Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lights, camera, action!

The end of 2009 is here and many of us will be reflecting on, pondering about, thinking of, planning to and hoping for 2010.
But not today!
I am going to pay a small tribute to my hubby dear today on his brilliant performance in his final drama exam which was on Monday. He would probably not agree with the brilliant part but I think (all bias aside) that he did an amazing job.
The play was an Urdu adaptation of the Italian play 'An Accidental Death of an Anarchist' by Dario Fo. It was a political satire that hit upon the weaknesses of our political system in general and the police force specifically. In brief the play is based on the story of a railway union worker who fell or was thrown from the fourth floor of a police station. This was termed as a suicidal act by the police while the media hyped it as a murder.
Adnan played the lead role of a maniac, Jaali, who suffers from a personality disorder. He impersonates people and sort of fools them to earn money. The police arrest Jaali and interrogate him. Since he is a crazy sort, they let him free after a warning. Jaali, on the other hand, knows about the death of the railway union worker and decides to fool the police. The rest of the drama is about how Jaali impersonates a Judge (and a doctor) and makes the policemen on the fourth floor admit to their mistake regarding the death of the railway worker.
Though it had moments of comedy, the play was an attack on our current political system. It talked about the methods police use to make a suspect confess (even though he might be innocent), and how politicians talk about 'Ehtesaab' (accountability) but never do anything about corruption when they come into office.
It was amazing watching Adnan perform and I was extremely proud! It's not easy to be on stage for 1 hour and 20 minutes and that too in three different get ups. So three cheers for you, hubby dear! Well done!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jewels of Karachi- Hindu Gymkhana Pictorial (Part I)

These are some more pictures of the Hindu Gymkhana.
[I didn't take these pictures. I think some friend of Adnan took these].

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jewels of Karachi

Adnan (hubby dear) is a theatre student at NAPA (National Academy of Performing Arts). NAPA is based in one of the most amazing buildings in Karachi, the Hindu Gymkhana. For those of you who want to know a little history about the place, read on:

'Designed by the first-known Muslim architect Agha Ahmed Hussain, it was the first public building in Karachi to boldly adopt the Mughal-Revival style. The choice of architect and architectural language is even more interesting because it was commissioned during a period when Karachi did not seem to be affected by communal tension rippling in the subcontinent. The Hindu Gymkhana was a club for the Hindu upper classes who formed a strong commercial elite in Karachi in the years before Independence in 1947. The Hindu community and Seth Ramgopal Gourdhanandh Mohatta contributed money for its construction.

The plan and massing was based on the tomb of Itamad-ud-Daulah (1628) in Agra. The building is small in size and consists primarily of a hall and some smaller rooms used for administrative purposes. Stone for the two-foot thick walls was acquired in Bijapur. The roof line is defined by delicate massing of cupolas and balustrades directly influenced by Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri. The octagonal corner towers framing the projecting central jharoka or porch are capped with chattris (domed kiosks). Smaller chattris highlight the corners of the projecting porch that carry the drooping bangladar roof used in Emperor Akbar's period. The projecting chajjas are supported by ornamental brackets. The cupolas of the chattris are reinforced concrete and the walls are dressed in Gizri stone. Some of the carved elements are of Jodhpur stone'.

Hindu Gymkhana is one of those places where time comes to a stand still. It stands in the noisy city center; surrounded by honking cars, rickshaws and mini buses, as an oasis. When I first sat on the rooftop I felt as if I had entered an enchanted place, something out of 'Tilsm Hoshruba'. As if a group of 'parees' (fairies) will appear and start dancing. The walls whisper of bygone eras and it feels as if the spirits of the people who came to spend their leisure time at the gymkhana are still around. There is music playing in a room while in another there is a heated discussion on politics taking place. What all must have happened here during the partition days? These and many secrets are embedded in the walls of the structure and they will remain there till the end of time.

I am no good at photography and so I might not have done justice to the beautiful structure of the Hindu Gymkhana. When you see these pictures and you are in Karachi, do take out some time and visit this place. You won't regret it!
[On a personal note, this building is very dear to me because it was here that hubby dear went down on his knees and asked for my hand!]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Morning Mumbo Jumbo

It's fifteen minutes to nine. The typical Pakistani housewife is settled comfortably on the couch with a mug of steaming hot tea. The maid has come in (finally after the Eid holidays!), the typical husband has left for work and the typical kids are in school. As the clock strikes nine, she tunes into her favourite morning show. In the ad break, she tunes into the show on the other channel. In case that doesn't interest her she decides to take a sneak peek at the third channel before quickly tuning into her original FAVOURITE show. She makes a mental note of the celebrity's dress, jots down the recipes mentioned in the cooking section and tries to remember the filmi gossip to share with her typical friends. (She also wants to exercise when the show trainer comes on air but her mom calls during that time and well, she has to tell the typical details of yesterday to her!)
There is nothing wrong with these morning shows (or the typical housewife). Infact, these shows are a huge cash cow for each channel. It goes without saying that only the very popular shows get to be money minting programs for their respective channels. Each one has quite a similar pattern. There is a decked up host who starts her (or his) discussion with something very simple like the weather or the fact that wedding parties are supposed to be wrapped up by midnight and what happened at the reception s/he went to last night. Or s/he would give a small lecture on following the law and how, one her way to work, a driver broke the signal and what this reflects of us as a nation. Points to ponder on? (For the housewife we just talked about above, yes). After the opening talk there is the usual horoscope or tarot card reading, a discussion by some 'filmi expert' on the latest films (mostly Indian. Much reflection that is on us as a nation!),
a skin/beauty expert, a guest celebrity, some exercise and cooking and during all this hullabaloo, viewer calls and lots of ads (not to forget the various product placements all over the sets).
From a strictly branding point of view, morning shows are great. From detergents to toothpastes to cooking masalas and milk (not to forget the gazillion other brands that form a part of our monthly grocery list), the housewife watching the show is the perfect target. There are some very funny product placements (like Ariel next to the cooking range during the cooking segment on one morning show. With all due respect, no one really washes their dirty linen in the kitchen!) but mostly, brands occupy "correct" places. Nesvita branding done in the exercise segment, Olpers Cream on the kitchen counter, and a branded mug of steaming hot tea in the hands of the host (I don't know if any brand has done this yet) are bound to catch and hopefully, influence the typical housewife. An expensive effort to become a typical brand on her typical list!
From a non-brand point of view, they are a reasonable pastime. Ofcourse it is better that our housewives (and with all due respect to them) watch something other than those Indian soaps. These soaps have addicts everywhere, in all types of households belonging to all types of
social classes. Unbeliveable! Full marks to the Indians, though, for spreading their fictionalized culture through the telly. Most Indians I know have said, quite emphatically, that the lifestyle shown in these soaps is not reflective of their culture. Just like the attitude of the Australian cricket team is not reflective of the Aussie nation as a whole but ofcourse, as humans we tend to generalize. In our case, we try very hard to reflect a 'soft' image of ourselves in all types of ways but somehow, nobody seems to take notice. Tsk! Tsk!
Karachi is really lovely these days, weather wise. It is fun to go out in the afternoon with friends and discuss days gone by over a cup of tea and doughnuts. It is absolutely heavenly to go at night for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with carrot cake. I would recommend Expresso for the coffee, cake and ambience. A cup of tea is best had at home while sitting on a couch tuned into your favourite (morning?) show.
[ Comment section: If you don't want to comment on the above blog just answer any one of the following questions. Blog na huwa, entrance exam ho gaya!
Btw, has anyone of you managed to see 'The 3 Idiots', Amir Khan's new venture? Also, comments on 2o12. Also, which book (if any) are you reading these days?]