A glimpse across the Border

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Four students of Vasant Valley School in Delhi went to Lahore in October to compete in the renowned Sondhi Debates Challenge Cup. One of them, Vandita Khanna, talks to Youth Inc about her experience

They Told Me I Could Go to Pakistan
When I heard of LACAS [Lahore College of Arts and Sciences’] Sondhi Debates Challenge Cup in Lahore and the opportunity to go there, I fluttered with excitement. However, I faced mixed reactions from my parents. Two Indo-Pak Wars and first-hand experiences of neighbours and grandparents on the horrors of Partition perhaps contributed to the impulsive NO at home. However, with a little persuasion (courtesy my debating skills), my parents came to realise that modern Pakistan is different from the previous dictatorial regime. Pakistan has vibrant architecture and an intriguing  historical context. After prolonged discussions with friends and family, my parents felt it was only fair to let me go and form my own perception of Pakistan, instead of letting an event, however brutal it may have been, colour my thoughts.

First Impression of Lahore
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the LACAS faculty so hospitably that I, frankly, saw no difference on the other side of the border. The first question we were bombarded with upon our arrival was, “Which all Bollywood stars have you met?” Their interest in our culture, film industry and music gave us ample opportunities to discuss, at length, topics of common interest. They welcomed us really warmly – during the debate, the sightseeing visits, the small get-together organised for the outstation teams, and even when they bade us farewell. We interacted with so many students who both participated and organised the debates that we were rather taken aback by the quantum of similarities we shared with them. We were hoping that we could stay a bit longer just so we could take in all that there was all over again.

Mingling with Afghani Students
Students from Kabul University also participated in the debate. Despite my limited interaction with them, I felt that no barrier prevented them from approaching other students, exchanging warm smiles, laughing, shopping and enjoying themselves throughout the trip. Moreover, they shared childhood experiences from Afghanistan and gory memories of the Taliban regime with us without any hesitation.

Favourite Memories From Lahore
I recall bursting with excitement as soon as we crossed the border on foot, because from then on, I knew that the experience in its entirety was going to be an unforgettable one. To an extent, the debating competition exposed me to a different level of debating, one that challenged me to speak for eight whole minutes, attack the opposition with Points of Information and rebut arguments literally on the spot. Every one of the four debates we participated in was a challenge, but nevertheless an exciting endeavour, which, if given another chance, I’d love to experience all over again.
I feel I wouldn’t do justice to the entire trip if I don’t commend LACAS for their hospitality. The roaring laughter, exchange of smiles and forging of everlasting friendships have not only helped me to come out of my bubble, but also accept different people coming from different societies. It enabled me to appreciate the familiarity in diversity (however ironic it may be) across the border and take away memories that I would cherish forever.

My Pakistani Holiday Wish-List
Going to Pakistan on a leisure trip would be an ideal holiday. I’d love to travel around Pakistan, eat the amazing kebabs again, visit the mosques, admire the similar architectural styles, listen to Pakistani music and walk the similar streets of Pakistan trying to convince myself that I am not in fact walking on any other street of Delhi.

 

And Finally…Pakistani Boys!
Let’s put it this way: everyone in Pakistan is not an Ali Zafar. I feel India and Pakistan have equally ‘good’ looking or ‘bad’ looking boys (whichever way one might choose to see it)!

 

Volume 2 Issue 6

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