I bought this book for the purpose that Pran Neville wrote it; to get a flavour of a city that I probably wouldn’t get to visit, and an era that I surely cannot. My links to Lahore are through my grandfather and his father before him; students of medicine at King Edward Medical College (now University), Lahore. I wanted to time-travel back to those days.
Neville did not disappoint. From a shop-by-shop excursion through the bazaars to the various historical neighbourhoods to the famed red-light district of Hira Mandi – pre-war Lahore is alive in this book and you can get to almost immerse all your senses in the sights, sounds, and smells that Neville describes in touching detail. For people who knew Lahore before Partition this book is an invaluable experience; for those like me who didn’t – it’s a tempting taste. Take a walk down Anarkali bazaar or catch a film at the Regal; enjoy a lazy afternoon on the banks of the Ravi or a brisk morning walk in Shalimar gardens: Neville’s book has you covered.
The only stumbling block in the book is one of nostalgic idealization of the, “good ol’ days” that Neville isn’t immune from. While certainly understandable, the emotions, at times, take the text away from a lovingly penned memoir to the tenor of a schoolchild’s essay. Save for these jarring moments though, it’s an immensely readable narrative for anyone who remembers Lahore, or wants to know it.