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Interview

Amber Haroon Saigol Raising the bar By Injila Baqir Zeeshan

An exclusive interview with Amber Haroon Saigol, chairperson Dawn Media Group

‘I

am not worth profiling; I’ve hardly achieved anything.’ These were the first words of Amber Haroon when I met her. It was surprising to hear this from a woman heading one of the largest media groups of the country. They could either mean that she was quite humble or that she was extraordinarily ambitious! And perhaps this was the reason why she had never, as I was told, consented to be interviewed by the print media. In any case, her words stirred in me, a desire of wanting to know more about her. By looking at her, it was difficult to imagine the magnitude of feats this petite, slender woman was accomplishing on a daily basis. A few minutes into the interview and it was clear that no one should ever be fooled by the delicate stature of the chairperson of Dawn Media Group. She was clearly someone with a commanding personality and an air of knowing exactly what she was doing.

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Amber gives due credit to her husband Azam Saigol and her inlaws, who always understood her need to work and supported her throughout the journey

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But keeping the focus today, only on the lighter side, I interacted less with the bombshell of a career woman, and more with a wife, a mother and a grandmother. How the journey began: The journey for Amber began in 1986, when her father encouraged her to join her cousin Hameed Haroon, CEO of Dawn Group, in the running of the company. Being the only daughter of the previous Chairman, Mahmoud Haroon, Amber fitted naturally into the role. But was the job as naturally simple and easy as some might believe? Amber relates how she suffered from her share of

family drama, in the form of her two elder kids feeling terribly disturbed, every time they would see mommy pack up to leave for Karachi. ‘Initially I had to move to Karachi for six months as I did not know anything about the business. I worked there intensively to learn the tricks of the trade. I took two of my children with me, as they were young enough to be dislodged from school here. Unfortunately, I had to leave my two elder children behind. Later, I started spending a week in Karachi and a week in Lahore alternately. It was wearing me down. The night before I was due to travel, there would be a long session of bawling, especially by my daughter. She was ten at the time. She


Rehman and Batalvi, but could not pursue it for long as she was in the process of starting her family. Looking back after all these years on her decision to join Dawn, she is glad to have endured the initial hardship. She would not want life to have panned out for her in any other way. ‘If I had not done it then, it would have been impossible to do it at a later stage,’ she sums up. A typical day in Amber’s life: She is not an early riser. ‘A typical work day begins around ten in the morning at the newspaper office,’ she tells me. About three days in the week, she is at Dawn’s television studio’s office. Comparing the two, Amber narrates how she finds the newspaper’s side far more sane and methodical than the channel. ‘It’s an old organisation, therefore, it’s less turbulent. TV is too hectic. You solve two problems and five more prop up before you know it,’ she says. The work

understood that her mother needed to go to work; her only issue was about me having to work in another city.’ As every mother would know, after such episodes, it’s nearly impossible to leave your child behind, and focus on your work. And yet it had to be done. Amber changed her routines many times so as to be able to find the perfect one, where

her children would be least perturbed. But she did not give up- neither on her work nor her kids. Amber gives due credit to her husband Azam Saigol and her in-laws, who always understood her need to work and supported her throughout the journey. A lawyer by profession, Amber worked for a short while with

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stretches out during the course of the day, and Amber has to give it as many or as few hours as it requires. She likes to relax in the evening by curling up with a good book or end her day by watching a movie. On print and electronic media: When I asked Amber how she felt about the decline in the number of newspaper readers, with the current boom in the electronic media, she calmly stated that this was not a worrisome issue for us as yet. There has been a huge decline in the west but it has not quite hit us. Newspapers are gaining circulation and its proof lies in the fact that new ones are still coming up. But eventually, it will happen and for that we need to be prepared. At Dawn they have a portal Dawn.com, which captures the younger generation. Television has had a greater impact on the newspaper industry than the web. ‘Where newspapers once enjoyed a 70 percent of the advertising share, now it’s the other way around,’ she tells. On female journalists: It may have been difficult for women previously, but now they are everywhere.

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Amber relates how there were numerous senior women journalists in Dawn and Herald when she joined. The editor of Aurora, their marketing magazine has a female editor and until recently Spider, their internet magazine was also headed by a woman. Family affairs: Mother of four, Amber has two boys and two girls. Her daughters are married and one of them has two beautiful children. They are adored by the grandparents. Her elder daughter, Zeina is visiting from Kinshasa these days and her babies were nearly inseparable from the grandmother. ‘You enjoy your grandchildren more than your own kids,’ says Amber with evident joy in her eyes. ‘You can indulge and spoil them to your heart’s content. It’s a piece of heaven for me, whenever they are here!’ Her younger daughter Naazafreen recently got married. She works with her at the Karachi office. Zeid, her elder son, is in Pel. The younger one, Mohammed is studying for a degree in International Relations at Brown University, USA. Who says that a woman can only manage a successful career or raise good children? Here we have one, who has

I compliment her tastefully decorated, and very beautifully kept house, she discloses that it’s a joint effort of the husband and wife team done it all perfectly well. I compliment her tastefully decorated, and very beautifully kept house and she discloses that it’s a joint effort of the husband and wife team. The conservatory is simply breathtaking, where we are surrounded by green. Her husband manages to make it just in time, in his busy schedule, to make sure he is present for Amber’s interview. He clearly looks like a man who feels proud of his wife, his children and his home. I see him thoroughly enjoying as his granddaughter nuzzles his neck, making him laugh, while he carries her around, leading us from room to room for the family photo session.


In the stunning drawing room, I find a framed photo of Zeina from her wedding day. She is dressed elegantly in pure white. When I remark how white for the bride on her barat in our society is a little unconventional, Zeina says, yes it is, but then I wore white because my mother also wore white on her wedding! Unwinding: Amber might not find a lot of time to travel, but she is someone who likes to go around the world to visit new countries and explore new cities. London is a safe bet for her, being like a second home. For her the idea of relaxation revolves around spending time with her children and whenever

possible her grandchildren. A few of her friends are very close to her. If on a certain evening, Amber feels a bit low, they come and insist upon taking her out for dinner. ‘We chat, we gossip and we share many things. We tease each other and we have a good laugh. Unwinding in this way helps release stress and it’s something every person should have,’ she says. By looking at the life of Amber Haroon Saigol, it can be easily stated that riches should not bring a complacency that leads to simply sitting around and wasting a lifetime. If you have the power and the resources then you have a responsibility to do something worthwhile, even more so than the less fortunate ones!

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Prime Time Entertainment Is it because of our starvation as a society for any real kind of entertainment or is it the constant Catholic guilt that our clerics preach to the masses while deeming every possible kind of enjoyment a cardinal sin?

I

am convinced that living in today’s Pakistan means getting by on the universal law of ‘survival of the fittest’. There is a perpetual state of chaos that all of us contribute to in our own little way. That very chaos has almost become home to us and like a bad addiction we can’t survive without it. I know most of you are responding to this statement with the most commonly used excuse in our country, ‘The agencies are behind all of it’. The irony is that we contemplate for hours on who is actually behind all the chaos and blame everyone under the sun starting from the West to India, the Taliban and our corrupt politicians but never realize who is in front of all this chaos. No supply can be successful unless there is a latent demand for it. Over time we have developed a voracious appetite for scandal and propaganda. Why else would we have a dozen news channels trying to follow in the footsteps of Fox News creeping up in our local cables. You always hear of Dawn News or Express English closing their operation instead of an upstart channel that is showing the goriest images of murder and death on prime time TV. Is it because of our starvation as a society for any real kind of entertainment or is it the constant Catholic guilt that

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our clerics preach to the masses while deeming every possible kind of enjoyment a cardinal sin? Song and dance have been part of the culture of the sub continent for hundreds of years but many Pakistanis attribute this as a nonMuslim tradition. Many of the Madrasas are constantly preaching to the already disheartened citizen that the answer to all his problems is walking away from the very basic things that entertain him like Television or music. This is the prefect catalyst for a society filled with cynicism, and desperate for any kind of entertainment even though it is distasteful and at a cost of someone else’s suffering. I think that an average Pakistani from a middle and a lower middle class really does not have any options to let off some steam and have some fun. One of the pillars of developed countries is that the government or the state is involved in facilitating every possible kind of entertainment and infrastructure to the

middle class, which represents the largest part of the population. They don’t need to cater to their upper classes as they have enough wealth to create ample opportunities of entertainment amongst themselves. In a country where poverty is such a big issue and basic necessities like electricity and housing are a novelty for many, one can only imagine the kind of stress an average Pakistani endures on a daily basis. From this perspective, Veena definitely deserves the national Medal of Honour or the real Nishan-e-Haider for opting to crucify herself for the sake of our beloved people. After all, she managed to give us something to be cynical about with our usual ‘agencies’ theories while enjoying some delightful imagery.


Favourite celebrity watches

A

By Ayesha Nasir watch is an item that defines the wearer and his or her fashion sense. The watch is an embodiment of fashion, style and oomph. In this issue, Lounge asks the fashion industry’s who’s who about their favourite watch.

Madiha Ibrar:

‘I love my Rolex because it’s a timeless piece. My favourite Rolex watch is rose-pink and silver with a black dial and diamonds! And of course the Chopard is always a classic and I don’t think I would ever trade my Chopard for anything else.’

Insia Suhail, designer of Insam:

‘I really like my Longines watch! It’s a classic Swiss watch, and I believe no one can match the workmanship and technique of Swiss watchmakers. I have had this watch for a while and I think it’s my first love.’

Isma Meer, shoe designer:

‘I am eyeing a Happy Sport Chopard watch and hope to get my hands on it soon,’ she said, while maintaining that she is very happy with her Rolex.

Hina Butt head designer at the fashion brand Teena:

‘I love my Chopard Happy Diamonds. It’s a fun to wear, stunning watch which looks good with everything. That is why I always have it on.’

Saira Rizwan:

Her favourite watch is a Swaroski crystal black which was her honeymoon present. ‘I love this watch. It’s a unique watch and not many people own it over here. Plus I love it because it marks a very special time and place in my life.’

Uzma Hai:

Uzma Hai’s favourite watch is a Rolex with a white dial and diamonds. ‘It has a gold and white-gold wrist band and is the one accessory I never leave home without. I feel the Chopard is the ultimate watch.’

Ayesha Khurram:

‘My all-time favourite watch is silver Frank Mueller,’ said Ayesha Khurram, adding that she self-gifted this watch to herself. She has Chopard but isn’t crazy about it and is eagerly eyeing a Rolex for now.

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Top 5

Fragrances of the season 1.

Daisy by Marc Jacobs: It’s their newest fragrance; like its name, it’s sweet and youthful. A flowery scent which is sure to be a perfect reminder of the warmer weather, Daisy is a great choice for someone who relishes in the scent of blooming flowers.

2.

Chanel Mademoiselle: Mademoiselle is a classic. One of Chanel’s most popular fragrances, Mademoiselle was created in 2001 to cater to the brand’s younger fans. The scent represents the free spirit of the young Coco Chanel. And come on, who doesn’t want to feel a bit of that legendary spirit every day?

3.

Vera Wang Princess: Vera Wang’s fragrances are as whimsical as her dresses, fit for fairytales. Princess comes in a beautiful crystal heart shaped bottle in signature Vera Wang lavender. The scent is a mixture of lily, lady apple, mandarin meringue, and golden apricot skin with sheer floral notes, accented with dark chocolate –it even sounds delish.

4.

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy: One of the best, most affordable perfumes currently in the market, Viva la Juicy gives you a blast of personality. The blingy bottle keeps the aesthetic of Juicy Couture alive and the flowery scent has just the right amount of femininity.

5.

Estee Lauder Beautiful Love: I cannot find a woman who isn’t obsessed with Estee Lauder fragrances. Beautiful Love is the newest offering by the brand. With a tinge of jasmine and magnolia, this scent is supposed to trigger the same emotions as those of a newly found love. 42 I December 18 - 24, 2011


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Go high tech this season

W

hether we convince ourselves that we need them or we simply accept that we cannot suppress our desire to own them, high-tech gadgets are always making us drool over them. The category of users of E readers is fast growing to be that of people older than 55. Tablets which are inexpensive Android competitors of the dominant Apple iPad are fast springing up. Here are some new ones for you to start saving up for, this season:

Apple iPad 2

People are now looking for a less expensive tablet which isn’t an iPad. Unfortunately, those $200 or less Android tablets mostly run an old, non-tablet version of Android. iPad is still more expensive than many, but there’s just nothing else like it. It has the most apps, the longest battery life and a very fast processor. This season the biggest battle is between the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. As far as the Kindle Fire is concerned, the hardware is slow and it’s missing features like Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s the best e-reader ever made. It can also run a small set of Android apps, including Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Jawbone Jambox

It’s a beautifully designed, palm-sized wireless speaker that syncs with any device over Bluetooth. It has incredible sound quality. It’s a perfect companion to any smart phone, tablet or iPod. It’s superb for the frequent traveler. There is hardly any better personal speaker.

Peel Smart Remote

This pear-shaped universal remote control syncs with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and lets you control your TV, cable box, DVD player or set-top boxes like the Roku. It basically turns your iOS device into a remote. The app is a great visual guide that shows programmes in photographic tiles. Your favourite programmes are available at a click.

Lytro Light Field Camera

It is a huge leap forward in photography. Unlike traditional cameras that capture light headed in one direction that is, towards the camera, the Lytro captures every bit of light traveling in every direction. The shape is innovative and the technology is a winner. The base model is 8 GB and holds 350 photos.

Pop Phone

This handset plugs into your smartphone, allowing you to talk using an oldfashioned receiver. Your phone can stay in your pocket or handbag. It’s a trendy accessory and comes in more than 10 colours. It’s becoming famous as a way of limiting the amount of radiation we expose ourselves to.

Driinn mobile phone holder

This clever phone holder makes the process of charging a smartphone easier. It comes in a ton of colours.

December 18 - 24, 2011 I 45


Film

W

hile explicit skin show has become the talk of the town over the past few days, ‘The Dirty Picture’ gives the subject a whole new direction and unprecedented vigour. The Dirty Picture’ is a landmark in Indian cinema in more ways than one; it flaunts the beaten about the bush theme in an unparalleled manner and extracts the performance of a lifetime from an exceptional actress. The movie redefines the overused term ‘bold’ and reiterates that boldness isn’t merely about the depiction of love making or donning minuscule attires; it is more about having the tenacity to mould yourself uninhibitedly into a truly audacious character, act without any inkling of timidity and throw in a blitzkrieg of brash dialogue delivery – Vidya Balan pulls this off big time! And she is aptly supported by the underused cast. The story has nothing unique about it. A tale of a young lady vying to become a celebrity and willing to do just about anything to fulfill her dreams, has been well-documented in both Hollywood and Bollywood; hence you won’t get anything new on that front. However, what you are going to get is 140 minutes of a tenaciously new-fangled approach to the aforementioned subject. Even though the film manages to stun you with its ‘in your face’ mettle, there are many gaping holes that ensure that the film falls short of perfection by a good few yards. The story writing leaves a lot to be desired and while Vidha Balan justifiably hogs

Rating:

the limelight, the characterisation of the lead actors is not up to the mark. You can’t really fault either one of Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi or Tusshar Kapoor for their acting exploits, as it’s the script that does their roles considerable damage. Naseeruddin Shah is expectedly masterful in his role of an aging superstar, who manipulates Silk (Vidya Balan) and then dumps her. Emraan Hashmi has put on one of the most noteworthy performances of his career, as an artloving director who despises vulgarity and his feelings for Silk run the entire gamut from hatred to infatuation. The lack of characterisation is conspicuous in Tusshar Kapoor’s role as the younger brother of Naseeruddin Shah, who seems forced into the plot. Even with the lumbering writing and the drag storyline, the film will make its mark on the audience. It has a catchy soundtrack, throws in a mélange of laughter, emotions and unyielding intensity and most importantly throws in a truly remarkable performance from the actress who is head and shoulders above her peers. ‘The Dirty Picture’ is the Vidya Balan show; she carries a cumbersome project, along with its plethora of shortcomings, on her shoulders takes it beyond the finishing line in style. The film is all about her and the bludgeoning dialogues, everything else is just there to make up the numbers. Watch the movie if you aren’t a conservative and don’t find below the belt dialogues and over the top skin show repugnant. However, if you find anything bordering on vulgarity repulsive, steer clear; for, this picture will give you a handful in a way you hadn’t thought possible.

The Dirty Picture

It has a catchy soundtrack, throws in a mélange of laughter, emotions and unyielding intensity and most importantly a truly remarkable performance from the actress who is head and shoulders above her peers 46 I December 18 - 24, 2011


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Fashionista Fatima

From the catwalks of Paris to the Fashion Houses of Milan, walking the streets of New York to the boutique lanes of London, Fatima Khan, fashion stylist, designer, graduate of NCA and The London School of Fashion is a true Fashionista. Her unique esthetic sense, coupled with her experience as a fashion buyer/merchandiser for various Fashion Houses in London has helped to launch herself as a fashion connoisseur par excellence. Meet her every Sunday and learn what’s hot on the high streets in the global fashion village as well as the season’s must-haves and how to wear them.

Dots it out Dots got, well, quite dotty this season in playful combinations of color and scale. Polka dots are the new fashion trend to be looking out for this winter. Fashion can help you underline your individuality and dots are the easiest way to make a fashion statement as they go with everything and come in a variety of sizes/colours. Polka dots bring a lot of fun to an outfit, making all the difference and transforming any outfit from simple, to sophisticated. They are a classic in the fashion industry making a constant comeback so why not give them a try and make your outfit scream for attention. Go bold for a dramatic, eye catching look or opt for subtle dotted details if you wish to stand out in a very chic, subtle manner. Either way if you know how to wear dots you’re going to look hot.

Runway

For years polka dots were assumed to be dull and old fashioned, but they are back with a bang. A year ago wearing a polka dot dress might have been a woman’s worst nightmare; now all girls want to get their hands on this fabulous print. Dresses, skirts, bags & even tights with polka dots have become the IT items of this winter. Burberry & Gucci dots are definitely a vintage detail that can be transposed into contemporary outfits effortlessly. Draw inspiration from the fashion creations signed by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, David Koma, Stella McCartney,Lanvin, Top shop & many others. From micro to bold and coloured, whether displaced randomly, in a specific pattern or all over, the dots attract a generous amount of attention. They can be printed on the fabric or they can be applied on to stand out and emphasize the detailing of the clothes. Mature and elegantly realized, spots are the key decoration this season whereas Sheer circles and racy cut outs provide evening magic. They are also the best place for print novices to begin experimenting. Surrender to this trend you’ll discover just how much fun it is.

For my Pakistan

Dots go on everything from a vintage, casual chic outfit to a contemporary form fitting dress so don’t be afraid to experiment with various dotted fabrics. From chiffon to leather and dot cut outs anything goes, so explore the wonderful world of fashion. To wear a polka dot dress trend in elegance, intelligence in needed, so for accessories, choose the accessories that make your polka dot trend look more dominating. For simplicity, just take inspiration from Kate Winslet’s recent look. If you think that clothes with a head to toe polka dot motif would attract too much attention, keep it down to one element: A piece of polka dot blouse, with a plain skirt or tights only. Whatever ensemble you choose, polka dots will certainly enhance and define it. Wear your decorative polka dot prints with a clashing floral.

Key inspirational pieces

Here are some key pieces from international market so you can take the inspiration and translate the upcoming trends into your outfit: A. Paris Fashion Week Spring Summer 2011 B. Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2011-2012 C. Marc Jacobs D. Diane Von Furstenberg E. Chiffon-cotton dress, Topshop, $250

F E fashionistafatimakhan@gmail.com facebook.com/fashionistafatima December 18 - 24, 2011 I 47


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Lounge - 18th Decemeber, 2011  

Lounge is Pakistan Todays weekly magazine. Published every Sunday, Lounge performs a roundup of the weeks latest events & reviews in Arts, E...

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