Thursday, 26 September 2013

Uncle Sargam

I grew up watching Uncle Sargam on TV. It was a regular weekly feature and how can I miss it, it was a famous character. The program was hilarious, witty and very decent, it was suitable for viewers of all ages. Program themes were social, political and general life issues. 

Uncle Sargam is a puppet character first appeared in the children's television show Kaliyan aired on Pakistan Television in 1976. Uncle Sargam was created by an award winning  puppeteer and television director Farooq Qaiser.

 Farooq Qaiser is a Pakistani artist, columnist, director, puppeteer, script writer and voice actor. He is also author of some books. Qaiser is well known for his fictional puppet Uncle Sargam Farooq is also a cartoonist, columnist and writing a local newspaper in Lahore and famous for his column titled Meethay Karelay (Sweet gourd).

He created Uncle Sargam who resembled his teacher Molnar from Romania. Calm, cool and composed are the right words which can be attributed to Uncle Sargam. From 1976 till a few years back, Uncle Sargam remained constant in appearance and wit. Surely one of the most memorable characters of Pakistani TV.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Nigar Nazar (born 1948) is the first Pakistani female cartoonist. Her character Gogi is an urban Pakistani woman struggling with her frailties in the context of gender-discriminate social norms. She has been drawing cartoons professionally since 1971.

In 2009, Nazar completed five "awareness comics". Three books compiling her cartoons have been published, as well as several calendars, brochures, diaries, and posters. In collaboration with NGOs, 12 public transport buses were wrapped with Gogi cartoons in 2004 to convey social messages. She has produced several books for children on health and hygiene, the, first aid, and safety, all published and distributed by the government of Pakistan.

Now living in Islamabad, Nazar says "My work ... it came from the newspaper and then it came into the community, on public buses. And from public buses, it went into hospitals. From hospitals, it went into books. And from books it went to comic books. From comic books, I teach programs now."


Karachi Donkey Cart Race


One of the uniqueness of Karachi is it's Donkey Cart Race. It has been taking place for the last 100 or more years. It is most popular among old communities who are descendents of the early settlers.

Following narrative is extracted from Express Tribune blogs

Donkey cart races are organised by the Karachi South Donkey-Cart Association (KSDCA) which has over 800 owners registered with them. The association mainly deals with the trading and business aspect of the community but organises the races to maintain the tradition that began in the colonial era.


The minor races take place every alternate weekends in the afternoon with the grand events taking place in the evenings and covering a distance of seven kilometers. They vary in format – the grand race consists of 30-40 racers with the prize-money ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000.


Basant is the biggest or perhaps the best known festival held in the month of February each year. Basant is celebrated on the arrival of the spring season. It primarily takes place in Lahore, but also celebrated in different parts of India as well.


This festival is celebrated with kite flying competitions all over the city. The sky is literally filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes flown from rooftops. Food, music, kite flying and colorful dresses. Everyone gets into the festive mood. People from different parts of the country throng to Lahore to enjoy the festive mood. 

Like all traditional festivals, whose roots are embedded in the past, history of Basant is also ancient. Most of such festivals are linked with farmers and fishermen who celebrated arrival of harvesting season, spring season and timings during the year when food sources were abundantly available.  Basant was typically celebrated in India but the kite flying bit is pure Pakistani touch.

Like all traditional festivals, whose roots are embedded in the past, history of Basant is also ancient. Most of such festivals are linked with farmers and fishermen who celebrated arrival of harvesting season, spring season and timings during the year when food sources were abundantly available.  Basant was typically celebrated in India but the kite flying bit is pure Pakistani touch.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Shandur Polo Tournament

Shandur Top (el. 12,200 feet (3,700 m)) located in District Ghizer, Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. Shandur-Top in Shandur is often called the 'Roof of the World'. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November.

Every year there is a Polo match played on Shandur Top between the home teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and guest teams from Chitral.
Shandur Pass is one of the major mountain passes between Chital and Gilgit-Baltistan. Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional Polo tournament which since 1936 has been held annually in the first week of July. The festival also includes performances from Folk Music Artists, dancing and a camping village is set up.
Now it has become a popular place for tourists. The three day Shandur Polo Festival has developed steadily in recent years into the massive celebration of mountain polo that it is today.

 Traditional Attan Dance
Historically, Polo being the king of games was played between small kingdoms, villages and rival groups of Gilgit Agency. From 1936 onwards polo tournaments were held annually at Shandur (then part of autonomous princely state of Kashmir) at the patronage of the British from neighboring India.

Polo is an Equestrian sport with its origin embedded in Central Asia dating back to 6th century BC. At first it was a training game for cavalry units for the King’s Guards or other elite troops. To the warlike tribesmen who played polo with as many as 100 players to a side, it was a miniature battle. It became a Persian national game in the 6th century AD. From Persia, the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet, China and  Japan. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

An Ancient Skill.

Today, I feel proud in sharing yet another special attribute of my beloved city, the skillful art of boat building.

The city of Karachi is unique in many aspects, it was small and unknown coastal city in the past known as 'KOLACHI'. During the British reign, it was given importance due to it's location and it was then detached from the rule of local rulers for whom this place was far from their citadel. It was community of fishermen who were it's earlier settlers and the boats used to sail in the Arabian Sea all the way to Oman. 

To this day, Karachi has a busy port known as 'Kemari' and still to this day boats are made in the traditional way, which is by hand. Before 2008 I used to frequently visit this place because of my work, as I was in sales then, and I used to see these artisans working on the huge wooden boats.  I was told that cost of making such boats range well beyond 1.5 to 2 million rupees. Not only local but foreign customers from Iran and Oman also bring their boats here for repairs. These artisans also get orders for new boats from these countries. Fishermen go as far as South Africa on these boats for stretch of 6 months.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Mohatta Palace

Hi, come and join me to a short visit to an exciting place. It is located near my house, infact, it's just 20 minutes walking time ........ so, let's go!

The Mohatta Palace is located in Karachi. It was built by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, an ambitious self-made businessman from Marwar as his summer home in 1927. The architect of the palace was Agha Ahmed Hussain. However, Mohatta could enjoy this building for only about two decades before independence of Pakistan and he left Karachi for India. He built the Palace in the tradition of stone palaces in Rajastan, using pink Jodhpur stone in combination with the local yellow stone from Gizri. The amalgam gave the palace a distinctive presence in an elegant neighborhood  which was located not far from the sea.

After Mohatta's departure to India, the Government of Pakistan acquired the building to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947. Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, moved into it in 1964. In the '60s Mohatta Palace was dubbed as Qasre-e-Fatima, becoming the hub of her presidential campaign against President Ayub Khan.  After her questionable sudden death, her sister Shireen Jinnah moved in to occupy the ground floor for many years. With her death in 1980, the palace was sealed.

In 1995 it was purchased by the Government of Sindh for its conversion into a Museum devoted to the arts of Pakistan. As a result of the interest taken by the Government of Sindh who took over the ownership of the property and appointed an independent board of trustees headed by the Governor, to formulate recommendations on how best to adapt and use the palace. The trust was established to manage the property and ensure that it would not be sold or utilised for commercial or any other purpose other than that stipulated in the trust deed. Funds for the acquisition of collections for the museum and the construction of an extension will be raised by the trustees through private and public grants, donations and other fund raising activities. The Museum formally opened in 1999. Behind the building can be found a small collection of "English" statues such as Queen Victoria and soldiers of the Raj.