Friday, December 11, 2009

The Three Anarkalis

Anarkali is a very romantic name indeed. Films and historical books are replete with the romantic tales attached with this name. So we already know much more about Anarkali of the courtyards of the Emperor Akbar and his son Shaikhoo. That was all about the first Anarkali. Lately, the story of Anarkali was given a new dimension by Shoaib Mansoor in a beautiful video, which further dramatizes the love story.

The second Anarkali is the once famous Anarkali Bazaar of Lahore where anyone visiting Lahore would go for shopping, specially the ladies. I had some vivid and nostalgic memories attached with this Anarkali. Being from Lahore and the youngest of all brothers, I had to invariably accompany my mother to Anarkali Bazaar for shopping. Our first stop used to be at Banao Bazaar, an allayed mini bazaar inside Anarkali. Beside other features (common to women), one of the best attraction used to be the spicy fruit chaat, which I believe still sells like hot cakes. The fruit chaat used to be so spicy, that unless one drank milk shake, the burning wouldn’t go away. So our nest stop would be the milk shake shops. Milk shake in those days wasn’t available freely as of now, and it was more specific to Anarkali alone. Few would also know that the tomb of once mighty ruler of India, Qutab ud Din Aibak, who died while playing “Chogan” ( Polo), is also situated into one of the side roads of Anarkali. No one visits the place as people hardly know of it existence. Strange are the ways of Nature – kings buried go un-noticed.

After the shifting of the bulk of population to areas adjacent to Gulberg and the Lahore Defence, Liberty and markets in the Y Block and other places in the Defence became the hub of all shopping for most of the people in Lahore and also of all the visitors. While the Anarakali Bazaar still serves as the hub of the shopping for the people living around the place and that of old Lahore, its galore has dimmed over the years. Though opening of the second Food Street has added some added attraction to the Bazaar.

There was yet another Anarkali, which had been synonymous to the Karachi Zoo for decades and was very popular among children. Yes, I am talking of the lone female elephant of the Karachi Zoo, who died earlier this year. Aged 65-70 years, she was the oldest inhabitant and the main attraction for the visitors of the zoo. Born in Burma Anarkali, one day she walked into the jungles of the Former East Pakistan in early 50s. and at that time she never knew that she would be flown to a place thousand of miles away to become darling of the children for the rest of her life.  I too had a chance to see her when once I visited the Karachi Zoo many many years ago. And may heart really ached listening to the news of her demise.

So all three Anarkalis leave behind romantic and unforgettable memories. While the real Anarkali will continue to live on in the history books, and the Lahore Anarkali Bazaar would continue to provide a shopping place for many, the Anarkali of Karachi Zoo will some day fade away from the memories of those who had the chance to  see her once in their lives.


Asghar Javed said...

Ya, the name is muical as is the history assosiated with Anarkali. I knew of two only ;-)