Andrew Buncombe: Colonial relic no place for high jinks

Lahore Notebook: The mighty Zam-Zammah is splattered with pigeon mess and sitting on an unsightly concrete plinth

Related Topics

When I first came to Lahore a couple of years ago, in addition to visiting the city's famed Badshahi mosque and the narrow streets of the old city, I made a point of checking out the British-era gun standing near the city's museum.

At the back of my mind, of course, was the idea of replicating the first paragraph of Kipling's famed novel of the sub-continent, 'Kim', and sitting "in defiance of municipal orders" astride the great weapon. I was a bit disappointed to see the mighty Zam-Zammah, the Persian name given to the ordnance, splattered with pigeon mess and sitting on a rather unsightly concrete plinth in the middle of a busy road opposite a college. Taking note of the number of armed policemen on duty in the area, I decided against climbing over the fence and hoisting myself up.

This time, I'm with a local journalist when we drive past the famous bronze weapon, still covered in bird droppings and still similarly fenced off. Without thinking through the consequences, I blurt out to him my student-minded wheeze to climb up on top of the "fire-breathing dragon" and snap a photograph.

My friend hasn't read 'Kim' but, in these anxious times of militant attacks and nervous policemen, he doesn't think it would be a good idea for a foreign journalist to be caught climbing on to an historic treasure, trying to recreate a scene from some racist colonial-era novel. It might be rather hard to explain, he says, with gentle understatement. He does agree, however, that the gun could do with a good clean. Perhaps I should volunteer my services.

When Sikhism flowers

My journey to Lahore takes me through the Wagah border crossing. Because of recent violence, the number of visitors to Pakistan is down. However, today marks the 541st anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and hundreds of Sikhs from across the world are travelling to Talwandi, the Guru's birthplace near Lahore.

There's also a wonderful scene when copies of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth, are carried across the border. Old copies are being taken to India while new copies are going to Pakistan. They're carried on pillows and, at the precise moment they cross the border, a handful of petals is thrown over them.

Clinton gets in a jam

Hillary Clinton is in town. Everyone's angry about US policy towards Pakistan. The former First Lady works her charm, but her Secret Service convoy wins over nobody. In addition to fighting off criticisms over the use of CIA drone strikes and such forth, her security detail gets blamed for worsening the city's traffic chaos. She only stays a day.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in the new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power