More seeds of peace needed for a bumper crop | 'THE NEWS' (Pakistan)
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 organization 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.