“Discovering the historic streets of Lahore” with Farzana Malik the first female tour guide of Pakistan

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It was a wonderful sunny day in April 2018 that we found ourselves in Lahore, a city thats inspired Artists and poets for generations. We got ourselves dropped off at Delhi Gate, which was a short walk to the Walled City of Lahore Authority, we found the quaint office in the left corner as we entered the city and were greeted by a group of young tour guides; when we explained to them that this was our first time in the Walled city and would really appreciate a dedicated guide to show us around. The manager introduced us to the lovely Farzana Malik, he also kindly pointed out that this is a free service for all toursits to avail. (We ofcourse didnt believe him and asked him several times again to make sure we werent imagining this; I asked why? And he simply responded, We want people to know the history behind the beauty and there is no charge for that!)

I was extremely excited for two reasons:

1. We were going to get a guided tour

2. We were getting the tour from Lahore’s first female tour guide.

You can see the sheer joy in our eyes in the pic below: (Sahar, I & Farzana)

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Truly elated by the fact, I wanted to ask Farzana what inspired her to take this job.

Farzana is a graduate from Jinnah College and her knowledge about the Walled City of Lahore is immense because not only is she a long time resident of the city but she also a huge history buff.

Five years ago the Walled City of Lahore Authority was offering professional courses for Tour guides and thats when Farzana applied and successfully completed the course. She was the only female student at the time and because of her passion for history and the city, the authority offered her a job to join them and the rest as they say is history!

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(Picture Courtesy Farzana: Farzana with a tour group at the Wazir Khan Mosque in the Walled City of Lahore)

She is one of the most popular tour guides in the city and has now been sharing her story to inspire other women to join her in this job.

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(Picture Courtesy Farzana: Farzana with a tour group at the entrance of the Walled City of Lahore)

What was fueling my curiosity was the safety issue when it came to such a job for a woman, when I asked Farzana, she calmly responded; “Its a great job, you learn, you meet new people and you feel good at the end of the day. There is no safety issue, only a mind set issue which will take time to change.”

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(Picture Courtesy Farzana: Farzana with a tour group at the Shahi Hammam in the Walled City of Lahore)

We retraced steps of our ancestors, the essence of a generation before us still lingered in the architecture, in the food, in the fragrances, the city never let us loose the connection of our past from the present.

We were so attracted to the narrow Gallys (Streets) sometimes the space felt it was big enough only for one person, but me and Sahar kept pushing through together and somehow, the streets seemed to expand to accommodate, Lahore is magical that way and  just like that; I think Farzana made space for herself, where no one thought she could, till she did!

Thank you Farzana for pushing the boundaries and making room for change.

For more information on the Walled City of Lahore Authority: http://www.walledcitylahore.gop.pk/

 

 

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