Category Archives: Cross-Border Experiences
Adishwar Kumar Jain, aged 60 years is from Mumbai. Recently, he was watching the famous bollywood film Henna and was reminded of a beautiful incident that goes back to 1991 which he is proud to have been part of. He writes,
“I was on a business trip of Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1991 from Ludhiana (Punjab) when this film Henna was released. It was super hit on the box office and I too went to see the film in Metro talkies of Bombay. Despite of heavy rush, managed to get a ticket for me in black. That time 3 young men came to me and asked for 3 tickets and told they are from Pakistan and do serve in merchant navy. Their ship was parked near Bombay and they took special permission from the captain to see the movie Heena in which Pakistani girl Jeba Bakhtiyar acted as a heroine. It was very embarrassing situation for me to listen all that and start thinking about how to arrange 3 tickets for these Pakistanis. I offered my single ticket to them but they denied as this was not going to solve their problem.
Suddenly I shouted to the huge crowd that 3 Pakistani guests are there and they specially came to see that movie so please arrange 3 tickets for them. To my pleasant surprise, with in minutes at least 20 persons gathered around those young men, shook hands with them and offered their tickets to them. Even few were with their families.
I was just stunned to see the love of common Indian nationals for the Pakistani these nationals. With in no time, 3 tickets were handed over to them and no money was even accepted.
One in the crowd said “Hum to kal dekh lenge par hamare Pakistani bhaeeyon ko aaj hi film dikhayengay….”
In addition, I found that during the interval, people were presenting them with the chips packets and sandwiches etc. They were so happy and were too emotional seeing the love from the Indian people for them.
I still remember this incident which was very touching and that day I realized that how much love the people do with each other of these “Enemy” countries. I always pray for the day when there will be no borders and that Frontier mail (Now Golden Temple Express starts from Bombay) will again run between Bombay to Frontier province and I will go to Peshawar to see the house of Dileep Kumar Sahab (Yusuf Khan).”
Adishwar Kumar Jai is a renowned collage artist of India who has exhibited paintings in all leading art galleries in India and abroad. He holds the post of Vice President of Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India. He is also serving as the Sr. Vice President in a textile company of Mumbai.
by Devika Mittal (India)
I was in Lahore and was staying with my friend Madhavi (Bansal) in a guest house. One evening, I was waiting for my friend Namra (Nasir) as we had planned to go to her place. There was a power cut and so I decided to go outside and wait near the gate. The guest house had 3 people to take care of it. One of them was a young fellow. He offered me a chair to sit. I thanked and struck a conversation with him. I asked him where he is from and he mentioned a place. I asked him how far it is from Lahore. He said, it is about two hours. He, in turn, asked me where I am from. I said, I am from Delhi.
As I spoke the word, his eyes widened and he was shocked. I found it surprising because when I and my friend had arrived at the guest house which was provided to us by our hosts, they had informed the people who took care of the house about us. So i assumed that he would have also known but it turned out he didn’t. He asked me again, “Aap Hindustan se aaye ho?” (You have come from India?)
He then asked me questions around my experience here. One of his last questions was, “Aapka ghar yaha se kitni durr hai?” (How far is your home from this place?)
Devika Mittal is a research student from India. She is the convener-India of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. She tweets at @devikasmittal
by Shayan Khan (Pakistan)
I don’t know how many of you have heard the saying in typical punjabi accent “Lor Lor Ai” (Lahore Lahore Hai – Nothing beats Lahore) about Lahore, Pakistan, the city I was born in and where I grew up. I, for one had never used this term. Lahore for me is home. Period. It’s a place where my close-knit divorced parents’ reside, my father always making sure he is a three minute drive away, as having a second family doesn’t change his love and need for being literally a phone call away from his daughters. The whole of my extended family, friends and most importantly my grandparents who are practically another set of loving parents, define what Lahore is for me.
Also, Lahore means good food and great hospitality. From the interior part of the city to the ever popular local dhabas (roadside food stalls commonly found in the sub-continent), we are the biggest foodies the world will ever get to see if only Travel Channel takes the chance that Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York took and visits us.
Then one day I got married and it led me to live in the U.S. for a year. I was living in an apartment in the downtown amidst Americans, so seeing somebody South Asian would make me want to jump outside the window or more realistically open it in time to say hello. They made me nostalgic. Any and every person who looked remotely Pakistani or Indian unconsciously put a smile on my face because they felt like home. Yes, we (India and Pakistan) got caught up between borders but like families and neighbors resolve their matters and live in friendship; we too need to live amicably. Because it’s getting too old, it’s childish to pick a fight for so long, no religion advocates it, and most importantly it involves lives. And start with empathy. Someone’s life is as significant or more than your child’s or your parent’s. This is what leaders in India and Pakistan should understand.
I have studied, researched and taught business and strategy. It talks about pretty words like ‘synergy’. In almost each class I attended, the Professor would come in and ask with an expression of possessing wisdom, “So class, what is synergy?” The sleepy head’s hand would quickly pop up and he’d spurt the words before anyone else could say ‘Sir, when the sum is greater than the whole’. Of course it is. By the end of the four year programme the class sings in cohesion when the question is repeated for the umpteenth time, “when-the-sum-is-greater-than-the-whole-(yes-we-know)”. But, hey, what is synergy again? I think we still need to get that right. India and Pakistan are neighbours. And as it is, it’s not as if we are progressing as a society. At least, sort what can be sorted. Like resolving issues that both population face – health, illiteracy, water crisis, corruption to name a few. The least that both countries can do is to let young people from both sides synergize, connect, meet and interact with each other. Ironically, in the year that I was in the U.S., I was presenting a research at the American Marketing Association Conference in Chicago being held on the 14th and 15th August, 2015. It was there that I got to meet so many of the renowned Indian Professors and getting to know them made me feel ecstatic. It was the first time I was presenting my work at an international platform like AMA and the confidence that my work received from all the Indian academicians there was motivating. Their supportive eye-contact, the more than the regular number of nods reassuring me through their body language and lastly the literal pat on my back with many congratulations that I received at the end of the conference made me feel blessed in an inexplicable way.
Later, we Pakistani and Indians celebrated our Independence days together by taking pictures and indulging our inquisitiveness about what it’s like on the other side of the border. Of course, we invited one another over to our places but our smiles knew that there was a higher probability we meet again in some other country at some other conference.
Since I don’t want to end this on a sad note, just something that always amused us all was how I went on greeting everyone with my crisp Good Mornings at 7 a.m. But the moment I saw someone South Asian I went onto say Aslam o Alaikum, Sorry Professor….Namaste…I mean, Good Morning! (Flustered). They’d all lovingly forgive me with an understanding of how our values have engraved in us to see someone elder of our ethnicity and offer a greeting. How our values and culture are so similar, and yet there is so much that keeps us apart.
It’s been a long time since the British Raj left…let’s celebrate our independence. Let’s celebrate it together without the enmity and hostility that we have harboured for so many decades. Lets revel in friendship, togetherness and all that brings us closer.
This article was edited by Dr. Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere (Vadodara, India)
Shayan Khan is a researcher and lecturer of consumer behaviour, marketing and strategy with a love for food, travel and books. She is a member of the Lahore chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and also an alumni of Global Youth Peace Festival, Yuvsatta. Shayan lives in Lahore, Pakistan.