SOME SAY RAM, SOME ALLAH!

Walking the streets of Sahiwal (Pakistan), I spotted a domed building, distinctively looking like a gurdwara but adorned with a copper, triangular pennant, indicating it would be a Hindu temple.   “Hindu Satsang Sabha” was written on its dome in Hindi but at its...

LEGACIES ARE BIGGER THAN RELIGION

In the outskirts of the city of Mansehra in Pakistan, I stopped at the grave of Isher Singh, who having adopted Islam in the partition of 1947, is now buried here as Gulam Sarwar. Why Isher Singh stayed back and converted, by will or force, is not of concern to me....

JACKET IN INDIA & TROUSER IN PAKISTAN

At Qila Jiwan Singh (Pakistan), a village named after a Sikh; I looked towards Sarai Amanat Khan (India), a village named after a Muslim. Being served tea at Qila Jiwan Singh by Rafaqat Ali, whose parents had moved from Sarai Amanat Khan in the partition of 1947; it...

CUCUMBER IN A SANDWICH

At the Indo-Pak border, standing at Ganda Singh Wala (Pakistan), a village named after a Sikh; I looked towards Hussain Wala (India), a village named after a Muslim. Twenty kilometers behind me was Kasur in Pakistan, the town of Baba Bullhe Shah and ahead of me was...

LEGACY DIMINSHED TO THE GURGLE OF A HOOKAH

At the historic Second Anglo Sikh War Memorial in Chillianwala (Pakistan), a conversation with Mahmud Khan. Indian history textbooks refrain to mention the accounts of Sikh history which occurred on the soil of Pakistan, and these chapters remain suppressed in...

‘HIS STORY’ IS HISTORY

At the Khyber Gate, opposite Jamrud Fort, as I read the seven large plaques affixed on the Khyber Memorial, on which are inscribed detailed history of the region, from the ‘ancient times’ to the ‘present’, it was evident that History is nothing else but ‘HIS STORY’....

I AM NOT HUNGRY, NOR FULL

In Pakistan at lunch with Malik Ikhtiar Sahab and the villagers of Narali, there was only respect and love for each other. I was reminded of Baba Bullhe Shah, I am not a Hindu, nor a Muslim. I have forsaken pride and become unsullied. I am not a Sunni, nor a Shia. I...

CIRCLE OF LIFE

At Gujranwala in Pakistan, the young students looked dazed as I peeked into their classroom. Their startled expression revealed that they had never seen a Sikh. The hall in which they were being taught, was once a gurdwara of the Sikh community. Till 1947, it is here...

DIVERSITY VAPORIZED

As I flew over Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, on the right of the plane was Baltistan and on the left, Gilgit. The diversity that existed across these remote high altitude territories before the partition of India, is reflected in the book entitled, “Gilgit Rebellion – The...

FORGOTTEN INFLUENCE:

At Skardu, in the region of Baltistan in Pakistan, having visited the remains of the abandoned and dilapidated gurdwara, I thereafter strolled through the market. As per the Jammu & Kashmir census of 1941, of the total population of 106,289 in Skardu, there were...

BOLLYWOD FAKIR

At Islamabad Literature Festival, a member of the audience asked, “How do you feel travelling across Pakistan as an identifiable Sikh?” My reply was, “Bollywood Fakir!” Across Pakistan, at every nook and corner, people wish to interact, feed and more importantly, want...

ROOTS WILL FIND US

The web of roots represented in the word ‘Singh’ that every Sikh man would once proudly use as part of his name, may have lost its significance, primarily because the community’s relationship with the lands where they had once made a glorious history, was severed in...

FREEDOM WRENCHED

While travels across Pakistan in search of the Sikh legacy has been uplifting but also a highly emotional experience. A view of the Panja Sahib Gurdwara through the grills conveyed a feeling of being in a prison. Freedom wrenched! In 1849, the machinations of the...

ISHQ

‘Ishq’ in its ultimate form means unfettered passion! For years, I had dreamt of being inside the forts across the turbulent North-Western region of Pakistan from where the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century had successfully plugged the Khyber Pass, putting to stop...

HEIGHT OF DEPTH

In an interesting encounter with a Fakir, he smiled and said, “Climb the heights of depth!” For years, I was focused on scaling the ‘Heights of Height’, and am now attempting to climb the ‘Heights of Depth’. So during my return in 2017, I tried to search for the...

REAR VIEW

One’s who forget history are destined to relive it! While the past can’t be changed, but it can serve as a rear view mirror to guide us into the future, to not repeat what could have been avoided. At Rawalpindi in Pakistan, with a heavy heart, I gazed into a humongous...

GAME OF LOVE

For seven decades, the egos of the people of India and Pakistan have fed each other on hate! Like every year, I chose not to watch the world cup cricket yesterday. While on the face people may say ‘Cricket is just a game’, if observed from expressions, it has actually...

KAFIR

If we all can passionately advocate that this world is a bouquet of coexistence then differentiating words like ‘Kafir’ that breed one-upmanship can hopefully lose relevance? ‘Kafir’, a derogatory word has its origins in the Arabic culture and applies to anyone who...

KHYBER TREMBLES

Standing at the Khyber Pass, I could feel the energy of Hari Singh Nalwa. The feeling was indescribable as my mind resonated with the qawwali of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Ali Ka Naam Sun Kar Ab Bhi Khyber Kaanp Jata Hai Hearing the name of Ali, even today the Khyber...

FEARLESS MIND

North-West region was in news because of Taliban infestation when I first travelled to Pakistan in the year 2014. However I had a strong desire to visit the Jamrud Fort that was built by Hari Singh Nalwa to guard the entrance to the strategic Khyber Pass. At Peshawar,...