Whenever I drive towards my village, which is minutes away from the Indo-Pak border of Attari-Wagah, I tune in to City FM 89.0, a popular radio station of Pakistan, the frequency of which is received in our border villages. If I have guests along, I ardently introduce it to them, too. “Do you know the song you’re listening to is being played by a Pakistani radio broadcaster?” I tell them. My Chicago-based uncle has also become a fan of the channel and enquires, “Are we listening to the station from Pakistan?”
Targeting youngsters, the radio station instantly connects one to our neighbour and parted brother. Following it for years, I’ve woven a bond with it. Whenever tuned in, the channel belts out an exciting fare, including songs from the West, besides Bollywood and Pakistan.
The best is when they play classics by singers such as Reshma, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Naseebo Lal among others, mostly on the request from listeners across Pakistan. After every 30 minutes, comes the time check moment: “It’s 7am. This time check was brought to you by…,” which reminds me that Pakistan is 30 minutes behind us. When a brief weather report on various cities is followed, it intrigues more.
Other than the music scene, I enjoy its talk shows and the topics they pick. The first thing that excites me is how they use the language: It seems so rich and polite, be it Urdu, English or Hindi. Though the hosts mostly speak English, they also bring Urdu to their tongues, words of which are a treat to my ears and have often encouraged me to take up Urdu classes.
Sharing their topics, which I penned also in my diary, considering their importance, the list is endless: How to create unity in the family; lessons from travelling; and even how we can better our relationships with India. It’s amazing listening to views of guests they invite or listeners who call up during the shows. Once during their daily programme, The Breakfast Show, its RJ shared thought-provoking messages she gathered from the elderly citizens on their realisations about life. I felt so fortunate to be listening to them. “Had I forgiven people easily, I would have lived so lightly,” was one of them.
During advertisement breaks in Pakistan, the listeners must be switching to other stations but I stay glued. After all, what and how something is advertised on the other side of the border fascinates me. Listening to Urdu words is a pleasure again. Buy Royal fans to beautify your ceilings, go for Jazz 4G network for interrupted connections, stay away from the summer heat by drinking Sprite are some of the current commercials, other than many event updates such as festivals, exhibitions and sales in malls.
Since the past few days, exciting Independence Day shopping festivals in Lahore and Karachi are being announced frequently. In July-end, commercials were on about a week-long grand automobile show in Lahore, telling listeners the perks of visiting it.
But as I listen, I often wonder, had our borders been friendly like in Europe and many other parts of the world, we would have commonly gone for outings in Lahore and beyond, for shopping, food, and an array of festivals. The division has taken place, but every effort must be made to proceed towards love. The creation of the Kartarpur Corridor is a big step, which many of us on both sides of the border may have never imagined, as many Pakistanis also lauded in one talk show. We surely need more of such efforts as peace and love matter more. For now, Happy Independence Days to both Pakistan and India!
The writer is an Amritsar-based freelance contributor