March 23 and Karachi

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Hiba Moeen 2 Comments

On March 23, last week, we made an impromptu plan in a nick of time. We decided to go be part of the Air Show presented by the Pakistan Airforce and though it was evident that we would end up being late, it turned out to be completely worth it.

What we ended up watching was the last 10 minutes of the show but it was worth time and presence. The way the planes came flying and people would start clapping to watch them pull off their stunts was simply amazing. Among a crowd comprising of hundreds of people and decent people, the patriotic environment created added value to the venue. Watching it all on TV wouldn't have been as exciting as this element would have been missed out.

Below are some pictures of the PAF planes that I froze in time with my camera. Until next time when I would be punctual and pounce on the best spot for photography, let's have peace with what I have got now.

Here's a glimpse of the show


And then knowing that the day wasn't over for us, we, the trio comprising of myself, my nephew and my mother went ahead at the beach, not to mention that the stench was horrid but that's how Sea View is unfortunately. At least the camels and the horses were clean and colourful. Below is one such picture of a handsome camel that I captured through my bestie, my camera.

And so it happened; I spoke to the camel rider for my nephew, however, the little one who is not so little (he is 7) was scared for a ride alone which made me join in. Although it was an exciting few moments, my legs decided that they wanted to abandon my body after a while, especially when the camel, let's call it Sheeda ... when Sheeda started hopping. Surprisingly, I don't recall the last time when I went for a camel ride, it seems to be decades ever since. And the next three days weren't too good for my tendons and muscles, I felt like a drug addict facing withdrawal symptoms, or that's perhaps how it is, not that I have ever tried abusive drugs. The only drug I often use is coffee.

Sheeda was clad in radiantly arranged pompons and was all smiles for the camera. Camels are natural posers and they seem to smile most of the time if you haven't noticed it before, now is the time to do so.

Below is my favourite shot of the day, hopping about was Sheeda amongst the serenity of the sand and strong gusts of wind, not knowing what tomorrow would bring! 

Turns out that the camel rider was a good photographer, I handed him my phone is this is what he snapped, a lovely picture! Samsung is pure love!


KFC goes an Extra Mile

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Hiba Moeen 2 Comments

Zindagi Trust school children having a great time at KFC
Pakistan is one of the most philanthropic nations in the world, this is evident from the many giving hands all across the country. Pakistan Observer states that according to the study by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy, individual philanthropy was calculated at Rs. 240 billion in 2015.

KFC quite recently is becoming famous for its Mitao Bhook campaign which has revealed a very generous and socially responsive side of the organisation. This campaign revolves around education and donation specific donation; KFC donates Rs. 50 to the underprivileged strata of the society on the sale of every fried chicken bucket. In the past, they have collaborated with the Deaf Reach school. 

This time, KFC executed a CSR activity, thus inviting children of Zindagi Trust for a treat while celebrating Pakistan Resolution Day together. The fast food chain has been able to raise Rs. 70 million for the trust and this time decided to go an extra mile and venture into running two of it's schools. 
On March 23, KFC therefore invited a school from Zindagi Trust that it has been jointly running for the under privileged children. The Khayaban-e-Itthad outlet thus highlighted the collaborative effort and agenda for the day with respect to the achievements attained so far. Education and literacy are now the point of focus for KFC in terms of giving the nation back from its existing profits and emerging as a socially responsive brand. The school children made the most of the moment and sang national songs to add to the patriotic feel.

KFC's CEO, Raza Pirbhai encouraged these children to think ahead and complete their education because it's now possible to reach great heights, thanks to special trusts and organisations like these.

Quite a number of celebrities and people from the blogosphere joined in to have fun with these kids and enjoy the delicious chicken because it's 'finger lickin good!'



Shahid Jalal's Flower Carpets of Lahore

Monday, March 27, 2017 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments

Artist, Shahid Jalal with his favourite painting!
A highly educated person, an immensely creative soul, and a down-to-earth personality! You will find all these qualities and perhaps even more in the Lahore based artist, Shahid Jalal. He is a treat to meet and learn from the moment you start talking to him. 

I happened to have visited Shahid Jalal's solo art exhibition at Artscene Art Galleries and was able to witness some of his finest work displaying the vivid colours of nature, immaculately preserved through his brush strokes. 

After retiring from Tetra at the age of 50, he had happily dedicated his life to art, 17 years back. Although, creating such master pieces wasn't new to him as he had been pursuing this mind relaxant called Art over weekends along with his regular job, post retirement painting has its own exuberant characteristic altogether. 

Jalal completed his CA from ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Whales) from the UK and returned to Pakistan in the 70s after which he served at Attock Oil for a considerable time period. By the time he left the company, he was working as Chief Accountant. He then completed a 1 year course from the National College of Arts (NCA) in the late 70s knowing that the artistic spark in him needed exploration. Jalal concluded this side of his career with a memorable chunk of his life at Tetra Pak then full time Art happened, and the rest is history. His present is as vibrant as his paintings. 

Music for him plays an important role in his energising activity as he likes to be all ears to Begum Akhtar while fully engrossed in his work.
Contrary to what people believe about those associated with the the field of Finance thus likening them to a dry demenour, Shahid Jalal has a very lively and colourful personality that makes him utterly creative. See it for yourself!

Artists gather for networking


The Thought Leaders Symposium by The City School makes Waves in the Education Sector

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Hiba Moeen 2 Comments

Panel Discussion (From L to R): Abbas Husain, Syed Irfan Hyder, Rumana Hussain, Khalid Anum, Saadiya Durrani, Salman Asif Siddiqui, ZAinab Mahmood Ahmad, Saboohi Irtiza)
The City School recently organised the nation's first ever Early Years Education symposium, titled, 'Thought Leaders' that got all stakeholders under one roof to discuss emerging trends and developments vital for early childhood stages. The event flow comprised of panel discussions, speaker sessions, workshops, role play area, and mesmerising performances by children. It is an established fact based on research that the first three years are important for the brain's architecture while the first five for building emotional, social, and intellectual capabilities. 

The speaker session by the Guest of Honour of the event, Amin Hashwani really got my attention. All that he spoke about made great sense, especially considering children as unique individuals rather than sending him/her on a competition spree or ridiculing the child while comparing the poor soul to siblings, peers, or other relatives. We must realise that each person is a unique individual who is gifted by nature and we ought to discover that gift and facilitate it. Amin's words had their spell on me and made me nostalgic regarding my childhood days. Some children might not be good at a particular subject, that doesn't mean they are dumb and by comparing them with some 'brilliant other' you're killing their capability of being exceptionally good at something else. As Einstein once said, 'Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.' 

Amin stressed upon the need to make house wives quality conscious for a better society and this is what had been religiously followed in Japan which reaped benefits in the form of prominent nation. He further highlighted the fact that Pakistan was the first Asian tiger and today despite having a lot, we lag behind the world in several aspects. "If we are looking for Naya Pakistan, we should look at what we had in Purana Pakistan of 1947. Let's try and begin back and therein will lie answers to a lot of questions that we are facing," said he. 

Amin Hashwani is the Founder of Charter of Compassion, and Executive Director, Hashwani Group. He is also the Vice President of I AM KARACHI.
Listen to his words and you'll know for yourself:

Saboohi Irtiza, GM Early Years Academics, the brains behind this programme expressed that The City School has created a curriculum where each child is focused upon based on his/her personalised level of needs. This is something one can readily relate to what Philip Hallworth, Director Academics mentioned, 'actively learning and not passively doing.' 

Saboohi Irtiza, GM EYE Education with Philip Hallworth, Director Academics at TCS
Soon, the classroom setup at schools will evolve and hopefully there shall come a day when our literacy rate would surge and not account for more than those people who can only sign their names. There is no way, Pakistan's literacy rate is 60% as a lot needs to be done to educate our nation to become intellectual elites starting from the grassroots level.
Disclaimer: Amin Hashwani's video has been extracted from the main video shared on The City School's official Youtube channel.



The Annual Flower Show and its Treasures

Saturday, March 18, 2017 Hiba Moeen 1 Comments

I know, I know ... it's been a while since the 66th Annual Flower Show took place; three weeks ago (February 23 - 26, 2017) to be precise. However, since I have a 9 to 6 job, sometimes the mind exhausts and the blog post gets delayed, not to mention the occasional writer's block as well.

A beautiful Dahlia at the flower show
Anyway, whoever visited the flower show that took place at Sea View, Karachi would agree that these are the treasures of nature that make you wonder what Heaven would actually be like if this is not perhaps even a glimpse of it. Organised by the Horticultural Society of Pakistan (HSP), it presented a collage of resplendence this time as well. However, this time, the unfortunate gap left behind due to the demise of Abdul Karim Khan aka Baba-e-Baghbani, the founder of this society was deeply felt.

At this elitist display of flowers I couldn't help but fantasise about a garden that I might one day possess so that whichever flower I fell in love with at the flower show would become part of that very garden ... a purple flower garden perhaps. This reminds me of the book, 'Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett I once read. 

The collection of flowers and plants was simply adorable, I took my camera along and eventually ended up snapping almost 600 pictures and spent 4 hours there. Considering I went with friends, I really salute them for the display of patience for my photography, especially that of one of the friend's mother who had come along to accompany us.

Such gems who love nature are rare in our part of the world unfortunately and when it's said that charity begins at home, it should begin at the government level which seems to be doing nothing to preserve the environment. You would be surprised to read The News article which mentioned that 47,000 trees have been cut down in Karachi in the past 5 years all on account of development projects, yet there seems to be no development whatsoever. You see a road being made and the next day when it's open for the public, it's not even smooth and caves in before the next onset of rain. Talking about trees and greenery, our city should declare a state of emergency thus persuading people to plant more trees that are environmentally friendly and chop down all Conocarpus and Eucalyptus trees as they are poison for our environment. 

Anyway, for nature lovers out there, there was a dire need to attend this exhibition with a sack of money given the massive variety of plants. I got two orchid plants as they are my newfound love and since I am a proud cacti hoarder now, I got this lovely bowl of beautifully arranged by cacti plants from American Cacti. And their variety is Heavenly, not that there would supposedly be plants with thorns in Heaven but these species of plants are extremely beautiful ... yes these very thorny ones. This particular arrangement of cacti was for Rs. 1,500 which was very reasonable considering other cacti stalls and the price point these plants are usually sold at in the city. The interesting part is that their price was negotiable. You can check American Cacti's Facebook page for more plants and drop in to buy some.

Cacti bowl that I bought from American Cacti (picture snapped using my Samsung Galaxy Note 5)
My nephew fell in love the moment he saw the orchid plants that I got home. He knew it's something that I would have got so he came looking for me and happily gestured towards where the plants were. He's 16 months old and doesn't say much other than 'cat', 'orchid', or 'amma', interestingly, he addresses everyone as 'amma'.

And then I went all crazy taking pictures with my Nikon. Below are some pictures of the day:

This man was very happy about the Orchids he was selling

A gardener places a plant pot with great care while showing the rest to his customer

Have never seen a cactus like this before

This was the biggest cactus plant of the show and was being sold by Mirza Horticulture Point. The price was as big as the size of the plant.



Hanif Shahzad's Rhythm of Kolachi

Friday, March 03, 2017 Hiba Moeen 1 Comments

A walk through Karachi's history through Hanif Shahzad's perspective

A mural of Mohatta Palace painted by Hanif Shahzad
If you observe Karachi through the artist, Hanif Shahzad's perspective you will notice treasures in the form of pre-partition architecture prevalent in the British colonial era. Though in ruins now and often seen in dilapidated condition, quite some architectural wonders still exist today, such as the Frere Hall, the Edward House, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Merewether Clock Tower, and the mighty Mohatta Palace to name a few.

This is what fascinates this brilliant artist in particular, considering he is a civil engineer as well. No wonder, engineering and art have fused together to make architecture his area of interest when it comes to painting that blank canvas into perfection! 

His recent exhibition housed several of his cityscapes where Shahzad captured and painted Karachi into a vibrant place where one would aspire to live. His Mohatta Palace mural is a piece of art that even the original owner, Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta would have been proud of, had he existed at this point in time. Not many people know whom this palace originally belonged to and this is what artists like Hanif Shahzad teach generations through their work; the history and culture of a certain place they are part of. Aga Hussain Ahmed designed this palace and now Shahzad brought it back to life through his painting.

Similarly, his depiction of Frere Hall through a marvellous oil painting makes you revisit the era of 1865 when it was finally completed, only an artist and engineer like him can decipher the amount of hard work required from designing it to erecting this structure. Frere Hall was built in honour of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (born March 29, 1815, Brecknockshire, Wales—died May 29, 1884, Wimbledon, Surrey, Eng.) who was the Chief Commissioner of Sindh from 1850 to 1859. An interesting fact about Frere Hall reveals that the architect, Lieutenant Colonel Clair Wilson was chosen to design it after considering the work of at least 12 other architects. This used to the level of perfection required in designing a structure that was to become part of the city. And now Shahzad's paintings seem to have done justice.

Saint Joseph's Cathedral is another outcome of sheer splendor that our Christian community has preserved over the years. Saddar happens to be one of Shahzad's favourite spots that he does justice to through his colourful palette and artistic demeanour unlike the municipality. The mid nineteeth century wonder is simply mesmerising to be part of and so is this painting:

Saint Joseph's Cathedral in Karachi
I really like the way he paints the Empress Market, thereby adding colourful hues to its surroundings. Constructed between 1884 and 1889, it was named in honour of Queen Victoria and designed by James Strachan. It belonged to a time when it was one of the seven markets of the city
Empress Market
A huge number of art enthusiasts had come to Artciti to be a part of the launch day which somehow restored faith in the fact that there still are art lovers among us who haven't excluded art from culture. Any society that starts ignoring Art and Literature embraces itself for a downfall something which we have to rescue ourselves from.

Below are some of the pictures of a few more paintings and that of the wonderful gathering of the day:

The artist discussing his work with a visitor
And I did some photography experimentation as well with one of my favourite paintings!

His paintings showcasing night and lights is something not everyone can master and is indeed a difficult outcome to achieve, yet he paints it all to perfection. Here's proof!

  To my delight, the artist gave me a signed copy of his invite! This made my day!

 Let's hope there is more to come from Hanif Shahzad's brilliant mind and magic fingers!