simplicity and the diginity with he carried him. Had Shirazi introduced him to me, I would not have missed enjoying a few moments in the company of a learned man.
The lunch finally came and I envied Shirazi for having ordered for himself as the fuming hot oven-fresh rotis made me leave my biryani and share what Shirazi was eating - it was actually a 'da'wat-e-Shiraz(i)'. 'Da'wat' means calling someone over a formal lunch or dinner. Da'wat-e-Shiraz thus means a lunch of Shiraz, a place in southern Iran, famous for its archaeology of ruins of old Persian empire. And what Shirazi was eating exactly constituted the 'dish' mentioned in the famous Da'wat-e-Shiraz ( I will talk about it later).
After the very delicious lunch, for which I envy the faculty of LSE, we 'walked back' to Shirazi's office, where already a large crowd of students was waiting for him for usual office dealings. So we thanked Shirazi for the 'da'wat' and again walked back amidst the crowds of students and left Lahore with the wonderful memories of da'wat -e-Shiraz(i) at LSE.