Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Honour of Working with Sadequain - the legendary Muralist and Calligrapher

In one of my earlier posts on legendary artist, calligrapher and muralist Sadequain, I mentioned how one of my elder brothers Zaffar Hameed Bhatti got to know Sadequain and how a professional relationship between the two developed that lasted till the death of Sadequain.

Just to recap the first meeting between my brother Zaffar and Sadequain, this is how it happened. In early 70s, Sadequain was working in the Lahore Museum and Jinnag Garden on a number of life size murals for the Lahore Museum. As it happened one day that my brother who was then studying in the Government College was standing on the bus stop opposite Lahore Museum, when he spotting Sadequain strolling on the footpath and taking a dose of the fresh air after working for long hours inside the museum.

Seeing a golden opportunity, my brother rushed to the nearby paper market, bought an autograph book and a pen and rushed to Sadequain for an autograph. And from the a long association started between the two and my brother would spend endless hours with Sadequain and helping him finish his many paintings and calligraphies.
The initial days of association
Later my brother got a job in the Pakistan Ordnance Factories and moved to Wah. But the communication between him and Sadequain never broke. In those days, Sadequain was busy in his new project for murals for Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad and needed my brother to finish his huge work. For this, he requested the chairman POF to spare my brother for a month to help him in his project. The chairman duly obliged Sadequain and sent my brother to Lahore. In those days Sadequain had his abode in the Jinnah Gardens' Montgomery Hall.
Here the two worked day and night to complete the project. Here it may be mentioned that the help provided to Sadequain was purely voluntary and no monetary gains expected. The mere working with a legendary artist was more than any worldly gains.

One day while brother was standing on a raised pedestal working on a huge mural, his head hit the fans overhead. Sadequain who had just happened to saw the incident, immediately called my brother down and asked the administration to remove the blades of all fans lest a fatal incident may occur. Thereafter, my brother worked on the murals without any threat from overhead fans (as can be seen in the photo above).

Sadequain was down to earth a simple soul, that is why he always called him Faqir Sadequain, the humble Sadequain. Devoid of any pride and lust for appreciation, he would sit on floor and even entertained no matter who was visiting him on the same floor next to him. And there was no sumptuous hospitality except for a few biscuits and a cup of tea.
On my brother's request Sadequain also visited Wah, something very unusual as he never went out to a outstation place on someone's personal request. But for my brother, the relation of a mentor and  student was very dear to Sadequain and he willingly consented to accompany my brother to Wah. There a special evening was celebrated at the Officers Club and he dished out his hand written sketches and calligraphies to those present. Luckily, I was also there on that day on weekend from the Pakistan Military Academy where I was undergoing training as a cadet.
After the removal of fan blades, my brother could freely work while standing on high tables
 Tea time between work 
The one month leave soon expired but the work had not and my brother had to stay a few more days. In order to compensate him for the over stayed leave, Sadequain wrote a handwritten letter, something he seldom did, to the chairman POF, apologizing my brother over one month and appreciating his efforts in completion of his project. The letter in itself is a tribute by a great artist to my brother's hard work - something that is cherished by all of us a great treasure of all times.

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Dream: These do come true one day

Dreams are always fascinating - these come to us while we are asleep and we see images, people or events happening even if we had never thought of these in our lives. sometimes we actually see real life events that later happen to our lives or have an impact on our lives. These dreams are involuntarily which may or may not come true,

But we also dream of things in our real life and hope these to come true one day. Usually these dreams or wants are on a higher pedestal of life that we are - which generally remain unfulfilled unless we make an endeavour to realize these.

When I was a child, I could not read the hands of the watch and wondered why there are number instead of hands for immediate reading and recording time. It was just a childish thought or a dream I never knew would one day become a reality when digital watches came and helped many children like me to read the time instantly.

Seeing places has always been my favourite day dreaming. and of all the places, I always wanted to see was Switzerland on top of my 'dream listing.' That was decades ago when I read a travelogue in which the writer described how he bought a cup of hot milk and Tobbler chocolate and drank while in the typical Swiss countryside with lush green meadows and mountains and a scented breeze blowing. Reading this I dreamed of being in Switzerland and drinking this heavenly drink.

Unknown to me how onne day things will move and one day my younger son, about the same age when I dremaed of seeing Switzerland, announced one day that he wanted to go to Germany for his higher studies. He convinced me and I let him go for I never wanted to stop his dream short of being realised. So of he went and one day the rest of us decided to go to Germany and visit him, never relaisng that one of my decades old dream was about to come true.

Once in Germany, a friend suggested that we rent a car and have a tour of neighbouring EU countries for which we laready had a valid visa. So we hired a car and set forth for a journey that also inlcuded Holland, Switzerland, France and Italy. 

Thus travelling we met a school days friend in Groningen, Holland after some forty years, went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph and Disneyland - it was as if all childhood dreams were unfolding into reality one by one. We went to Italy and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa and then on to Switzerland.

My son had deliberately booked a motel some 60 kilometers from Zurich in the 'typical Swiss landscape with mountains in the back, with rolling down meadows and Swiss cow grazing. When we reached the motel, it was already dark and we could not see the landscape shrouded in the dark.
When the dawn broke, I sneaked out of the bedroom into the balcony and suddenly I saw something that I had dreamed decades ago. The lush green landscape with a heavenly scented breeze blowing with a clear sky criss crossed by airplanes going in different directions. While I was obsessed with the heaven I was watching, my younger son brought me a cup of sizzling hot coffee - an alternative of milk and chocolate but with the same background. I sat there drinking my coffee sip by sip and enjoying the realization of my dream - in the meantime my wife also came out, sat with me and enjoyed the scene I was already enjoying sipping my coffee.
Even till date I reminisce the drinking of the coffee and Switzerland landscape which I had once longed to  happen to. So don't stop dreaming - may be one day your dreams may come true without you knowing it.

You may also read one of my earlier posts linked to this post: Two days and two nights in Lichtensteig, Switzerland

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Monday, April 24, 2017

From Uncle to Baba Jee

Life has a speed perhaps faster than the speed of light. It seems moving at a slower pace but in fact it is zooming past at a much higher speed than we can actually feel.

From childhood to teenage the period is so short that when one start to enjoy it, it is almost half way though and over in a few years time - taking us into a bracket of life when small children start to call us uncles. And then the 'uncle' stage continues for a pretty long time - to our late 50s. And then graying of hair sets in  - taking us into a transitory period of life between uncle and the old.

I too have been enjoying the uncle stage for quite some time now even when my hair had become grey and mustaches almost white with a few black hair here and there. But still I was uncle.

But last night, my transitory stage came to an abrupt end. I was sitting in a store while my wife and son were busy shopping. Next to me were sitting a young father and her angel like doll baby girl, eating potato chips. While I was not actually looking it at her and was trying to find my wife and son, suddenly the doll touched my arm and in her sweet still learning voice said: Baba Jee, Baba Jee (or in other words Old Man, but with respect) !!

Well that was the first time anyone addressed me with Baba Jee - it was both amusing and interesting. I smiled at her who by then was again busy devouring on her pack of potato chips. When my wife and son came and I told them what had happened to my status and naturally they were all smiles. 

But her addressing me Baba Jee suddenly took me from the middle age to the beginning of old age, which made me wonder how swiftly the life has gone by and it has been two years since I stepped into my six decade age bracket - the last age bracket of my life which can abruptly end anytime. But till it happens, I intend to enjoy someone call me Baba Jee for it is both amusing and loving.

Photo: Pixabay
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A walk through historical Qissa Khawani Bazaar of Peshawar

Sometime back, I wrote a post about Raja Bazaar of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Now I take you to yet another famous bazaars of Pakistan: The Qissa Khawani Bazaar of Peshawar city of Khyber Pakhtun Khwa province of Pakistan. 

Qissa Khawani Bazaar is a historic market place dating back to many centuries. No one really knows how old this part of Peshawar city is, but according to accounts by the locals, it was once the junction point of trade caravans coming to India from the northern Asian countries, resting and drinking the famous green tea of Peshawar.
The name Qissa (stories) Khawani (narration / telling) or simply the bazaar of story tellers originates from the fact that the people would listen to the stories and news from the incoming traders about other countries and lands beyond the mountain barriers or even the local stories by the professional stories. 

As per Wikipedia, Indian film actor Dilip Kumar was born in Qissa Khawani Bazaar on or about 11 December 1922, while actor Shah Rukh Khan's family still lives in the area. It was the site of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre in 1930, when a large crowd of unarmed local protesters was crushed and fired upon by British armoured cars and soldiers. Four hundred locals were murdered in cold blood.

People or the story listeners would gather around the story tellers and sip famous aromatic green tea or 'qahwa' as it is called in the local language, taking small sips and listening to the stories. I wonder if the story tellers are still around, but the green tea is still served from the traditional brass brewers even today.

A few days back I was in Peshawar and decided to walk through the this historical bazaar of Peshawar and I was amazed to see the variety of commodities available in the main bazaar and countless small alleys inside. The bazaar is full of shoppers and buyers to buy anything from small household items to even spare parts of used cars.
Remains of old wooded balconies can still be seen from behind the newly made buildings 
Bank of Australasia was once a thriving bank which had its brancehs in many cities. Now only the plaque remains.
Gossiping while waiting for the customers or perhaps telling a story!!
Mobile SIMs for sale
Besides the traditional qahwa or the green tea, the bazaar is hub of all types of traditional foods of Peshawar. Since it was almost the lunch time, beef tikkas were being fried and fresh naans collected from the nearby tandoor or the bakery as can be seen in picture above and two below.
Freshly baked naans for the lunch
The long and narrow alleys where business thrives throughout the day
Donkey driven carts are still in use to carry goods
Traditional colourfull dresses for the woen and girls
The old building have taken a modern look - the front is all new but at the back the old buildings still hold on

It is not difficult to find the Qissa Khawani Bazaar as it is very close to many land marks of Peshawar like the famous Bala Hisar Fort, Mahabat Khan`s Mosque, Qasim Khan Mosque, Chritali Bazaar, Chowk Yadgar, Khyber Bazaar and Cunningham Clock Tower. Next time you visit Peshawar, do not miss to include Qissa Khawani Bazaar from your site sighting list - for it is the actual Peshawar!!

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Pakistan's Azhar scores three centuries in first Pink Ball test match

What a great day it was for Pakistan when its opener Azhar scored three centuries in the first ever pink-ball played test match at Dubai just now.

Pakistan playing its 400th test match, which is yet another milestone achievement in the cricket of Pakistan, Pakistan also becomes the first country to score a triple century.

Although no sooner did Azhar shot a four at 298 to earn his third century, the captain Misbah declared the innings at 579 for three to let the West Indians to show their muscles with the pink ball.

So well done Azhar  - you really earned laurels from across the globe for hitting tons with the pink ball. Azhar also becomes the fourth Pakistani player to have scored a triple century in a test match. Before him Hanif Muhammad, Inzamam ul Haq and Younis Kjan have held this distinction. 


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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pakistan white washes 3-ODI series with West Indies

It was yet another repeat performance by the cricket team at Abu Dhabi today when they beat the West Indies consecutively for the third time to white wash the 3 ODI series 3-0.

Pakistan's Babar Azam also hit a consecutive third century today with 117 runs. He also scored centuries in the earlier two ODIs. Pakistan's Azhar also scored a ton (101 runs). This makes him the 8th batsman in the world to do so.

Winning the toss, Pakistan chose to bat and gave a target of 309 runs for the West Indies at the loss of 6 wickets in 50 overs. However, the entire West Indies team was shown the pavilion in mere 44 overs at 172. They lost by 136 runs.

Babar Azam was declared man of the match award which he rightly deserved. In Babar, Pakistan seems to found a new batsman for its future cricket, replacing old hands.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Volkswagen Beetle - Painted in Truck art of Pakistan

Volkswagen Beetle - Painted in Truck art of Pakistan: Well many would say what a Beetle is painted in truck art of Pakistan. But when one sees what truck art in Pakistan is, one tends to fall in love with it.
The truck art, on which I have already written two detailed posts (links given at the end of the post),is very unique art applied on the buses and trucks in Pakistan and makes these buses and trucks moving art galleries on roads of Pakistan right from the port city of Karachi to the northern areas of Pakistan.
And what is peculiar about this art is that it is done by almost illiterate roadside painters who choose the theme and type to be painted on the clients' vehicles. And when done, it gives an adorable look to the smiling driver's vehicle who drives off gleefully and proud of his colorful  possession.

Coming back to the Volkswagen Beetle and the truck art. I came across this marvel of artwork outside a famous eatery in F11, Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Although the car is not in use anymore, it is parked in the parking lot lot to show off its vivid colours and various inscriptions written over it. So while my son went to buy something to eat, I took a number of snaps of the Beetle with my mobile phone camera.

The inscriptions are in Pakistan's national language Urdu and one really enjoys these as these are perfectly rhymed. I will translate these, but my friends who do not know Urdu may not enjoy the translation as translating these simple messages into English or any other language may not be possible to keep the charm.
 Even if there is no passenger, let the Prince go with speed 190
 Go with safety and under Allah's protection
 Prayer of a mother is like a breeze from Heavens

Continuing with the description, here is another one: Be Happy Always!!
 The number plate reads: Please come back while dispatching my request (to my lover perhaps)
 I go flying along with the blowing winds
 Japanese Doll!!
 Sweet heart of Gujjar ( a clan in Pakistan)
 Come someday to me heavily perfumed
 The vehicle is no less than a bomb, but the fare is very less (could not translate it any better) - but in Urdu it makes one smile as it is perfectly rhymed
 There is no price of one's hobby
Now this inscription is my favourite: Looks like Doli, but speeds like a bullet

Well yo may one day come to Pakistan and see for yourself its roads with moving truck art and enjoy the simple yet attractive colours, artwork and beautiful inscriptions. And by then you have learnt Urdu, your joy will be multiplied manifold.

The art has lovers internationally. In 2002, the Smithsonian Folk Festival had a truck brought from Karachi to Washington and got it decorated right there on the National Mall. As a talent scout for the festival’s Silk Road theme, truck aficionado Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an anthropology professor at the University of Michigan and a top us scholar of Pakistani culture, chose the pair for their versatility in incorporating the country’s disparate styles of truck art. Their finished masterpiece, a 1976 Bedford, is now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

One bus was also decorated and plied on the roads of Melbourne Australia to participate in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. Back in 2010,a Volkswagen Beetle was painted for a road journey to Germany. I wonder if this is the same vehicle!!

My previous posts on truck art:
Truck art - the ever rolling indigenous folk art
Amazing Truck Art of Pakistan
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