‘I saw Lahore, I was born’ writes the eminent scholar and an inspiring historian Dr. Fatima Hussain in her latest book ‘Lahore, The City of Love’. She is the author of best seller books ‘The war that wasn’t: The Sufi & the Sultan’ and ‘Sufism Revisited’. Her strong grip on history of Sufis in the sub-continent gives her unique command over the topics linked to sub-continent’s history, peace and women’s emancipation within Islamic societies. An highly educated lady having M.Phil and Ph.D from Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi and a frequent traveler who has seen almost all of the magnificent cities of the world from east to west, when writes that she was born after seeing Lahore gives a new meaning to the famous phrase of ‘Jinhay Lahore Nai Wekhiya O Jamya hi Nai’ (One who has not seen Lahore, is not born). Dr. Fatima Hussain is a frequent visitor to Lahore, being an historian and advocate of Sufi teachings, her bond with the city of Lahore seems stronger than many of the city dwellers. Perhaps she never found Lahore to be a city which can be taken for granted and that too is well reflected in her book. The book, Lahore – The city of love is her reflections and recollections of the history, morphology and culture of Lahore. This beautifully produced book is with many colorful photographs of the monuments, sites, places, personalities and festivals of Lahore. Its attractive cover and contents along with large number of photographs makes it a must pick among other books on similar topic, not to mention that this book on Lahore is from an author who is not a Lahori but has dedicated the book to ‘Zinda Dilan-e-Lahore’ Even being a Lahori myself, while reading the book, I confess that Lahore is a lot more than what one thought to have known about it. Dr. Fatima Hussain has lighten up those corners of the city which are either long forgotten or have been caged behind the artificial shadows of over head bridges and underpasses The book comprises 13 chapters, each of which covers unique aspects of Lahore. From historical perspective to monuments, from festivals to cuisines and personalities, every chapter contains mesmerising details of the city of love. Even being a Lahori myself, while reading the book, I confess that Lahore is a lot more than what one thought to have known about it. Dr. Fatima Hussain has lighten up those corners of the city which are either long forgotten or have been caged behind the artificial shadows of over head bridges and underpasses. She recollects her first visit to Lahore in 2005, when she was attending an International Punjabi Conference organised by World Punjabi Congress Chairman Fakhar Zaman. Her first impression of Lahore was of a city with beautiful gardens, flowers alongside the roads, organised traffic and extremely warm and hospitable people. Later, she explains the changes she witnessed in Lahore while writing the book in 2017, changes involving destruction of monuments, cutting of trees in the name of roads, expansion and increased traffic despite converting a city of gardens into a city of underpasses and over head bridges. Regarding food, she especially mentions her visit to Food Street and Chinese restaurants of Lahore. She recalls her visits to Liberty market and Anarkali, from where she claims to have bought dresses and fabrics at half the quoted prices. She also mentioned her visits to Shalimar Garden, Lahore Fort and Model Town Park, which according to her are well kept as compared to the parks in Delhi. Dr. Fatima also mentions her experience of witnessing spring season in Lahore back in those days when Kite Flying festival Basant, was organized. She provides details of how she flew a kite and managed to cut two kites during the kite flying competition. She also appears to be a great fan of Lahori food, which she mentions a lot in her book. One of the chapter in the book is dedicated to the huge variety of cuisines available in Lahore mentioning the love of food that Lahoris are famous for. With photos of these traditional foods especially ‘Qatlamba’, this chapter sums up almost all of the main eatery places in Lahore along with the list of dishes they are famous for. While reading the book, one feels the great fondness of the writer for the Sufis and Saints of Lahore. Dr. Fatima has included a great deal of information regarding Mian Mir, Data Ali Hajveri and Madhu Lal Hussain along with his annual Urs famously known as Mela Chiraghan. There is a separate mentioning of Mela Chiraghan in detail in the chapter on festivals of Lahore. She has also added details of her meeting with great Punjabi poet Munir Niazi. She mentions his couplet, which seizes the reader’s thoughts, and compels the reader to ponder that perhaps Lahore, which was once the city of love is fast becoming a commercial city leaving its calm nature and transforming into a chaotic place. Dr. Fatima Hussain has also brought back the memories of a few important personalities who belonged to Lahore but our generation is oblivious of their legacies of devotion, love and commitment. One such personality is Bhagat Singh, the famous freedom fighter, who devoted his life to struggling against the British rule but got arrested and finally was hanged following a biased court proceedings. In the book, Dr. Fatima forms a unique relation of Bhagat Singh with Bradlaugh Hall, situated near Rettigan Road. By mentioning that Bhagat Singh always claimed Bradlaugh Hall as his address in his letters from Central Jail Lahore, she forms a new perspective for the reader to see the importance of this building which had been the fountain head of freedom struggle of every sub-continent freedom movement. After this, the reader never sees the building as just another old deteriorating building anymore, rather a sense of pride to have this site in your city develops immediately. She also takes the reader back to the forgotten Rani Bamba of Lahore, the last Rani to have ruled Lahore. Dr. Fatima, in her book, gives brief introduction of Princess Bamba. Known to very few, the story of this forgotten princess, who was the daughter of Maharaja Dalip Singh, last Sikh ruler of Lahore Empire and son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, buried in Lahore in a grave having an engraved tomb stone saying “If one opens the grave of a dead, None would be able to discern rich from poor” is among those recollections of the people of Lahore mentioned by Dr. Fatima Hussain, that pricks the heart of those who know the grief of separation from their motherland. She has also included the famous artist Amrita Shergil, who used to live in Ganga Ram mansion located on the Mall, from where Amrita produced her famous paintings. The photograph of her apartment in Ganga Ram mansion has also been included in the chapter. One of the interesting chapters from the book, lists famous actors who belonged to Lahore and from where they started their journey of becoming stars of Bollywood. Among these Kamni Koshal, Dev Anand and Pran are prominent. Apart from people, the book captures many historical sites and monuments. There is a full chapter on the gates of Lahore, which for a Lahori like myself, is quite informative, since even though born in Lahore I did not know the history and detail of each gate of Lahore. Dr. Fatima has included photos of the each gate or gateway which gave me an opportunity to see each one of them, finally. A chapter dedicated to the Sufi Saints of Lahore contains brief information regarding the ambassadors of peace and love for mankind, for the youth of Lahore the fact that so many peace loving great Sufis belonged to Lahore is quite surprising since we have stayed away from these great Sufis for so long that now perhaps our generation desperately needs reconnecting with them to learn the way of living in harmony, peace, self contentment and above all the respect for human being irrespective of any religion, cast, creed or sect. As the writer mentions Lahore as one of the pioneer city for such a way of life under the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Later these teachings of tolerance and harmony were preached by Sufi saint Mian Mir as recorded by Dara Shikoh in his book Sakinat-Ul-Aulia, it is for us now to revive and promote those teachings to purify Lahore from the stains of being an intolerant society attracting extremism. The writer, within the chapter on historical monuments, has included the details of each of the shrine of these Sufi saints including; Data Darbar, Shrine of Madhu Lal Hussain, Miran Zinjani, Pir Makki, Shrine of Neela Gumbad, Bibi Pak Daman, Shrine of Shah Jamal famous for its Dhamals on Dhol by famous Pappu Sain, Shrine of Mauj Darya Bukhari and Hazrat Mian Mir. Dr. Fatima has included two of the English translated Kafis of Shah Hussain. One of the sections of the book contains famous and historical mosques of Lahore, apparently when people inquire about mosques, not many names comes in mind except Badshahi mosque, but this section holds photos and details of mosques like Maryam Zamani mosque, Dai Anga mosque, Sunehri masjid, Saleh Kamboh mosque, Nawab Zakariya Khan mosque, Dai Lado mosque, Saleh Sindhi mosque, Begumpura mosque, Moti masjid and surprisingly Bahria Town Mosque being the 7th largest mosque of the world. The modern buildings of Lahore is also included in her book by Dr. Fatima, praising the pre-partition architecture of Lahore museum, High court building, GPO, Quaid-e-Azam Library, Punjab University, Bradlaugh Hall, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Tollington Market, Lakshmi Building and details of Lakshmi Chawk and many others. The chapter containing historical monuments holds a long list of historical sites in Lahore along with photograph of each place, most of which I never knew of until I read this book. From famously known places like Lahore Fort, Jahangir’s tomb, Chauburji and Shalimar Gardens to less known but equally important Gulabi gateway, tomb of Nadira Begum, tomb of Prince Pervaiz, Dai Anga’s and Asif Khan’s Tombs, regarding which she mentions the agony of seeing these magnificent sites in such a deplorable states that the reader is forced to consider the fact that instead of preserving these sites we are directly or indirectly, by supporting those who are destructing these sites in the name of development, erasing our magnificent history. I must mention here the Chauburji which, as detailed in the book, was used to be the gateway of a garden but now it seems to be a beautiful sparrow caged behind the concrete bars of orange train, claimed to be a monument by current ’emperors’. Dr. Fatima, in another chapter, has included, along with photographs of those historical sites which are under the process of preservation; Shahi Hammam, Pictured wall of Lahore Fort, Sheesh Mahal, Alamgiri Gate and last but not least the fabulous restoration of Wazir Khan mosque including its photo from before and after the restoration. Dr. Fatima has beautifully concluded the book with the English translation of Punjabi poem by the celebrated writer Fakhar Zaman, which he wrote during Gen Zia’s martial law. This poem depicts the transformation and current state of the city so well that the reader is forced to think, after all, whose evil eye has jinxed Lahore city? “Whose evil eye has jinxed Lahore city? Who has cast his evil eye on this beautiful city? I can’t bear to see this city now On the expanding sides of this city I see the clots of blood The glow of its eyes is dimming away every moment And its eyes have become jaundiced Once the singing places for cuckoos The trees of the gardens of the city are now being hacked heartlessly The stink of the gutters have got all the scents of the city allotted on it The boulevards of the city are abandoned now And in place of Mirza – the lover, we find there the guard of Mir Shameer – the ruthless The tongue of this city is sewn with blister of unexpressed feelings The feelings, longings, cravings, and hopes of the city Have fallen like leaves in a long – lasting autumn The forehead of the city which once bore the strings of garlands Is now marked with the arched scars of sufferings The bracelet tied around the boundary of this city Has now transformed into a cold rusted handcuff The anklets of cravings in the feet of this city Have now changed into its fetters In the city once ruled by nightingales..” Published in Daily Times, April 29th 2018.