Of Gujjars and Grandfather tales.

Last night found us talking about Gujjars*. My grandfather was telling us about how, when they first came into India from Afghanistan, they split into three main groups. One of them settled in the north, in Khyber Pakhtun Khwa and Gilgit Baltistan. The other one along the Grand Trunk Road (GT rd). And for a long time, they actually did herd cattle and sell milk. In South Asia, lots of people don’t buy pasteurised milk. The trend has increased in recent years, but still a lot of people drink fresh milk provided by gawalay. These milkmen were invariably (as my grandfather says) Gujjars. However, for three days every year, they didn’t give their milk to anyone but instead they all gave the milk to the grand Urs of Data Darbar. For three days, any man could come and take as much milk as he wanted without any charge. This Darbar is actually a shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri who was a saint and a deeply spiritual man. The Darbar is called Data Darbar because Data means “The giver” (a crude translation, forgive me) and it is believed that anything will be granted if the person in need asks God through Data Sahib. Shirk, yes, but nevertheless it is a notion held by many.

This practice of giving all the milk to the Urs actually has a very interesting origin. There is a story about it, and when asked about its authenticity, my grandfather said it was completely true.

The story goes that one day, Ali Hajveri sat by the bank of the Ravi. A woman passed by him carrying a pot full of milk. He asked the woman if she would give him some milk.

“I cannot. I will only milk my cows for the jogi that lives yonder.” She replied.

He asked her to give him some milk for that day only. She refused. He asked the reason.

“Whenever I give this milk to anyone other than the jogi my cows start giving blood instead of milk.” The saint then understood that the jogi had cast some sort of spell.

“Give this to me, and I assure you, your cows will never give you blood again.” He told her. Reluctantly, the woman gave him the milk. The next day, when she milked the cows, there was such an abundance that all the containers in her house were not sufficient to hold the milk. Word quickly spread throughout the village, and all the other milkmen soon stopped supplying milk to the jogi and gave it, instead, to Ali Hajveri.

When the jogi realised this, he confronted the saint and threatened him. The saint said there was nothing he could do to harm him. At this, the jogi flew up in the air. The saint took of his kharawan (a very simple shoe — a wooden block with a single canvas strap across it) and threw it after him, and the shoe started beating the jogi in mid-air! The jogi realised this was no magic, that it was actually a Divine power. And so the jogi was defeated!

I don’t know if the milk thing still happens, but it was quite interesting to know this!

*Gujjars are a cast in the Indian subcontinent. The usual stereotype says that Gujjars sell milk and herd cattle, but it doesn’t apply anymore. Lots of other casts have taken up this profession. Similarly, one can find Gujjars in all fields now. Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, an eminent Muslim leader in the Creation of Pakistan, was a Gujjar. He suggested the name for Pakistan in his famous publication, “Now or Never”. Two strangers will become instant friends upon learning that they are both gujjars. It is said that Gujjars are quite fierce (it doesn’t apply anymore though). After the War of Independence (1857) in India, the British had commanded their officers to shoot gujjars on sight. They were considered “rebels”.


Of Traveling and Thoughts.

Entering Lahore after a long journey, Lahore welcomes you on the Mall Road with a big "Welcome to Lahore" sign, right next to the University of Vetenary Sciences, the first major landmark on the Mall. This is also the saddest part of the journey out of Lahore, as after that the Lahore City ends. However, when we left Lahore this time, we didn't take the Mall Road. We were on it, and we saw the High Court, the GPO, GC university, the town hall to name a few of the classic buildings. But then we went on another road, so I never saw the "Goodbye" sign opposite the Vet University. If we had, we would then have found ourselves in Shahdara, which although is not part of the Lahore city, but part of the District Lahore. After that comes the river Ravi, or what is left of it anyway. The Ravi is a rather historic river but is now dried up. In fact, in an old mazmoon I had read, the writer had declared the Punjab (Punj meaning five and aab meaning water i.e. Land of The Five Waters or Rivers) as having only four and a half rivers, meaning the Ravi was only half a river. If he had been alive now, he would have declared Ravi to be a canal instead of a river. (Or a collection of puddles)
Nevertheless, that is not why I had decided to write. As you may have guessed, I am travelling. And leaving Lahore is so hard! No matter where I may live, my heart shall forever be here, in this city. I have been reading a book on Lahore which is a little boring to read, but it is full of information and has only increased my love for the city.
However, our journey does not end at Lahore. We are going North, so hopefully the weather will be nice! I need a break from this heat and humidity!
Traveling is not an issue for me. But all those hours in a car, with my little brother!! I had had a nice breakfast in the morning just so I wouldn't have to eat during the journey, because that makes me feel sick. And just as we left Lahore, the brother decided to have some crisps. And the packet was opened. The smell filled the air. Already, I had been trying to not think about the air in the car and how everyone was breathing in this limited space. But then the smell!! Every breath I took seemed to take the smell inside, all the way into my gut where my breakfast lay ready to come out via anti peristaltic movements. However, I survived. Then came the chewing. Endless chewing with an open mouth: the one thing I cannot stand. I tried to tell him once but he ignored me. Never mind, I told myself. Think of something else. And now he put the packet away and started biting his nails!! The other thing I absolutely cannot stand! However, I could not loose my cool. If I did, the journey would be ruined, and I didn't want that to happen.
At this point I decided to check where exactly was Chitral Gol National Park because that is also a place I would like to visit someday. However, my mobile internet was not working. Perfect! This network never failed to disappoint me. At this point I decided to update my dear readers (that's you) with my current situation. And that's about it.
Another thing I don't like about trips like these is the inevitability of the need of the bathroom by the human body. Anyways. I might do a "Hey There! Pt. 2" while I'm in the car. Or I might not. The Motorway is the most boring road in this country!
Wish me luck. Remember me in your duas.
Until next time,
Rab Rakhan.



A few days ago, i wandered into the back garden, and my thoughts wandered back to 1947. I wondered about the events that took place, acts of such ruthless treachery that even now the older generation shivered at the mere thought. I scooped up some soil in my hand, and thought, was this once covered by the blood of a Muslim?

Did these trees, which I meet regularly, witness acts of unspeakable evil?

My imagination took me to the past, and terrifying events unfolded before my eyes.

I wondered about my great-grandmother, who had only ever recounted the story of her migration to us once. I remembered that day as we all sat in a circle, as her eyes flickered in pain, her face creased with the fear she had suppressed for so long but which had now taken hold of her once again. More than once she stopped, reliving the past, refusing to tell us some of the Sikh attacks she had endured. Her eyes welled us as she recounted the images of infants being torn into two pieces in front of her eyes. She told us that in the refugee camps other women urged her to suffocate her two-month-old child, the child that grew up to be my Grandfather. She was knew that in the event of the Sikh getting hold of her child, it would not survive. And she had another two year old as well. She smiled as she recalled a particular woman who helped her to carry her children barefoot, to Pakistan. On reaching Pakistan they found a place to live – a house of a Sikh who was about to marry of his daughter. The Sikh had fled, but the entire house was filled with her Jahez. To this day the two beds in her room are from that house.

I then remembered another particular morning, when i had been visiting my maternal grandparents. I had my breakfast with my Grandfather and  my sister while every one else slept. My Grandfather began telling us his story. As my sister hastened to write everything down, I simply listened as he remembered that the river Bias, which was near his village, had turned red, like the colour of the blood of the innocents it held. He remembered that his mother, a bold woman who could go from Burj to Ludhiana alone on horse back, was such an excellent swimmer that she could cross the river Bias. He remembered as his elder two brothers carried him, then only a seven year old, and his younger brother on their shoulders. He had been told not to look down, but of course this was inevitable, and he saw dead bodies cover the earth as far as the eye could see. He recalled that he would scream in fear, and that no words could soothe him. He remembered the lorry which took them to a Muhajir Camp, a Refugee Camp. The journey was horrible. With practically nothing to eat, and because of disease and injuries, the over-crowded lorry soon had to face a number of deaths. But with the danger of the Sikh, they had no time to stop and bury the dead. They simply stopped, hid the body among some bushes, and continued. And when they did reach their beloved homeland, to them it was nothing less than heaven, despite their extreme poverty.

To me, this is what Pakistan is.These are the sacrifices our ancestors made. My Great Grandfather had one sister, and she actually lost her sanity after these traumatic experiences. Pakistan was made with the blood of our ancestors. Lets not waste it away…

That’s why this day means so much to us.