Archive for the ‘People and Places’ Category

Far from the “maddening” crowd…

Lahore is brimming to its maddening political edge as political parties battle it out in the streets. Loyalists branding party emblems are gathering everywhere. The Mall is a political boulevard where all parties deem it necessary to make their presence felt.

Such a “battle” brought me to an eventful PML-N rally on The Mall on 26 February. Armed with my camera and its bag; I walked hesitantly into the rally, a potential terrorist strike target. I freelance as a photojournalist, an interesting but risky job.

                                                                 The loyalists meet...

Here, the workers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had blocked The Mall for over five hours in their protest against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that disqualified the Sharif brothers from contesting the general elections.

Unrest prevailed as the protest intensified when aggressive party workers marched towards the Punjab Assembly building to break the locks after PML-N parliamentarians had to sit on the staircase to conduct the session.

Anti-Zardari slogans were chanted, tyres were burnt tyres and banners containing pictures of PPP leaders were brandished. The protesters held placards and banners that condemned the SC and the PPP-led government.

Burning tyres...

During the protest, a worker climbed a streetlight to hoist a PML-N flag.

Flag hoister

Addressing the workers, PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz said the SC had disqualified PML-N leadership on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and alleged that “The decision was a raid on democracy”.

Hamza Shahbaz

The other side:

Amid the noise at such ralies, a series of fortunate and misfortunate events also take place. A rally is a world in itself, in addition to the main political activity, there is a lot that goes on.

 

Pickpockets have a field day, robbing unsuspecting spectators of their cell phones, wallets and whatever they can get their hands on. I lost my cellphone as a man smuggled his way into my pocket and disappeared into thin air. 

Hawkers scramble about the gathering, selling water, food and the bare necessities. You’ll find people munching on goodies, browsing lottery tickets and offering free political analysis to everyone around them.

 

Amid  the commotion...

Pushy people:

Amid the commotion, one also gets assaulted by “pushy” people who force their way towards the stage. I was elbowed and my sunglasses fell to the road. Before I could pick them up, a “footful” of people stomped their way through and reduced it into a mere wire mesh! Why was I wearing sunglasses? Well the smoke from the burning tyres can be quite tearful at times!

Shattered shades...

“Zardari chuha”/Zardari Kuta

Animal rights everyone? Protesters hanged a live mouse from a board that read out “Zardaru chuha” (Translated: Zardari is a mouse). I couldn’t help but capture this one. Is this freedom of expression of abuse of expression? The little mouse was trembling and paying with its life for someone else’s crimes.

Zardari Chuha

Zardari Chuha

 

Men wearing horror masks and holding placards inscribed with Zardari Kuta (Translated: Zardari is a dog) are rampant throughout these anti-PPP rallies. These men get a lot of press attention, though such images may not be published, but they remain an irresistible catch for any photographer.

Seems familiar?

Seems familiar?

The ‘acting’ activists:

The political circus brings with it many characters. Activists try to steal the show by using their theatrical abilities to catch everyone’s attention. Here men beat their chests, “mourning” the SC verdict.

PML N-autanki

PML N-autanki

 

 It seems that as things become increasingly complicated in this political turmoil, it is advisable to witness the events from the safety of your house. The Mall shall remain choked and tense until things settle down. Lets hope the anarchy simmers down and Lahore is restored to its glory.

‘The Other Pakistan’ on display at LUMS

A group of amateur photographers with a passion for their homeland have set out to project an image of Pakistan that is totally opposite to the one most popular with international media. Pakistan, today, is in headline news for all the wrong reasons and the world has forgotten that this land still has culture, colors, music, festivals, hopes and aspirations to a brighter future built on a rich past.

Members of the Pakistani Photographers Group at Flickr have arranged a collection display of about forty photographs related to “The Other Pakistan” theme. Submitted by amateur members of the group, these amazing captures range from portraits, landscapes, and architecture to everyday life spanning over entire Pakistan including Lahore, the Northern Areas, Cholistan, Skardu and Uch Sharif.

After its first successful day (Feb.18), the exhibition will contiue on February 19 at the Students’ Lounge, Lahore University of Management Sciences. The exhibition, sponsored and supported by Bank Alfalah, is to later visit smaller cities of Pakistan as well.

Note: Pictures in this post are shared with permission from Mr. Yasir Nasir, photographer and organizer of  the exhibition at LUMS and are property of their respective photographers.

Al-Mashal

Al-Mashal Welfare Foundation

Check out this video of a free volunteer school that’s doing the most unbelievable work in a working class abadi in Saddar, Cantonment. Watch this to see the amazing philanthropic work of the people responsible for this great school.

You can find out more by visiting the Foundation’s website at http://almashalfoundation.org/

The Power of Community: Things Pakistan can Learn from Cuba

This might be a scary movie for rest of the world. But Pakistan and Pakistani may learn from it. Cuba after collapse of soviet union faced two major issues.

  1. Energy Crisis (Peak Oil Prices – Power Shortages of up to 14 – 16 hours a day)
  2. Shortage of Fertilizer (Leading to food shortages)

This is a story of how Cubans, who were an educated nation of doctor and engineers, stood up against all odds and survived gracefully. people believed that sharing what little they DID have (food, land, resources) with each other was more important and for the greater good than hoarding it for themselves. Also the government was very encouraging, and allowed all unused urban land to be turned into incredibly productive gardens.

Cuba's Economic Crisis

Click on the image to see the video

With shortage of fertilizers and power cuts, We are also as vulnerable to a sudden collapse of our current agricultural systems. Watch this one for some inspiration on how to get our Pakistan out of the current Mess!

Also, in last couple of weeks, I have fallen in love with  TED.com again. There are some really inspirational videos over there. have a nice day!

Masked Men of the Mall

 

A man selling pollution masks on The Mall

A man selling pollution masks on The Mall

Once found only in operation theatres of well-sanitized hospitals and medical facilities, masked men can now easily be seen roaming the main roads of Lahore selling an easy but effective solution to the city’s alarming pollution problems.

Our guardians against pollution and related diseases; saving many lives indirectly, they are our heroes too! :)

A Tribute to the Real Heroes

Remembering the Heroes of Ghakkar Plaza tragedy

Remembering the Heroes of Ghakkar Plaza tragedy

This banner was spotted at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport which was put up by the Union of Civil Aviation Employees. Fellow employees at the Civil Aviation Authority paid honor to the memory of late firefighters Abid Ali and Rizwan-ul-Haq; both of them, along with many other firemen, lost their lives while saving civilians from Rawapindi’s burning Ghakkarr Plaza.

They are truly our real heroes!

BAY RANG: A Documentary So Hot, No One Dares to Air

Some time back, around 2 or three years, I remember reading few books on suggestion from a very close friend of mine. we were discussing diversity at that time. That dear friend not only gave me a reading list but was kind enough to share two books with me. One was Taboo by Dr. Fouzia Saeed and the other was Between Chaddor and the Market by Jasmin Mirza. Book Review here

My first reaction was shock. yes, shock is the word that almost defines what i felt for days after reading those books. During my 8 years in corporate sector, I had an opportunity to live and work with people from different parts of the world. I attended training and seminars on issue of workplace diversity and gender issues. Even then this was too big a cultural shock for me to absorb.

Can people living in the same city  be so different and isolated in their values? Can all of this still be happening in modern times? Questions, questions and more questions I was left with. The adventure boy inside me wanted me to check out the Mohalla first hand. And I did. not once but three times but in none of those trips, I was able to verify the detailed descriptions of the sub-culture as defined in the books.

First trip was during day time and second one was in Moharram, so the bazaar was not open and all i saw was just the shops and ordinary people. I was impressed with the architecture of inner city though.  In the last trip, I got a glimpse of reality. It was at perfect time. 1 A.M. and I saw the same visuals as described in the books and as you will see in the documentary below. Since, I went alone, I did not dare to enter any of the so called “Office”.  Only few friends know what happened that night.

This documentary came as a surprise. It verified the contents of the books above and contains real truth about the people who frequent these tawaifs. the interview of the police office in charge is really interesting. This documentary was originally made for TV One but they did not dare to air it. so some one published it on internet. It is a real eye opener. It shows a face of our society, no one even wants mention. Download and save this as PTA might ban these URLs too. as it contains some politically radioactive content. Here is the excerpt from the blog where I originally found the links to these Youtube.com videos.

These book can be bought from here or here, both books were published by Oxford University Press and thus they should be available at FerozSons on The MALL.

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Pakistan Palestine Solidarity

Many youngsters from the Pakistan Youth Alliance have started a campaign under the banner of “Pak Palestine Solidarity Movement”. They are holding a Charity drive in Lahore, The PYA office is in Defence, near Masjid Chowk, and they will be putting up booths at the following places:

  • Friday 9th January 2009: 3:00 PM after Jumma Prayers @ Main Market Opposit Jalal Sons.
  • Saturday 10th January 2009: 12:00 Noon – 5:00 PM Regal Chowk, The Mall, Near Masjid-e-Shohada.
  • Saturday 11th January 2009: 06:00 PM – 11:00 PM Main Market, Opposite Jalal Sons.

Besides donations, they are desperately looking for volunteers to man their booths, so if you feel you can spare a couple of hours, do get in touch with them. The collections will go out to help the Palestinian affectees through Muslim Hands. If you are a blogger, you are especially invited to join in and cover these drives on your blog.

You can contact the following for further Information

Maryam Kanwar: 0346-5084265 & 0331-5105916
Ahsan Tariq: 0346-4117787

You can also make direct donations to
Muslim Hands: http://www.muslimhands.org/en/gb/
IFRC: http://www.ifrc.org/

If you are related to the medical profession, the letter pasted below is another opportunity to reach out and volunteer to help the Palestinian victims.

Assalamualaikum.
I’m working with some people from the the ICRC and the Qatar Red Crescent and they’re setting up a field hospital in both Cairo and Gaza. They’re currently recruiting staff for those hospitals. The work in Gaza itself will obviously depend to a large extent on the amount of access possible through Rafah over the next few days and weeks.
There are 2 week to 8 week (or even longer) stints available there now and they’re recruiting able volunteer doctors from anywhere to go. They need anaesthetists, neurosurgeons/cardiac/orthopaedic surgeons, ER docs, ICU docs and nurses, obs/gynae docs, ID docs and public health doctors.

Flights/transport/food/water/cups of tea and shelter will be arranged and provided for by the ICRC and the Qatar Red Crescent.

Even if your specialty is in some other relevant area or your experience is somewhat limited please send in your applications all the same if you’re keen.

For all those interested please send a copy of your CV, with details of your nationality(include a copy of your passport) and the length of your availability to salam.obaidi@gmail.com

Selected volunteers will be contacted in due course.

Jazak Allah

Dr. Osman Dar
SpR Public Health,
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Lahore Bloggers Meetup 2008

One sleepy Sunday afternoon in late November (23rd to be more precise) gathered all post dot com breed of citizen journalists (lately to be labelled as Bloggers) to discuss what is so special about what they do.

Audience at the Lahore Bloggers Meet-up

Audience at the Lahore Bloggers Meet-up

Google Pakistan and CIO Magazine hosted a meet-up of Lahori Bloggers and wanna-bees to discuss everything related to the phenomenon of ‘Blogging’ in PakistanLUMS proved to be an excellent venue (Internet connection apart) for the event providing all of us with the space and opportunity to interact, network and personally meet people that we usually know only through their blogs. Suprisingly, more than a hundred people turned up without any formal invitation still the response and the attendence was impressive.
Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant, Google Pakistan

Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant, Google Pakistan

The three-hour session started at 3:00 pm with Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant for Google in Pakistan as well as the main host of the afternoon, talked about Blog basics and provided a beginner’s guide to effective and profitable ways to share your mind through Blogosphere.

Saad Hamid (Sizlopedia) sharing his success story

Saad Hamid (Sizlopedia) sharing his success story

It was followed by Saad Hamid (Sizlopedia) and Maryam Nasim (Pinkwool) taking the stage sharing their personal success stories in this field. Maryam, although does not calls herself a blogger, provided an excellent insight into the wonders networking through Internet can bring in terms of work-from-home kind of profitable business models. A dedicated housewife, she designs electronic greeting cards and free printable graphics to sell through her website while earning very lucrative returns in the process. The person that we really missed was Haris Nadeem (Sizzledcore), a very young and dedicated tech. blogger who actually couldn’t attend because of his exams.

The Professionals

The Professionals

Although the main theme of the event was networking, discussion easily moved towards more advanced topics of original content creation, revenue generation models, cash collection channels (many bloggers cursed Paypal’s absence in Pakistan), search engine optimization techniques, Adsense mechanics, and Internet security to mention a few. 
Just before the end of the session, some of the main professional bloggers stepped on-stage to introduce themselves, share their insights and answer all kind of questions from the audience. In addition to Saad and Maryam, these included Touseef Ikram (Stop.pk), Ahmed Bilal (Soccer Lens), Abdullah Saad (WCCF Tech), Mr. Shirazi (Light Within), Aamir Attaa (Propakistani), Mohammad Khan (Life etc.), Adeel Ahmed (freelancer), and Tajdar Chaudhry (PR Specialist).
Khurram Amin did an excellent job of giving Google giveaways to all the right people in addition to successfully taking care of the audience as host throughout the event. All in short, the credit for bringing us together goes to the organizers and we really hope such events keep up coming more often.

Lahore observes Ramzan

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