The butterflies were completely out to get me and there was no doubt in my mind that they would get the best of me. My flight for Lahore for the first ever Trust for History of Art and Architecture, Pakistan (THAAP) was at 8 am, and according to my mother I needed to be at the airport by 6 … you can’t argue with her! This meant that I only got to sleep for 4 hours. Tired and sleepy and with the battle of the butterflies going on in my stomach, I boarded the plane at 8: 15 am – the flight was a full half an hour late, giving me a full two hours to miss my bed like crazy.
I was suppose to be reading a paper at the THAAP Conference and I was as nervous as one can be, and I had every reason to be. I was selected among some very big names in the field, including Dr. Gulzar Haider, Dean of Beaconhouse University, Anila Naseem, Professor at the N.E.D University, etc and the rest that I didn’t know either held a Ph.d Doctorate or a Professorship or both…. I was sure I was being called just to show how dumb the current Generation of students are! My butterflies – ten minutes before takeoff – made sure that they had even started to affect my brain. I was sure that the plane would crash. I was sitting at a window seat right next to the wing, and every time it shook, I hoped that through some miracle of telepathy I would be able to communicate to the pilot that something was seriously wrong with the plane! I didn’t succeed, and the plane didn’t crash either!
Then the panic set in regarding my luggage! Waiting ten minutes for my luggage, I was sure that it has been sent to some other flight , somewhere in Africa and there is no chance that I would ever be able to find it again. I managed to get my luggage too! Then I was sure that I will not be picked at the airport and would end up waiting for an hour as the people in the conference recall that I need to be picked. That didn’t happen either! I was picked up by Ar. Saba Samee, whose house I was also going to stay. I have to say I am now in love with her and her nature! It was lovely being with her and living in her beautiful house. She is the most kind-hearted, generous person and it was a treat to spend time with her!
From her house, I went to the THAAP office, where I met Mr. Pervaiz Vandal. I had never met him before, but knew him and his wife – both architects – by reputation. I had seen them only once 3 years ago at the IAPEX Lahore Chapter’s convention and they both had been awarded for their valuable contribution’s to the field of architecture. I might not have ever remembered them if it was not for a gesture that I noticed. When the name of Sajjida Vandal was announced for the award, Mr. Vandal sort of tugged her in a certain way that made an impression on me. Here was a couple taking pride in each other’s success and that is something very rare to see. That made them eternal in my mind! So meeting them personally was a great pleasure for me. Mr. Vandal is a sweet man, full of energy and passion for his work and his trust. He talks about it with a mix of both idealism and realism – a hard thing to balance in one’s own self. Mrs. Vandal, however has that aura of a teacher, a person who would guide you and encourage you, who would cherish the bonds that she has formed with her students for a lifetime. her eyes constantly give you the feel that she is weighing you up, measuring your strengths and weaknesses, but her slight nods would keep on encouraging you. Her stature gives her the image of great strength and determination . Their house is the most beautiful one I have ever seen, both delicate and balanced – with aspects of both their personalities, and of the past and the present in it.
The first day was a bit slow, with almost everyone busy with work, but at least I got a chance to go and see the city a bit. I wanted to buy shoes, so first I was taken to this place where they had tons of Khosa’s. It was a very weird place, and I would be honest, I was glad to run out from there. I was taken to Andaaz after that, a returant in the old walled city of Lahore. It was a disappoiontment to know that the lights of the Badshai Masjid were all closed. But still it was spectacular to see the city. Back home by 11, I simply crashed on the bed. Details of Day 2 in the next post!