Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

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Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times
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Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

The world of old books.

[Text and pictures by Yasir Malik]

For those of us born and brought up in Karachi, the Sunday Market has been a regular feature for household shopping ranging from ripe tomatoes to buckets and brooms. Given its success, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has upped the ante by transforming this dusty market into a well organized shopping place with proper paving, security & parking for a hassle free Sunday shopping. Such is the diversity of clientele that one can see rich begums stepping out of their imported cars as well as a family of six somehow saddled on a rickety CD70 bike. Anyway, the purpose of this blog is not to wax lyrical about the Sunday Market in general but about the hidden treasure of old books up for sale in particular.

If you are a book lover then maybe we have rubbed shoulders at the Liberty Book Shop or many other glittering shops in the few malls of this city. However, not everyone is privileged to buy books prized at more than the daily wage of most of this country’s population. What to do when the addiction to read is strong but the pocket does not allow a visit to the tempting bookshops in the city? Or what if the desire to get in touch with Mr. Dickens to remind you of English Literature assignments strikes and you would rather read it from an early 20th century edition that carries the smell of history rather than a neatly printed version of the 21st century? The answer is simple. Grab your bike, car, rickshaw or whatever means of transport you would like to employ and head for the Sunday Market.

There are quite a few bookstalls at the market but there are some that stand apart. The one run by Hussain Bhai is definitely the best when it comes to offering classic books dating to the early 20th century. He tells me that he has been in this business for 35 years and operates a shop in Khori garden, off I.I. Chundrigarh Road. Most of the classic books are imported from the UK in containers and the books are declared as paper waste and hence attract zero duty by the customs. These are then sold to people like Hussain Bhai who then sifts them and sells them to people like us.

I am not sure who in the UK is sending this treasure as trash but I have been able to get a book dated as old as 1917. Another book was a gift to a certain student in form IV for being the first in Latin exam in 1922. Upon researching the school in question, I wrote an email to the headmaster who was very happy to hear of my find and promised to get in touch with the town newspaper and try searching for the heirs of the gent in question. I thought to myself if they were interested in the gent’s life then would they have thrown away his treasured books? Leafing through some of these classic books, one finds odd tid bits like a small chit containing the grocery list inside. Oh what pleasure to go a hundred years in history!

There are a number of books on varied subjects available here. Though I personally do not condone pirated books, these are also available in abundance. However to be fair, it would be hypocritical to claim that I did not enjoy some pirated novels in my youth when these were the only things I could afford.

Hussain Bhai is a bit sad when I talk to him and says that people in this country do not read. They will spend the whole day in front of the idiot box watching cricket or some insane TV anchor but will not spend 30 minutes reading something that can shape up their character. He asks me to write something to convince people to come down and buy these books. He might not be very educated but he can certainly differentiate his Rudyard Kipling from Anton Chekhov. Can you?

[The author was born in Lahore under Mars-speckled skies. He lives in Karachi, where he works for an Oil Major and is one of the geniune booklovers of this world.]

Turn right

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

All piled up

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

That's Dickens

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Take your pick

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Mr Shaw's rare edition

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Penguin power

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Looks like pulp

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Get the Doyle

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Ruined by reading

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pakistan Diary - At Home in Lahore

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times
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Somewhere in Lahore

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In Lahore, I pretended to be a Lahori. I travelled in an auto rickshaw. I rode on a bike. I boarded a city bus.

As in Delhi, I walked all over the town. I strolled in the Mall Road. I purchased an antique Shakespeare from a second-hand bookstore near Regal Chowk. I had fresh musambi juice at a stall in Hall Road.

I watched people play cricket opposite the Tollinton Market building. I saw a biker waving Pakistan’s flag. I stood outside the now-closed Pak Tea House, a legendary cafĂ© once frequented by great intellectuals.

Outside the ticket stall at Shahi Quila, I purchased the Rs 10 ticket that is given to Pakistani nationals, and not the Rs 100 ticket for foreigners. Since we were all brown, the man at the counter didn’t take me as an outsider.

At noon, I walked in the shaded corridor of the grand Badshai Masjid and took a siesta in its cool prayer hall.

Later, I had Peepal leaves falling on me in the ground around Minar-e-Pakistan. I then took a rickshaw to Lahore Museum where I ordered Pepsi at the canteen. Next, I attended the 79th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Shadman Chowk.

I also roamed around in the campus of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan’s most prestigious business institute. I hang out with students who dressed, behaved and spoke like the baba-log Stephanians of Delhi University.

While taking photographs on the Mall Road, a cop stopped me and asked for my shinakht (identity). When he discovered that I hold an Indian passport, he asked, “Do you know the trouble between India and Pakistan and still you are so openly taking pictures?” I said, “But I’m your friend.” Satisfied, he let me take his picture.

At night, I passed by Lahore’s lovely canal. As part of the Basant season festivities, it was lit up with decorations. There were giant models of lotus flowers floating on the water. At one point I came across the figures of the whirling dervishes of Maulana Rumi.

In the end, I went to Bhati Gate and paid my haziri at the sufi shrine of Daata Durbar. Its sprawling courtyard had pilgrims sleeping, praying and sitting meditatively. I was among my own people.

Sweet dreams, sir

Somewhere in Lahore

Jesus!

Somewhere in Lahore

The trusting cop

Hands Up

Bhagat Singh Zindabad

Remembering Bhagat Singh

Life at Tollinton Market

Pakistan Diary – At Home in Lahore

Pakistan Paindabad

Jiye Pakistan

The tower of Badshahi

Old Relic

Badshahi's shaded corridor

Sightseeing

That's Shahi Quila

Been There, Done That

Domestic tourism at the fort

Domestic Tourism

So Bollywood, Shahi Quila

Valley of Flowers

Bored of the ruins, Shahi Quila

Siesta Hour

Gone with the wind

Pakistan Diary – At Home in Lahore

The second-hand book seller

The Book Seller of Lahore

The LUMS people

Cool Pakistan

Smoking is OK, LUMS

Cool Pakistan

Men at work, Lahore Museum

Somewhere in Lahore

Waiting for the bus

Somewhere in Lahore

By the canal side

Canal Side

Maula Mere Maula, Daata Durbar

Maual Mere maula

At home

Urban Life

I love Lahore

Lahore Wallas

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pakistan Diary - The Dancing Girl of Heera Mandi

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times
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The Dancing Girl of Lahore

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Heera Mandi, Lahore’s fabled red light district, is almost dead. Most dancing establishments have shut down. The courtesans no longer pretend to be mere dancers. Operating as full-fledged sex workers, they have set up discrete bases in the city’s other areas where they solicit clients on cell phones.

However, tonight as I'm walking in a Heera Mandi street, while the moon is rising above the minaret of the grand Badshahi Mosque, I can hear the music of dholaks and harmoniums, and the tinkling of womens' pajebs (anklets).

Stepping into an establishment, I find a lady sitting on a sofa. Her face is gleaming with layers of makeup. Dressed in a parrot-green kurta and mullah shalwar, she is wearing one necklace and two finger rings. On the floor, her musicians are waiting for customers. I try talking to her but she is refusing to tell me her name. She is not saying where she has come from. But now she is getting up to dance for me. She is the last of the Heera Mandi legend.

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pakistan Diary - The Karachi Kartography

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times
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I Love Karachi

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

With its sultry days and breezy evenings, Karachi is cosmopolitan like Bombay, class-driven like Delhi and edgy like Baghdad. It is rich, poor, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, generous, mean.

Karachi is the city of lights. Karachi is the city of load shedding. Karachi is colonial. Karachi is Islamic. Karachi is the site of terror attacks. Karachi is the site of mushaira sessions. Busy and diverse, Karachi is Pakistan at its best. Violent and divided, Karachi is Pakistan at its worst.

Karachi has fiction writers, fashion designers, globetrotting businessmen, TV actors and glamourous socialites. Karachi has Taliban terrorists, underworld dons and gun-wielding thugs. But most people in Karachi are like me and you. They go to offices. They watch films in multiplexes. They download the latest chartbusters on cell phones. They text romance-shayiris to their lovers. They take camel rides on the beach. They go crabbing on the sea. They drink Vodka, snort cocaine and hook up sex dates on the Internet. In daily wear, they wear shalwars as well as shorts.

Like people of other cities, Karachiites buy Robert Fisks as well as John Grishams. However, they are most riotous when it comes to the language. Some speak English with an American accent. Some write in classical Urdu. Some think in Baluchi. Some dream in Sindhi.

Most Karachiites hate Karachi. Most Karachiites love Karachi

Long live Karachi.

City of Lights

Karachi Lights

Karachi Fried Chicken

Karachi Lights

Night out on the beach

Sea View

Music on the street

Somewhere in Karachi

Just another day

Somewhere in Karachi

Cool mix

Portrait

Don't disturb, I'm thinking

Somewhere in Karachi

Karachi sweets

Are You Diabetic?

Midnight bhangra

Midnight Beats

Family values

Family Values

Don't tell my dad

Karachi Kids

I love Karachi

I Love Karachi