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Shopper tip #5: No animals were harmed in the making of this issue.



ISSUE 5 / MARCH 2013



ot so long ago, there was a tradition. A tradition that brought every man/woman/being who roamed the corridors and courtyards of NCA into a state of constant vigilance. It was the tradition of THE SHOPPER! Yes, a plastic bag full of water, emerging from nowhere, without any prior warning and climatically exploding on impact against you. It was a moment of shock and awe. More so, it was a moment of the glorious realization that you were, indeed, now soaking wet. Long gone are those days, but despair no longer for THE SHOPPER makes its return in another form altogether, rising up(or falling, one may argue) again to give you the attention that YOU need!



Zoona Jerral ASSISTANT EDITORS Zoya Gul Hassan Uswa Amjad



Hajra K. Qazi

Ali Sarmad Khan

Sabuhi Essa

Sabeen Aamer

Haider Ali

Anas Ahmad

Ramish Rana

Baqir Mehdi

Areeba Maqsood

Anas Ahmad


Muhammad Haroon

Madyha Leghari

Ahmad Khan

Zain Naqvi



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10 11



Cover photo courtesy of Baqir Mehdi.

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SEND IN YOUR WORK TO: theoccasionalshopper Online Version

FACEBOOK PAGE: ht tp: //w w theoccasionalshopper National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan




f the millions of symbols that humans use to fathom the depths of each other’s cognition, art and design prove to be the most intricate forms of communication. As our world diversifies, this web of complexities instigates a miniaturization of sorts in our modes of expression. Our semantics have, today, spread its wings so far and wide that our understanding of every symbol has become merely an individual interpretation of ideas. But what if there still is some sort of a common platform for all of us to land our geniuses upon, a place for all of us to create havoc with our brainstorms? The National College of Arts has long been the cradle for such revolutions to take root in but all that it gave birth to, has also for too long now, been pretty much confined within the walls of the institute or at the most within the paradigm of the formal art world. We at The Occasional Shopper have now laid out an avenue for the spread of these ideas, to show off our genius to the world outside, and to propagate a creative epidemic that becomes contagious enough to get caught, at every bit, of the very streets of Lahore and beyond. So get ready for this New Year issue to open the gates of the National College of Arts to you and welcome you, to the revolution!


[ O

n many an occasion he would see his mother busy at work, weaving baskets and sewing clothes - trades she had learned when still young and unmarried. She had garnered fame for herself in the area which was yet to savor the rust-incrusted, salty-bitter taste of mass production. This land was pure of such mechanical constructions though it was a man-made oasis in the middle of nowhere which gave it a certain quality that kept it safe from the mischief of the new world. As she lined the house with baskets woven in intricate designs and styles, some round, some square, oblong, abstract even, she would often sit back and marvel at her creation. God leaves a hint of Himself in all His creations the same way an artist does in their work, so God is the ultimate artist and He measures determining to the fractioned point how much He must allow His creation to drink from the elixir of His creativity. We all have thus God within us, some perhaps more than others for we are born equal but bred to inequality. She would sew as well though in a very unorthodox fashion, making her creations unique and unlike any other in the land or seen otherwise – this was perhaps why she would often be busy with work and often he would see large spools of golden and silver threads lined on the wall above the large glass door that separated the living room from the dining. They rarely ever used the table in the dining room for its genuine purpose for it had



POCKETS full of


gained the rights of a store, making it imperceptible to one unaccustomed to the workings of this household as it faced the main entrance hall. But those threads always intrigued him and he would find himself playing with them, being scolded by his mother in the process. The spools just hovered there in nothing, held by the weight of a few large nails that she had poked into the wall and kept turning and turning, growing thinner by the minute. She would use these special threads to not only stitch the clothes she would make but also to create intricate hair-like designs and objects by weaving them together, bundling them up, applying starch and then painting over them. The glittery hairlines that swam around her as she worked her little black-motored sewing machine - on cloth that shimmered as majestically as the thread - gave her an aura so benign, she glowed in their wake as if an angel had popped from the heavens and decided to spend some time working on a frock before returning. She ruled in her world like a queen and often anticipated the arrival of the machines as they would take over her world. She would sit back then and glance into nothing, imagining what would become of her house, her mother’s house, her brother and her sisters, they all depended on her ever since her father died and even before that for what is an old man worth who can’t even fetch a pail of water or clean his own bottom after relieving himself.

But these thoughts would soon dissipate and he would find her once again immersed in the motions of her labor. This was not all she did - she often arranged parties for people who asked her and earned a fair amount out of that, for she was an amazing manager. Many from around the neighborhood and beyond would assign her a wedding or an anniversary to manage so they could enjoy the night away while she toiled at their expense. More than often he would see her tired and yet still churning away at her baskets or her sewing, sometimes on her books managing funds and other things. He never knew how the house ran for after his mother there was only his father who gave any part in the workings of the household. He rarely saw his father in the day for he would be in his office tending to his work, at least that was what he felt content thinking about -he truly had no idea what his father did for a living. Never would he see him stressing away on something or the other at home besides the newspaper in the morning, never would he see him going off somewhere saying that he had to attend a meeting with a client or two. He would often be out an about, taking him along sometimes for a walk and buying him expensive clothing or a good meal just for the heck of it. He always had money on him, though the boy never knew by what means that pocket was always full.


oices: the sometimes nagging buzz in the ears that always surrounds you when all you want is to be left alone- glorifying the solitude, cherishing the silence away from the voices within and sometimes the soothing utterances that bring you pleasure in misery prophets of hope and the iron strings to which each soul sways, each heart vibrates. We open our eyes to a world of voices and sounds - infinite, unidentifiable and fascinating. These voices continue to live and grow as we do in life. They are with us as we progress from playground fights to the turmoil of teenage years and from there to our ‘grown up’ life. These voices are the gateway to the yet uncharted, unexplored but highly sought after dimensions that one tries to seek with one’s limited stereoscopic vision. They inspire us to choose between the right and the wrong, help us battle out the choices between our id and superego; mould our future, our character and our personality. These voices dictate what we do and what path we take. The ‘shoulds’, the ‘coulds’ and the ‘woulds’ of our lives all depend upon these voices. Our whole lives are sketched before us by them and the minute they abandon us, we are nothing but automatons - our actions mechanical, our thoughts empty. “While part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own mind.” William James. Man possesses a very animalistic and cruel nature. His actions are mostly determined by his very basic desires: the voices that compel him to take the


path  that  will  only lead to his own ruin, the voices that want him to stray from the path he ought to choose. Man is a slave to his instincts, always fighting for superiority over the rest of the human race - the rat race for survival. Centuries of civilization and education have only helped him to create a facade of pseudo-sophistication; hiding his tenderness, his insecurities, his fear of being left out, of being a loser among his own race. A child only cares about what directly concerns him, what he basically needs. It is his elders who know all too well about these inclinations and what they may lead to, so they are the voices that guide the child, educate and civilize him. They keep preaching, teaching, encouraging and admonishing him. And this training is put to test when he enters his teenage years and grows into an adult. This is when the conflict between the two opposing forces takes birth. Our inner demons keeps coaxing us to answer one set of voices and do their bidding while the other voice is of truth that keeps the others at bay, continuously opposing them and guiding us against them. Thus everyone has two sides, the inner demons and our conscience, the latter reminding us of our limitations and the former driving us away from

them. However, in this ongoing Armageddon of good and evil, the voice man complies with depends greatly upon his own perceptions, past experiences and the ideas that have been forever instilled in his mind. In the moment of truth, these voices come to his aid, guiding him through life’s ups and downs but the final decision is always left to him and the voice which takes the lead is always his personal choice. So far, only the negative aspect of voices and the basic instincts of man have been discussed, but the force that is ever in motion to keep man guileless and free of a guilty conscience also comes from within him. It inspires man when he is stuck in a vicious cycle, a dull, predictable status. It gives him hope when he is in despair. It is what makes him accept his place in society and improve on his existence. It is what stirs the soul and keeps the fire burning - the fire of innovation, creativity, passion and enthusiasm. The fuel for this fire comes from the voices of those who motivate man; his parents, his mentors, his friends. These are the voices that shape and mould his internal ones leaving an indelible mark on his psyche. It is these external voices that help in the formation of the internal ones, determining his opinions and beliefs and hence the voices of his id and the superego. Thus to conclude, one is compelled to accept that man is guided by an unseen force and that force is within him, the voices that guide him throughout his existence. Indeed, the voices which make his existence possible.


Azar Raza

Graduate Interview:

Architect A zar Raza graduated from the National College of Ar ts in 2001. L ater, he star ted working for a Malaysian firm by the name of TA K Associates. He now has his own private practice by the name of A zar Raza Architects. The Occasional Shopper caught up with him to talk about an international competition project he worked on and generally about his philosophy on work and the field of architecture.

Who initiated this competition project, and what made you so enthusiastic about it? It was an initiative of a firm that manufac t ures ele vators and their pur pose was to redefine the f ut ure sk yline of Dubai, to ex plore how the f ut ure image of the cit y w ill be an abstrac tion of the ne w ver tica l limits set by such technologica l advancements.

deconstr uc tion. Our modernist training had been ver y str uct ured , defined and fragmented whereas f luidit y is ver y e v ident in the contemporar y design prac tice, and obv iously there is a lways a ref lec tion of what you k now best in your work , so I ended up work ing w ith tetra hedrons and Euclidian geometr y of the like as a skeleton for the design w ith an undulating sk in piercing throug h it.

Firstly I liked the fac t that it was an open- ended projec t and secondly (w ith a hint of a smile) Za ha Hadid was supposed to be juror for the projec t. I am a great admirer of her work but back then I was just discovering her processes and was entranced.

The people we have been learning from and the way we were trained a lways led us to follow t wo or three orders from w ithin


What then is your take on another term coined by Schumacher; ‘Diversism’? A nd his work generally? Him and many other contempo rar y architec ts like him are primarily concerned w ith the v isua l appea l of things. There is no harm in accepting this and there should be no fear of confessing it out loud but unfor t unately usua lly people do not.

The idea was to simply generate a strong form. We got an opport unit y to concretize the smooth, continuous surfaces that we kept ex perimenting w ith on different sof t ware into a rea l projec t. A nd that we did by dig ging deep into the clash bet ween an intricate grid of a modern cit y and the organic e volution of the deser t. We played w ith their ju x taposition to form the modern Middle Eastern cit y. You say that you prefered your ow n take on the post modernist ideals of Zaha Hadid’s processes for this project. How would you put this inter pretation of yours into words.

to ‘create architec t ure.’ I like the way he uses immac ulate vocab ular y to ex press his ideas. For us f luidit y was something that was overlapped onto the origina l str uc t ure, so the demarcation bet ween the str uc t ure and the sk in was ver y distinc t, enoug h to leave them detachable.

I mean on one hand he says that parametricism is our ‘epocha l’ st yle, and on the other hand , I was listening to one of his lect ures in which he was show ing a gothic cathedra l and questioning whether we w ill e ver be able to achie ve something of such an aesthetic ca liber in our lifetimes. This means that we are e vent ua lly fig hting towards cer tain k inds of aesthetics, so what harm is there in accepting that. I have understood now that the school of thoug ht which contemporar y architec ts have come up w ith tries to achie ve a complete f luidit y, one in which the str uct ure and sk in are one and the same and therefore exchangeable - something that Patrick Schumacher terms as ‘multiple s ystems correlation’: A number of s ystems that coex ist. How multiple s ystems may blend in novel ways

So where do you think the root of this problem lies?

thought is the tool in architect ure, not the thing itself. Rea l architec t ure is st uff like the The problem, I think , is that wa lls themselves, the f loors, the e ver since architec t ure has been roof, the lights, light and shade, made ana ly tica l, e ver since it your strategies of composition has been made to rely upon our and ar tic ulation, the sensitivrationa le and scientific logic, it ities of different materia ls. A ll has lef t its ar tistic dimension this is what architec t ure tr uly some where far behind. is. You may be able to achie ve the best of a ll this w ithout any A ll architec ts tend to like beautitraining if you are a genius but f ul forms and ar tic ulated str uce ven that genius would be a cont ures, but no one would want to str uc t of prior relationships that admit it openly. So then to jushave been established in your tif y these forms, such terms are mind. Some just would not be invented. I am not say ing that able to ex plain that genius, but a think ing process is redundant if you do tr y to be voca l about in our design prac tice. What we it and tr y to ar tic ulate it into a need to understand and what set of a x ioms, it becomes a the is rele vant here is to k now that or y. Now, it is not that either the building or the theo r y comes first and The design process the other later; both initiates with an architectural need to be dea lt w ith attempt of simulating the City Transformation, in other side by side. So base words, ‘what the city did to your projec t on clear, the desert’. This is achieved ar tic ulated think ing by covering the entire site but then you have to with sand. The grid of the look at the ground City seeps through this rea lities as well; you desert at various places at have to e vent ua lrandom. This Modern City ly decide how much is basically representing the concept of a Garden a theor y can inform City that Ebenezer Howard you about a cer tain talked about so extensively. design and it is e venAlso Le Corbusier’s Dream t ua lly because of the of Modern Cities in which work that the words primarily two grids that at tain power. What of the inhabitants and of you do seems more transportation were placed authentic when you along two axis, vertical and horizontal respectively. are informed about it. These theories of the Modern cities conceived by architects of the modern era came to the Arab What do you think world during the 60s. What young architects was the Arab response to should act ually asthese Urban theories? By pire to do when they overlapping a ‘Modern city’ decide to become on the ‘desert’ they were one? in effect overlapping the ‘Garden’ on the ‘Desert’.


Whate ver you want to do, bus jurke apna kaam karo, if it clicks then that is perfec t but until it does not, the enjoy ment itself is your re ward. Peo ples appreciation of your work is nothing compared to your ow n enjoy ment of look ing back at your achie ve -



ment. But in addition, if people do appreciate it than that a lso pleases you. A lthough it is a lso not tr ue if you say that you do not care about others’ appreciation. Whoe ver says that lies. A ll designers like to be appreciated; it is a motivationa l force for us, but you should be caref ul not to ma ke it your primar y pur pose. Until the time that I was in the rat race to become a world famous architec t, my life was miserable. But now that I have decided to leave that, e ven though my work is the same, I am at peace.




I n t h e s p o t l i g h t:



sfar Hussain is a third year student from the department of Musicology. This formal an introduction is superfluous, however, considering how almost everyone knows good old Asfar in college! The Occasional Shopper team follows him to the David Courtyard where he tries to soak up the paltry amount of sunlight that there is gears up for an interview. He is a part of the 15 fortunate students painstakingly sieved from hundreds belonging to various respectable institutions in Lahore who were auditioned and shortlisted by Xulfi, the renowned guitarist from the band E.P and Call. It is a project that aims at promoting young, untapped talent having varied styles and preferences, coming together to record 24 songs. Although he still recognizes NCA as the force responsible for his achievements saying, “NCA hee aik platform tha. Mein kaheen aur hota tou shayad who nahee hota jo abhi hoon.” He held the 2nd position in the All Pakistan Music Conference for singing ‘thumri’ (light classical) and also made it to the final round of the Boomer’s Voice of Nation competition. We ask him how and when his interest in music flowered, and he replies that as a teenager, he would fiddle with the rubab all day and hum to himself, to the annoyance of other people around him. ‘So the guitar and the rubab are the instruments that you are the most comfortable with. Do you prefer one over the other?’ Both the instruments are two individuals that can’t be compared. If you’re asking me what I would prefer to play, then I would say both.’ When we allude to the two instruments being the ones that he knows how to play completely, he interrupts and says “Guitar bhee completely nahee aata aur rubab bhee completely nahee aata.” He expounds on this further, explaining how he believes that one cannot learn anything ‘completely’,


‘kyunke insaan hamesha progress kar sakta hai.’ There can be musicians who play astoundingly well, but one can keep experimenting and finding better or different ways of doing so, he thinks. Till two years ago, Asfar was alien to the workings of a guitar but now has a good command over the chords and can play by ear with ease. He explains that combining the mind with the hand is key to being able to play by ear so one really needs to pay attention rather than strumming mechanically to a set of chords. ‘Considering how crass commercialism governs part of the music industry, do you believe that music needs to be respected as a form of art? Do you think undue publicity compromises quality?’ ‘Aaj kal music ko paisay kamaanay ka source banaya hooa hai. Paisay sabb nay kamaanay hotay hain, paisay mein nay bhee kamaanay hain. Magar meray liye priority hamesha music hee ho gee’. For him, the greatness of music lies in capturing one’s emotions and translating them in so effective a way that the listener immediately feels them. What intrigues him is how countless little pieces fit together like pieces in a jigsaw to create a bigger picture, and how various instruments gush forth to produce something ‘divine’, for the word ‘divine’ is what defines music for him. He feels that he still needs to delve deeper into the techniques and theory of music in order to create something that can transform his thoughts into so abstract an art. ‘How important do you think theory is as compared to consistent practice?’ He relates to us how when he first came to NCA, he just could not understand why anyone would want to study theory if it was as simple as picking up an instrument and experimenting with it. Gradually he realized the importance of studying music and how ‘it is not just gaana bajaana’. He started to think

of it as a ‘responsibility’ and how not taking it seriously would be nothing more than an ‘insult’ to music. ‘Could you expound on what you think an insult to music is?’ ‘Music ko ham nein bas I love you kehna ka style banaa diyaa hai. Yeh bohat baree insult hai.’ He goes further to add that songs revolving around love and passion alone are what are despicable, otherwise exploring the theme itself is like exploring any other sentiment. Good songs, he feels, relay sentiments subtly but at the same time communicate effectually enough to leave a lasting impression on the listener. ‘You have written one song that is entirely your own titled ‘Tou Kya Hua’. What inspired you? Tell us more about your forays into poetry.’ He does not do away with the modesty and says ‘theek hee likh laita tha. Vocabulary bhee sahee hai. Meray abba bhee poet hain, tou wahan say bhee shayad thora influence hua.’ He talks about how he wrote and composed ‘Tou Kya Hua’ during his first year after suffering from self-doubt and utter confusion regarding what he aimed to achieve in his life. Another song that is widely appreciated is ‘Khwab-e-Fitna’ that, he is quick to add, he composed on his own but borrowed the lyrics from Allama Naseer-ud-din Hunzai’s poetry. He heaves a great sigh when we inquire about what he would like to do next and he informs us about the upcoming episodes of the Nescafe Basement as well as some concerts. He also asserts that he feels he has a huge responsibility towards his hometown Chitral and thus Chitrali music; he thinks of exploring it in his thesis. Talking about the thesis, we make a vague allusion to the future looming ahead after graduation and he looks up, squints at the now brighter sun and simply says, “I know I can do much, much, much better. I have to.”



il a H ai




What is the concept behind your thesis?


nter NCA’s miniature department and one will find rows of heads poised intently on their wasli, wielding brushes of hair stolen from unsuspecting furry creatures (an issue which entirely absent from squirell print media). If one were to successfully engage one of these reclusive, earphoned bunch, however, one finds them (for the first few minutes a tad squint-eyed, understandably) talkative, and thoroughly convivial. Among these is 2012-graduate Shakila Haider who upon discarding her diligent studio persona, emerges loud (a quality not entirely unhelpful in our hostels and ergo perhaps an evolutionary feature), exuberant and one never to be found sulking in some corner when there is music to be boogied to. Shakila is easy to talk to, and grow fond of. In fact, Shakila is the vivacious anticlimax to a people subjected to persecution since as far back as modern history can recall. As Hazara killings in Quetta reach beyond monstrous proportions, more of these rosy-cheeked Afghanistan-natives pour into this nook on Mall Road that allows them to partake in something that seems to be an irrevocable heirloom – art. Being a people of mild temperament, predisposed towards scholarly work, poetry, art, and sport, the Hazaras have been subjected to ostracism and ethnic cleansing by other more militant-minded countrymen(read: crazy ************s). NCA’s Hazaras have appropriated for their work various visual vocabularies or symbologies – popularly the stepped-diamond fabric motif. Shakila, however, draws on a more singular past, an absence made present through sheer force of memory or objects left behind: her father’s being. Stamped a Soviet spy and traitor in Afghanistan, Shakila’s father fled to Quetta where she grew up. Plagued by depression and harrowed by the fate of his people, he took his own life in Shakila’s childhood. Her work is a tribute to this being, she claims, and perhaps, one wonders, a coming-to-terms: a rite of passage for closure. Nostalgic is too reductive for her oeuvre that employs everything from close ups

r view

it h


e int

of her father’s personal belongings (glasses, shoes at a doorstep) to political maps etched with the Hazara motif. Shakila has picked up the frayed edge of a cut string and rewoven it into another – the life of a Hazara scholar who wrote a book on his people’s history. These strands of memory are intricately woven into nuances of her father’s being. One particularly striking piece captures most strongly, perhaps, her experience of her father: It is book-sized piece with a lasercut Hazara-motifed Jafri placed half an inch in front of (and casting a show on) a miniature painting of three men in traditional robes turned away from the looker, who in turn realizes not without a shudder that he is Tom peeping into another temporal realm. Her work has been displayed in London’s No More Fear exhibition and Lahore’s Drawing Room among others.

For me concept does not exist in art, it is entirely my original experience which I paint in my thesis. What technique do you use? I am using the basic technique of miniature which is known as gadrung, nim rung, and siyaqalam in my paintings. It is handmade water-based paint on wasli (handmade paper). Your work, how do you define it? It is a story-telling. How do you differentiate between traditional and contemporary miniature styles? Your views and preferences in this regard? How I see it, in the traditional style they use the technique but the work is done in the karkhana, which is not the work of a single artist. In contemporary miniature, the artist’s work becomes personal and individualistic so with the passage of time a lot of variation has come into play in miniature – because every artist has different experiences, exploration of materials and ideology. Naturally, I prefer the contemporary view. The pros and cons of this style of painting? It has a lot of scope and I have seen what shocks and fascinates people when they see my paintings about is its level of detail. Electricity is a big problem; without it we really cannot paint detailed miniature.

Why did you choose miniature? Before NCA, I did not know about miniature art. NCA is the only university where you get this degree. I chose miniature because it requires a specific tolerant temperament and meticulous attention to detail and I think that goes with my character. A lot of people around me were of the opinion that miniature is very hard but I love taking on challenges and here I found the opportunity to prove myself.

Are there any difficulties you face? Maybe as a woman? Not particularly, because my family back home is very supportive. They encourage me. And NCA is giving me the opportunity. Your time in NCA? Unforgettable and beautiful. Any farewell words? dozdoz! NCA rocks!





y employer is once again all gung ho about a new project that has come in and I am practically snoozing off on the laptop. As “exhilarating” as his monotonous drone about some “title loans site” is, I find myself drifting off to a simpler time. You know, sleeping late, shifting through the channels, sleeping again, eating, facebooking and then sleeping some more. Ah, such were the glory days of my summer. Now, all I get is a late night cup of coffee to prevent myself from peeling my eyes open to stay awake. My (words fail me here) employer has decided that I should get ONE more article down before I sleep. I curse my lust for work; I curse my failure to quit work. Now, all of you must be thinking that I am a lunatic for staying in a job I hate. Well, with all due respect, I am a lunatic; a lunatic who loves keeping herself financially afloat as much as she hates writing boring, dreary content for websites. It can’t be helped; dreary pays. Every time I feel like quitting, my darned cheque arrives and I go through the entire misery for another month; it’s a vicious cycle I tell you. Even as I sit trying to incorporate funny bits in this article that will make me seem cool, I stare at the ominous clock every two minutes or so and heave a dramatic sigh of suffering that would have put old Hamlet to shame. I mean come on! It’s three in the morning! Why does working entail


slave driving? My super-ego screams at me for the ungrateful sass and I am gripped by a holier than thou sensation of, “like hell!” Okay, on a more serious note (for real, I promise) working so many hours has taken a toll on my health, (not that I was a poster girl for Doctor Phil before) seriously affecting my work (you aren’t reading Leonardo’s lost notes here) and my creative writing has gone down the drain due to this website trash! (Yea, I was about to give old Oscar a run for his money if it hadn’t been for this!). As much as I don’t want to admit it, but the stuff in the parentheses are the excuses I always use for myself. I mean whose going to pay the bills if I quit? (Designer bags, shoes, novels, accessories etc.) I am sure you get the point, or I hope you do. Am I rambling? (You’re bound to, it’s 4:00 in the morning now!) After much contemplation I was able to come through with my resignation. My fingers itched and I beat around the bush for quite a while before I finally handed in my online two weeks’ notice. Sure, my employer was shocked and even offered me a raise! O, how tempted I was, but I chose the path less taken and suffered the hollowness that could no longer be filled with heav y partying, buying stuff on my own and best of them all, that irresistible control I had over my siblings (bribery has astounding results; I mean I could get away with anything, supported

by my little minions!). In the absence of cash however, my minions abandoned me faster than you could say minion. I was back to asking for the proverbial “pocket money” from my parents. I resisted, let me tell you, I didn’t falter in my resolve. I tasted the bitterness of life without work. I knew I had a problem, there wasn’t an intervention required to tell me that I was fixated and addicted, but I was confident that I had full control over my impulses. So confident was I that I didn’t even delete my employer from Gtalk. So what? He could be online; I am not working for him, really. But, since I am online and it’s impolite to just leave, I say my hellos and he tells me how sorry he is to see his best writer leave; I am all gracious. He asks me if I could just do a small job for him for old times’ sake; I am reluctant. He senses it, he quickly adds that he’ll pay me and is asking this as a favor, since he’s low on good writers these days. I feel sorry for the poor man. Well, there couldn’t be any harm in just one article; my fingers type a slow yes… As I once again stare at the mocking, ticking hands of my wall clock (damn it’s 5:00 now!) with my bloodshot eyes, I try to remember how I got into this position. For the life of me I can’t remember. Well, I might as well get back to that ONE article before I sleep!



Skill was all he had ever versed, No quill no scrap but the chisel instead, In stone revoked the silent defeats, A mighty craftsman in marble cage,

‘Make way, make way’ you parted the sea, the pet from the stray fell too easily no remorse, not one lip bit a hot knife and no farewells were bid

His strings felt it first, Deep wrinkles on the forehead, Individual skipping of the beats, The rock star succumbed to age,

Arrived on the scene where moments ago content I had been held searing water aloft, and with an (in)evitable x furtively marked the spot


He needed to quench the thirst, Those gluttonous ballots craved more bread, After all it was for mere seats, President he was not a sage, Apostles, prophets, priests were there to assert, Those festivals of lights, crescents or even the sled, Still dependent upon his followers feats, He was just God Even He has a certain wage.



Upon which Night fell as if from a height the only casual(ty) though it seemed was sight The seers yet will sightless see the wounded too shall falless bleed My love, be warned, it’s best to let your pet in. Dead pools of inert water, pricked by a pin stir just as you turn and with your back to them they churn out creatures of disregarded dismay and upon your pet they will prey Darling, let your pet in, it’s best for you and me or Morning will let loose upon you a Trojan horse, you’ll see It’s best to let your pet in. If I was you, I would quietly let myself in. Night fell as if from a height dark stains broke free from injured sight half shame(less) half help(less) they now spread like hair that grows is growing from me on me all night with(out) proof until it dawns some suns and some (k)news








Applying for undergrad scholarship will reduce your chances of getting one for masters. While this is true for a course extending beyond a period of six months, the Fulbright team at the US State Department denies such a myth and strongly encourages students to apply.


There aren’t enough scholarships available for arts and humanities.

True that there a lot more scholarships available for other fields of education, but under USEFP (United States Education Foundation of Pakistan) arts and humanities are provided with equal opportunities. The courses offered vary with each year so do not believe hearsay. Verify with USEFP via email and tell them your concerns. This goes for university scholarships as well. Even if your course is not being offered, USEFP judges how strong a candidate you are, where your interests lie and what your strengths and contributions have been in the environment around you and place you in a relevant area of study. This might not directly be related to your undergrad course, but definitely focuses on making you a productive citizen. This opportunity on its own provides linkages to other opportunities for further studies. SO APPLY.



You don’t have enough qualifications for the scholarship.

Everyone is qualified. It depends on how you approach the opportunity. While academic achievements do matter, what matters more is how confident and motivated you are towards learning. For USEFP, you have an opportunity to prove that via your PERSONAL STATEMENT. SELL YOURSELF. Build upon your strengths and address you weaknesses. I strongly recommend that you get in touch with the US State Alumni from your campus and ask them what is required and how you should pitch yourself.


No community work disqualifies you from USEFP scholarships. Although being involved in making a difference is a strong plus point, not having done so does not disqualify you. As long as you exhibit the enthusiasm to be able to make a change and genuinely plan on doing that in future you are on the right track. Know that your concern for Pakistan is what matters the most. You can be part of the chain to make a difference in the country and THAT is the major concern of USEFP. So state your future plans on how you intend on accomplishing this.

A course not relevant to your field of study will be a waste of time.


Definitely not! Each course is extremely well designed to ensure maximum productivity in the limited time period. You also get plenty of time to tour around in fact the trips are all arranged for.

When going on your own finances, accommodation is a real problem.


Although it might cost you some extra bucks, the university you apply to will be of great help in providing for accommodation. They give you various options and have everything arranged to dot before you get there.

HOW TO APPLY Both programmes are advertised for every year (please check for availability) by October/November. Application packages includes an application form, two reference letters, and attach photocopies of transcripts including an explanation of grading scale of university issuing the degree. Photocopies of transcripts must be attested by the issuing authority. Original application with references and attested copies of supporting documentation along with one additional copy of the complete application must be received at P.O. Box No. 1128, Islamabad before the deadline.



he thesis aims to investigate the structural changes brought upon the physical landscape of our cities by the emergence of the internet as the key medium for information dissemination. In a developing context like Pakistan, where nearly half of the population due to poverty and illiteracy are not exposed to the emerging new concepts of knowledge dissemination, we see a stark digital divide intensifying between the information-rich and

the information-poor. By proving that knowledge sharing is a cultural construct, we look at the role of shared spaces encompassing both ends of the socio-economic spectrum in terms of knowledge sharing and critically analyze the role of “space” as an interface for mediating information between people. The project realization is a de-institutionalized library set in a diverse socio-economic context having a symbiotic relationship

with its surrounding setting. The aim is to stich the disjointed urban fabric by the multiplicity of program pertinent for a pluralistic society. Finally, the thesis proposes a new building type that pro grammatically acts as a host organism proliferated by its parasites. The “Knowledge Factory” mediates information and people who are in constant flux and recognizes the importance of in-between spaces as primary spaces for knowledge-acquisition.

A night of electrifying proportions with the Cuban Jazz Trio and Laal Band By Talha Muftee 14th September welcomed the Cuban Jazz trio A3 — comprising Alberto Batista Hernandez (drums), Ana Maria Caluff Oropesa (piano) and Ariel Jorge Pérez Caballero (trombone) - for a performance in a league of its own. With distinguished guests and faculty members, and an open invitation for all NCA students, the NCA auditorium was packed to the brim with music enthusiasts looking forward to a night of live music and rest assured it was a memorable experience. The performance was made possible through the efforts of Head of International Affairs at NCA, Zafar Iqbal, with cooperation from the Cuban Ambassador. The evening kicked off superbly, as notable local band, Laal delivered the opening performance with their commendable signature blend of Sufi lyrics and fusion of Western and

Eastern musical genres. It was not long before people started moving to the beat within whatever space they could find in the jam-packed auditorium. Next the audience was treated to a fine combination of tabla and flute compositions followed by NCA’s finest in-house musicians from the Musicology Department performing yet more enchanting Eastern instrumentals. Finally, and to everyone’s delight, the Cuban Jazz Trio took over the stage and let loose upon the audience their quality jazz music, a

genre not much accessible in this part of the world. Nevertheless, each segment seemed unique and by the end it was difficult to decide which piece of music was the highlight. It is rare to see a piano, saxophone and drums create such a lively atmosphere. The night ended with memories of great music and desire for more. To be noted, the Cuban Jazz trio will be staying with us for some time and hopefully we will see more of, and perhaps learn more about, this amazing genre.





any times in the course of our education we feel that the restrictions of a drawing sheet, modeling board or even computer software can not truly represent the entirety of our concept. Similar was the case with 5th year Architecture thesis student Abdul Waheed, who one day set out on an installation in our very own David Courtyard with a roll of fluorescent coloured string. “It is quite interesting that the pure things (Fitrati) feelings and emotions can never be translated through any physical medium, as what they represent is altered by human interpretation or perception” Where he goes ahead to commend the role perception plays in everyday life, he also strongly opposes the general standardization of certain perceptions, taking words such as ‘love’ and ‘beauty’ as examples. “… (google) search results relate beauty to majorly women and love to very simply relationships between a man and a woman, whereas the

words beauty and love hold much greater meanings than this” In what he calls the ‘conditioned perceptions’ he feels that’s many of us lose the essence of such ideas, which are more simple, relative to each person and situation and hold much greater value in their unconditioned state. As Abdul Waheed continues to work on his installation, tying up the fluorescent string with thinner and less visible strings which he further stretches and ties to nearby balconies or trees, he uses the entire force of the  surrounding architecture to aide in his efforts, almost as if they are holding the installation in place. Slowly, one gets to see the semblance of straight lines connected to each other at 90 degree angles with thinner and less visible strings which he further stretches and ties to nearby balconies or trees, he uses the entire force of the  surrounding architecture to aide in his efforts, almost as if they are holding the installation in place. Bringing his focus on user participation in design he says, “I think only half of a design should be done by a designer, while the rest should have enough margins


for user input”. He speaks against design having control over user perceptions, claiming that instead “a user makes perception in design” thus helping space become more meaningful for the user. As a result of this, he believes that eventually with self participation in the design process a heightened sense of ownership will develop for the user of the space. “In this experiment I want to study human reflexes, perception, visual shift, scale and its requirements and appearance and reality”. Abdul Waheed carries what he learns from this experiment and more such installations at his very own exhibition at the Al Hamra Arts Council, forward into his design for his thesis project, which is on display from the 16th of January 2013.

of ours is effortlessly informed by overwhelming context spanning unimaginable lengths. And every breath would lead to another as long as we live. What then, does this one fleeting breath mean on its own? Are we truly ever present in what is, perhaps unsuitably, called the present?



his is this and that is that. This and that, neatly embedded in an imaginary timeline. We walk into every situation with these preconceived ideas of locating ourselves and the events around us in convenient sequences, our indulgent little films. Every breath

The Conversion ? to !




f I were to explain the course of my life, I would simply sum it up as the struggle to turn an a ‘?’ into a ‘!’ Confused? Well, it’s simple if you ask me. Since childhood I have been in a quest to find my answers; to convert the confused curve in the question mark (?) into a straight confident exclamation mark (!). Initially, I felt that I was drawn towards architecture and graphics but with time I realised that I was wrong. I felt as if my art had been left at a point where it was just static. This question of my art being ‘static’ left me uneasy again

To exist only in conjunction with our senses, and to define each moment thereon, perhaps requires a disconnect with this constructed reality. Such perpetual disconnect is rare in one ‘sound of mind’. But occasionally, even ‘sane’ people experience that momentary jolt. It may be triggered by something very ordinary in itself (a missed step, a barely avoided fall, speed thrills) but which suddenly sharpens your senses to the point where you are unbearably present in your own skin and there is no escape.

and I decided to discuss this idea of setting the static art in motion . Hence, I was introduced to the world of storyboarding, which meant that my ‘static’ art was now being put to ‘motion’ in the form of films and television commercials. Soon I realised that my ability to notice the fine details in my surroundings with my naked eye helped me understand the camera angles and perspectives better. I started using the eye as a camera to explore the details, angles and perspectives in everyday life and this approach helped me with my storyboarding. I feel that storyboards are a form of miniature art in which each frame on the screen has been frozen, and the placing of the

Accordingly, my images are never premeditated. I let my brush tug at my hand and dictate its own story. Most of my techniques are gestural and image making decisions are therefore made on the spur of the moment. It is hoped that my concerns organically emerge and manifest themselves as opposed to me wrenching them out forcibly.

actors, proportions, camera angles and perspectives are all being dealt with at the same time keeping ‘behind-the-camera technicalities’ in mind, as the storyboard artist designs a frame. The fact that I was a film student myself made it easier for me to deliver the director’s vision and enhance it on paper in each frame. As I worked and studied at the same time, I realised that with sheer planning and understanding of situations and time, I was able to solve all the question marks and doubts in my journey and convert them into exclamation marks that kept me at ease and in flow. And the journey continues...


"Keep the flight in mind, the bird will die."


ffering a fresh ex perience

a ll need in these diffic ult and

dark ness, and how k nowledge

for residents, an ex hibition

v iolent times.” The ne w found

g uides and when a person dies

was recently held in collabora-

liber t y would a lso broaden the

a ll he leaves behind are his

tion w ith Nationa l College of

par ticipants’ horizon, by ta k ing


A r ts in Ha zara Tow n and Mehr

them out of the shells the y live





par ticipants,

Despite its shor tcomings, the ex hibition


hig hlig ht


it was the first time the y were

A n unex pec ted t urnout showed

significant dilemmas of these

a llowed to think freely and draw

the ex hibition’s success: Thir t y

tow ns. Firstly, that its residents

what the y w illed. The only t wo

one young ar tists belonging to

have ne ver been given the liber t y

restric tions were the theme - a

various renow ned ar t academies

to put for th their ow n point of

Farsi verse: ‘Par va z ra be k hater

in Quet ta (Sketchclub, Ghulg hula

v ie w, and secondly that the y


mordanist ’

Fine A r ts Academy, Musaw w ir A r t

live under constant socia l and

(T ranslation: Keep the f lig ht in


Academy, and Saeedi A r t Academy

politica l t urmoil.

mind , the bird w ill die) and the

r un by S.Fa zil Mosav i,

technique - painting , ca lligraphy


and miniat ure. Prior to the ex hi-

Naw roz Mosaw ir and

bition, a three -week workshop

Ismathulla h

was held under the super v ision

respec tively) par tici-




Sha h

pated in an ex perience that was probably a

ticipants shared their ideas and


were taug ht how to work outside

of them. The y worked

the restric tion of norms.



S yed


Abdulla h A lamee where the par-








indiv idua l

most their


ref lec ts on the v iolent and br u-

and subsequently ex plored differ-

The paintings seem to be con-

ta l conditions the residents of

ent mediums such as oil, water-

firmation of one fac t at least: that

these tow ns have to bear and the

colour and pencils. Abstrac tion

the s y mbols for the por traya l of


ex pres-



are universa l to a ll. Whether for

a lso seen in a

a five -year- old child or an adult,

fe w paintings.

a person belonging to a tow n

In an at tempt

where you breathe v iolence or


bet ter

where there is peace; whate ver


the paradigm, mank ind thinks


subjec tive constr ua ls

in the same way. of

resultant fr ustration it breeds

the verse, a majorit y of par tic-

amongst them. The aim of using

ipants used s y mbols. Howe ver,

this verse was to seek ex pression

perhaps because this was their

for this fr ustration and perhaps

first such at tempt, the subjec t

thus reduce it. In the words of

mat ter

c urator Sha h Abdulla h , “it w ill

work remained the same, i.e.

bring about the hea ling that we

how ignorance leads one into




life, death, k nowledge, and peace

par ticipants’



Just because a w riter is dead , doesn’t mean his last piece of work is great,” said the great Naseer uddin Sha h as we sat watching him in awe in the NC A auditorium on the four th of December. He went on f ur ther hig hlig hting how impor tant it was for filmma kers to document the times the y lived in rather than indulging their

escapist tendencies which had been the case in Bolly wood for quite some time. He mused that such masa la films would not stand the test of time and in comparison any doc umentar y would easily outlive them. I was ex hilarated to fina lly see some one from Bolly wood scr utinizing it honestly in public. “Unfor t unately, we live in times where mediocrit y is cele brated as uniqueness,” he said , “where a song about drow ning is much appreciated , looks are the criterion for judging one’s ac ting sk ills, and T 20 is ac t ua lly

ta ken seriously ”. “Long gone are the days when we strived for something that had meaning , instant gratification is the order of the day,” he claimed , “when a ll we ta lk about upon emerging from the cinema is how the ac tor looked , rather than what the film was about.” It is telling, I considered , how we itch to upload Facebook stat uses regarding films before anyone else. It is now our obligator y par ta k ing in popular c ult ure consumption. We are hip and happening. Yes, our lives are sha llow! The words of Naseer uddin Sha h had a strong impac t on me. I rea lized that there are t wo things that one should ta ke into consideration when ma king a film: the cinema industr y and the cinema tradition. While the cinema industr y is stric tly a producer ’s ta ke on the film the lat ter is a direc tor ’s job to foc us on. In other words, how the direc tor uses film as an ar t form and achie ves the desired result is different from the

cinema industr y which shapes films as re venue -generating produc ts. In the case of the Indian subcontinent, masa la films are the ones r uling the box office and their main ingredients are corny ac tion accompanied by menia l humor w ith some dance numbers as a cherr y on the top. One has to rea lize that it is these films that tend to set the box office rolling and what this signifies. In the case of Pa k istan which has no industr y to spea k of, a filmma ker has to understand how to star t off a body of semiotics hit ting closer to home. We can easily follow the footsteps of our notoriously glitz y neig hbors and keep on undermining our audience’s intelligence or set the precedent ourselves and strive for something wor thwhile. Maybe unintelligent life can successf ully be made to imitate intelligent ar t and throug h this c yclic procedure intelligent life can be found on both sides of the screen.



The team at The Occasional Shopper would like to thank the Zohra and Z. Z. Ahmed Foundation for graciously sponsoring this issue of the publication.

“The Zohra and Z . Z . A hmed Foundation, incorporated in 2008, is A ssociated Group's (AG) philanthropic arm. Na med a f ter AG cofounder Z . Z . A hmed (1910 -1989), former Deput y Inspector Genera l of Police, and his wife, Zohra (d. 1979), who was awarded a meda l for her contributions to Pa k istan’s socia l sector on June 2, 1953, in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Foundation supports, invests in, and empowers initiatives and socia l organizations for socia l change. The Foundation supports education, hea lth, and communit y development projects and the arts, focusing especia lly on communities neighboring AG facilities and areas where constructive reinforcement can ma ke a ll the dif ference bet ween aspired objectives and materia l change for the collective good.”



Pre-pa r tition postc a rds sent home by British of f icers work ing in L a hore.



A poster a nnouncing ad missions for professiona l courses at t he t hen ‘ne w’ Nationa l College of A r ts (previously Mayo School of A r t). 1958


The Occasional Shopper  

The Official Magazine of The National College of Arts, Pakistan - The Occasional Shopper, Issue # 5