It’s warmer than usual in Lahore for November. Just came back from Friday prayers, from the same mosque in Liberty that we’ve always gone to. White on the outside with black and white marble tiles covered by thatch prayer mats it has always been certainly well-maintained without being uniquely beautiful. As usual, getting a space to pray involved much pushing and shoving. While not exactly a symptom of a spiritual atmosphere, you still get a sense that something spiritual does exist in that bustle, as if it was out of a desperation to please and perform one’s divine duty than out of mere rudeness.
Yesterday we went to the World Performing Arts Festival at Gadhafi Stadium (named apparently after the Gadhafi, its benefactor). This was Sufi night, and most of the performers, like Pappu Sain, seemed like they were straight out of a mazar (shrine). The stadium can hold a number of people, in the thousands, although that night there were maybe a bit less than two hundred. My father attributed that to a decline of “aesthetic value” that used to mark the city, in both the cultural elite and the average person on the street (this was, essentially “their music” and I think my father would have expected there to be a more support for this type of endeavor from them). Perhaps the worldwide financial crisis has something to do with this as well – culture is a luxury in hard times.