A long time ago my children, who are now married and have their own families, suddenly developed an interest in their roots - the Walled City of Lahore. Unable to satisfy their curiosity, I referred them to an expert on the subject, who happens to be my elder female sibling. True to her adventurous and rather bold nature, she immediately took charge of the youngsters and departed on a study tour of the labyrinth that is the inner Lahore. What happened on this epic journey is something to be described in a subsequent column, but as I sat reminiscing about the event on a wet rainy day, I was reminded of the time when a walk from the Mori Gate to our ancestral house in Maidan Bhaiyan was a daily affair. This was so because my elder sister, like my mother and aunts before her, was enrolled at Victoria Girls High School, what was once the grand residence of Naunehal Singh, and had to be dropped and picked every morning and afternoon. Parking the car short of the bridge like structure outside the Mori Gate entrance, near what were perhaps the remains of a moat, I escorted by good old Chacha Ghulam Dastgir, our driver, usually covered the distance on foot in about 15 to 20 minutes. The name Mori Gate has for long been a bone of contention between two Lahori schools of thought. One group claims that it should not be classified as one of the gates, for while it allowed passage to and from the city; it was actually an outlet for sewage and drainage. The other group states that while it did act as an outlet for waste, there was a gate here and that qualifies it for inclusion amongst the great portals of Lahore. As we entered the narrow bazaar lined on both sides by shops and establishments on raised plinths, we were immediately assailed by the sights, sounds and smells of the city. Walking past towels hung outside a barber shop that doubled as a public bath or garam hamam, we came to the milk shop run by a burly jovial character, who could look equally at home in a wrestling pit or akhara. This gentleman ruled over a huge wok like contraption filled with delicious simmering milk covered with thick cream. On one side lay a stack of baked clay containers or koondaas of yoghurt, a metal jug like container, a wooden whisk or madhani and several tall metal glasses for mouthwatering frothing lassi called adh rirka. A round flat bottomed shallow tray lay filled with barfi decorated with silver foil lay on the other side. It was this confection that usually tempted me to stop and cajole one anna out of old Ghulam Dastgir to buy a substantial amount of this sweetmeat. A few yards ahead and I would stand transfixed at the oil press or kohlu in a small enclave on the right of the bazaar. This press was made up of two large wheel like contraptions turned by a couple of bullocks, which appeared to be perpetually moving in a circle. The mustard seeds were put in a container that steadily fed them to the presses and the oil flowed out of an aperture to be caught in another container embedded in the ground. A little distance up the bazaar and we turned left into an open space with a well defined brick paved track running through it. The right side of this space was taken up with clothes line like contraptions festooned with what looked like Rapunzels golden tresses. This was the vermicelli factory with the wet pasta strands draped over the line for drying. By this time, the barfi had finished and it was time to pluck a few strands of the popular pasta and sample them. A few yards ahead, we had to make a quick decision. Take a shortcut through a claustrophobic narrow street called Majhi Gali with an open mini sewer running its entire length or take the longer and wider route that swung you around towards the right to emerge at the corner of Maidan Bhaiyan and our destination. A quick dash, up the steep stairs of the old house and I would be home, in the tender embrace of the unforgettable lady, who was my grandfathers sister, and the tantalising aroma of her superb cooking. The writer is a freelance columnist.