Tuesday, 9 October 2007

?Leisurely Lahore

While I have been away doing fieldwork in Dorset, Mark has reached Lahore, the capital of the Punjab and is now having a couple of days at 'leisure'.....He is now only a short distance from the Indian border, shown by the solid white line on the map. If you follow the line north, however, you will see how the Indian border suddenly becomes less distinct as it enters the disputed territory of Kashmir which is currently administered by Pakistan, India and China (via Tibet). If you are interested in the politics of the region, there is an excellent resource on the BBC website which gives a very clear explanation of the history of the region and the possible future scenarios which might be played out there.

Mark is of course also tantalisingly close to the western end of the Himalayas - just 200 miles from those towering 7000m peaks and some wonderful glaciers ( have a look at them on Google Earth for some really good close ups!) Even at the scale of the aerial map above, you get an impression of the great 'wrinkles' which mark the foothills of the Himalayas where the Indian sub-continent is pushing inexorably into Asia.

But I digress......Mark reached Lahore (seen here straddling one of the five rivers which feed the Indus) on Sunday. With a population of about 10 million, it is Pakistan's second largest city and it equates roughly with London in terms of population size. It is, however, much smaller in area. If you put both cities into Google Maps , and then select the 'my maps ' tab, there is an easy to use distance measurement tool which shows the built up area of London to be approximately twice that of Lahore. Conclusion.... Lahore is much more densely populated and congested than London. You might have guessed that but now you can prove it!

Compared to the parts of Pakistan which Mark has travelled through so far, Lahore is almost a different world. It has to be remembered that in Pakistan, in common with all less economically developed countries , there is a very marked difference between rural and urban life. While the urban populations of the UK is around 93%, in Pakistan the figure is about 40% with most of those living in its three largest cities. However, although a minority of the population are urban dwellers, most of the country's wealth and infrastructure is focused in the cities. This accounts for much of the disparity between life in the cities and life in the countryside. Of course, there are many urban dwellers who have migrated to Lahore and find themselves living in shanty towns on the 'edge' of urban life but like the urban poor in most developing countries, they live in a city of huge contrasts of fortune. Areas of Lahore will certainly be indistinguishable from London and with buildings and services owned and run by multinationals, they will be indistinguishable from many cities in more economically developed countries.

OK.... Geography lesson over but I suggest that you have a read of the Lahore city portal to get one flavour of the city. On which subject, Lahore is apparently famed for its food and has a huge number of very high class restaurants which hopefully Mark is currently making good use if! And then there is the fact that Lahore is home to Pakistan's test cricket as you can see below. If you have the latest version of Google Earth, you can zoom right in on the cricket ground and then click on the little blue icons to get photos.

Finally, here's a bit of video which gives its own impressions of the city. Stick with it as despite appearances at the beginning, it is a rickshaw drive in the city with very well chosen music!..

There is a whole geography lesson in that clip starting with "why are there three guys using typewriters at the side of the road?"

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