Visiting Lahore for a wonder lunch on a day trip from Wagah Border
(Date of Visit – 16 Dec, 2018)
In November 2018, I was at Sudan embassy in New Delhi for visa documentation. The embassy asked to get photocopy of documents and I met Mr Parvez Ahmed outside embassy who offered me a drop to the nearest photocopy shop. Mr Parvez asked me to wait for a minute, he went to the entrance of embassy next door which was Pakistan High Commission, had a quick passport collection and then we walked to the parking of his car. On our way to the photocopy shop , we were listening to old ghazals of Mohammad Rafi, I mentioned – “I want to go to Pakistan since I travel around the world for passion”. To my surprise Mr Parvez was a representative of Pakistan-based news channel ARY News and he connected me to consular section of Pakistan High Commission.
At a formal meeting with Mr Iqbal Hasan, the First Secretary at the Pakistan High Commission, I mentioned that along with my spouse we wish to travel to Pakistan. The challenge was we don’t have anyone known to give us the mandatory invitation letter. Mr Iqbal mentioned with a smile, “We will grant you visa without invitation letter” and asked do I need any other support. I requested for exemption from police verification and he granted the same immediately. I asked if I need to show passport stamps/ media publications as the proof of being a traveller. Mr Iqbal again smiled and said the passion with which I talk is sufficient proof for him. I had a great experience with each individual interactions at Pakistan High Commission during my 5 visit.
I called Mr Parvez to inform the visa is granted and he asked if I need any support for Pakistan visit. He confirmed a representative from ARY news will meet us at border. We travelled Delhi-Amritsar by early morning flight, visited Golden Temple and reached the Waga Border at 10 am. We crossed the Indian side, boarded a bus which dropped to the Pakistan side and then an easy crossing of the Pakistan immigration. We walked for 1 Km (there was a small train which runs for this 1 Km but we preferred to walk to save 10 mins of waiting time) and then informed the security guard near parking area for ARY news vehicle. He connected us to the ARY news vehicle and we met Mr Almas Khan from ARY news. He asked about our preference and I mentioned we wish to taste traditional Lahori cuisine. Mr Almas was more than willing to give us the best experience and we were on the way to the oldest 5 star hotel of Lahore – Faletti’s Hotel. Mr Irshad B Anjum, Director Operations of Faletti’s Hotel was our host and he explained the history of the landmark hotel with pictures of Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, cricketer Garry Sobers and a long history of guest visiting.
We were treated with the speciality Sunday Lunch buffet. The food was among the best we tasted. We were welcomed full heartily and this was definitely one of the lunch we would remember for long. We were also featured in ARY news.
Now was the time to go back and the hotel provided the car for city tour and drop. The border closes at 3.30-4.00 Pm and we were running late. As we reached towards the border we were stopped at 4-5 check points and each security check asked the driver to use the VIP lane (an additional approval required which we didn’t had) else border will close. The security officers offered the usage of VIP lane even before we could have requested. As we reached Pakistan side of the immigration there was a long line for the daily border parade ceremony and we requested the security guard to allow us early as it was border closing time. The guard ensured we crossed the security line early and we reached Pakistan Immigration few minutes prior border closer. We had a welcoming response from each individuals we met in Pakistan and they made our visit worth to rememberand share stories.
As we crossed the Pakistan immigration, the border gate opened and we were the last to enter India with both side of the border crowded for the famous daily parade ceremony. We needed to board the bus back to Indian immigration, get entry stamp and then returned back to watch the border ceremony.