I love being home in Lahore. I love meeting up with old friends and being part of rambling family dinners and events. I love being in the city I grew up in, visiting my old haunts and eating the same old street food my mother still insists will give me food poisoning.
Lahore however has changed in a lot of ways, and not all change is good change. Oh there’s the little things of course, like the 101 new Resteraunts, cafes and ice cream places that seem to have popped up like weeds all over the place, or the sudden proliferation of bridges where before there had been only a confused jumble of traffic jams, but the big ‘change’ I’ve noticed is a marked swing towards money consciousness.
It’s kind of ridiculous how much people are suddenly effected by the brand of handbag their cousin’s niece was carrying to Monday’s soirée or by exactly how many outfits the neighbour’s daughter bought this season (and whether you bought more or less). I mean sure, being brand conscious is one thing but the women of Lahore seem to have crossed the line into crazy town with the amount of money (and effort) they are willing to spend to one up each other.
Summer is, as always, the worst offender. The hot weather calls for cotton clothes which are bought unstitched and than given to tailors for stitching. There used to be a time when you’d go to the cloth stores, buy some nice colors and prints, and get everything stitched within a reasonable price. Now though? Now every next society lady with textile mill connections is a ‘designer’ churning out atrociously expensive ‘designer prints’ (in limited quantities to ensure exclusivity of course) that everyone must wear or be shunned from polite society. The better ‘brands’ demand that you show up to their single location to pre-order from a catalogue without actually seeing the fabric, get bruised and battered by other ‘ladies’ trying to get their chosen dress before they run out, than show up at 8am to actually obtain it, all with no return or exchange policy.
You aren’t privy to the secret pre-ordering timings/locations? Don’t worry! You can always show up to the single store carrying the damn brand at the (also) secret 3am sale to buy the elusive designer suits before they run out! Then it’s all a matter of paying tailors exuberant amounts of money in a bid to bribe them into stitching your clothes first so you can be the first to wear the new prints and win some unknown trophy.
Not up for the battlefield that is summer clothes shopping this year and thinking of just wearing last year’s stuff? That’s ok, as long as you’re prepared for the scorn of the style police who’ll fall all over themselves to point out that isn’t that LAST year’s print, which apparently makes it a criminal offender to wear it?
Think I’m exaggerating? Just watch the this video of when they open the gates at a typical ‘season launch’ of a brand.
Is it just me or does that seem cartoonish in it’s ridiculousness? life can be quite strange indeed..