As someone who has travelled both, how do you compare India and Pakistan?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 14, 2020 05:10 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 14, 2020 05:10 AM

I visited India in 2007 as part of a conference and managed to visit Delhi. I was 25 years young then. Here are some recollections I have from that time of how I saw it vis-a-vis Lahore, a city I had lived in for 19 out of my 25 years of existence then.

From the moment that I discussed my trip to Delhi, everyone started talking about how dirty it but despite being de-sensitized, i found quite a lot of places clean from the Mandirs to India Gate to the roads, I found the infrastructure quite wonderful.


I traveled through bus, rickshaw (tuk-tuk) and all forms of transport to get a sense of what ordinary life for Indians was like

DTC Buses were much better and some were running on CNG which was cool to know.

Adoption of CNG Rickshaws: When I learned about how Indian govt had a buy back scheme for old two stroke rickshaws, I remember comparing with Pakistan’s own adventure on the same and old rickshaw owners were basically left to fend for themselves and hence the adoption of CNG rickshaws took a while.

Definitely a lot more traffic and smoke than I was used to in Lahore at that time.

Sadly the city went south and now parallels Delhi in the pollution/smog levels.

At that time, the Delhi Metro was expanding into various parts of the city, but I was impressed by a modern rapid transit system, where Lahore
had not even an inkling of the same 🙂

Before being told I couldn’t take pictures at the Metro Station.


Most of the areas had a great to okayish hygiene. Buildings were clean and shiny and most areas looked as good as new.

There was the stench of piss in certain areas of the city where people chose to relieve them in the open against walls in the absence of public toilets. However, given that i had noticed similar things in Lahore, it didn’t affect me as much even though passing through some areas where the smell invaded your nostrils was/is quite unbearable 🙂

The Woman Presence in Public Spheres:
The number of women that I saw in public spheres, traveling on roads, in markets just shocked me. It was not a sight I was used to seeing compared to Lahore where most women were accompanied by a male member.

Also, I saw that there were no segregation in buses at that time, which was also a pleasant surprise.

Women hawkers/businesswomen that i noticed in the Nepali Baazar employing guile (in a good way) to make you buy maximum wares was also quite endearing.

Religious Diversity

I went across Masjid, Mandir and Gurdawara. I didn’t know about Parsis faith but I did learn about the Baahai faith.

A beautiful Mandir, that was clean and beautiful.

The Gurdawara at Chandani Chowk

The Lotus Temple – Baahai Faith.

Last but not the least Jama Masjid

Lahore, an ancient and bustling city, suffered demographically as a consequence of The Partition. The Hindu philanthropists, The Sikhs and other parties filed out of the city and I miss that aspect most about a city that was once truly cosmopolitan.

The Food:

I can’t recollect having curry that wowed me. I didn’t personally like the Butter Chicken then (Gasp – blasphemy yes). Caveat here was that I was an picky eater back then and not knowing enough, I hated the paneer in everything. I am a paneer convert now however I extremely appreciated the Indian sweets.

The two memorable eating experiences I can recollect was going into a regular run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant and had the Thali and was intrigued that refills came with a waiter running around with a metal pail/balti and laddle and pouring out lentils over your rice.

The second experience was going to Haldiram bakery and being wowed to see as many variety of rasmalai as the amount of fingers on my hand. If you have read my answer (Nabeel Khan’s answer to Which Pakistani sweets an international tourist must try while his stay in Pakistan?) you should know why I gleefully remember this. I did appreciate the Kaju Katli and the other sweets that relied on taste rather than sugar to get the point across.

I did appreciate Cafe Coffee Day (RIP VG Siddharta)

The Human Connection:

Wherever I went and shared that I was from Pakistan, someone told me that they had some connection to Pakistani land (or united India) and was always treated with love and respect. I am sure, people of Pakistan feel the same way.
This was probably before the Mumbai attacks and the subsequent escalation of tensions between the two countries. 2007 were more innocent times, where the two nations were probably drawing closer than farther away.

Given that the two nations celebrated independence a few days ago (14th & 15th August 2019), having recently watched some peoples personal accounts of killings post partition, I have this to say to the two countries

Masjid dha de,
Mandir dha de,
dha de jo kucch dainda
Par kisi da dil na dhain,
Rab dilaan vich rehnda…

Translation: Destroy a mosque or a temple or whatever you please. But don’t break anyone’s heart because God dwells in it.

Edit 2: Thank you all for your lovely comments and your appreciation. I have tried to answer as many people as I can, however here is a summary.

This answer seems as much a trip down memory lane for me as a nostalgia trip for you. So for me, it wasn’t about being positive or negative but being real about what I felt as a difference between us. Thanks Sm Ashhar اشہر for updating me about Delhi and glad to know about Swacch Bharat and hope both Lahore & Delhi tackle their smog problem as environmental issues don’t need a visa and are cross border.

I feel deeply touched by all the people who have invited me to their towns and cities. Quite a lot of my countrymen and women feel the same way about you guys. However, you do understand the absurdity of traveling with city visas. A friend studying music in India was blacklisted for 10 years and thrown in jail for skipping his city for a road-trip with friends. I won’t blame India/Indians but the situation our countries are in. Then there is the police reporting and sometimes the tourist visas on put on hold making people to people contact extremely difficult.

However, during these critical times, I have one request:-

Hatred is easier, love is difficult.
Punching is easier, hugging is difficult.
Blaming is easier, understanding is difficult.

Lets all try to take the difficult path as taking shortcuts among the two groups/juntas/people resulted in more walls between us 🙂

P.S. Some have agreed with me that butter chicken does not take the crown while others have suggested I didn’t check into all the right places 😛 Let’s just say the jury is still out on that 😀

For those people asking for my photo, here is a phata poster nikala hero! I was very camera shy back then and hence most of my photos are long-distance (like my relationships :P)

Edit 1: As i racked my brain for further info about the trip about a decade ago, I had two further memories that opened up – 1 good and 1 not so great.

Exploiting Tourism Potential: Traveling and walking the roads of Delhi, I saw a lot of language schools for tour guides to teach them a variety of languages. Furthermore, as I landed at the Delhi Airport, I noticed a huge influx of foreigners – I thought, wow – what tourism potential that I see foreigners by the truckloads only to realize that the international airport was separate than the domestic one.

Poverty on The Streets: The long drive out of the airport to my designated hotel, I saw a lot of street children in tattered clothes and I was like wow, poverty is much worse in India. When I traveled through New Delhi it seemed a little more sanitized or cleared off! Without talking statistics, and having visited some really poor places in my city recently, I now believe one thing more firmly. It is distasteful how many of our populations live in sub-human conditions. Turning a blind eye to the suffering of the “wretched” is a bigger problem than hyper-nationalism in both countries.

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