Lahore by Metro is the kind of book that makes me want to fall in love with my hometown of Lahore. Initiated by Faizan Ahmed, who himself hails from a small town called Basirpur, (150 kms away from Lahore), he came to Lahore for his higher education. His weekly routine led him to commute on the Metro bus in Lahore, which formed the basis of his photographic adventures.
He talks about how one particular experience gave him the inspiration to start this project. It was a station where he saw an elderly gentlemen, on a phone call back home. He excitedly shares his joy and exhilaration of traveling on the bus. “It’s very modern, just like a computer,” he says. “The doors are automatic and operate like an airplane’s.” As Faizan says, “this book is dedicated to that old man in the white pager, and to many other common people like him who work hard every day and have something to share with the world.”
The Metro bus system isn’t just a bus system. It’s also a “representation of joy, energy, fun, excitement and at times sadness that surrounds in this beautiful city everyday.”
There are over 164 portraits in this book and there are so many that will connect with you on an emotional level.
There is a single working mother struggling to make a living to support her four children. There is a couple who are using the escalator for the first time. There is an expatriate Pakistani-Canadian who visits his grandparents in Lahore, and is worried he will lost his roots to Lahore when they die. There is a story of a rickshaw driver who married his Christian wife amidst opposition from everyone. There are stories of people using the Metro bus to get to the Data Darbar shrine. There are people sharing what their happiest day of their lives: passing my BA exam, getting married, seeing my children have children, getting admission to a school based on their gymnastics skills and one man even saying “everyday is the happiest day of my life.”
Lahore by Metro will definitely remind you of Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, and Faizan does acknowledge Stanton for inspiration.
Faizan says, “the diversity of the Metro was astonishing- people from every corner of Pakistan, every age group, every socio-economic and educational background, and every walk of life travel in it.” That is exactly what I experienced by reading up the stories of the beautiful people mentioned in this book.
I personally loved this book a lot. It’s based in Lahore, my hometown. It has shown me portraits of people who I may not encounter on a daily basis. I had always thought about traveling on the Metro bus but haven’t done so. This book has allowed me to travel on the Metro and experience the beautiful people who travel.
It also made me realise how privileged I am. I have never felt the need to travel on this bus. I have the luxury of driving in my own car. It just brings a sense of humility within me on how much I have to be grateful for in my own life. Like my dad would always say, “count your blessings.”
This is what connects to me to other people. We are all human. We all have hopes and dreams and aspirations and setbacks and sadness.
In one of the last portrait of two best friends, their conversation went something like this:
“What is the one thing you like most about your friend?”
“His good nature.”
“Anything you don’t like about him?”
“You don’t look at the bad habit of your best friend.”
And that is what sums up the book for me.