Archive for the ‘Rave Reviews’ Category

Karachi’s Radio Cab Services Chickened Out !

No surprise, with all the media hype being given to PHET people were really scared of the storm but what I couldn’t understand is why on earth did all the radio cab services chickened out, suspending their services to the city. And no the road conditions were not all too bad because I was able to get my old wracked Suzuki FX driven all the way from FB Area to the airport and back without any issues.

What I don’t understand is that how can a public service like Radio Cab which most commuters specially those going to the airport or coming from, complete depend upon can stop their services for no good reason ?

Pakistan’s first ever Blog Awards

It wasn’t lights, camera, action but lights, camera, tweet/blog! At Kohinoor Hall of Regent Plaza on 28th May, 2010 in Karachi, the first of its kind Annual Blog Awards were organized by CIO and Google. Most of the KMB bloggers were present at the event either as nominees or part of the organizing committee (special mention of Rabia Garib) that has now become a stepping stone for the blogosphere of Pakistan.

The first Blog Awards received 207 entries for 41 defined categories, which were judged by 14 industry experts. Welcoming around 300 guests that not only included nominated bloggers but tech gurus and industry specialists whose input made the evening intellectually riveting.


Who’s KarachiWala?

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.

Related news stories and reviews: Karachi Metblogs, Dawn Blog, Daily Times

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

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.

Make your AZM known with Azme Alishan

A friend referred to me this interesting site: Azme Alishan, which I personally think is a good online initiative for all Pakistanis.

The concept of the website is all about being a part of a journey towards a brighter tomorrow. You can register to claim your own pixel and declare yourself a Nishan-e-Azm. Every pixel represents one more Pakistani determined to bring Pakistan back to its rightful glory. As pixels are added in, we can see a colored picture of Minar-e-Pakistan emerging. You can also participate by SMS’ing your AZM<space>Name to 5454 (Rs. 1+GST).


A visit to KIBF 2009

Karachi International Book Fair started yesterday. I went to see the stuff and honestly it wasn’t that great. One can always visit places like liberty and paramount any day. The massive participation was of Children and Islamic Books publishers. One couldn’t get books on specific subjects that easily other than academic ones. There was no major INTERNATIONAL participation except of India and Iran with barely two or three stalls. One whole hall was devoted to activity area.

What I liked:
– Discounts at OUP stall
– Iqbal Academy Lineup
– KSA Art Exhibit.
– Counselling at one stall regarding fostering reading in children. Forgot the name, sorry.

This one didn’t come up to my expectation. Crowds were really low . I overheard one big publisher making there is no market for books, I would suggest them, check your prices. Still in such times, this is very much needed and I am sure if you go there, you’ll end up buying something good like I did.

PS: This is THE blunder of the season. It got saved as a draft earlier :p

TiECon 2009

tiecon 007-1 Last Wednesday, The Indus Entrepreneurship Conference was hosted at Sheraton Karachi in collaboration of Torque (SoL). It was a one-day networking and learning opportunity for all those who wanted to find the entrepreneur streak in themselves by taking inspiration by engaging with successful individuals in the field.

The day started with the session titled ‘Tales from the Trenches’ where the leading entrepreneurs presented their tales to the audience. If I had to review each in a one-liner then it would be this way. Puzzle by Adil Moosajee, Owner of Ego, was all about, to quote him, ‘Either find a way or make a path of your own. Work with happy people and others should be OUT.’ Reboot by Jawwad Farid, CEO of Alchemy discussed about learning from failures because ‘Before you can win, you have to lose’ and to be an entrepreneur, it is important being comfortable about what you are therefore looking behind is okay unless you don’t get obsessed about it. Adversity by Sameera Raja, Owner of Canvas Gallery, talked about her Breast Cancer Adversity and conquering it while managing her life. She emphasized on scheduling not only your work but how you present it to your audience. Appetite by Shahzad Ali, CEO of Student Biryani talked about how his father through his resilience from his humble beginnings made Cafe Student to a brand Student Biryani. The only favorite story for me was of Jawwad Farid because it talked about starting up a new venture and its hurdles. Others had stories which was about evolution or say an effort to sustain the previous family businesses.

Next up was ‘Investing in Change: Empowering Social Entrepreneurs’ by Batool Hassan, Business Development Manager at Acumen Fund. This was the most fruitful of all. She discussed about the idea of Philanthropy 2.0 where the products don’t need to be free but affordability and dignity should be brought into the market. Examples of Khuda ki Basti, Saibaan and other creatively planned projects were shared to illustrate that businesses can be run for social development and you don’t only get your capital back but reasonable profits can also be generated, if you are not running after the greed of money. She was kind enough to answer our questions even during the lunch break.

TieCon Debate was honestly more about pulling legs of each other. The topic being ‘Conventional Wisdom is becoming increasingly irrelevant’ itself had its flaws. In my honest opinion, any kind of wisdom can be relevant if you know how to mold and use it for your good. Personally Shahjehan Chaudhry stood out because he played the game pretty intelligently and fairly. Unilever representative at the against panel, was all rhetoric and made less sense, still won the debate and as Hassan Rizwan of Prymus Technologies rightly commented that surely ‘our education system is flawed.’ Sadly, people usually like how things are presented than the actual content. Next time it should be a discourse instead of debate. Thankfully lunch came in as a relief.

After lunch it was very apt to have a musical performance when people would usually go into the snore zone. Alan Simon from Taal Karisma introduced his Percussive Fusion Band and gave the people an insight on how band indulges in different beat cycles which haven’t been explored much before. Their each track was a delight and body percussion that they presented was pretty decent as a lot of people claim about the art but their performances eventually come flat. Ustadji their debut single is up on the radio and a must listen.

Skype helped with video-conferencing where Jahanzeb Sherwani, Founder of Jugaari shared his i-phone app experience with techies.

Birds of a feather featured Breakout sessions on various aspects of entrepreneurship skills like Bootstrapping, Branding, PR, Team Building and Social Media, where participants divided into their respective interest groups. Small focused groups surely brought a lot of ideas and learning on board.

Dr. Umar Saif who is Associate Professor at LUMS talked about pitching ideas to VCs. He gave an impression that VCs don’t pay much heed to your product, vision or technology but they invest more on the quality of team. Therefore it is the time when project becomes fund-able, as in at the point of take off, that it needs to be pitched else it would be too early or late. This was followed by Adil Saleem of Seen Report who shared his experience of making dream of this portal a reality which was also incubated by Dr. Umar Saif.

Last up was Asad Umar, CEO Engro Chemcial who talked about Making Your Move! The talk highlighted that once you start running your project, your business model should keep on updating and your passion should be supported by intellect whereby you know how to probe questions on achievements and move forward.

Every speaker highlighted about asking yourself that is it really your dream to become an entrepreneur?, if yes then one should not wait for being experienced as it would never be enough. Moreover an entrepreneur should be reading to take the tough part and learn from the mistakes. Social Media was also discuss at length which become a low or no-cost tool for marketing the businesses. Next time it would be great if Social Entrepreneurship takes the lead or maybe a whole conference can be dedicated on the subject.

Kudos to Sabeen Mahmud, the president of TiE to come up with an interesting line of speakers in such trying times and Shireen Naqvi with her Torque team for managing the conference on such high standards.

PS: The food was really good =D
PSS: I love the conference logo and badge.

Sufi Week at Goethe Karachi

During a phase when the country is at target of some unfortunate incidents, Goethe-Institut Karachi with efforts of it’s Director recently celebrated Sufi Week which tried to create awareness and discourse about a softer and peaceful dimensions of Islam.

It started with an exhibition titled ‘Troubadours of Allah’. The pictures of this collection were shot by Horst A. Friedrichs in the Indus Valley, Sindh and displayed Sufi Musicians of the region. Images are a good mix of documentation of not only the sufi shrines and artists but also aesthetics, material culture and symbols.

Some of the images depict interesting moments including ‘a fakir wearing kajal in his eyes‘, and ‘an image with carvings focused while a person praying is in a shallow focus’. The placement of the photographs could have been more properly planned to illustrate an essay and some pictures with long exposure did remove details. There was also grain in some of the prints. Out of few long exposure shots, only one picture pleased my eye, that of ‘two static almost marrying sitars with movement of people behind’. The exhibition is opened till 20th November 2009 for public.

Next was the Sufi Concert where the audience got chance to hear the soulful voices of Abida Parveen from Pakistan and Fareeda Parveen from Bangladesh who sang awe-inspiring poetry of various Sufi Poets.

It was followed by a lecture session next day where Dr Jurgen Wasim Frembgen, Omar Kasmani, Dr. Durre Ahmed and Peter Panke shared their views about Sufism.


In my recent blog here I wrote about my adventure of paying bill through Telenor’s new service easypaisa. After that post, I got a chance to discuss this with an official of Telenor, in our discussion he tried to tell me that it’s a new system and it was expected that it may take some time to get matured; he also assured me that they are working very diligently to gather the feedback from customers about the new service.

Yesterday when I came back home, the same SSGC bill was waiting for me. So once again the tough task was upon me, this time I went to the Telenor franchise. After waiting for around 5 minutes they called me, and my bill got paid with some glitches of course.

One of my other concerns was the Fee charged by Telenor to accept this bill. I would not use a service like this if I have to pay Rs. 10/= on a utility bill of Rs. 140/=. I personally think the rates should be lowered and brought to an acceptable and cheaper range. I would rather use options like internet banking or phone banking to pay my bills where the Fee is negligible to none, varies from bank to bank.

After all this, I come to this conclusion that we should adapt new technologies and appreciate companies who took such initiatives, but services like this should be cheaper and more people friendly.

After my bill payment I received this SMS on my Mobilink network from Telenor.
Trx ID 324**** Rs 140.00 paid by 0528**** to SSGC at 12:19:23 on 23/10/2009 Fee charged is Rs 10.00.

Updated on : 2:30 PM – 6 November 2009 [MEDIA CLARIFICATION]

Islamabad, November 05, 2009: Recently, media has reported that IESCO and LESCO have asked their customers to not deposit their bills at Tameer bank’s easypaisa retailers. IESCO and LESCO have taken the position that they do not have an agreement with Tameer bank for bill collection through this channel.

Youth Film Festival

Aga Khan Youth & Sports Board for Karachi organized Youth Film Festival on 7th and 8th August with an objective to give youth a platform to showcase their creative and cinematic abilities. The idea was to encourage original content rather than run of the mill kind of stuff.

IMG_1573The team worked for more than 3 months for conceptualization of the program and the participants made it a success with their hard work in less than three weeks. The participants included both amateurs and professionals. Each trying to make most out of their skills and appreciation or criticism they got would really help them to improve because the aim was to provide a platform rather than exclude anyone due to some lacking in any aspect of film-making. Believe in minds and not mindless entertainment! And to do the mindful and needful judgment, the jury consists of media personalities from Geo and Dawn News network.

I being a team member in all my limited capacity, photographer and audience at the same time, had a great time to see this event shine its glory. The movies which caught my attention personally:

In Drama, Sawaal by Zohair Alibhoy (student of Media Sciences) which questions on lost opportunities and discrimination against the lower segment of society. This movie was impeccable in acting, sound and screenplay. Makhee Bhaee by Danish Ali and Shahrukh Ali, a short experimental (made on handycam with funky chroma effects) having a fun take on how flies can be terrible nuisance and at the same time a fun ride, I know its hard to comprehend such sentence :p This movie proves that if you have creativity, nothing can stop the wonders. The ultimate survival by Lubna Ladhani was also a decent effort on issue of kidnapping and inspired from a real story, giving the message that it’s better to live in simplicity.

IMG_1480In Documentaries, KCR made by Alishan (a graduate of NAPA) which talks about Karachi Circular Buried Railway which is not in use and the rail track itself is worth billion of rupees. Two efforts by Sohail Noorani (Animator at Aaj TV Network) were impressive given that all work he did were on handycam. Dire but Truth, a short documentary on problem of asthama pertaining in sweepers and I Judge/I Act, a short drama about self-introspecton and guilt.

Animations were a real treat and each one of them stood to its merit. Especially Give me More by Sunny Sadruddin who studied at Vancouver Film School and In Search of the Light by Malik Gillani, a student of Karachi School of Arts. Both were amusing and thought provoking with technical brilliance.

In Music Videos, Alvida had a good concept while Josh by Safar Band brought some pumping patriotic music on the cards.

IMG_1673Flow of films with proper categorized slots and audience interaction could have been improved. Overall execution of the program was good and the platform deserves its due credit. The Awards Night is planned this week.

Here are the links of some videos that can also be viewed online:

In Search of The Light

Give me More!

Garlic Maniac


Night talk with KESC

In these two days I never got bored of rain but yes I got bored of swings, the radio the only survival thing, online fb application on mobile which would never work properly and loss of internet/electricity. So all I did was dial 118.

Whenever I would I wake up at the middle of the night, I would dial non-stop until I get through. It was anti-depressant for me. I would wait for 3 minutes and listen the horrible music. Then the operator came and gave the same answer, “we are very sorry, we are working on it” and the very special, every time, “it would take three to four hours”

I mean it was like different parrots being ratafied the same line. So when I was really frustrated I said ‘Shame on you’ to one representative. At the height of my frustration this came up:

Me: “Kab se phone kar raha hun it been more than 30 hours har teen ghante ke baad phone karta hun and you people say EXPECTED HAI teen aur ghante lagey ge. Kia sab ne rata laga rakha hai”
Representative: “We are trying, baarish hai es liye problem horaha hai”
Me: “Baarish kab se ruki huwi hai, aap log ne kia teen ghante teen ghante laga rakha hai” :p
Representative: “Mazrat ke saath aap ko thora aur wait karna parega”
Me: “Kab tak light aaigi”
Representative: “Bas thori aur dair intezaar karey” (She didn’t even dare to say three hours =p)
Me: “Kitna aur intezaar, teen ghantey” =D

and then few hours later

Me: “Light kab aayegi”
Representative: “Expected hai teen ghante lageinge”
Me: “Itne ghante hogaye, aap ne bas teen ghante ki ratt laga ke rakhi hai. Lagta hai sab bhete huwe hain aise hi, ke teen ghante khatam hi nahi hote abhi 30 se uper ghante hochuke hain”
Representative: kind of crying, complaining tone “Sir kia karein try kar rahe hain, itni problems hain. gadiyan(vehicles) nikalti hain aur phir log pathar maarte hain aur….. koshish jaari hai”

These guys seriously know their stuff =p

Btw it took 40 hours for electricity to resume at our place.. duh!

Another btw the amount saved for bills on these 40 hours have been compensated on the calls.

If you have heard the song ‘Piya tu’ from movie Don, replace Piya with ‘Light’ and Mona with ‘Kesc Not’ and it would fit the whole mess perfectly. Try it.

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