‘There’s no place like Model Town, it’s the Beverly Hills of Pakistan,’ says one resident
By Nazish K Siddiqui
have always had a soft corner in my heart for Pakistan. When I first moved here, I was just shy of 16 and I had the time of my life in college, made some of the best friends in my life, and lived life to the fullest, but that was in Karachi. Eight years later, with husband and kids in tow, I was over the moon with joy at the thought of returning to live in Karachi, but as fate wasn’t in such an accommodating mood at the last minute, I got stuck in Lahore.
For some reason or the other (but mainly because of already existing property) Model Town became my final destination. “Great,” I thought. “What a fine name for a Housing Society.” I was really grumpy because I wanted to live in Karachi; therefore my judgment was severely biased at the time. For someone like yours truly, who finds logic and reason in square grid city planning that is the rule in most of the US, living inside Model Towns’ concentric circles is a bit strange at first. And again I am told that I am wrong, just because the road curves doesn’t mean it’s really a circle, it’s actually a square with rounded corners. Go figure.
Not that I am the name dropping sort, but you can’t help it when it comes to your neighbors, Model Town Residents read like the Who’s Who of the political, social and entertainment world of Pakistan. From Prime Ministers and leading politicians of the day, to poets and writers of yore, the list is long as it is diverse. Model Towns’ city plan won international accolades for its ingenuity. Dreamed up by Dewan Khem Chand, it’s one of the oldest, yet most forward thinking, housing societies of the country. Each block was designed originally to have its’ own mosque, Hindu temple, and Sikh Temple.
With distinct zoning for residential and commercial areas, Khem Chand was able to foresee the need to separate the hustle and bustle of the market place from the serenity of the residences. Every individual block is virtually self- sustaining. You would never have to venture out of your block for your daily groceries, the meat, the chicken or the dish washing soap. And just in case you did need something else, the latest lawn fabric, glittery new shoes, or a darn good tailor, I’m pretty sure you would never need to leave Model Town to find that either. You could actually go your whole life without really needing to step out of this comfort zone.
And comfort zone it is. With sports and recreational parks, trees and shrubbery, Model Town is lush leafiness a la Garden of Eden. The Model Town Housing society prides itself on planting, caring for and maintaining all the parks and greenery that Model Town has come to be famous for. With the energy crisis looming overhead, the nation faces a severe shortage of electricity, water and natural gas. With that in mind, I’d choose to be in Model Town over any other place in the country.
To date, there hasn’t been a day that there hasn’t been an abundance of water in our neighborhood. No shady neighbor is trying to suction the water out of our water tank. As the summers go by, and electricity seems to be getting scarcer, Model Town’s situation is considerably better than the rest of the city. Not that Model Town gets any special treatment from any one, but the fact of the matter is that you can set your clock against the scheduled power outages. Not that it’s a good thing, but it’s better than being out of power for 6 to 8 hours at a stretch.
People, who are born here, tend to stay here their entire lives. Raabya Dastoor Khan says that her great grandfather built their ancestral home in Model Town and now her grand father and aunts and uncles live there, while she lives only a stones throw away with her parents. Her father and his brothers have homes side by side by side. “I think you can’t get any cleaner or any safer than Model Town in Pakistan. Of course there are the occasional crimes and there was that car bombing a few months back, but they are rare exceptions to the rule.”
Mr. Masood is relatively new to Model Town, as a home owner, but has generations of family that is native. “It’s the Beverly Hills of Pakistan” he stated emphatically. “You have country leaders and politicians and celebrities as your neighbors, the best and most beautiful homes on the large lands, greenery, and security to boot.” Needless to say he is happy with where he lives.
But Mr. Masood is not alone in his praise for the area. I may have been trying to make my way around model town but it took me a while to get the lay of the land, however that’s just me. Now that I have been here for four years, I can say that the experience of living in Model Town has been great. Not that my heart doesn’t belong to Karachi, but still Model Town does make living in Lahore an easier experience.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 5, September 2008