I am listening to instrumental Bansuri and enjoying rain which is hitting my room's door. It is one of the fortunate moments when Faisalabadis get rain. This Moon Soon was one of the fortunate rainy seasons that we got rain frequently. Normally we do not expect much rain even in moon soon. There are a few times in a rainy season when rain lasts more than an hour, and our streets are flooded with knee deep water. But that is for a few times only, it does not happen frequently. So I am listening to music, enjoying the rain, and writing this post about my city Faisalabad. But before going forward, see the beautiful sky of Faisalabad just before the rain. I am not a good photographer but the natural beauty is self explanatory.
During my struggle to align these images, the rains is over. The clouds are thundering their good-bye sounds. The weather is pleasant, feels like the last days of October with gentle cold breeze and an urge to sit in a warm place. It is in those fortunate days when we have no loadshedding because the demand of power decreases due to cool weather. It almost seems like good old days when there was no load shedding, the days of school when we had no interruptions in power supply. Well, let's put it aside and talk about Faisalabad a little bit. :-)
Business and Livelihood
Faisalabad is situated in center of Punjab. It is almost 3 hours distance from provincial capital Lahore and considered one of major cities of Pakistan. Faisalabad is known for its textile mills. There are, indeed, hundreds of textile mills surrounding this city. This is the reason why they call is Manchester of Pakistan. Due to lots of mills, the overall mood of the city is "labour-type". Labourers from all over Punjab and sometimes Pakistan come here to seek a job in Textile Mills. Once upon a time, these mills were very generous to offer jobs. The mill owners and industrialists of Faisalabad were considered among the rich people of country. It was said that Faisalabad's annual revenue exceeds even from Karachi sometimes. But electric and gas loadshedding has ruined everything. In last few years we have seen lots of mills closed down, power looms shut down and ginning and thread making factories abandoned by their owners. So Faisalabad is not so generous now, and lower class labourers are the most disadvantaged people in all this scenario. Some "pillar" type of companies and corporations still stand, they buy other factories which are being closed down. But they also struggle due to rising costs and decreasing profits due to gas, electricity and other expenses and shortage.
Apart from textile mills, there are other businesses as well. We have Kashmir Ghee Mills in Faisalabad, which produce the well known Kashmir Ghee. There are a lots of brands of Washing Soaps which are produced in Faisalabad, hopefully all remember Gaye Soap :-D. Some exceptional cases like Rafhan Maize Products are also present but they are only a few and ordered to leave the city due to laws restriction and city expansion.
The city is a hub for trading activity. It consumes a lot and it works as a junction to supply different goods to other cities.Trading of Sutar Mandi Faisalabad is an example of textile dominant society. Sutar Mandi is basically used for trading cloth and thread, Sheikh and other purely business minded communities dominate this commodity market. The 8 Bazars and Clock Tower, are traditionally considered trading center of the city by laymen. This, being the oldest part of the city, is still called "sheher" (city) by local citizens. The old style of city has been long gone, but still open sewerage ducts can be seen in some old parts of city, or in newly established facility-less poor towns and muhallas.
People and Life Style
The city was being started building in 1900 by the British. Formerly this area was called Sandal Bar. This was not an arid area, so was irrigated by a canal Rakh Branch. In 1900s people were allotted lands in this area, government encouraged people to settle here so the city of Lyallpur, now Faisalabad came into being. The very foundation of this city is based upon the settlers coming from other areas of Punjab. The city does not have a grand past, like Lahore or Karachi type of cities have. So the life style of people is pretty much simple. Every year thousands of settlers add to Faisalabad and this rate is increasing with the passage time. Once this city was smaller than Sargodha (a neighbouring city) and was part of Sargodha Division. Now it has more population than Sargodha, even from any city in Punjab except Lahore. So this thing made the overall behaviour of the city.
People have come here, and coming here largely for business opportunities and jobs. So the city have been developed in a way as it was required by the settlers. The main way of living for Faisalabadis is the business and jobs. But here the divide of rich and poor should be discussed. There are people who live in old Muhallas or recently built so-called towns (communities of lower middle and lower class). They live to earn money so say they may be go on pushing their life. Even on eids their recreation opportunities are least. On the other hand, there are people who are rich they are mill owners, middle or upper middle class job holders, highly qualified professionals etc. They live in posh areas, they have ample opportunities for recreation, and even if there is none, they know how to produce such opportunities.
There is a clear divide among population according to lifestyle. The old Muhallas, some new ones have narrow streets, and the so-called towns still lack basic facilities like sewerage, water and gas. There are areas in the city which cannot be recognised as a part of a "city" if one happens to wander in their streets. On the other hand there are posh areas which are well guarded, separated with boundary walls with facilities, parks and elite lifestyle. The streets, roads, buildings and houses of these high class areas represent the "good" image of this city.
The city has least number of parks and recreation areas for the public. The old Bagh-e-Jinnah, Canal Park and other of such kind can be counted on fingers. The lower class areas of city are almost park-less, they have barely space for buildings and congested houses, due to lack of planning there are no parks or grounds, and if there were, they are consumed in building schools or other government buildings within those areas. The elite areas are feature rich with parks and grounds, but the cost of living is high their. So youth from Muhallas etc travel to such areas where grounds and parks are available to play cricket, or they tend to play on streets and roads between moving traffic.
The education rate of the city is increasing with passage of time. There is a hype to have a degree, but these degrees are for white collar jobs e.g MBA, M Com, Engineering, ACCA, ACMA etc. The trend of technical education is not so popular yet, although textile designing and other textile related areas are included in the curriculum of local institutes. Education is a business and provide livelihood for thousands in the city. There are private schools, colleges and universities, coaching centers and home tuition providing individuals who earn from selling education. There are government schools and colleges, there are private schools and colleges for lower middle and lower class and there are elite class Cambridge system schools and colleges. The city has two public sector universities Govt College University Faisalabad (established in 2001) and old one The University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Along with it, several private universities are working e.g. Faisalabad University.
The linguistic situation of the city is diverse even if it is a Punjabi city. Punjabi is spoken by old people, lower middle and lower class and among close peers on informal occasion. Like other major cities of Punjab, people of Faisalabad are also trying to pass on Urdu to their new generation instead of Punjabi. So they tend to speak Urdu with babies, children and youth. The children of lower middle class and lower class learn Punjabi in streets and among friends, but this language is being wiped out from elite class. English is also being popular with hundreds of institutes offering spoken English courses. Other languages e.g. Pashto is also spoken by Pakhtoons who have settled in Faisalabad during last 2 or 3 decades.
The overall mood of the population towards traditional festivals is bored, they tend to sleep on eids, ride bikes with removed silencers on 14 August, firing in the air and playing songs in loud voice at basant etc. The wearings among youth are pent shirt and shorts, older people tend to wear traditions Dhoti Kurta, Shalwar Qameez etc.
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The city is surrounded between several small cities and towns. Jaranawla, Khurriawala, Jhumra, Gatti, Dajkot, Samundari are some of the small cities surrounding Faisalabad. The city is expanding rapidly due to new settlers from rural Punjab and other small cities. So the surrounding villages and towns which were once outside the city are now a part of the city. Gokhuwal, Makkuana, Char Chak, Gutwala are a few examples of such reclamation by the expanding city. New towns, muhallas and colonies are being built all around the city. So once green areas around Faisalabad are now Jungles of Concrete. The expansion divides the rich poor distinction of the city. Canal Road is considered an elite area of the city, because the underground water is not drinkable except those areas which are within 1 to 2 kilometer range of Canal. So the rich has taken responsibility to build their houses and housing schemes around the Canal, while poor housing schemes are being pushed away from Canal. There are some old Muhallas near Canal e.g. Mansoorabad, but its rarity now to build a Muhalla near Canal.
Faisalabad is having a harsh plain weather which is due to its land locked nature. It receives low rainfall even in rainy season. The summers are very hot here. Temperature rises to 45 degree centigrade sometimes. The winters are dry and harsh. Specially December and January are too cold, the temperature falls to 0 degree centigrade. The dry winter causes flu, cough and other chest related problems, which are eliminated only if there are reasonable winter rains (2 to 3 rains in season). February, March and April are spring months and the weather is pretty much pleasant. From April to June, the summer rises to its peak. The rise in temperature creates dust storms which make weather pleasant for a few hours. The months of July, August and sometimes September are considered rainy season months when there are less or no winds blowing and occasional rains. The 24 hours presence of clouds in the sky create a humid weather which by interacting with hot sunlight create a kind of unbearable situation. Although the temperature is low in these months but humid weather creates problem for children and older people especially.
Development, Roads and Facilities
In last reign of Mian Nawaz Sharif, this city was granted ample funds fro the development of roads. So all the major roads are professionally built in two way fashion. But flyovers have been built time to time to contain traffic, roads are being constantly widened and newly built but the rapid expansion of the city is causing problems. The increase in traffic, the hype to purchase a bike and then a car, is increasing traffic and the city's road are becoming narrower day by day due to it. Especially the traffic junctions e.g. Millat Square, M Tax Square, areas around 8 Bazars and roads like Canal Road, Satiana Road are being over crowded due to traffic. There is a serious rise in problem of parking in rush hours specially in 8 Bazars, Satiana Road etc. The trend to build 4 to 5 story plazas on famous roads, with no parking facilities of their own, is also worsening the situation.
The city seriously lacks an Urban Transport Service. Initially there were Tongas which were replaced with Rikshaws and they were replaced with wagons almost 20 years ago. In round about 2000, the local government started a scheme to run local urban transport bus service. Two companies were allotted different routes in the city, and they were given loans to buy reconditioned buses. The old wagons were replaced, and provided routs outside the city. After a few years the bus services died away because of less income as compared to expenses. Those buses are standing in parking lots of the owners or the banks, or being used by textile mills to carry their staff. While the local transport is run by a new generation of Rikshwas called CNG Rikshaws, and Trolly Rikshaws (pulled by an 80 cc bike usually a Suzuki or Qingqi) called Chingchee locally. Due to more demand and less supply, old wagons are permitted to operate within city once again but that's not a solution. The ever expanding city is making the transport problem worse day by day.
Drinking water is a problem for the city. For last few years, Water and Sewerage Authority is not working well in this area. Water was being supplied from pumps installed alongside Canal, and from pumps installed near Chenab River. But water supply network of WASA is old and water pipes are rusty, and contaminated. The rehabilitation of water supply lines was started by adding new pipelines but due to lack of fund, or interest of the government, most areas are now without drinking water. So the supply is being fulfilled by water suppliers who supply water in textile chemical cans, or (if they are charging 3 to 4 times more) they use transparent plastic bottles. The sewerage system is so so, but rainy seasons creates real problem when water tends to stand on roads for several hours.
Places to Visit in Faisalabad
There are no monuments like Lahore Fort of Lahore, or Mazar-e-Qauid or Clifton Beach of Karachi in Faisalabad. It is an industrial city with least beauty for outsiders. But still there are some places which are worth seeing if you visit Faisalabad.
- Clock Tower and 8 Bazars
- Jinnah Garden, Jail Road.
- Chenab Club, Sargodha Road.
- Canal Park, Samundari Road.
- D Ground, Peoples Colony.
- University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
- Wild Life Park, Gutwala, Faisalabad.
- Hockey Stadium, Sousan Road
- Iqbal Stadium, Jail Road
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Auditorium, near Iqbal Stadium.
Well that's all, I will expand this list if for any other suggested places, or if I could remember another worth mentioning place.
Faisalabad is my city and I love it. :-) I've tried my best to describe about Faisalabad without adding my own opinion. You may ask any questions in comments if you want to know more about something. And I'll keep on posting about Faisalabad in future as well. Just stay tuned.