As reported in our last post, we just returned from being immersed in the Arab world. Although we also visited the wonderland of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, my favorite part of our entire trip was our stunning ride through the city center of Lahore, Pakistan. Even though we shouldn’t have, we felt relatively safe, even though Pakistan, at this point in history has been called by some, “the most dangerous country in the world”.
We quickly realized just as we always do when we experience a very different culture and the lives of others who live in utterly different circumstances, that our perspectives were being changed forever. Our extraordinary and very brave driver took us from our beautiful hotel in the newer part of the city and plunged into the center city and on to see the great wonders of Lahore: the 500 year old Fort ruled by the Moguls in the ancient walled city and a magnificent Mosque which is the fifth largest in the world.
We left the hotel thinking that we were taking a short ride to the historic sites but the journey turned out to be endlessly fascinating and more interesting than what we learned at our final destination. Suddenly we were in the midst of a crushing mass of humanity on the streets of Lahore. People from every walk of life and every economic level swarmed into the streets for innumerable reasons.. Seeing beggars on the streets, helped us remember that most of them had never held a fork, had never had a shower with running water, had never ridden in a car or been outside of the city limits where they may have been born on the streets or in a shabby dwelling.
Some could afford a small donkey or skinny horse to pull a makeshift cart to transport their material goods. Because the traffic was so gnarled, we couldn’t go any fast than a little donkey pulling his huge load plus family members piled on top plodding along beside us for a long time.Suddenly the little fellow simply fell over. He couldn’t go on any longer. We could see how distressed the family was, so worried about their little donkey and wondering how they would ever get their load to where it needed to be. There was no way we could stop amidst the steady flow of the traffic but we longed to know the outcome of that little drama.
Other people in that mass of humanity were more well-off and could afford a ride in a motorized rickshaw or even a small moped for their family.
Then there were also those who were driving tractors right beside the minority who had really nice cars amidst the cacophony of ragged humanity. For an intense forty five minutes, we contemplated how life must be for the the literally hundreds of faces we embraced for only a few brief seconds each on our incredible journey.
As we finally reached our destination I must say we were again overwhelmed with the incredible creativity and sacredness of the human spirit as we beheld the Fort and the Magnficent Mosque! What respect we have for the genius minds who conceived these gorgeous buildings! The great Mosques, just like the magnificent Cathedrals of the world are monuments built by those who had a superlative love for God!