Source : Jay’s Toons
May 14th 2010, Multi/Interdisciplinary Research Interest Group at AKU-IED hosted a session by Ms. Rumana Hussain which happens to be her birthday as well. The discussion was based on a brief overview and her experiences of writing her book ‘KarachiWala: a sub-continent within a city’. The book celebrates the diversity of the city ranging from ethnicity, religion and occupation; and equally a test of how much familiar are you with your chosen city, at least for me.
The book captivates the spirit of change by which Karachi breathes. The writer humbly stated that she is neither a sociologist nor an anthropologist but it is only her interest in people and the city which drove the project. The most difficult process was the making contacts and accessibility of people and the most rewarding were the interesting stories that came from the elderly and low-income groups, not due to their misery but of cultural richness. The 330 pages covering various stories accompanied by hundreds of photographs is a testimony of the time and amount of hard work that have gone into this piece of art.
Some interesting features about the book that caught my attention are,
• the inclusion of traditional and progressive families of same ethnicities;
• a contrast in urban landscape with respect to socio-economic groups;
• inclusion of few legends, festivals and customs;
• maps that trace various movements (an amusing example would be route of a person on his cycle for selling fish, population growth or anagrams of ‘what we are and what we speak’ ),
• inclusion of street children, jogis(nomads) and pathans living in deras
• assimilation of intra-diversity in specific religions (I didn’t knew that we have Tamil Christian families in our city though have see people of Goan origin very often but I still thought that the Christian population only comprised of Punjabi converts).
A very relevant question was posed about the sense of belonging with the city because there is a constant influx of migrants who are living in this geography but would choose their villages over Karachi. Does Karachi really belong to someone when most of its dwellers are migrants having multiple-identities? This was very-well reflected by the speaker that whoever lives here and gives back to the city has a claim over city. We all are Karachiwalas at the end of the day.
In my personal opinion, the book can serve as a role-model for issues related to pluralism. It radiates humanistic approach and is sensitive yet non-judgmental in its advocacy. Whenever we talk about diversity of our country in main-stream circles, we always limit our talks to provincial diversities and thus raise voices of different claims and rights of these provinces but what we need to embrace is that we are much more than provinces and each minority needs to be given the due its deserves, most importantly the respect.
The book can be ordered from http://jaal.org
Ps: I saw her during an interesting show on state of literature and reading habits in The First Blast on DawnNews channel where she also talked briefly about the book but thanks to AKU-IED, it was an interesting experience to not only know more about the book but also the experiences of the author during the process of documenting it.
*The following is being posted on behalf of Moiz Kazmi with all credits:
With all these days passing by and this year coming to an end, am getting happier, gay and proud – of myself, this city, its art, the artists and my love. A new gallery opens up at the much ancient Shafi Courts, Poppy Seed, by Indus TV group. The principal curator at Poppy Seed, the excitingly named gallery, is Sumbul Khan.
Sumbul has carefully curated a collection comprising works of Mohsin Shafi, Samar Zia, Ambreen Hameed, Mariam Ahmed, Arif Taha, Sonia Shah, Sausan Saulat, Ammad Tahir, Huma Shah and Emaan Mahmud. The exhibition titled ‘Dear Diary’, is not inspired or curated keeping Britney Spear’s song of the same name, but these are confessions of the showcased artists.
The launch day started with readings by Sanam Saeed, Momin Zafar, Omar Bilal Akhtar and Zoe Viccaji, who came to the gallery a week prior to the opening day and studied the pieces which were going to be on exhibit. Accordingly, they chose what poems to read which related to the work exhibited. Reading session was a welcome change and added more flavour to the entire showing, also one could relate easily to the work displayed. One could hear pieces read from Faraz Maqsood Hamidi’s book SKIN.
Worth Mentioning Displays:
– Arif Taha’s ‘I see, I record’ is an eye-catching visual presentation of a pencil which hangs from the ceiling with strings on a mirror with wooden stand..
– Sonia Shah’s ‘Self Portrait’ is a girl behind a locked carved door. Her dress is stuck in between the door and one could see her frightened eyes peeking behind the chained wooden door. This is one of the best pieces at display here.
– Sausan Saulat’s ‘Bored on Board’ was a series of paintings showing a young boy playing, thinking and contemplating on the canvases which were pages from a notebook. Sadly this is not for sale.
– Ammad Tahir showcased a series of paintings. His work showed growth of a dancer or most likely how he himself wanted or still desires to be a dancer. The first piece showed shades of the dancer’s past and then how the dancer loses himself in this world amongst all the machinery and finally how he starts dancing in his dreams once he could not fulfill his desires in reality.
– Huma Shah’s ‘The Struggle’ was a beautiful painting of a man struggling to climb a dangerous edgy mountain range.
Poppy Seed gallery is a breath of fresh air in the local art scene. One hopes to see excellently curated exhibitions here keeping in mind Sumbul’s study of history and Islamic art. Dear Diary exhibition is on till 9th January 2010.
Just a quick note for all MJ fans in Karachi. A memorial for Michael Jackson today from 6 to 7 pm at Unicorn Gallery. Open to everyone.
It is always a delight to see young people coming out show there talent, specially in art with strong and mature expressions and this exhibition titled From Father To Son is one such unique exhibition which exhibits incredibly stunning art work by a father, Tariq Alexander Qaiser an architect by profession and a photographer by passion and his fifteen year old son, Kayhan Feroze Qaiser side by side.
Remarkably the fifteen year old contributor’s work is so is so strong and well balanced that one really cant imagine that this photographer would be so young until one meets Kayhan in person.