Educationist Doğan Yücel wrote about his departure from Lahore, where he worked for five years, to Karachi. He related his feelings while saying goodbye and the differences he noticed between the two cities.
Lahore gets its name from a king named ‘La’. He ruled the region and founded the city. Lahore thus means “the City of La”. Despite its distance, Lahore was famous during the Ottoman period with its products such as Lahore indigo and Lahori fabric.
After serving five years, it was time to say goodbye to Lahore. I left in tears. Lahoris have a saying: “Lahore, Lahore hein!” meaning “Lahore is Lahore, there is no need to explain it”. The people of Lahore also say in Punjabi “Jinne Lahore nahin wekhi, au jammia nahin” meaning “Those who have not seen Lahore should not say I was born!” After 12 years, I am still in touch with my friends in Lahore and reminisce about the old days. In Lahore, I loved the Canal Road, where centuries-old trees were lined along the water canal. Driving along that road was a distinct pleasure. The canal was dug in the time of the Mughals to supply water to the city from the Ravi River. Later, the British extended the canal.
I was emotional throughout the meal, I couldn’t hold back my tears
While leaving Lahore, I attended three farewell programs organized by three groups of businessmen whom I knew so closely. The first was at a businessman’s home, the second was in a hotel with families, and the other was in a restaurant. Besides, my colleagues at school held a special farewell dinner for me and another friend who relocated to Karachi at a pizzeria. They gifted me a marble plate inlaid with mother-of-pearl. During the farewell dinner at the restaurant in Lahore, businesspeople shared their memories of me. A businessman said about me: “I cannot forget Mr. Doğan coming to the shop sweaty in hot weather and hugging me.” Back then, I did not have a car with air conditioning. In that car, I used to visit businesspeople about 2 hours away from my residence, driving in sweat at 40-45 degrees. Some businessmen’s eyes filled with tears after the meal. I was also very emotional throughout the meal; at some moments, my eyes welled up in tears.
It was May and I was to work in Karachi from then on. A businessman acquaintance’s container had arrived from Karachi to Lahore and it was to return empty. I called him to ask if we could use the container to move our household items to Karachi and we settled on paying the fuel expenses only. We were two families to move to Karachi from Lahore. We loaded the items of both houses into the container. We took a flight to Karachi. Our friends in Karachi received us at the airport and hosted us in their guesthouse for two days. We rented the house of a colleague who relocated from Karachi to Islamabad. We bought some household items from him. The container arrived at our school in Clifton, and we offloaded our things there. Some items had been damaged as the container took a bumpy ride along the road. We hired another truck and carried the stuff home from school. Installing an air conditioner, connecting to the Internet, installing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply), installing a dish antenna on the roof, and completing the missing household items… Moving a house would take at least a month in Pakistan.
The house we rented was in Block 7 of the Gulshan-e-Iqbal district, where our school was located. Right across the house was one of the largest mosques in the district. I had sold my car in Lahore to an acquaintance, albeit at a fairly low price. I spent several months without a car. There are quite a few rickshaws in Karachi, unlike Lahore. People usually prefer taxis. I used to walk my daughter to the school in Gulshan-e-Iqbal early in the morning and attend classes in another branch. After the summer, I bought a Hyundai car and a new laptop for work. Hence, settling in Karachi was completed.
Opening of the first PakTurk School in Karachi and Anwar Sahib’s support
Mr. Halit Esendir narrated the opening of the first PakTurk School in Karachi: “In September 1997, our schools were to start their third year in education. Back then, our schools had a board of trustees. This board would hold meetings on the needs of the school. Anwar Sahib, a lecturer at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, was a member of the board. Since Mr. Şükrü, one of the founders of the PakTurk School, knew Arabic, he had a nice rapport with Anwar Sahib. One day at the meeting, we said “We wish to open a pre-school and primary school in Karachi. We will implement the Pakistani education system.” Upon this, Anwar Sahib made an offer saying, “I have a house in Karachi. It’s suitable for kindergarten and primary school. The tenant has just vacated the building. I can rent it to you.” The rent he asked was quite reasonable. The building was in a beautiful neighbourhood called Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
About a month later we went to Karachi. We really liked the building. We opened a three-class pre-school there, headed by Mrs. Ishrat Zafar – we lost her in 2021 – who had years of teaching and school management experience in Oxford and Montessori systems. Our school reached 30-40 students in 2-3 months. In April 1998, the kindergartners graduated and started the first grade in the primary school. After opening the first class of the primary school, we had to open the second and third grades due to great demand. Some students studying at other private schools also applied for admission. Within a few months, the number of our students reached 70 and we recruited new local teachers for the classes that had been started.”
There were almost no traffic lights on the main roads
When I arrived in 2009, the schools in Karachi were providing education in three branches; two branches in Gulshan-e-Iqbal (a primary school and a girls’ college) and a boys’ college in Clifton. PakTurk teachers and administrators from other cities would be hosted in the dormitory floor of the school in Clifton. There was also a guesthouse in the Defence district. I first stayed in that guesthouse with my family for a short while.
Karachi differs greatly from Lahore. Lahore is a green city. Since Karachi is on the edge of a desert, it is hard to find greenery except in parks. Another difference of Karachi from Lahore back then was that the urban transportation in Karachi was much better. There were hardly any traffic lights on the main roads. While the weather was humid, dusty and salty with the heat in the neighbourhoods close to the sea, the weather in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal district where we resided was dry, cool and clean. A little farther, it would turn humid again. The weather would be very nice, especially in the evenings. A port city, Karachi is the most commercially developed city of Pakistan. Lahore is ahead in terms of culture, education and health. In Karachi, I was to take Turkish lessons at school and work voluntarily in the businessmen’s association.
To be continued…