GOR straddles the two cities of Lahore – the modern and the historic giving the best of both worlds
By Zonaira Chaudry
ahore has become an alluring city with a rich flavor of history and present. Urban landscape has taken innovative turns but it hasn’t entirely done away with the old residential landmarks.
GOR seems to be one of the oldest living areas of this historic city. GOR (Gazetted Officers Residence) is an exclusive area for Government employees. Residents of GOR include teachers, professors and section officers. GOR is located in different localities around Lahore.
During my teen years, whenever I heard the word GOR, it always made me think it must contain really special state of the art villas fit for royalty. Finally visiting GOR was a bit of an anti-climax – it was a pleasant let down though. GOR is one of the oldest residential spaces of Lahore – designed by the British Raj to house the British officers; it takes you back at least a hundred years. It still has a spirit of history among its lanes.
Nadia Mustansir, English Lit. Professor of Islamia College lives in GOR 3 situated near Shadman. Her husband is away in Kosovo with the Peace Corps and she is lives with her in-laws. “I came to GOR 12 years ago and have been living here since then. It is a peaceful sheltered place with plantation everywhere in sight.”
When living in Pakistan, safety and security are two prime features of any desirable space which have the decisive power of making a resident stay or leave. “Having a police chowky and two entry gates makes this area comparatively safer. There was a robbery some time back, but after the event, security was tightened and no further incidents have occurred,” Nadia recollects.
GOR 3 comprises of three kinds of lodgings A, B and C types. The difference between them is their building style and area. Some are with or without servant quarters and only have built-in garages. Another interesting aspect of this living locality is that there are two separate kinds of flats namely BOF (Bachelor Officer Flats) and MOF (Married Officers Flat). BOF’s were built in 1985 for bachelor officers.
“Hospitals are close, Shadmaan market is nearby. House help is easily available. Electricity comes and goes but that is normal everywhere. No water or gas shortages. Keeping all these things in consideration, GOR is a feasible and an ideal place to live,” she asserts.
“GOR has always given me a warm nostalgic feeling” says Maheen Gul-Malik, a human rights lawyer and activist. “This was my first home after getting married .Though I have just started living here but it always reminds me of my childhood.”
Taking a trip down memory lane, Maheen recalls, “At that time there were bigger houses which stretched in Kanals. As land has become more expensive, smaller houses are being built to accommodate the increasing number of residents’. GOR was lush and green then but still its greenery and cleanliness is visually pleasing.”
Maheen and her husband Taimur, both are practicing lawyers.” Commuting between courts and offices is trouble-free. Being situated in the middle of the city, GOR gives a flavor of both the inner city and the outer suburbs.”
Majority of the houses in GOR 1 are government owned while the rest are private property. No one knows how these private houses were acquired. There are barriers all over GOR 1 for security purposes. “Even though these blockades provide protection, but as a human rights lawyer I believe all areas should be open to everyone,” she says, spoken like a true civil advocate Maheen, however, does have a complaint about GOR.” After Pervaiz Elahi’s Government came into power, the area around the secretariat became more congested due to the rush. GOR used to have flowing routes and everything seemed connected in the past.”
Most tenants agree the centrality of the location is another added delight in living here. GOR seems to have it all. For a peaceful existence, it is quite a viable place. It’s never the big structures, the smart architectural design, the pretty buildings or flashy interiors that make a place comfortable. The comfort comes from a sense of belonging, the feeling of safety and a sense of community that makes a place desirable to live. Reassurance found in small and old dwellings may be hard to find in gigantic places. For residents living in GOR these feelings will be lasting and special. GOR to them will always be a residence to remember.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 5, September 2008