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SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

, i h l e D To ith love w We are off to India’s colourful capital to shop till we drop


SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

Feature

Echo and Return

Cover Story

To Delhi, with love The not-so-secret guide to shopping in India’s colourful capital

Artists from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and India exhibit in Missouri space to make connections between tradition and modernity

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Feature

Sunny-side up Karachi’s Nissan Sunny B110 taxis may be old but they are never idle

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32 Regulars

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

36 Review: The Lowland and Planes 42 Environment: Cholistan

Magazine Editor: Mahim Maher and Sub-Editors: Dilaira Mondegarian, Sundar Waqar and Manahyl Khan Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Essa Malik, Jamal Khurshid, Samra Aamir, Munira Abbas & S Asif Ali 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


Faiza and Imran

Nina, Faisal and Zubair

Madiha and Humza

Omema and Nausheen

People & Parties The fashion brand Breakout comes to Ocean Mall, Karachi PHOTOS COURTESY TAKE II

SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013

Madiha

Azfar Shaikh

Rose, Rehan and Mathira

Sadia Nawabi


SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013


Sana and Ali

Sadia Imam and Tatmain

Omar, Moiz and Basit

Sanam Baloch

BREAKOUT: PHOTOS COURTESY TAKE II

Ali and Ather

SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013

Kiran

Naznine

Abeer

Dr Tania


SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013


Fauzia

Layla Chatoor and Faiza

Syra Yousaf, Alishbah and Safina Behroz

Humayun Saeed

People & Parties Veet holds a fashion event in Karachi PHOTOS COURTESY FAISAL FAROOQUI AND DRAGONFLY Ayesha Omar

Iram Parveen Bilal

Hasan Ahmed and Sunita Marshal

SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013

Mahnoor Baloch

Naqi Sheriff, Haji Abdul Rauf and Jerjees Seja

Ali Azmat


SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013


Yildrum, Maliha Rao, Owais, Saba Chaudhry and Umair Mirza

Reema, Mohsin Sayeed, Nazneen and Shabnam

Safinaz Muneer and Sana Hashwani VEET: PHOTOS COURTESY FAISAL FAROOQUI AND DRAGONFLY

Masooma Hasan and Ukasha Iqbal

Mr & Mrs Burhan Khan

SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013

Sadaf Kanwal

Saba Jerjees

Amna Ilyas, Zoe Viccaji, Sara Loren and Shehla Chatoor


SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013


Frieha Altaf, Agha Siraj Durrani and Farid Virani

Farid’s opens in Karachi Konain

PHOTOS COURTESY CATALYST PR

Farah Zia Qadir and Farid Virani

People & Parties

Tariq and Nabiha

Farooq and Faiza

Nishat Mazhar celebrates her birthday in Lahore

Unaiza and Alyzeh Gabol

PHOTOS COURTESY SAVVY PR AND EVENTS Yaseh and Shehrbano

SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013

Ammara and Asma

Beena

Shahrukh and Bambi

Aurang and Samina


SEPTEMBER 22-28 2013


COVER STORY

To Delhi, with love

By Atika Rehman Photos Ayesha Mir Design By Munira Abbas


he not-so-secret guide to shopping in India’s colourful capital “Please bataen — yeh sari kitne ki hai, bhai?” I ask a sleepy shopkeeper while trying to balance on top of a knee-high pile of block-printed material. My friend’s reprimand comes surprisingly swift. They say “bhayya”, not bhai, she scolds. “You’re asking to get swindled — they’ll know you’re not from here.” We are at Dilli Haat, a popular open-air shopping and food square that houses beautiful Indian fabric, costume jewelry and affordable gastronomic delights. The stalls of souvenirs and paintings are colourful and attractive, but it’s the flavour-loaded Lucknowi kebabs I’m really after. I’m told by Dilliwalas that the biryani is a musthave, but I refuse to believe it can come close to our delightfully fragrant Sindhi version (Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad?). Still, how would I know if I haven’t tried it? It’s my first morning in Delhi, the darling of Bollywood movie lyrics and Pakistani brides-to-be, and although I am here on a short visit (three days), the to-do list is tall in size and ambition. The foodie and explorer in me are excited to absorb tourist attractions and cuisine simultaneously (I have a vision of myself eating Haldiram’s Kaju Katli as I stand before the Jamae Masjid in Old Delhi — wah!). But friends, family and a few colleagues have cajoled me into shopping with elaborate wish lists. So between a stress-busting massage at the hotel spa and a visit to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (RA) shrine, my friend and I squeeze in what we hope is going be a quick stop at Dilli Haat. As fate would have it, the 15-minute auto rickshaw ride from central Asoka Road to the busy market area allows the wind to take liberties with my freshly blow-dried hair. But despite a bumpy ride and some blurry selfies we have for mementos, the structure, feel and sharp sounds of the metropolis leave us energised. Back at the block-printed sari stall, I am still wincing at the possibility of being ripped off. I think of


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Dull gold necklace with ruby red and emerald green beads. Bought from Dilli Haat for INR350

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Engraved camel bone cuff with a green stone, another favourite from Dilli Haat, INR500

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Dull gold dangling necklace with black stone motif

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A peacock print silk sari with a turquoise and gold paisley border. Priced at about INR4,000

Black and maroon kantha sari with an intricate floral border. INR7,000

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how deeply my mother will frown when she discovers I’ve made a bad buy, and quickly shake off the mental image. With my just-above-ankle length Elan lawn outfit and freshly uttered request punctuated with the word “bhai”, I might as well have worn my I heart Karachi t-shirt. But I try again, this time with the “bhayya” and a more uncompromising tone. He tells me it’s for INR1,500 (roughly Rs3,000). I immediately apply my bargaining formula: Offered Price Divided by Two. We are at it for about 10 minutes before he realises I won’t budge. So he decides to dangle bait. “Yeh dekho,” he coaxes, holding up an exquisite printed silk sari. “Alag hi cheez hai.” I’m sold. The sari he is holding is a soft white canvas hosting a garden of printed peacock feathers. The motifs dance like flames, with tones of the Turkish evil-eye. It’s soft and smooth and a sure-shot winner for my mother. He says it’s for INR7,000. We settle at INR5,000 for both this and the block-print sari, he packs them into neat, rectangular cloth bags and we forge ahead. Thrilled with the purchase, my friend and I delve deeper into the Haat, making greedy stops at almost every shop in sight. Some items are discouragingly expensive, while others (such as costume jewelry) are budget-friendly and too irresistible to give up. At one such stall, I pick up two necklaces and a carved cuff that I make a mental note to show off at fashion week in October. As our lifafa of money grows leaner with each sojourn, my friend and I make a pact to ‘look [at] but not touch’ anything else for the next 10 minutes. A few paces into our deal, our resolve is tested by a lazy-looking shop assistant. Bablu’s shop number 96 is like any other in the Haat, but three wide, eye-popping dupattas hanging on a wire bring water to our mouths as quick as a bowl of piping hot Channa Batura served with fluffy round puris. We have stumbled upon kantha — Bangladeshi running stitch embroidery which employs trees of life, birds of paradise as well as fish, elephants and even tigers to conjure a jungle daydream. As we go through elegant saris, long dupattas and shorter stoles, we pour breathlessly over vibrant shades of fiber, weaving pictures of gardens and even everyday activities. Some have

Meena hoop earrings for INR150 each, available in different colours and sizes

Natural dyes in a box. Designer Asif Sheikh only uses them as he feels they keep the colour soft

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(see right) A kantha sari with birds of paradise motifs

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COVER STORY

We try to persuade the shopkeeper Bablu to give us an India-Pakistan friendship discount - but he doesn’t bite portly fish, others stick figures. My favourite is one with large and small peacocks, some bending their necks in shy submission. The stitch is so flat and perfect that the creased effect gives the material an added vintage feel. We pick up five kantha saris and a few dupattas, and after much persuading and coercing Bablu into giving an IndiaPakistan friendship discount and a Bablu-Bablu discount (I told him we have a friend we called Bablu, but he didn’t quite fall for it), the grouchy shopkeeper settles at about INR7,000 each for the lighter saris and about INR4,500 each for the dupattas. Our wallets nearly empty and our faces flushed from the Delhi mid-day sun, we skip the biryani and kebabs and go for chilled Naryal ka Pani, dossas and gol guppas. It is time to say goodbye to the Haat and visit the busy shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya (RA).

Chandni Chowk for chikan kari Purani Dilli is unadulterated, raw India. The noise pollution, organised chaos and cultural opulence are a lot like those from Kajol’s neighbourhood from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. I am excited about my visit to Chandni Chowk, the Saddar-like market famed for saris, chikan kari and trimmings. The very alliteration is a taste of how fun and quixotic the place is. My guide today is a Multan-born, Delhi-based journalist who is a foodie at heart. We take a cycle rickshaw for INR50 near the Jain Mandir to venture deeper into the market, only to discover two minutes later that there is an obstruction in the form of a large cement truck blocking our intended destination, the Mirza Ghalib Memorial. After five minutes of deliberation, my companion and I decide to go by foot. And so, with my sleeveless tie-dyed maxi dress clutched around my knees, I wade through a muck of water and cement to cross over to the other side, where the Parathe Wali Gali, Sari Market and Haldiram await me. I’m perfectly amenable to walking, because the stares I received while we sat in a slower-than-snail rickshaw were far too embarrassing. At one point, while our 20 rickshaw was stuck in a jam on a particularly SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

packed street, the man riding the rickshaw behind me was close enough to lean in and say, “Hello baby, how are you?” in a tone that sent us into fits of laughter. I vow to buy a dupatta at the first stall I see, so I can cover up my arms and put an end to the gawking. The Ghalib Museum is dimly lit and empty, but Haldiram’s bustling shop in the middle of Chandi Chowk is the best thing that happened to the sweet tooth. From bhujia sev in packets to fresh soan papdi, rasgullas and a Bangladeshi mithai I can’t recall the name for but has a chum chum texture, there is something sweet or namkeen to cater to every palette. I quickly snap up a few boxes of the cherished kaju katli for relatives back home, while my friend gifts me a box of Karachi halwa (delicious little squares with almonds) and we are off to the Parathe Wale Gali, where we devour oily mooli, aaloo and cheese parathas served with a thaali of aalo bhujiya, pickled onions and chanas. As if the garma garam parathas were not good enough, the hole-inthe-wall eatery we were at even had a signed and framed picture of Ranbir Kapoor’s visit to the modest dhaba. The sari market


in Chandni Chowk is full of the typically Indian saris you see in TV soaps. Intricate gold borders and paisley and lotus motifs are common, but each brightly coloured piece calls out to you like you’ve never seen anything like it before. Lucky for my wallet, my friend refuses to let me stop anywhere. So I drool and dream. I don’t have much money left anyway, just about INR15,000 which I need to spend on Lucknowi kurtas for my mother as well as the kajal and Fair & Lovely for men colleagues have requested back home. Back at the hotel, my Pakistani friends show me heavily worked chikan kari and mukesh peshwazes — a stunning but steep purchase at INR36,000 each available at Chandni Chowk. Oh, and if you don’t have enough cash, remember that the clever shopkeepers accept dollars and credit cards — there really is no escaping it.

swelling crowds, commuters of all ages make organized lines to buzz themselves past the turnstile, have their bags scanned and wait for the metro. As I get out, it is dark, and my first instinct, being a woman in the “rape capital of the world”, is fear. But as I catch sight of the busy Lajpat Nagar market on my way down from the metro steps, I feel less alone. Young men and women are strolling around the lanes of Lajpat Nagar I, II, III and IV. The kurtas I am after are in the cloth markets of I and II. I run into the first shop I see and describe the cotton kurtas. As always, the salesperson pulls out the kurtas of the finest, most heavily worked and expensive variety, as if to mentally prepare me for the kind of spending that is coming. He successfully sells me unstitched kurtas in mostly white, with some in a powder blue or baby pink. For five shalwar kameez sets I pay INR9,000.

Lajpat Nagar for Lucknowi Khan Market for meena work The U-shaped Khan Market, bang in the heart of the city, Kurtas is a fun place to hang out if you want to grab a bite to eat In south Delhi, the Lajpat Nagar Metro Station is crowded at 7pm. I have never seen so many people throng a metro, but even in the

or shop at local and international retail stores. I thoroughly enjoy an evening at a restaurant named Blanco’s near a FabIndia outlet, where they serve sushi and spicy Mexican pizza among many other savoury and dessert items. FabIndia itself, however, doesn’t entice me. The retail store, which employs rural dwellers to make handicrafts, clothing and home accessories, has some beautiful things, but is far too expensive for someone who has done a market survey. An average cotton sari at FabIndia will be priced at INR6,000. I would much rather buy two kantha stoles (about INR2,500 each) for that amount. What Khan Market does have plenty of is lots of little shops, much like Zainab Market in Karachi, where you can buy button-down tops, floral printed jeans and meena balis. I find a particularly charming little shop selling the meena earrings, and I pick up in four different colours for INR200 each. As I prepare to return home, I feel exhilarated to have made a trip to India to appreciate its rich work, something that I know many women in Pakistan would also like to undertake. I learned that Indian women are crazy about our surma just like we are about Lakme kajal. They would spend thrice the amount to buy our lawn as we would for their chikan kari. They die for our Sindhi biryani and chicken rolls as we do for their thaalis and dossas. The obsession is mutual, if only traveling across the border were easier. I return with an empty wallet but a full heart. T SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

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Echo

and Return

Artists from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and India exhibit in Missouri space to make connections between tradition and modernity in an Islamic aesthetic BY SUNDAR WAQAR DESIGN BY ASIF ALI

Using Islamic art as a springboard for modern works can be a fraught exercise. But the question of how artists today respond to this heritage vocabulary is fascinating. And on August 31, the interpretations of 12 artists from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India and America opened at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri in an exhibition titled ‘Echoes’. “We are contemporary, but are also informed and influenced by our histories, our traditions, our cultures — artists certainly are,” explained Kimberly Masteller, the curator of the exhibition, in a press release. As visitors approach the museum, they first encounter American artist Asheer Akram’s 1950s Chevrolet grain truck, an all-American symbol that has been given a Pakistani 26 truck art makeover with bold enamel-coated Islamic geometSEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

(Top) Asheer Akram, Pakistani, b 1984. The Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative, 2013. PHOTO: SHIRLEY HARRIMAN (Below) Asheer Akram, Pakistani, b 1984. Bison carved door, The Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative, 2013. PHOTO: MAR MCDONALD


ric patterns, curvilinear metal-work and even a bison on the back. The different elements work well together to give the sense of truck art without replicating it slavishly. For example, the bison, indigenous to the Great Plains of the central US where Akram was born and raised, could very well have been from a Pakistani landscape. And so the ornamentation of an American truck works the theme of the exhibition whose central message seems to be that there can be no breaking away from tradition — mainly because culture echoes in the contemporary. Visitors are primed for their visual experience by walking under one of the museum’s earliest Islamic treasures, a 17thcentury Persian mosaic arch, which serves as the entrance to the gallery. The idea was to evoke the experience of walking under one of these grand, ornate iwans in Iran. The arch has been displayed for the first time in over three decades. d and Curator Masteller has thus brought together the old the new in 28 works from Islamic cultures across the globe, some of which date to the 9th Century. The Pakistaniss takashid ing part include Shahzia Sikander, Ayesha Jatoi and Rashid d texRana. The media are wide-ranging from ceramics and tiles to decorative brass and video art. y While the objects span centuries and continents, they are brought together in this exhibition because of the shared visual characteristics. “Many contemporary artists are using the visual language of Islamic art and transforming it in their own work,” says Masteller. This is especially evident in the contemporary miniature painting movement in Pakistan, a revival of the techniques of traditional Mughal painting. The seminal figure of this movement is Professor Bashir Ahmed who taught it at the National College of Arts. Masteller explains that the success of two of his a early students, internationally acclaimed artist Shahzia ngs Sikander and Imran Qureshi, turned miniature paintings

(Top) Mosaic Spandrels of an Arch, early 17th century. Persian, from Isfahan region, Iran, Safavid Dynasty (15011722). Glazed ceramic tile and gold leaf. PURCHASE: WILLIAM ROCKHILL NELSON TRUST, 33-663/ 1-10

(Below) Bowl, Iran, late 12th-early 13th century. Persian, Iran, Seljuk Dynasty (1038-1250s). Fritware with opaque turquoise glaze and over-painted decoration. PHOTO: NAMA (Left) Hamra Abbas, Pakistani, b 1976. Paper Plates, 2008. Paper collage. PHOTO: NAMA

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FEATURE into a new genre. “These paintings reveal a clear connection to the Mughal tradition and are also at home in a contemporary gallery,” says Masteller. The exhibition includes a painting by Bashir Ahmed and a video by Sikander, ‘The Last Post,’ that animates a series of her miniature paintings among a handful of other works. “Pakistani contemporary art is more than only miniature painting, however, and we have included works by Rashid Rana and Hamra Abbas that use modernist strategies and conceptual approaches to photography and objects to create meaning,” adds Masteller. “Rashid Rana’s powerful ‘Red Carpet 3’ and Hamra Abbas’s seemingly mundane ‘Paper Plates’ are particularly striking.” Rashid Rana’s ‘Red Carpet 3’ looks like a traditional carpet but is actually a photomontage of scenes from slaughterhouses in Lahore. Rana, who is one of the top artists on the global scene today, creates prints, sculptures and installations using photo mosaics. His famed Red Carpet series examines violence and our desensitization to it. He chose to photograph slaughterhouses in his hometown because as a child he found

the slaughtering of animals disturbing. “He then digitally wove the images from the hundreds he has taken into a large image, which is based upon a Persian medallion carpet,” explained Masteller. “Rana said that he chose this subject for its Orientalist reading, as a kind of sign of ‘The East’.” The photoshoot for the series coincided with the return from self-exile of Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, and the attack on her homecoming parade, imbuing this series with a larger and more powerful context given the ‘sacrifice and slaughter’ of innocent lives in Pakistan. In somewhat comparable fashion, Hamra Abbas also shuttles between the micro and macro to make us do a double-take on an object. Her paper plate at first looks like filigreed lace-work set in the eight-pointed star arabesque design. She created them with strips of paper on a leaf plate press, to make replicas of disposable paper plates. “An ordinary paper plate is well known among disposable items,” she says. “And I use its literalness as a disposable commodity to create an ornate paper plate that is anything but useable.” If you look closer, on each paper

(Top) Salim Qulli, Indian, act ca 1590-1605. Attributed to: Lal, Inidan, act ca 1590-1605. Leaf from the Muraqqa Gulshan: The Poet and the Prince (recto) Calligraphy (verso), ca 15951597. Indian, Agra or Allahabad, India, Mughal Dynasty (15261857). Watercolour and gold paint on paper. PURCHASE: WILLIAM ROCKHILL NELSON TRUST, 48-12/1 A,B

(Left) Rashid Rana, Pakistani, b 1968. Red Carpet 3, 2007. Chromogenic print and Diasec mounted. PHOTO:MYARTTRACKER.COM


(Top) Shahzia Sikander, Pakistani, b 1969. The Last Post, 2010, detail. HD video animation with Surround Sound 5.1. PHOTO: ARTIST (Below left) Nasser Al-Salem, Saudi Arabian, b 1984, lives and works in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “And Whoever Obeys Allah — He Will Make For Him A Way Out,” 2013. Corian sculpture. PHOTO: ATHR GALLERY (Below right) Hayv Kahraman, Iraqi, b 1981, lives and works in Oakland, California. Icosahedral Body, 2013. Wood and aluminium. PHOTO: ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NY

strip forming the plate you will see the printed words “please get served” to reference the real function of a paper plate and a pun on its real function, for this plate cannot be served in. Not all the art is ‘clever’ like this, for a lack of a better word. Sometimes, a visual representation of text creates rich new symbolism. So, for example, Saudi Arabian artist and calligrapher Nasser Al-Salem was inspired by a verse from the Qur’an, “And Whoever Obeys Allah — He Will Make For Him

A Way Out” which he translated into a blue maze made of the acrylic material corian. He explains it by saying: “Although you could say my work is very much inspired by my religion, I by no means have a specific audience, and hope that my messages have a spiritual or historical significance for everyone.” That is exactly what the museum hopes this 29 exhibition will achieve. T SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013


FEATURE

Karachi’s Nissan Sunny B110 taxis may be old but they are never idle BY SOHAIL KHATTAK PHOTOS BY ATHAR KHAN DESIGN BY ASIF ALI

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They are a little older than the Hudood Ordinance and almost everyone has ridden in them at least once in their lifetime. Despite their age, Karachi’s black and yellow cabs still churn their way through the city’s hellish traffic. Their drivers dance between first and second gears as their passengers ricochet about in the back, trying to hold on to their dignity robbed in no small part by the springs in the back seat. The Japanese Nissan Sunny B110 1200cc gasoline engine cabs, also known as the Datsun 1200 and Datsun GL, were introduced in Karachi in 1970, and were known for their durability, strength, affordability and low maintenance. The federal government decided that if you wanted to acquire a fitness certificate for one, it had to be painted black and yellow, which is how the colours stuck.

Although it faced resistance at first from the British Morris, this model managed to slowly overtake its competitor in the market. “Morris cars were heavy and had a strong road grip which [is] why everybody liked [them],” explains Hafizul Haq Hasanzai, the 65-year-old chairman of the Karachi Taxis, Rickshaws and Yellow Cabs Owners Association, whose grandfather was in the transport business in pre-Partition Bombay. “When the Datsun Bluebird and Datsun 1200 came, people were reluctant to buy them because of their light weight, weak body and somewhat weak engines. But, people who bought them [then] are rich now.” The association still has around 26,000 Nissan Sunny B110s, the original 1970 model. Back then they cost Rs18,000 but today they cost between Rs100,000 to Rs300,000, depending on their condition. “I got my first brand new Datsun GL in 1970 [for] Rs18,200. It was saving Rs100 per day which was very good at that time because of the value of the Pakistani currency and the low fuel prices,” says Hasanzai. And once people realised these models were better in terms of maneuverability and mileage, they became all the rage. As with all good things, though, the popularity of this line also came to an end. The spike in prices after 1972 made the newer Datsun models less attractive. And so today if you see one, it is most likely to be the original model that was imported in later years as a reconditioned car. These cabs have Nissan’s A12-series engines of 1.2 litres (1,171 cc), with a MacPherson strut front suspension, making them economical and an ideal choice for public transport. The front wheels have disk brakes while the rear wheels have drum brakes. The car also has a four-speed gearbox. Although spare parts can be easily found, only a few mechanics have mastered the skill of repairing this classic car. The mechanics at Patel Para and Banaras are relatively well-known for their work. Given how old they are, these taxis need repairs about once a month. Even if your SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013


FEATURE

engine is well oiled it can still cost you up to Rs7,000 for upkeep. The engines have also been modified over time. While a majority of the black and yellow taxis have converted to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) since the government started encouraging it as a fuel, some of them also run on Liquefied Petroleum Gas. The government’s push to convert to CNG meant, however, that other public transport also got on the bandwagon, creating stiff competition. “CNG rickshaws have grabbed half our passengers, [leaving] only airport passengers and hospital patients,” says 63-year-old Saeed Nawab Haider (photographed above), who has been driving a black and yellow taxi in Karachi for over 40 years. “Women were our [primary] customers, but now they prefer CNG rickshaws instead, regardless of the dangers [associated] with them.” Haider has never made enough to buy his own taxi which is why he has had to work for over a dozen owners in his career. “The day you fail to make enough money, the owner tells you that he is giving the taxi to his relative and you have to search for another master,” he says. Most drivers struggle these days and did away with the meter system the minute inflation didn’t keep up with fuel prices. They may charge as little as Rs200 for the SadSEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

The Karachi Taxis, Rickshaws and Yellow Cabs Owners Association still has around 26,000 Nissan Sunny B110s, the original 1970 model that cost Rs18,000 back then dar to Sea View trip. “I make Rs800 to Rs1,000 a day if the city is peaceful… but sometimes we have to give [away] everything we make [at gunpoint],” says 40-year-old Shafiullah, who lives in Ittehad Town with his six children. Sometimes he makes as little as Rs200 a day. Drivers have to log in hours behind the wheel depending on their family’s needs. As Shafiullah puts it: “Sometimes, I have to drive the car all day and night to make ends meet.” So next time you decide to take a black and yellow cab, tip generously. It keeps history alive. T


FILM

A weak take-off

Planes helps children navigate through fear on a predictable map BY AIZA NASIR If you’ve seen Pixar’s 2006 animated comedy adventure film Cars, consider that you’ve pretty much also seen Disney’s Planes. It seems that Disney made a deliberate decision to use the same formula for its 2013 airplane-based spinoff. This plot also features an underdog, a competitive race and a villain. Even the title artwork has the same red theme and metal-embossed logo. The main character is Dusty Crophopper (the voice of Dane Cook), a crop-dusting propeller plane, who wants more out of life than spraying farms with vile-smelling pesticides. Dusty’s biggest dream is to race with the big guns in the prestigious Wings Across the World race. But in order to get there, he has to develop physical strength and overcome his fear of heights. The competition is not an easy one as the big race features many pit-stops around the world, including Nepal, India and Mexico. For starters, Dusty persistently tries to enlist the help of Skipper 36 (Stacy Keach), a grumpy old war veteran SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

who has the experience to take Dusty to new heights. Dusty’s friends cheer him on. There is the slow-witted but lovable fuel truck Chug (Bradd Garett) and forklift mechanic, Dottie (Teri Hatcher). The film sticks to a tried-and-tested format for its conflict, crisis, resolution storyline. Dusty has to tackle an evil competitor Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), who is a three-time returning champion and an arrogant New Yorker to boot. At first Ripslinger scoffs at Dusty for being what he says is a plain nobody, but Dusty starts gaining rank in the race. A jealous Ripslinger resorts to some evil trickery in an attempt to derail Dusty. In one heartwrenching sequence, Dusty is sucked into a deadly storm orchestrated by Ripslinger’s minions. We are further endeared to Dusty when he ignores his own ranking in the race in order to take time out to help a malfunctioning British plane land to safety. This makes him popular among the other racers, including the funny and flamboyant

Mexican stunt plane, El Chupacabra. Pakistani audiences will be briefly amused by one mesmerising sequence in which Dusty and his love interest, an Indian plane named Ishani (Priyanka Chopra), fly over the Taj Mahal to the soundtrack of AR Rahman’s Tere Bina from the 2007 Bollywood movie Guru. Despite these cute highlights, Planes is very much a story that you have seen before. It is not a game changer like The Incredibles or Despicable Me. The familiar plot and predictable climax make it a picture strictly for the younger audience. Dusty sets a good example for the young ones, as he is the epitome of goodness throughout the film. He works hard, accepts his shortcomings, tries to incorporate feedback from his mentor and never resorts to underhandedness, even if it results in his defeat. Although the movie lacks novelty, it compensates with eye-popping aerial sequences, bright colours, adorable-looking planes with assorted accents and an encouraging message to take home.


BOOK

Tender Other Revolutions are a bloody business. They demand plenty of sacrifice — of innocence, of life itself. It has always been safe to assume that both the architects and the participants of revolutions hold an equal chance of meeting their end before their dreams are realised. And beyond these revolutions, beyond the reckoning, at the periphery of the gravity of the actions of revolutionaries lie the real lives of those who bore them, who grew up with them, who fell in love with them — and were let down by them. Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel, The Lowland — her second after the quietly moving Namesake — tells the story of two Bengali brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra. Udayan is a boy who goes from being a clever, mercurial youth to a devoted yet myopic cog in the machinery of the Maoism-inspired Naxalite movement which shook post-colonial India in the 60s. It is his often impulsive and egotistical, even idealistic, choices in life that pump blood into the narrative and lead to so much heartache for his entire family. The brothers are the protagonists of a story that cautiously yet systematically reminds the reader in sparse prose that in real life there are no heroes; there are only people whose decisions direct their fate one way or the other. Subhash is the quiet, studious son of his sombre parents, who dreams of fulfilling their dreams when he grows up. Udayan is fiercely intelligent and outgoing and his various transgressions throughout their childhood are somehow turned into cheerful anecdotes by their doting parents, especially their mother, who favours her younger son above her firstborn. The brothers grow up in a shabby neighbourhood of Calcutta which is surrounded by the remnants of colonial rule and the partition of the subcontinent. Although the boys are inseparable during their youth, life soon carves separate paths for them, taking Subhash to the SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest novel examines three generations of a family after the Naxalite movement changes their lives BY NUZHAT SAADIA SIDDIQI

Available for Rs1,395 at The Last Word

United States on a student scholarship, and Udayan towards the incendiary politics of the Naxalites. The movement soon morphs into a “revolution” with diktats for the initiated that go beyond the ordinary sloganeering and sit-ins. Udayan’s righteous anger takes him further away from his family, especially his brother, who thrives academically in his new environment. Foot soldiers in any war are the first to go, and so Udayan is executed in a state-sanctioned police encounter, his favoured hiding spot in the shallow water of the lowland unable to protect him. All that is left in his wake is a modest stone monument erected by his party members, shocked parents who refuse to believe his soul was corrupted, and a pregnant wife who is described as a “fiercely brilliant woman” on the book’s dust jacket. This untimely and unceremonious departure of the supposed hero of the narrative allows Lahiri to bring Subhash back to his place of birth. He privately mourns his brother’s death and, in an act of uncharacteristic daring, marries and whisks away his brother’s widow, Gauri. From here on, the novel embarks on the story of more than three decades and three disparate generations of the Mitra family, alternating between the unchanging calm of Rhode Island and the supposed milestones of Calcutta’s development. Old memories are erased and new ones are created, annihilating any sign of Udayan and so many others like him, except in the hearts and minds of his ailing parents. The narrative shifts from the perspective of Subhash, who understands full well his mother’s foreboding prophecy that Gauri will never love him as she loved Udayan, to Gauri’s, who concedes defeat in the face of pregnancy, widowhood and a change in location, but soon reclaims her obvious but interrupted genius, as an academic. That her relationship with Subhash never goes beyond a convenient physical


ness intimacy and a pact to raise her daughter Bela is somewhat of an itch that keeps chafing the reader’s consciousness: one expects a miracle and a pleasant shift in mood. But the miracle never happens, love does not take root, and Gauri finally abandons her little family once she is financially able to, leaving behind the accoutrements of her past as well as an expected bitterness in Subhash’s heart. It is his steadfast devotion to Udayan’s daughter Bela that drives the plot, even when the overwhelming love he has for her is not reciprocated openly by the girl so damaged by life’s trajectory, until she herself is about to become a parent. In the expanse of this ambitious novel, there are many details that weigh down and form hiccups in the otherwise smooth flow. But this is mitigated in part by Lahiri’s signature flair for making offhanded references to food and colorful religious ceremonies that tether the newer generations of the Mitra family to their shadowy past. Lahiri also skillfully uses physical geography as a trope for convoluted emotional ties (or lack thereof). And so Subhash’s quiet struggle to come to terms with an ordinary life so completely shattered by his brother’s absence takes place in the visceral cold of Rhode Island. Gauri’s selfish betrayal takes her to the warmer climes and relative freedom of California. And Bela, who is the reminiscent of the restless Gogol of The Namesake, cannot find a place to call home. In this context it may be an ironic to note that The Lowland has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which is given to Commonwealth writers, and for the National Book Award, which is given to American authors. These achievements highlight the author’s own immigrant background and the fact that she now lives in Rome. Indeed, after the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for her debut collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies, with this new book, Lahiri seems poised to garner similar acclaim.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre You don’t need to look to Russia for revolution or ever further to Cuba — the Indian subcontinent has plenty of it in its own back yard. Here are a few notable works on the subject: The Naxalites (1980) Director: Khwaja Ahmed Abbas The Naxalites is a sombre drama about the rise of the movement and the hardships faced by those who chose to support the cause. A critically acclaimed cult favorite, the film stars Mithun Chakraborty who was formerly a reallife Naxalite.

Red Ant Dreams – Maati ke Laal (2013) Director: Sanjay Kaak The latest documentary from political filmmaker Sanjay Kaak chronicles the life and struggles of Maoist rebels in Chattisgarh and surrounding areas.

Hashtnagar: A Song of Another World (2010) Director: Ammar Aziz Produced and directed by Ammar Aziz, the documentary highlights the hidden chapter of the history of the Marxist struggle in Pakistan. It’s the only example of an armed class struggle in Pakistan and perhaps the only movement which resulted in several reforms for the people of Hashtnagar in Charsadda, K-P.

Walking with the Comrades (2010) Author: Arundhati Roy Arundhati Roy’s politics and sympathetic stance towards Maoist separatists in India has always drawn the ire of Indian nationalists and right-wingers across the board. The people whom she refers to as “freedom fighters” are known as homegrown terrorists to local authorities. Originally published in Outlook India as a long investigative feature, this book details Roy’s unprecedented foray into the world of the Maoist rebels. SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 5 2013


Wandering The people of Cholistan need not be nomads if their reservoirs are cleaned BY HAROON UR RASHEED

In the Cholistan desert or Rohi it can go up to 51 degrees at times. Rohilas form long ong lines that snake through the sands. They go in search of water and fodder for their livestock, their only asset. Many of them will sigh and wonder what sin their forefathers committed that the land dried up. “Their movement from one to another place is a very tough exercise,” says a social worker Riaz Baloch with the Al-Sadiq Desert Welfare Organisation. Organisation Imagine your family having to migrate from one town to another. These folks need to do it many times a year. They don’t have a p permanent home; the enho tire Rohi is their home. ab The desert is about 2.6 million hectares and its population is about 150,000 people livest and two million livestock animals. You cannot farm here because th there is no river and barely any rainfall. More than 81% of the desert is sand dune. Thi This means that there has been too much overgrasing and subsequent soil an and wind erosion. “Rohi onc once used to be a green valley, but e ecological changes have transform transformed it into a barren desert,” say says Baloch. Humans and dri from the same small cattle drink puddles and women have to puddles, m walk miles to fetch water. It mostl rains in July, August mostly and September but you can ge as little as 100mm. get The Rohilas never used to be nomads in search of water,

says resident Bakhshu. As long as the eleg elegant Hakra flowed through the Indus Valley civilisation, civilisation they had a good life. The River Hakra is also known as the Sarswati in ancient Vedic texts. But it dried up centuries ago. In 2012, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources reported that it had managed to convert 100 hectares of severely desertified land into productive land as a model case by fixing the sand dunes mechanically and by planting vegetation. It built 92 reservoirs or tobas 15 kilometres apart that could store four million gallons annually. It claims that with the addition of 20 deep tube wells and two reverse osmosis plants, drinking water is available throughout the year. But at a recent press conference Cholistan residents said that these reservoirs needed to be cleaned and the government had not given the money to do it. The council’s regional director, engineer Zamir Soomro said that the tobas, which were built on the traditional Cholistani pattern, were contaminated with bacteria which meant that the water could not be used for drinking as such. “Rohilas use alum to filter the toba water before using it,” he explained, adding that their digestive systems were immune to water contamination since they had been using toba water for centuries. He also argued that you could no longer say that Cholistan suffered from ‘terminal dehydration’ (death due to water scarcity) as water is available throughout the year. But Riaz Baloch disagrees. He said that the problem is that the tobas have become filled with silt, reducing their water storage capacity by 80%. But no money has been allocated to clean them up this year. “Last year the Punjab government provided around Rs10 million to de-silt these ponds, but only 65% was used and the rest lapsed due to the negligence of the local authorities,” he added. And as the blame bounces back and forth, the Rohilas are in all probability preparing to undertake yet another trip in search of water.


The Express Tribune Magazine - October 29  

The Express Tribune Magazine for October 29th 2013

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