From ACP entertainment, to films, fashion and filth

Many faces of Karachi

Salahuddin Haider

Boredom, for being a bookworm, burdened by journalism pressures, does force a writer or columnist sometime to seek refuge from daily routine and take a look at the environment of the place he or she chooses as passion or for livelihood—kind of a blessing in disguise.
And honestly, the soul relying principally or forced by circumstances to treat his or her pen as the only companion, does begin to feel happy and relaxed to know that the world around is so beautiful, so lovely, and full of dedicated and committed people, whether it is the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, engaged hectically in re-energising you with activities like drama and music, debates and painting exhibitions, or the French and the German cultural centres, called Alliance Francaise and Goethe Institute. They all are busy clearing the polluted atmosphere with clean puff of air. Their effort comes as a real relief.
The German consul general Rainer Schmiedchen and Goethe Director Stefan Winkler are having a German Festival, on, since Oct 3 and continuing till December 11, the Alliance Francaise arranges French picture shows, debates and language workshops for enthusiasts.
Their activities unfortunately really go unnoticed because of media refusing to see beyond the world of politics which makes other aspects of life like focus on health, and education, entertainment etc; go unnoticed. The result is obvious. Citizens remained deprived to learn as to what is really having been happening in their city.
Then, there has been a growing trend now of Fashion Shows by dress designers, at home and abroad to introduce Pakistan’s soft face to the world, which is really praiseworthy and laudable.
But the most amazing, for a professional like me and co-professionals was an incredible sight of cleaning the filth and dirt from graveyards—often treated as frightening place, but which is the final abode for all those coming to this world of ours and finally returning to their Creator.
A dedicated lady, Shireen Majid Ghazali, widow now, and serving at an executive position in German Consulate-General, initiated and inspired a small group of friends and acquaintances, by personal example, to pick up garbage bags, and start cleaning the dirt and filth from the Defence Society graveyard.
Those fortunate to be see the Western world, would appreciate the difference of healthy and hygienic outlook in graveyards in Europe and America, even at the Christian graveyard on Karachi’s Sharae Faisal, known for years as the “gora qabristan”, and smelling, overcrowded, pathetic environment in Muslim graveyards whether in Karachi or elsewhere in Pakistan.
“Our graveyards”, moans Mrs Ghazali “are so dirty that we tend to forget that this is the final resting place for our loved ones and for all of us who have to be under tons of earth one day”. On Oct 31, she mobilized a small group, and they began to collect the dirt and filth, clearing the garbage for ensuring, even on a humble scale, a chance for those coming to pray for the departed souls on “Shab-e-barat”, in the holy month of Ramazan or the festive Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha. She was really encouraged, and continued the work even on the first Sunday of the current month, inviting me too, but being a late riser, I just feel ashamed to even tender my apologies to her. But next time perhaps I will, God willing, join her. All praise to you Mrs Ghazali, you are a lovely soul, be blessed. Doing a yeomen service, and may you meet the desired results.
Divergently opposed to such a noble campaign, is the other side of the picture—glamorous and attractive for people of all ages, for, the desire to look smart, and be counted in the crowd, is our weakness, but also an essential part of life now. Fabric sale has now taken its place in the society we have built for ourselves. Call it Western influence or the desire to look smart, but it has come to stay. From the billion- rupee investment of textile factories, to small exhibitions, and rapidly emerging Mall showcases, to temporary hotel extravaganza for the changing seasons, it is all over the market now. In fact the small entrepreneurs from ladies to a well-known gentleman known as JJ, have now begun to threaten the principal manufacturers who too have their showrooms to sell their products for smarter chaps.
In my quest to learn something about the fast growing phenomenon, I ran into a lady, called Almas Hamirani, fashion designer, originally from Pakistan, but based in the US. She has been in the field for ten years now. What began as a hobby is a passion now for her. She learnt lessons in different institutions on a subject which is so popular and paying that the craze for it is beginning to overtake the main businesses. Almas excels in traditional and contemporary cuts, for different tastes, mostly party wears. Sarees are her a specialty. She participated in India, has exhibited in USA, Canada and Dubai, and has won awards, so wonderful for Pakistan that its citizens are now being appreciated globally.
Yet another event was “The Fashion Pakistan Week Winter Festive 2016” at a posh hotel. It highlighted the fashion trends of the upcoming season where a mix of 20 renowned and upcoming designers were to showcase the soul of Pakistani fashion through their collections.

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