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AUGUST 18-24 2013

From Axle to Gigapixel German documentary-maker captures stunning images of truck art


AUGUST 18-24 2013

Feature

The distance of a shout

Cover Story

From axle to gigapixel

Shilpa Gupta creates art that examines the everyday phenomenon we sometimes find hard to articulate

Stunning images emerge on Pakistani truck art as a German mechanical engineer travels through 11 countries

30

Art

Straight Faced Hyderabad artist Mohammad Ali Talpur’s Alif uses symmetry to deceive, deliver

34 Infographic

ow

1 to 9

The Big Bhang Theory Allergy sufferers blame the Paper Mulberry in the Spring in Islamabad but meet the weed that causes trouble in the Fall

26

4

36 Regulars

6 People & Parties: Out and about with the beautiful people

39 Review: From music to books 42 Health: Immaculate Contraception

Magazine Editor: Mahim Maher and Sub-Editors: Dilaira Mondegarian and Sundar Waqar. Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Essa Malik, Jamal Khurshid, Samra Aamir, Anam Haleem, Munira Abbas, Faizan Dawood. Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions: magazine@tribune.com.pk Twitter: @ETribuneMag & Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ETribuneMag Printed: uniprint@unigraph.com


PEOPLE & PARTIES Radio 1 organises the screening of Star Trek at Cinepax, Karachi

PHOTOS COURTESY IDEAS EVENTS PR

xxxxx

Hina Bayat and Khursheed Haider

Shazya, Ahad and Alina

Seema Taher with a guest

6

Gumby and Waqar Zaka AUGUST 18-24 2013

Guests

Beenish and Rabiyah


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Faria and Geiti

Faryal and Fariha

Bilal Choudhri launches his design label Arung at PFDC, Lahore

Faiza AUGUST 18-24 2013

Alya and Sanam

Sophia

Mehr

8

PHOTOS COURTESY SAVVY PR AND EVENTS

Alizeh and Amina

Alyzeh

Yasmeen

Aliha


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Amna, Samreen, Sana, Ayesha and Hafsah

Uzma and Farah PHOTOS COURTESY REZZ PR AND EVENTS

Street 1 CafĂŠ opens up in Islamabad

Saleeha, Huma, Umber and Natasha

Ms Abbasi and Tanya

10

Ayesha AUGUST 18-24 2013

Naveen, Neelum, Sabeen and Natasha


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Saira, Seemi and Farah

Natasha and Saira

The first fundraiser, Charity Fashion Sale, for Dast-e-Talab foundation is held in Lahore

Shagufta and Mehnaz

PHOTOS COURTESY SAVVY PR & EVENTS

Subha

Sara

Faiza and Shafqat

Shahida and Rabia

Rima and Nargis

12

Seemi and Fauzia AUGUST 18-24 2013

Anum, Amna and Huma


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Sadaf and Ambreen

Nida Rizki

Ayesha Omer

The nail polish brand Essie brings its line to Karachi

Redah Misbah

Ghazia

Amber Javed

Maria and Khadijah

14

Hina and Nada AUGUST 18-24 2013

Sehrish Lalani PHOTOS COURTESY LOTUS PR


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Hina Yousaf

Essie Weingarten Saba Ansari

Sehar Farrukh

Shehla Poonja Mona Ji

Meha Hafsah

Meher Najeeb

16

Ujala and Zainab Pasha AUGUST 18-24 2013

PHOTOS COURTESY LOTUS PR


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

An Eid bazaar is held in Karachi

Amber and Kiran

PHOTOS COURTESY TAKE II

Erum, Huma and Zainab

Kanwar and Fatima

Saba

Nimra and Amina

Hira and Alizeh

18

Rahat AUGUST 18-24 2013

Bushra

Zahabiya and Rukhsana Jam

Rubab


AUGUST 11-17 2013


PEOPLE & PARTIES

Nadaa and Marium

Kainaat Zulfiqar, Zulfiqar Hussain, Sabiha Zulfiqar and Laraeb Zulfiqar

Duaa Ilyas

PHOTOS COURTESY REZZ PR AND EVENTS

Sara Saleem

Rabia and Ayesha

Janie Liang

Juice Zone opens an outlet in Islamabad

Qurat and Natasha

20

Asima Mohsin and Sobia Atif AUGUST 18-24 2013

Rabya and Roshannie

Farooq and Huda


COVER STORY

From axle to

gigapixel Stunning images emerge on Pakistani truck art as a German mechanical engineer travels through 11 countries

PHOTOS BY MATTHIAS BARTH TEXT BY M ABDUL VASIQ EQBAL

26 AUGUST 18-24 2013


Some stereotypes celebrate people. We are thus not surprised that a 41-year-old German would decide to undertake a year-long journey from his home in the Black Forest across 11 countries, including Pakistan, in a hardy Land Rover Defender. That man is Matthias Barth, a mechanical engineer, photo journalist and cinematographer, who has just exited Lahore after extensively capturing our truck art world. This is part of ‘Trucks.13’, a documentary for a German television channel and other smaller projects that seek to discover how art transitions from one region to another. Anyone can follow his route on the blog artcartv.blogspot.de with the help of Google translator. On it he details winding through Austria, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan and he was last in India with Nepal and Tibet next on his list. Happily, he has good things to say about Pakistan. “I came here for six days, but I stayed six weeks!” he told me. We were introduced by a Belgian friend over dinner at the well known Lahore Backpackers. Barth wanted to know where he could buy neutral density camera filters. This was how I learnt that he was working on truck art. In Pakistan he has successfully managed to accomplish what he set out to. He did not have visas problems, unlike for Iran and India, as his blog says. His video camera and documents were stolen in Turkey. It has been a challenging journey. In fact, he said over email a month ago that he had not known if he would be able to photograph or shoot the trucks in Pakistan because of the political situation. “I knew that it will be very difficult,” he wrote. “So I got the escort team provided by the government. It took me seven days to reach Lahore and there I felt very safe.” Barth was inspired to take on this work after doing a documentary on the artcar at the Burning Man Festival in the US last year. As in truck art, artcars are vehicles which have been artistically modified as a hobby. Carartists turn them into aliens, dolphins, cover them in leopard print, even beads. Perhaps one of the most famous examples is that of Andy Warhol, who was commissioned to dress up a BMW. For the project, Barth abandoned the idea of flying to each destination and instead hit the road. His companion became the blue Land Rover Defender that he affectionately refers to as ‘Bluey’. He bought it from an Austrian mountain farmer who had modified it for the Sahara, replete with bulletproof loopholes. But as this made Bluey too heavy, they were removed as was the massive roof rack. The mobile home has a kitchen in the back and a roof tent and is customized to keep him safe and comfortable whether they are traveling through a European

Happily, Matthias Barth has good things to say about Pakistan: “I came here for six days, but I stayed six weeks!”

AUGUST 18-24 2013


COVER STORY

thunderstorm or the Iranian desert. “I compare [Bluey] with a Turkish donkey,” Barth wrote on his blog in German. “Treat him well and he will work faithfully for you.” Indeed, it was only after 24,000km that Bluey needed some minor maintenance work in Lahore. “The mechanics here are improvisers,” he wrote. “It’s hard to find the right one. Each specializes in an activity. Thus I often go to the specialists. They all are very cheap and do a good job. Unfortunately they do not work as efficiently as a European mechanic — like the work will be postponed to the next day, but I got used to it quickly.” But how was Barth going to add to the already large corpus of work on truck art? I told him that our truck art had gone to Melbourne in 2006 when artists hand-painted a tram there in this style. Last year, a 16-seater minibus named ‘Tiara’ (pronounced ‘tayyara’ or aeroplane) hit the headlines in the UK. A Pakistani named Dalawar Chaudhry had transformed the Mazda into a psychedelic truck art delight that was even rented by singer Bob Gel28 dof for his 50th birthday party. AUGUST 18-24 2013


Barth has used GigaPan technology invented by Nasa to photograph Mars. Each gigapixel image contains one billion pixels (1,000 times the detail captured by a one-megapixel digital camera) Aside from training his lens every aspect of truck art, which will be revealed in the documentary, the difference this time is that Barth has used the innovative GigaPan System to capture this world. This is a combination of cutting-edge technology software and high-tech hardware, developed by Nasa to capture photos of Mars and beyond the solar system. It was even used in military intelligence and virtual microscopy and Google Earth is its most famous product. Each gigapixel image contains one billion pixels (1,000 times the details captured by a one-megapixel digital camera). Robotic cameras capture hundreds and sometimes thousands of images. During post-processing, an image stitching software automatically combines them together to present one composite and ultra-high resolution image with great sharpness and clarity. Thus Barth has documented and interviewed everyone associated with the truck art industry, from the mechanics to the painters, the drivers to the decorators and even the chai wallahs. He discovered, for example, why the truck drivers write Pilot Gate on the door of the driver’s seat. They describe themselves as pilots because, as they put it, they don’t drive, they ‘fly’! Given that this is a work in progress, Barth was unable to share too many details. The good news is, however, that the project is expected to be exhibited in Germany by the end of this year. He has a lot of material to process and encountered hiccups in places like Iran where YouTube is banned. But suffice it to say for now that Barth has seen that truck art is not a one-man show. Many interconnected industries earn from it whether they are the painters, welders, accessory- and component-makers, sticker designers and printers. He has even captured how life revolves around them in the shape of a low wage rate, child labour and poor working conditions. Nothing 29 has escaped his eye or the GigaPan technology. AUGUST 18-24 2013


THE DISTANCE

FEATURE

OF A SH Mumbai-born Shilpa Gupta creates art that examines the everyday phenomenon we sometimes find hard to articulate

BY SHAI VENKATRAMAN LAYOUT BY AMNA IQBAL

Eye Test, Translites, 2012 21x16.5x4.5 in | 53x42x11 cm

30 42 AUGUST 18-24 4-10 2013 2013


OUT 2,652 is the number of footsteps between the three holy sites of Jerusalem, a city where Islam, Christianity and Judaism meet. Those places are Al Aqsa Mosque, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Indian artist Shilpa Gupta walked that distance between them, taking photos as she made the journey. They emerged in an installation exhibited in Tel Aviv earlier this year in the shape of a 42-metre long thin canvas that portrays

both the closeness and distance between the three religions. It is called 2652-1. “It is about how close we can be, but how far apart we stand,” explains Gupta, who sees art as a way to understand what is around us through a media of form, light and sound. “But these mediums become the language to articulate what one comprehends or is unable to comprehend.” Indeed, given the history of relations between the members of these faiths, sometimes art is the only way to communicate. It is works like these

that have made a name for the 36- year-old, who is now taken as a star in the world of Indian art. Her works are rooted in and reflective of the times we live in. Regarded as a pioneer of New Media art, she consistently explores themes such as cultural and religious divides, globalisation and terrorism. “The question of time, place and group that one is born into and may choose to dream or live in, has been impossible to escape,” says Gupta who has just returned from a solo exhibition in Brisbane. This has been an especially productive year. Just halfway through 2013, her works have been displayed in galleries in England, Singapore, Ireland, Denmark, New York and the UAE. Since her student days at Mumbai’s prestigious Sir JJ Institute of Applied Arts, Gupta’s art has evolved to mine the rich tropes of time, perception of it and the measurement of distances. Despite works like 2652-1, she rejects the la-

31 AUGUST 18-24 2013


FEATURE

bel of being a political artist, preferring instead to be called an “everyday” artist. Gupta, who was born and raised in Mumbai, says her upbringing had an enormous influence on her evolution as an artist. “I grew up in a large, joint family and it was a tough decision to become an artist,” she told The Express Tribune. “While at one level, I felt great freedom with the opportunity to go to an art school, I was also aware [of] the meaning of choosing this thing called art.” Growing up in a family of 20 to 25 people in a large open home, made one aware of the “language” of art and how it could connect with those so close

32 AUGUST 18-24 2013

to it and not just to a small group of visitors coming to a gallery. “When I was growing up, the air was full of cosmopolitanism,” she adds. “But something deep was affected in 1992 after the riots in Mumbai.” Gupta remembers a class chair that stayed empty after the riots, or seeing smoke from her terrace. That was also the decade of 9/11 and the US bombing of Iraq. She was keenly aware of those implications.

2652-1, Installation, Archival Print on Canvas, 2010 Dimensions 1650.60 x 1.57 inches 4200.00 x 4.00 centimetres


Gupta embraced art full time in 2004, after working a few years as a graphic designer. Her initial work was performance and webbased, with her later graduating to using a variety of media and forms such as video, installation and pictures. Interactivity, a hallmark from her early days, remains an abiding feature. In one of her most talkedabout works, a photographic series titled ‘I Want to Live with No Fear’, visitors were given a balloon printed with this line and photographed by Gupta as they travelled in public. Their pictures were made a permanent piece in the show. Of closer relevance to home is the piece 1:14.9. Gupta created a hand-bound ball of thread symbolising the 1,907 kilometres, or 1,185 miles, of the border between India and Pakistan that have been fenced. The title of the work of art is the ratio of the

length of the thread (79.5 miles) to the length of the fenced border. While her pieces are often specific to certain issues or conflicts, Gupta is constantly exploring ways to connect with her viewers, to encourage them to question their biases and engage with global concerns in a more personal way. It is perhaps this quest that gives her art a certain accessibility and appeal, sometimes absent in other works dealing with similar issues. Her works range between Rs25,000 and Rs200,000, depending on the scale and medium.

1:14.9, 1,188.5 miles of fenced border — West, North-West Data Update: Dec 31, 2007. Hand wound thread ball and a vitrine, 2011-12 22x20x62 in | 56x51x158 cm

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REVIEW

STRAIGHT FACED Hyderabad artist Mohammad Ali Talpur’s Alif uses symmetry to deceive, deliver TEXT AND DESIGN BY AMNA IQBAL

34 AUGUST 18-24 2013


The smarter ones among us have the rare ability to laugh at themselves. They know how ridiculous it is to take anything seriously, especially themselves. These people are either trailblazers or raging madmen, laughing as the world rushes by. They have evolved to realise the pointlessness of what average minds consider important. Hyderabad artist Mohammad Ali Talpur happens to be one of them. In a series that was shown a year ago at London’s Green Cardamom gallery, Alif, drives home the argument that symmetry can be deceptive. This body of about 14 works, stunning black-and-white pieces, marry powerful contrast with near-perfect balance. But, like all things beautiful, chaos lurks in the wings. Talpur uses acrylic on canvas and ink on paper to paint calligraphic strokes that closely mimic divine verse. As a gallery statement explains: ‘Alif’, meaning ‘to compose’ in Arabic, is the initial letter in the Arabic, Farsi and Urdu alphabets. As the first letter in the name Allah, it also alludes to the idea of the “first and last existence: awwal and aakhir (first and last)”. He repeats characters, calligraphic strokes and even the pronunciation markers (zer, zabar, pesh) across the page. They cannot be ‘read’, but when you look at them, they “communicate a sense of reflection and peace”. The image becomes Escher-like because the viewer is taken aback by the dimensions that unfold. The lines dance, the severe grid of zeyr, zabr and nuqta become absurd, morph into something that looks like Pacman. What appear to be mathematical compositions are not. The idea of Alif attains clarity when the piece starts to make you dizzy.The madness behind the method makes you lightheaded. Alif also marks a turning point in his career which has long focused on an exploration of the line and a desire to make “art without content”. The gallery disappoints, however, by throwing in this line: The work can also be read as a visual response to notions of rhythm and metre, integral to music and poetry: ... but also intertwined with the sufism-inflected version of Islam. This jargon is textbook Pakistani artist review. Talpur is too evolved as an artist to transcend in a blatantly obvious way. He is creating space for his own version of the divine. He would like you believe in the meditative healing that symmetry promises. The repetition is meant to calm you, but when you know you are going in circles, the joke’s on you. And his understanding of the form emerges when he laughs with you, because he made you a part of his secret. You are sharing an inside joke with a friend. T

Calligraphy is a subtle method, which I use to scratch my body and soul. It is neither a political nor social comment but an investigation of Islamic philosophical and sacred art. Uncountable curved and straight lines dancing like a classical dancer draw our attention to the deepest visual experience of “form is the idea” Artist’s statement from his earlier exhibit of ‘Alif ’ at the Canvas Gallery, Karachi.

Mohammad Ali Talpur, ‘Alif’ Green Cardamom, London June 29 - July 27, 2012 b. 1976, Hyderabad, Pakistan Lives and works in Lahore

48 AUGUST 18-24 2013


INFOGRAPHIC

The Big Bhang Theory BY SUNDAR WAQAR

The Paper Mulberry tree has a bad rep for causing allergies in the Spring in Islamabad, which has some of the highest pollen counts in the world. But if your sinuses have just recovered from that season, watch out for the Fall. The Cannabis sativa weed is going to be a nuisance. You and I know it more commonly as the Bhang weed. The bhang pollen count causes allergies from July to September, according to researchers. In a 2012 World Allergy Organisation study, Shahid Abbas of the Allergy and Asthma Centre in Islamabad and seven other researchers recorded the bhang weed pollen counts each day for three years. To give you an idea, the bhang weed put out 2,040 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air on August 18 in 2005. The highest pollen count came from the Paper Mulberry or Broussonetia papyrifera in March 2006 at 34,320 pollen per cubic metre of air. Compare this with the highest recorded elsewhere in the world. In Cordoba city, 38,393 olive pollen grains per cubic metre were detected in the air on one day in 1991 — the highest in a study of 25

80%

410m to

of the total pollen count, the highest in the air in 2005, 2006 and 2007 came from the Paper Mulberry tree.

The Cannabis sativa or the Bhang weed grows in all sectors of Islamabad

8,000 to 10,000 litres of air are inhaled by one person in 24 hours


7,000m Pollen are produced in a season by trees like the Paper Mulberry

Counts went as high as

1,430

pollens

per cubic metre of air per hour

80 to 110

pollen allergy patients visited PIMS daily for nebulization and oxygen basis during the Spring season, according to a study by researchers at the International Islamic University published in the Pakistan Journal of Botany in 2013

220 out of 1,000

patients tested positive for allergic reactions to the bhang weed at the Pakistan Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology Centre in Islamabad Year

Pollen counts for the bhang weed in Islamabad for three years

40 35

2005

37

2006

30

2007

26 25

23

20 15

12

10

8

5 0

0

1

0

January

0

0

1

February

1

1

1

March

1

1 April

1

1

2 2

1 to 9 10 to 49 50 to 499 500

Moderate High

Very high over

9 7

7

2 2

May

Weed pollen counts cubic metres of air per day

Low

14 14

June

2 2 July

August

September

1

October

1

1

1

November

1

1

1

December

years of data. Researchers at the Rawalpindi Medical College and Quaid-iAzam University had similar findings in a 2009 paper published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Research. Out of 702 people tested, 48% were allergic to the Paper Mulberry tree and 20% reacted to the Bhang weed pollen. They wrote that many patients with the pollen allergy are hospitalised in Islamabad in the spring (February to April), fall (July to September), and after the monsoons. “Pollen are tiny powder-like biological particles released from 37 AUGUST 18-24 2013


500

490 479

435

400

trees, weeds and grasses for the purpose of fertilizing other plants,” says Dr Tarique Zahid Khan, an ear, nose and throat or ENT specialist. When pollen grains get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the immune system into overdrive. “When pollen enters our body, the immune system, mistakenly sees the pollen as foreign invaders, releases antibodies or substances that normally identify and attack bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms.” The antibodies attack the allergens, which leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood, adds Dr Zahid. Histamines trigger sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. Pollen can travel for miles, spreading a path of misery for allergy sufferers along the way. Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts because the rain washes away the allergens. Although there is no cure for pollen allergy, there are a number of ways to prevent them. “Vaccination at proper time before the commencement of spring season can help avoid adverse consequences of pollen allergy,” says Dr Syeda Maria Ali, an assistant professor at the International Islamic University, who wrote a paper on the health impact of al-

Pollen counts for the Paper Mulberry tree in Islamabad for three years

300

Year 2005 2006 2007

200

100

72 61 49

0

1

1

1

January

3

49

6

1 February

March

April

7 May

3

4

6 June

2

7

10 July

5

10 4 August

6

9

6

2

September

1

1

1

October

1

1

1

November

1

0

0

December

lergenic pollen grains with three other experts. “Wearing masks during pollen season is recommended.” Air-conditioning and keeping windows and doors closed help. Dry clothing and bedding in the dryer instead of hanging them outside. Pollen can stick to the fur of your pets so be careful when letting them in your bedroom or allowing them to play outside. Researchers have found that death caused by asthma in patients aged between 5 and 34 years was twice as higher on days when fungal spore concentrations were at or above 1000 spores/m3. In spring the pollen count for the Paper Mulberry can reach up to 30,000/m3 air in a single day. T


MUSIC

Let England shake for Shaker Aamer PJ Harvey takes on Guantánamo Bay detention in her latest single release e BY ALI HAIDER HABIB PJ Harvey’s eighth studio album ‘Let England Shake’ was well received and she earned numerous accoladess for her voluble yet veiled political activism. But her latest single ‘Shaker Aamer’ — as the name suggests — makes no attempt to mask its intended purpose. Judging by the refrain in the outro, Harvey wants the world to not forget the last British resident detained in the ‘world’s most famous prison’. ut clockReminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s style, the song reminds one of White Rabbit in its first few seconds, but wever, ing in at under three minutes, it still becomes a monodrone of flanger-filled guitar strums. Much of it is, however, er the buoyed by Harvey’s voice, unique in its tone and texture, as it manages to simultaneously soothe and shatter sonant nerves of the listener — the kind of voice that would draw a soldier towards it in the midst of battle. The dissonant g has been delay on the vocals adds to the eeriness, but an otherwise sparse production lends the impression the song let out to dry in the sun for too long. e’ indicate she The lyrics are simple and literal. The opening lines, ‘No water for three days / I cannot sleep or stay awake’ nd she does does not mean to beat around the bush. By choosing to write in first person, Harvey has taken some risk and well to own the lyrical content. She highlights what the prison is so infamous for: ‘With metal tubes we are force fed / I edieval minhonestly wish I was dead’. Again, Harvey’s discordant vocal delivery makes the song more authentic — a medieval strel narrating a bitter tragedy. e heart of But despite this, the song never takes off. It neither soars nor plummets. It attempts to spear through the the listener but falls just short. Harvey has already made headlines with the song so she has achieved one aspect of it. And that is what it will be remembered for, because the soundscape isn’t as memorable. The song is available for download from her official website.

Who is Shaker Aamer? Born in Saudi Arabia, 44-year-old Shaker Aamer was arrested from Afghanistan in n November 2001 and shifted to Guantánamo Bay in February the next year. It has been nearly 11-and-a-half years since he has been detained without any charges. Although ugh he has been cleared for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations, for ht some reason Aamer still languishes in jail — a place where he has reportedly fought ent for the physical and mental well-being of his fellow inmates. The British government has claimed to have been in talks with its US counterpart to negotiate Aamer’s release, but has chosen to not make the progress public. T

The revolution in music Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan

Revolution by The Beatles

Dhinak Dhinak by The Baighairat Brigade

Written in 1962, this song poses rhetorical questions about war, peace and freedom. The underlying socio-political theme of the lyrics, in which he is searching for answers, is reflected in most of Dylan’s work during that era. The song later became symbolic of the US civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

Amid the chaos that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, with the Vietnam War raging on one hand and the French government brought to its knees by student protests in Paris on the other, The Beatles released their first explicitly political song in 1968.

Released in 2013 by a group of young musicians, this song is a tongue-in-cheek critique of the power of the Pakistani military. It was, however, soon banned without any official explanation. The trio had also released another satirical number Aalu Anday earlier that targeted the political power games in the country. AUGUST 18-24 2013

39


BOOK

the devil does a disappearing act

Don’t go by the title of this book because although Miranda still wears Prada, she isn’t exactly the devil here BY FAIZA RAHMAN

40

Revenge Wears Prada, the sequel to Lauren Weisberger’s widely read chick lit novel, Devil Wears Prada, is a good followup on the lives of some old characters. And it is mostly just that. Devil Wears Prada at least had a page-turner of a plot — an antagonist unleashed straight from the pits of hell and a defined, strong and relatable protagonist. But the sequel fails to make up for Weisberger’s almost bush-league writing style. More often than not, the book reads like a news report on Andy’s life. Through endless miles of narrative prose, we learn that almost a decade has passed since she broke free from the crabby and spiteful Miranda of Runway magazine. Andy has started her own fashion publication called The Plunge, and it is gathering a lot of attention from the New York glitterati. We learn that The Plunge is co-managed by her old coworker Emily, even though they had a rocky relationship in the last book. Andy’s former best friend Lily and her ex-boyfriend Alex also make an appearance, but much later on. As the magazine launches fresh advertising campaigns, Andy meets Max — a young man from a wealthy noble family in New York. Max is quite the man-about-town, but surprise, surprise, settles for Andy the minute he lays his eyes on her at a dinner party. Two meetings and a few conversations later, he decides to marry her. Apart from Miranda’s unwelcome appearance, Andy has to negotiate another challenge — Max’s mother. This pretentious aristocrat is unhappy about her son’s choice because she feels Andy is excessively ambitious and an overall misfit in her otherwise perfectly family. The climax is set early in the story, when Andy stumbles upon a private letter to Max from his mother, in which she urges him to reconsider his decision to marry, recommending another partner, Katherine. This unsettling discovery is made just before she walks down the aisle as Max’s bride-to-be. But, be warned, up until now there is no ‘revenge’ in the story. You need to be quite patient with Weisenberg. A greater disappointment is that Andy is just not as charming in the sequel, nor is Miranda as obnoxious as she was. Perhaps Weisberger is trying to let her characters grow up and evolve or, she just didn’t brainstorm enough for this book. Despite these shortcomings, the plot has just the right amount of fancy parties, gorgeous dresses and pretty women. And so while it may not be as good as its predecessor, it is a must-read for all the Devil Wears Prada fans out there. T Available at Liberty Books for Rs591, after 15% discount

AUGUST 18-24 2013

Shoes galore Surfing in Stilettos Carol Wyer’s novel is full of escapades and adventure. Amanda Wilson and her husband are going to be travelling across Europe during an exciting gap-year. But little does Amanda know that her adventurous plans will be stalled midway when she finds out about her cheating husband. And while abandoned in France, manages to meet the love of her life.

The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots Kirstie Donovan, the Pastor’s wife decides to cruise off on a bright pink motorcycle on a road less travelled by most women over forty. From the flat landscape of Indiana to the mountains of Tennesse and couples at church to bikers, Kristie’s not just riding her bike for the fun of it.

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues Who needs Jimmy Choos when Tansy Poole’s shoe shop provides footwear to make any fairytale wedding come true? Paradise for shoe-lovers but her personal and love life not as heavenly, Tansy takes refuge in her shop’s success. Until actor Ivo Hawksley, returns to town and they both discover, secrets shared make a very strong bond.


FILM

Media trials and the court of the people

In Phil Spector, David Mamet proves that even the facts can be misleading in celebrity trials OUR CORRESPONDENT

In the court of public opinion, the celebrity is inevitably charged as guilty before trial. Nothing about celebrities is small — their fame or their ignominy. Director and dramatist David Mamet circles this phenomenon with the real-life 2003 story of Phil Spector, a Hollywood record producer, famed as much for his instinct for millions-making music as for his coifs. Spector was accused of murdering a young blonde date, actress Lana Clarkson, in his mansion by shooting her in the mouth after picking her up at a nightclub. In the 92-minute television movie for HBO, he is played by Al Pacino, whose Shylock perhaps prepared him for this gruff, flamboyant Jewish businessman’s role. But the real acting comes from his lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, played by Helen Mirren, who puts in a solid performance as the matronly, pneumonia-ridden legal eagle who is tasked with the impossible job of trying to introduce reasonable doubt. Mamet was clever enough to keep this story out of the courtroom. We never actually see the trial. Instead, the film is about the pre-trial prep. How does Linda find a way to defend a celebrity who is known to have a history of waving guns about in the studio? He has an ex-wife who claims the fame went to his head and he was abusive towards women. The evidence seems to be damning. But is it? Linda, who originally just appears to assist for a few days on trial, ends up taking the case. She says she thinks he is not guilty. But even she isn’t always so sure. The first problem is one of blood splatter. If Spector held a gun in Lana’s mouth and pulled the trigger, the front of his body, especially his white coat, would have been sprayed with blood and brain matter. There were no such traces. But Linda knows that the jury’s mind is so made up that they won’t necessarily buy this. Spector claims that Lana asked to see one of his guns

and put it in her mouth. Weapons excite women sometimes, he says. When he saw her put it in her mouth, he shouted “No!” His lawyer wonders if that startled Lana so much that the trigger went off? According to one line of defense action, Linda would have to prove that Lana was suicidal and killed herself. But attacking the victim doesn’t always go down well with the jury. Obviously, since the action has already happened off screen, the film rides on dramatic delivery between Spector and his lawyer. Al Pacino has been given a great script. There are flashes of logical brilliance as his character is forced to examine and explain why he could or would kill a young woman. For example, Linda grapples with the argument that perhaps he killed Lana because she refused to sleep with him. But then Spector simply points out that this was a moot point because the victim had gotten into his car — of her own free will. The minute she agreed to be picked up and sat in his car, she had agreed to sleep with him. Lawyers will love this movie but it also holds subtle messages for the rest of us. Mamet is examining how real-world action, perception of what happened, the telling of what happened, and the opinion ened all form the of what we think happened ns. A gun may body of truth formations. urder for all go off and look like murder forensic evidence, but sometimes ferent could something entirely different hil Spectorr is a be at work. Mamet’s Phil cautionary tale for all those who jump to conclusions — in a way, a very Pakistani audience and media flaw. T

Magna opera in curia - courtroom dramas at their best

The Hurricane (1999)

Hannah Arendt (2012)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

The name Hurricane conjures Bob Dylan who sang about the black boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter who was convicted of a triple-homicide and sentenced to three life terms. The movie, starring Denzel Washington, became controversial over its treatment of history. But the film is still high recommended for an education in the trial.

Arendt was a well known German Jewish philosopher and social theorist who covered the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Israel for the New Yorker magazine. Her subsequent book, Banality of Evil, created a storm. In this film, German director Margarethe von Trotta takes on the story of the trial. and the controversies of Arendt covering it.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning Harper Lee classic, widely read by students in Pakistan, won three Oscars five decades ago. Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a lawyer, who defends a black man of a rape charge during the Depression in the South. Top notch forensic investigation can’t beat the guilty verdict though. AUGUST 18-24 2013


HEALTH

e t a l u n c a o i t m p e Im trac n o C

Some effective methods of family planning have a bad reputation with women despite their efficiency OUR CORRESPONDENT

The IUD or intrauterine device, more commonly referred to as the ‘coil’, tends to scare less-informed women as a birth-control technology. In a July 2013 study of 20 women from Karachi’s Shah Faisal Colony, the responses ranged from fear of the sight of it because it looked “dangerous” to fear it would hurt their husbands to the unfounded risk that it would ‘rust’ inside their body. “People used to tell me that… when it rusts from inside it will produce fungus inside the uterus and obviously fungus will be converted into cancer,” said one woman, Shaista. The study was based on in-depth interviews with the women, between 23 and 45 years of age, who were asked questions after they were shown the IUD, injectables and oral contraceptive pills. Only four said they used the 42 IUD. “Many who commented were AUGUST 18-24 2013

less familiar with IUDs, and several expressed hesitation about inserting a foreign object into the body,” states the study. These women and others like them could be told that women around the world have been using the IUD for more than 30 years. Till 2006 it was known as the most commonly used reversible method with one in five (or 153 million) married women choosing it. The risk of infection is less than one percent. After it is removed, women have no trouble getting pregnant. The study also found that the injectable contraceptive method was the most popular, as seven out of 20 women preferred it. The women had certain perceptions about the pill. Some felt they were weak or less potent because they were so small. The belief was that the larger the pill, the greater its effect. They also felt that the lighter the colour of a pill, the “gentler” it was. The researchers found that all the women associated contraceptives with a “heating” effect. “Obviously, they [contraceptive injections] are heatgenerating,” said Nasreen. “They may be burning the blood.” It turns out that as the menstrual cycle can change, depending on what contraception is used, the women felt that if there was less blood, it was being “burnt” in the body. The hot-cold concepts of medicines and the body or certain foods originates in the Hippocratic humoural medicine that spread via Arab influence. West-

USERS

30% of Pakistan’s women of a reproductive age (1/4 of the population) use contraception

ern medicine is seen as ‘heating’ while Ayurvedic medicines are ‘neutral’, in reference to the speed with which they act and have an effect on the ‘blood’. The researchers found that most women wanted family planning, but were not entirely comfortable with their experiences of contraceptive use. “Widespread concerns about adverse health consequences act as a barrier to the adoption and continued usage of contraceptives,” suggests the study. The results of this study, conducted by Kamyla Marvi of the Leadership Development for Mobilising Reproductive Health and Natasha Howard of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggest that a better understanding of women’s concerns and explanatory models could help health providers do a better job. “The findings provide explanatory models from women themselves that could, with further research, inform health messages and family planning counseling, strengthening programmes in Karachi and potentially elsewhere in Pakistan,” concludes the study. T *Names have been changed

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The Express Tribune Magazine - August 18