‘Tis the Season to … have FUSION

November 26, 2019

Karachiites witnessed three great socials over the last few weekends-

The Royal Embassy of #Denmark in Islamabad brought in the “Rocqawali

The Goethe Institute of Karachi brought in “Cyminology”.

The Italian Consul in Karachi brought in Chef Vittorio Castellani (aka Chef Kumalé)

Rocqawali blends “traditional Sufi music in a 21st Century version of guitars & drums”.

In 2004, Jonas (Rocqawali’s guitarist) traveled to Pakistan to seek out his roots.  Here he met lead singer, Ejaz, who hails from Mehr Ali & Sher Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Qawal family.  Drummer Stephan joined the band in 2012, followed with Tin (their guitarist), himself from a Persian-Sufi background.  The best part- all are Danish citizens!

Cyminology, a “Berlin based quartet, combines Persian poetry” with, essentially, Jazz. 

“This subtle yet dynamic, softly-pulsating music takes its cue from the sound of the Persian-language poets- Rumi, Hafiz & Khayyam”.  As an extra, they performed a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and that too in Urdu!  Cymin Samawatie is the lead vocalist, Benedikt Jahnel on the piano, Ralf Schwarz played a beautiful Double Bass and Ketan Bhatti topped off the performance on the drums.  The best part- all are German citizens!

As an added extra to this music-cultural fusion, is Chef Kumalé, a “Gastro-Nomad”. 

A career spanning over 27 years has differentiated Chef Kumalé from many other “chefs” in the world- he’s a traveling-journalist-food blogger extraordinaire!  His visit to Karachi was primarily to learn Pakistani food – while he gave a few Italian training sessions, Chef Kumalé immersed himself into Pakistani culture and food to add to his vast gastronomic & traveling repertoire and blog.

Chef Kumale trying out the Sev Puri, Dahi Puri & other delights at #Gazebo, Karachi

The ICING –

All three events have fused MULTIPLE cultures into a common platform people enjoy … MUSIC & FOOD, regardless of language, race, ethnicity, religion or nationality; and they have done it with respect and dignity to the original chefs/authors/performers/ music.

Our Country, along with India & Iran, has one of the oldest & richest cultures in the world – with poets, mysticism, love, myriad romantic languages & food havens – a cultural dream for any artist; and for that matter, for any nation.  What better for peace & cohesion than a fusion of these CULTURES with each other and with contemporary western thinking – just what we, and the world, needs, eh!

The Scourge of Mouth Cancer

November 19, 2019

photo credit- https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/2383350-skull-death

This weekend, my family and I visited our driver for a condolence on the death of his young son, who also worked in our Hotel.

The man died of mouth cancer … due to chewing paan (betel nut) and gutka.

Gutka, a tobacco-related narcotic, is truly the scourge of mouth cancer- and it is addictive!

In October, the Provincial Government enacted a tremendous law banning Gutka, with a heavy fine & imprisonment … while the nascent law is a positive step, the government has yet to follow up with effective implementation.

The problem is that for the consumers of this substance it is a narcotic.  You can’t simply turn off a switch.  Like other narcotics and behaviors, it is deeply ingrained in society and part of their lives – so much so that generations of families are consuming it concurrently.  Besides, I don’t believe we have the infrastructure to provide medication, counselling or alternative therapies to “un-learn” this behavior.

Like the law, we have had strict rules restricting betel nut on the job (let alone gutka!)- but, like the law, we cannot effectively implement our own rule.  We do physical checks and entry pat-downs – yet it makes its way into the staff canteen and staff areas.  In spite of knowing their colleague’s cancer (which was in its final stage when diagnosed), no one has even reduced this consumption.  Our own house maid, her mouth STUFFED, refuses to accept she’s chewing it – her mouth so full that she cannot even verbally defend herself!

On our condolence visit, not only was our driver’s wife consuming betel nut but their entire family was chewing away on it … nary a care to the reason behind reduction of their family’s size!

If the finality of death is not enough to scare such consumers to stopping this narcotic, what will ☠?

…and the Naatak entertained us this weekend!

October 15, 2019

(In Gujrati, “Naatak” = “play”)

Mix Breed”, based on a Parsi family who have to face “intermarriage” issues, is a light portrayal of the real-world issues our Community is facing.   With double meanings and inflections, the cast (90% of whom learnt Gujrati “on the job”!) entertained the Gujrati speaking communities of Karachi.

The Script was written by Mrs Huzan Wadia, who has successfully acted & directed it in Mumbai; and selflessly extended the script on a gratis basis to Natalia Karanjia in Karachi, this play being the latter’s directorial debut.  Yay to Natalia!

This is what Karachi, and Pakistan, lacks- ENTERTAINMENT.  We have food & drink and ………… hmmmmm.  Play and theatre is picking up in Pakistan but to a very restricted market.  The mainstream citizens do not get to enjoy theatre on a regular basis- whether drama, comedy, musical.  Our cast explained to me the ‘power’ of theatre – they get their rush when the crowd reacts with them- it’s a powerful, intoxicating feeling; there are no second chances for a mistake; and when you make a mistake, you have to think on your feet and keep going.

In the 2000 decade our media was opened – creating a new source of employment – for budding theatre artists, actors, directors, writers, film makers, etc.  It’s a growth market but we have to create more facilities for this talent to be nurtured, taught, portrayed – AND WITH IT allowing us citizens to enjoy these productions and enriching our lives.  Kudos to the NAPAs, Arts Councils and other such facilities – but we need more!

(The naatak was sponsored by the 109 year-old Young Mazdyasnian Zoroastrian Association (YMZA) and the Karachi Parsi Anjuman- however it is not meant to be any endorsement or official or unofficial stance of the Anjuman, the YMZA or any individual thereof)

BEING BORN IN THE ‘60s!

Rotary Telephone

September 27, 2019

… does that make me old? I think not.

I can unequivocally state that my parents’ generation enjoyed the BEST times of Pakistan – no two ways about it.  However, my generation of the 1960s have evolved through one of the most INTERESTING and EXCITING periods of history – the TECHNOLOGY explosion.  I mean, we have first-hand witnessed –

  1. The change from rotary to touch button telephones;
  2. Analog to Digital services telephone services;
  3. The advent of the PERSONAL computer (my first computer was an IBM machine) in the early 1980s;
  4. Mobile phones – GSM, 3G, 4G, 5G … and all the future “G’s” that are to come;
  5. Laptops, sat phones, VOIP tech, skype, whats app, wechat, tablets;
  6. Newspapers to online news and RSS feeds;
  7. Print media to Social media;
  8. Reel cameras to Digital cameras- in fact, I found one such camera and asked my studio for a 36mm reel only to be told they’ve been discontinued 😊!  So, I’ve started scanning my old reels into digital photos for posterity;
  9. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, VHS & Beta to cloud based music & videos;
  10. Pen cameras, car cameras, CCTV – you name it … it’s out of the old “BOND” movies we used to see!
  11. We used pens & pencils but the latest tablet & phone technology uses a stylus and speech-to-written technology. 
  12. Amazon, Careem, Uber … the list goes on an on.

The generation of the ‘90s has grown up on digital … they never experienced non-digital communication!  It’s online movies, Netflix, cloud-based streaming movies, etc.  Yes, my kids come to the theatre but they don’t need a cable TV set up in their dorms anymore- they are quite content with seeing their content on their laptops.

However, I feel, what technology explosion we saw in the ‘90s was one of the most interesting a generation can witness – notwithstanding what is yet to come! –  and things are still evolving.

It’s only a matter of time when our thoughts will be transcribed to the written-word … I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already here !

Vinyl Records- https://images.app.goo.gl/SkieMPX4KHK46qpC9

Oh…The Clean Clean (not) Streets of Karachi

Birth_Centenary_1986_of_Jamshed_Nusserwanjee_Mehta-Pakistan

August 30, 2019

I’m visiting “The Big Apple” … and it’s clean!

Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta was the 1st Mayor of Karachi in 1933.  “…Karachi became the cleanest city in the East. Its broad streets, lights, sanitation and water system, … [ ] … spoke of the city’s progress” (https://www.dawn.com/news/649943/in-memoriam-jamshed-nusserwanji-the-builder-of-modern-karachi).  My grandfather told us how the Mayor ensured the streets were washed twice a day, which he personally supervised periodically.

Look at where we are now … ☹☹☹.  We can have all the latest, mechanized tools but there’s no “system” or “will”, so we might as well [continue] to live in the dark ages.

There is no reason Karachi cannot reclaim this glory.  I AM KARACHI (http://iamkarachi.org/), the social NGO, has proven that keeping city walls clean & painted with street art, ensures no vandalism or defacement of property.  In the same vein, once the city is cleaned & maintained by the Municipality, there is absolutely no reason why we will not maintain the same.  I am not justifying wrong actions but it’s only when our citizens see a clean city will we continue the practice … and there’s no rocket science involved.

Throw out all mechanical tools and go back to Jamshed Mehta’s simplicity – put idle bodies on the roads, give them a broom and bucket each and get them to deep clean the roads, the garbage bins, the nooks & crannies every night from midnight to 6am.  Put a garbage bin on EVERY alternate light pole; on every street corner; at every traffic signal – enabling people a means to throw their daily trash!  Through the day have roving street cleaners who will simply pick up large debris like cans, plastics, etc.  You will create EMPLOYMENT. 

You will give an honest day’s wage to the unemployed and a meaning to their lives.  Infant mortality will increase.  You will eradicate mosquitos, disease and other scourge of pollution.  These are not simply PR words – this can happen!

In return, we will get a clean city and healthy citizens. 

The Real Father of Karachi- https://www.dawn.com/news/1113332

Gotta be … Grateful!

July 23, 2019

Gotta Be Grateful.png

This Instagram post from @house.of.leaders got me thinking…

There is a growing disparity I see in our daily lives between the those of us who “have” and the rest of our society.  There is a gulf which grows as the years progress.

Information technology, medical technology, smart phones, mortality rates and so much more are, without doubt, getting better – yet I believe the standards of life, in general, are getting worse for the vast majority of the world!  As I type this on my laptop in the comfort of my chilled room, @house.of.leaders’ quote glares at me in my face, as I realize 70% of the rest of our Country is withering away in the heat, families trying to get their children a minimal education, so that they can at least read & write, let alone own or use a laptop.

We have a roof over our heads; we wear clean clothes and shoes; have access to daily food, electricity, water, education, transport, medicines, justice … all of which we take for granted.  I just have to look out of our car’s window daily to actually see what the rest of our society CANNOT take for granted!

We all have our problems- whether health, mental, physical, work, family.  We shouldn’t complain when things don’t always work out for us; because the majority of the world’s population don’t even get a choice of how they can live … they just do!

(Ending Note- coincidentally, a complimentary Tweet by @sudheenkulkarni identifies this deficiency of “compassion” – had both our countries’ governments practiced compassion, I think 50% of these social problems would not exist!)

Gotta Be Grateful - Sudheendra Kulkarni Tweet.png

 

Are you a Parent or are you their BEST Friend?

July 17, 2019

Parent Friendhip

Can we be both to our children?

There are so many people who believe so!

As a parent, you should be your child’s friend; but, can you be their “BEST” friend?  Should you be?

At the very heart of this question is the quote mentioned above- and in my opinion to raise your children well you cannot be their BEST FRIEND.  You can be close friends.  To be a good kid entails us, as parents, TO BE PARENTS.  How can we correct our child if we are their best friend?  How can we teach, encourage, feed, advice, “tell”, scold or do so many other things which, as a parent, you can do but as a best friend you cannot or may not be able to?

Practically speaking, even between friends it’s difficult (though not impossible), to correct your best friend– however, as a parent you don’t have that worry.

However, if you are your child’s best friend & vice-versa, won’t you spoil them to maintain that friendship level?  Would you be able to say something they are not prepared to hear?  Won’t you ‘let things ride’, which actually should have been corrected?

Can you actually raise your child to be a good kid yet maintain a “best friend” relationship?

I personally think NOT! … what are your views?

parenting friendship-mother-and-daughter-bond

(Image sources- https://www.ophosting.club/parent-child-friendship-quotes.html &  https://spanishforfun.com/parent-or-friend/)