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Dining out on MM Alam Road (Photo: Arif Ali/White Star)

MM Alam Road is where Lahore’s nightlife kicks off. Okay, so that may be stretching the truth, but the fact of the matter is, if you are heading out for a spot of dinner, the odds are high that you may end up at one of the restaurants lining this commercial street which runs parallel to Gulberg’s Main Boulevard.

And just around the corner where MM Alam Road (named after Air Commodore of Pakistan Air Force Muhammad Mahmood Alam) ends (in a sort of extension) is Mahmood Kasuri Road, where it seems that all the eateries which could not snag a place on MM Alam Road are lined up.

It wasn’t always this way, though. Fifteen years ago or so, this was just another sleepy Gulberg residential area, with mostly older houses lining either side of the road. Save for the presence of Café Zouk (newly opened then) at one end, and Depilex down the road, who could have said the foundation of a fashion and culinary hub had been laid, thereafter to rapidly expand into a proliferation of shops and restaurants.

The new burger on the block (photo: Arif Ali/ White Star)

Although when one thinks of MM Alam Road, what may come to mind is a blur of eateries and boutiques, a drive down proves that all you need for survival in the urban jungle is right there, and what was lacking – a healthcare facility – opened up just a couple of years ago (and in keeping with the upmarket neighbourhood, Al Razi Healthcare is no less swanky). There are petrol stations, pharmacies, fast food joints, and a car showroom – and if all this is not diversity enough, there is Meena Bazaar (Indian couture), Caanchi & Lugari, Damas, Deepak Perwani and lots more. However, no mention of the area would be complete without adding that salons exist aplenty, from Toni and Guy, to your ever popular local New Look and a dozen in between. In much the same manner, food choices range from Lahore’s answer to the bun-kebab – the anda-shami burger – to Café Aylanto – yes, all on MM Alam Road.

Often referred to as Lahore’s answer to Zamzama in Karachi, some parallels can certainly be drawn: speedy development overlooked basics such as adequate parking provision in some spots. Worse still is the traffic congestion in the evenings, and to top it off, the road is a sane driver’s nightmare with potholes and uneven carpeting from one end to the other, all of which detract from the fun of shopping and eating out.

— Fareeha Rafique
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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 2, 2012.