Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Power Crisis in Pakistan ?

Pakistan's power crisis is not a secret. In summers, the electricity deserted us for 12 hours daily, while the Sun baked us mercilessly. In some parts of Pakistan, the lights were hardly lit and the textile mills were eradicated.
Yet it is seen, on most national or religious ceremonies, there are elaborate decorations on the streets and houses. This is usually done with small light bulbs that form chain-like structures on the entire buildings, trees and poles. Although like fire-flies they please the eyes- they are a huge penalty on the country that is about to sink in a dark swamp. Instead of illumination, one can utilize large paintings, calligraphy or other means of decorations. Perhaps even a few energy savers. We are after all celebrating and not punishing anyone.
Similarly , on the 14th August, a truckload of paper flags are printed. Many of them either wither away into trash or on the roads. Paper is an important resource, since it is made from wood. For attaining wood, land is deforested. Paper can easily be re-used and re-cycled. Every year, many Pakistani students are disappointed because the price of paper makes books and copies unaffordable. There should be some sanctity to this resource, where course books are as pricey as gold and leisure reading has therefore become extinct. Resources shouldn't be wasted under the excuse for celebration and patriotism.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Memories Improvised by Leo Antony

Leo Antony is a gentle soul from Kerala currently working in Delhi. Here is a composition by him. He is sitting in the Studio Rehearsal Room. ~~ In case the video doesn't open.

"Graves of the Insane"

Library of Dust by David Maisel:
In an Oregan psychiatric hospital, the deceased patients whose bodies were unclaimed were cremated. The ashes were placed in canisters in a basement that flooded. Each of the canisters aged differently, creating patterns that seem to evoke the lost souls contained within.

These photographs by Maisel are touching. The embellishment of these canisters through time, instead of decay, is uncanny yet beautiful. These were people, who were psychologically challenged and commonly called " Insane". The "insane" have been persecuted forever, often because they diverge from the mainstream. They were not just abandoned when dead, but also when alive. Since they don't merge in the society, the society turns its back on them. The level of poverty and deprivation these tinned souls have suffered is unknown.
There is a verse for Van Gogh in the song Starry Nights, " this World was not meant for someone as beautiful as you." Perhaps the World was confining for the "insane", just like these canisters, sealed like their fates. So the insane liberated themselves like the colors that oozed out and blended into unique patterns.
This is a common fate of people at the edge of the society like beggars, prostitutes, criminals, drug addicts, street children etc. When they trip over, their corpse meets a relentless fate, just like their life did.
These souls in canisters have to be grateful. They were rescued from the street to this asylum. Eventually there was someone who paid for their cremation and these canisters. In third world countries like Pakistan, they would be helplessly loitering on the streets. And a graceless death would require a free burial. Or else they would be taken by medical colleges for a dissection so thorough that hardly a speck would remain of them.
The pictures whisper two secrets. One of the forsaken mental patients and the second is of all those at the periphery of the society who slip through the security net, drown in oblivion and are forgotten. So let us dedicate these photographs to all those unseen strangers, whose sufferings we neither felt nor realized.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2nd Sadho Poetry Film Fest - Behind the scenes 03

Nandan and Kavita , the Sadho trustees, are about to give the Sadho Film Fest introduction. While Jitendra- the Sadho curator is trying to figure out if the roof is leaking.

Nandan: I dont get enough credit in Sadho.
Kavita: For?
N: For?! I comment on the Sadho site,pose for photos, show up before Jitendra can scare everyone away...
K: Why dont you go out and invite more people?
N: ( feels exploited) The Sadho folks use me for my good looks.

Nandan leaves the hall to invite more people. Meanwhile, Jitendra is having a monologue.

J: This is the only time I get to checkout chicks. Two years of Sadho services and still no girl..

( A girl approaches him. )

Girl: Excuse me.
J: Yes?
Girl: (Takes out her cell phone) You have an amazing voice.
J: I know. ( Sid beta,now Chachi is also going to Chail!)
Girl: Can you please give me the number...
J: Sure---98
Girl: Of Sid?
J: ( is shocked) Which Sid?! One is married , the other is under-age.
Girl: Sidharth Saxena of Chail? I want to interview him... please, uncle?!!

(Nandan returns to the hall.)

N: Hey! Is the screen grainy?
K: Try cleaning your glasses.
N: ( wipes his glasses with a tissue) Better...

K: Wow ! So many people just entered! What did u do?
N: (nervously) I announced that Sadho will give everyone free wara pao if they come in.
K: What?! Who will pay for it?
N: Not me of course...

( Nandan sees a girl approaching him)

N: I bet this girl wants my autograph. Our film "Hollow Cylinder" was a hit...
Girl: I need to ask you something, Sir.
N: ( Yash Chopra- here I come!! ) Sure!
Girl: I think-
N: ( I should tell her I am not as young as I look.) Yes?
G: Apney sweater ulta nahi pehna hua... Isn't your sweater inside out?
N: ( looks down, embarrassed) Well ....

(On the other side of the hall, another girl approaches Jitendra)

Girl: Excuse me....
J: Listen. I am single, not waiting to mingle. (lie)
Girl: ( nervously) Actually, please don't mind..
J: What?
Girl: When will we get the wara pao?
J: ( wants a make-over) Do I appear to be selling wara pao here?! Sadho is for poetry not wara pao!

This blog is a piece of fiction.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2nd Sadho Poetry Film Fest - Behind the scenes 02

A conversation caught between two Sadho volunteers, Parijat and Mona.

Mona: Haan haan. Sara gosht tumney he khaya thaa... u ate all the meat..
Pari: Oye! Where was the gosht?! sarey aloo aloo dal kur ley aye thee tum... it was a pot full of potatoes..
( Pari looks around.)
P: Listen... How do we get the limelight, like those kids, Sidharth and Shashwat?
M: U make a movie.
P: I did.
M: u make a good movie.
P: It was a great movie- "Realize thyself"
M: Make a movie on monkeys now, since you "realize thyself".
P: Yes. People can relate with boys hanging upside down like apes.
M: Boys! Not fully grown married men...

P: Can we grow more poetic after drinking from those poetry mugs?
M: Why dont u try reading poetry first? The good old way......
P: I drank tea in my film's mug and had a picture taken. And since then, my throat hurts.
M: Even a poetry mug needs to be washed first....

P: Listen... am gona steal a mug. you need to help me...
M: No way!
P. Cmon. I wana impress girls by presenting them my filmi mug.
M: What about your wife?
P: Oh yes..still have to impress her.. I can give her the cup on the valentines too..
M: What if we are caught. Pi Singh - the Sadho Souvenir incharge is twice our size...
P: We can say we were collecting aid for the UN...
M: (pauses) Ok. I stand here, you go.

( Pari goes near the stall, looks around spookily, picks a cup. Pretends to inspect it. Hides it under his scarf)


(Both turn around, its Pi - the Souvenir incharge.)

Pi: Oye! What are you doing!Bhag jao! These are for raising funds... shuu shuuuu...

Both Pari and Mona run right and left respectively , as Pi bhai giggles on his chair like a King on his throne...

Mona: Ye Pi.. Sara gosht kha kur kitna khush hai! Meat eater!
Pari: Agli baar gosht kya, aloo bhi nahi deingey...Not even potatoes for you brother!

Oye! The Camera is here! Chalo Chalo lets look intellectual ...

This blog is a piece of fiction.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A rare piece

Amanat Ali Khan and Farida Khanum are two music gems of Pakistan. I had never before seen them perform together. It is a rare treat. And they are so youngish here... delightful..

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toba Tek Singh

The whole story highlights the confusion and chaos of the partition. The partition is perceived as an abnormal situation and is considered unnecessary by the author. The story is based in mental hospital and revolves around characters who are mentally unwell.
It’s full of symbolism, every character and incident depiction of some event or character. The main theme is that of forced migration. The people have been in the madhouse for many years , even during partition and are now wondering where Pakistan is. How can they be a place India become Pakistan in a matter of days. Where is India now? What is the whole India becomes Pakistan or vice versa. Where are Sialkot and Lahore? What if they end up in India? Confusion and chaos.
The first incident is of a madman shouting “Pakistan zindabad” and sliping. He is passionate and emotional and slip in the process. This happened in India during the struggle to free India from the Brit. The people became emotional , prejudiced and violent.
Then a onepatient becomes so confused that he climbs a tree and refuses to come down , saying he doesn’t want to live in India or Pakistan, he wants to live on this tree. Indo-pak were insecure those days, and this guy wants to escape that insecurity and wants to seek asylum on this tree.
When he comes down from the tree, he hugs his Hindu and Sikh friends and cries because he thinks they will desert him now. Many Mslims and Hndus were separated from their friends
due to this divide. Also, the author wants to remind us of that the hindu-muslim divide was created by the politicians.
iginally, on a personal level, they had been living together for centuries and were happy.
Another patient , who was quite and a loner , now started roaming around nude. This shows things out of the ordinary start happening. Plus it can also mean that people were leaving their human, civilized side which required them to abide by certain rules, just like people did during the massacre. In Punjab the massacre was savagely and barbarous, just like the act of roaming around nude.
Now comes a critical part. A Muslim claims himself Quid-e-Azam and a Sikh claims himself Master Tara Singh( the leader of Sikhs during Partition). You can see which leaders these two are symbolizing. And these two are rated as “khatarnak Pagal” and locked up in separate cages!!!!! Manto is blaming the leaders for creating this chaos.
Then there is a Hindu from Lahore whose lover is now in Amritsar and her nationality is different from him now. He is separated from her for eternity. His companions tell him he can move to Amritsar but the lawyer thinks his practice wont be successful there. Now this was the central conflict in many people’s life. Love versus finance. They were required to make the choice between joining their loved ones across the border or staying where they are and preserve the comfort. Many people choose comfort.
Now comes the central character of the story. Bishan Singh has been in for 15 years and has forgotten every worldly matter. He keeps standing and doesn’t even take a bath except when his relatives come to see him. Now they don’t come to visit him and he misses it.
They don’t comes to see him because they have migrated to India.
He is suffering because of the separation caused by partition. Now bishan singh is wondering where Toba taik Singh is, the land to which he and his family belongs and where they own property.
Now there is a madman who claims to be god. When Bishan Singh inquires from this god, the god says he has yet to create Toba Taik Singh. On being disappointed Bishan Singh shouts his usual saying.
Manto suggests that what Bishan Singh meant by this slogan was that this is the god of Muslims , had he been the god of Sikhs he would have agreed with him. Now this is prejudice against Muslims that arose during the partition. The nations which had been living together for centuries now had a divide between each other.
Now a friend of Bishan Singh comes to meet him after a long time. This friend happens to be Muslim, again reinforcing the Hindu Muslim pre-partition unity. He informs how he safely sent his family to India and send them greetings. But being a simple villager, even he gets confused on where Toba Teik Singh is.
Bishan Singh’s companions at the mental hospital name him Toba Taik Singh because of his consistent inquiries.
He is man who has forgotten everything, his relatives, daughter, property and even himself. All he remembers is his district – the ultimate form of patriotism.
And now he is trying to find where his identity is and cannot find it. Many people where forced to migrate to and fro Pakistan and this was their crisis. In the end Toba Teik Singh dies on land that belongs to no country- the No Man’s land. He dies as a man in search of his identity.

KC Chaos

KC Situation ( the letter was published in Dawn on 19th Jan 2010)

Recently, Kinnaird College for Women has been in news. The purpose of this letter is neither to support the principal nor the teachers but to bring to light certain events that took place on 4th January during the teacher/student strike against the principal.

In every civilized society people have the right to peacefully protest. Yet two things were very disagreeable. Firstly the utilization of the media, particularly local TV channels to propagate sentiments against the college establishment was unwanted. The general public does not run the college, so why were the demands taken to them? It was probably an absurd attempt to topple the college administration through popular opinion. (Washing ones dirty linen in public?)

Secondly, the teachers should discourage students from involvement in establishment issues. If students are expelled on disciplinary charges, their career will be at stake. Even a five day expulsion can cost the students their grades, since in the semester system the attendance is included in grades. Student protest is disallowed in most colleges, including KC. If the students protested against some purely political matter, like the NRO or the Waziristan operation, will the college faculty allow such media hype? If not then why did they allow this protest to go on air? According to the college prospectus the protesting students can be suspended and the college faculty rightly advice them against protests. Students are just as vulnerable in college politics as they are in national politics. The strike was to reinstate the removed teacher but many students raised placards and slogans asking the principal to resign.Since when did students decide what the college principal should do? Who would benefit from this protest? Did the faculty use the students to oust their strict boss?
Some students blocked roads and came out to protest in front of the City42 office. In such dangerous times of terror who is responsible for enabling students to protest during college hours outside the college premise?

Perhaps the new principal needs more time. Hopefully Kinnaird won't mimick Pakistan's national politics, where no Government has survived a full-term and everyone has endured endless political perils and instability.

Few classes took place on 4th January. The strike should have been limited to one or two classes. The teachers, who already have very illustrious resumes, can find employment elsewhere. However, if even one day or student goes without education, it’s a loss for the country.

It was a response to the following video.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Poetry by Anwar Masood

Anwar Masood is a Punjabi poet and these are some hilarious Punjabi poems recited by him. The first is "Anarkali diya Shana" means the "Glory of Anarkali". Anarkali is a market in Lahore, very old and typical. The poet is talking to a cow, and describing the market's supremacy.

The second one is "Bunyan"- an undershirt worn by men and children. A street vendor is trying to sell it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Finding a Boyfreind in Pakistan

People think it’s easy to find a boyfriend in Pakistan. They are right in a way; you can find them in every nook and corner of the streets, markets and online. Their phone numbers are written on washroom doors and college walls. Bfs are available, but good ones are unavailable. All my friends had them, the classmates and even the servants had one or more bf (short of boyfriend). You can imagine my desperation!
There was a guy in our class with crooked teeth called Salman.
One day he came to me when I was alone in the class.
“ Suniye!(Listen)” He asked me without making eye contact.
” I don’t know how to put it. I really like you. Can you become my friends?”
Never mind- if not anyone else then let it be Sallu. A dumb bf is better then noo bf and I can get his teeth fixed by a surgeon.
He was now searching his pockets. (Condoms? so soon?) But instead came out a letter..and I blushed...such expression of true love I had never experienced before...
“Can you please take this – and ....please...give it to Shumaila.”
I raised my hand angrily in air, his cheek needed instant operation.
How dare you! You God dam Bugs bunny! I thought.
“Can you?” He inquired
“Alright.” I said weakly.

One day I found this dude-Imdad. HE was a dreamy eyed, huge nosed, curly haired and twisted head. He started calling me Ammu (with a special emphasis on the muuuuuuu, which reminded me of cows). At first he appeared quite normal, always telling me how he ran into Meera Nair at a bookshop in Holland and how he shook hands with Galbraith at fourteen. When Galbraith died he wrote an article on him and was impatient to get it published because he didn’t want anymore famous people to die before his article got published.
One day he came up to me and said.
“I need something from you Ammu.”
“I can’t give you my life- I never said I would.”
“It’s something very precious. I know you never done it before- you seem like an honorable Muslim girl.”
“Hurry up!”
“What if your husband-to-be finds out Ammu.” He looked down sadly. ”Ammu – I don’t know where to go incase you refuse!”
“What is it?!?” I shouted
“Can I get your Kidney please?”
How would you feel if the guy you think is in pursuit of you, turns out to be in pursuit of your kidney?

When everything flopped my hunt reverted to the internet. Once I met this Italian painter. I could already imagine myself serving him bed tea with the leaning tower of Pisa visible from the window. And he painting me and my jewels...
“What do you paint?” I asked inquisitively.
“Houses.” came the reply.

After this , most of my freinds got married or broke-up, so the thirst to show off a bf was quenched temporarily...

This blog is a piece of fiction.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2nd Sadho Poetry Film Fest - Behind the scenes 01

On the 31st of January 2010, I finally got fed-up of my useless life. Since I discovered Parijat Kaul at the studio rehearsal, I decided to pesture him..(or is it pasture)
Me: I am sick of my useless life, Pari bhai..
.Pari : ( busy on the pc) u r?
Me: yes... i want sm work...
P: Ammara, I have sm work for u... the uphill task of uploading Sadho news reports...on fb... u knw wt to do?
A: ( feels insulted) of course! im the sadho creator on fb... i do all the work duh ... nd others take the credit ( heard of modesty?)
P: Listen... this is the Sadho pc...means u r nt supposed to burn / destroy/ delete stuff...
A: i knw! im no kid... im a smart/independant young woman
after 5 mins...
A: Pari bhai
P: yes?
A: ur net connection isnt working...
P: ( comes over, looks at the pc) it is working.
A: then y cnt i upload?
P: because u havnt signed in on fb?
A: oh... ok..
5 mins elapse
A: Pari bhai... ur pc has a problem...
P: which is?
A: it doesnt let anyone upload pix...
P: ( comes over...looks) u first upload the pix on ur fb profile... ok?
A: ok
after 5 mins....
A: ( feels very dumb. decides to have almond shake daily) pari bhai... i hav never uploaded pics on fb...
P: (looks off his pc...) there is a button...add pix
A: i knw... thats wat i cnt find...
P: ( comes over nd finds the button...wonders if his 6 yr old dolly could hav done faster)
A: Pari bhai... only one pic uploaded...
P: upload one by one...
A: ( muft mein itna kaam?) ok
after 5 mins....
A: only two pix uploaded...( wants to ask for a volunteer work certificate...)
P: try again..
A: i did.
P: keep trying...
A: pari bhai... three pics left...
P: (looks blank, is sure dolly cud have done faster) i will email them to u later( basically meant - go to hell )
A: ( is tired) i am nt usually this dumb... its just that ( pauses fr an excuse..) i havnt eaten since morning... chacha!! khana layein!

This blog is a piece of fiction.


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