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Archive for the ‘CULTURE’ Category

Ayy Ishq Humein Barbaad Na Ker…


Several decades down the road, this nazm and this rendition remain my lifetime favourite by Akhter Shirani
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Ay Ishq humaiN barbad na kar, 
O’ Love, smash us not, destroy us not
Barbaad na kar, Nashaad na ker
Smash us not , depress us not
اے عشق نہ چھیڑ آ آ کے ہمیں
Ay Ishq na cheRh aa aa key humaiN
O’ Love disturb us not, again and again
ہم بھولے ہووں کو یاد نہ کر
Hum bhooley huoN ko yaad na kar
Recall us not, the forgotten ones
پہلے ہی بہت ناشاد ہیں ہم
Pehley hi bohut nashaad haiN hum
So disheartened we already are
تو اور ہمیں ناشاد نہ کر
Tuu aur humaiN nashaad na kar
Make us not more disheartened
قسمت کا ستم ہی کم نہیں کچھ
Qismet ka sitam hii kum nahiN kuch
As if the injustice of fate was enough
یہ تازہ ستم ایجاد نہ کر
Yeh tazaa sitam eejaad na kar!
Reinvent not,  this fresh injustice
یوں ظلم نہ کر بیداد نہ کر
Yun zlm na kar beydaad na kar
Inflict not such cruelty and tyranny
اے عشق ہمیں برباد نہ کر- برباد نہ کر
Ae Ishq humaiN barbad na kar, barbad na kar
O’ Love, smash us not, destroy us not

 

جس دن سے بندھا ہے دھیان تیرا
Jis din se bundhaa hai dhyaan tera
Since the day our thoughts possessed you,
گھبراےؑ ہوےؑ سے رہتے ہیں
Ghabraaye huwe sey rehtey haiN
Anxious we remain
ہر وقت تصور کر کر کے
Har waqt tasawwur kar kar ke
Lost in your imagination 
شرماےؑ ہوے سے رہتے ہیں
Sharmaaye huwe se rehtey haiN
Feeling embarrassed (all the time)
کملاےؑ ہوے پھولوں کی طرح
Kumhlaaye huwe phoolon ki tarha
Like the wilted flowers
کملاےؑ ہوے سے رہتے ہیں
Kumhlaaye huwe se rehetey haiN
Shrivelled up we remain
پامال نہ کر بیداد نہ کر
Paamaal na kar, beydaad na kar
Trample us not, torment us not
اے عشق ہمیں برباد نہ کر- برباد نہ کر
Ae Ishq humaiN barbad na kar, barbad na kar
O’ Love, smash us not , destroy us not
راتوں کو اٹھ اٹھ کر روتے ہیں
Raaton ko uth uth kar roTey haiN
Weeping we wake up at nights
رو رو کے دعایؑں کرتے ہیں
Ro’ ro’ kay duwayin kertey haiN
And plead as we snivel
آنکھوں میں تصور، دل مین خلش
Ankhon main tusawwar, dil mayn khalish
With fantasy in the eyes, regret in the heart
سر دھنتے ہیں، آہنیں بھرتے ہیں
Sar dhundtey haiN anhein burtey haiN
Our head throbs( in pain) and heart sighs  
اے عشق یہ کیسا روگ لگا
Ae Ishq ye kaisa rog Laga
O’ Love, what kind of ailment is this
جیتے ہیں نا ظالم مرتے ہیں
Jeetey hain naa zaalim martey haiN
Neither do we live nor we die
Ye zulm tou ayy jallad na ker
Inflict not this torture, O’ Tyrant
اے عشق ہمیں برباد نہ کر- برباد نہ کر
Ae Ishq humaiN barbad na kar, barbad na kar
O’ Love, smash us not , destroy us not
ان خوابوں سے یوں آزاد نہ کر
In khwabon se yuun azad na kar
Release us not from these delusions
اے عشق ہمیں برباد نہ کر- برباد نہ کر
Ae Ishq humaiN barbad na kar, barbad na kar
O’ Love, smash us not, destroy us not 

English translation attempted most humbly by yours truly. Translation of full nazm will follow.

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Indo-Pak Cross Border Weddings- an Advice to the Bride


 

Many girls from all over India and Pakistan write to me about their love stories across the border and their wish to marry & live happily ever after. Just two days ago we celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary. So I think it makes me quite qualified to give some pearls of wisdom to the new daredevils. 🙂

Since in a vast majority of cases it is the girls who move to the other side, here is an open advice to these girls :

My first pearl of wisdom to you:
“If you think there is a genuine love between you two, go ahead and take the plunge and embrace the pain that comes as a baggage. But  before you decide, first meet him in person and ensure he is the same person who you have known on social media.”

Secondly, I want you to know there are realities beyond honeymoon:
“If you will live in India or Pakistan, you live in an alien land where you will always be under moral pressure, simply by default of being a woman, because our societies, on both sides, are swamped with misogyny, just as our cultures and faiths are deeply immersed in patriarchy. In our cultures, we marry in a family, one husband cannot be the only one you will deal with, even if you are his Laila and he is your all too supportive Majnu.”

Thirdly but most importantly be well informed of what you are stepping into: 
“Read and inquire as much as you can about the other side- both pros and cons. Know that the practical challenges that you will have with the bureaucratic red-tape are inevitable even if everything else in your personal life is going like the Bollywood style Veer-Zara. Sania Mirza-Shoaib Malik star couple are a wonderful example, but they are not to take inspiration from. Ask ordinary couples in such marriages of how things are like. But none of their story will be exactly like yours, post marriage. Like any ordinary couple, it will be a constant struggle. Be open to unexpected pleasant and not so pleasant situations.”

However, once you have decided to go ahead, here are a  few tips for your safety: 

1. Try to see his country as your home too. Love and befriend its inhabitants too. Do not live like an alien. Belong there.
2. At the same time do not lose any love and respect for your country of birth. Many will say, “You are still so “Indian/Pakistani”. Tell them “So what? I belong to both the places.”
3. Try not to be cynical about his country. Learn to be objective and honest about flaws and positives of both sides. Trust me, both places are no better or worse than the other. Blind patriotism will not bring peace within your four walls or lay breakfast on your table.
4. Best bet is to make it a taboo in your household to discuss Indian Pakistani political rhetoric in a partisan manner. Don’t expect a man who so loves you today, will not taunt your nationality sometime years down the road and will still not understand why are you so ‘touchy’ about it. So better shut these doors before they even open.
5. Keep yourself financially independent. Do not submit every penny in the name of love and family. Because that will disempower you. Try to keep some money/assets aside( openly or quietly) in your own name.
6. Do not stop visiting your family back home. Visas will be difficult, but you have to be very very persistent and persevering to not give in. Try your best. Ask for help from anyone who can help.
7. When you have kids preach them to be objective and not be partisan with either parents or their families.
8. Keeping a passport of your country is very challenging in India-Pakistan relationships, but in current times, its easier than 30 years ago.
9. Create your own circle of like minded friends in your adopted homeland. Don’t just depend on your husbands friends wives as friends. At some point of time you may feel that your personality, intellect and values are not similar to  your spouse’s, and hence making your own group of like-minded friends will give you a space of your own.
10. Pursue your profession or work and hobbies in your adopted country as you would in your own country. There is no reason to give up work. It will help you build confidence and be financially independent.
11. Keep in touch with groups like Aman ki Asha  on social media and fellow Indian-Pakistanis locally, who will understand your situation far more than the local locals. These friends work as a peer-support group and as a deterrent for abuse and exploitation at home.
12. If possible, and if going gets tough, try to move as a family to a third country, or at least have an additional passport of the third country. It is not the easiest thing to do, I realize, but will give your kids a choice.

Wish you all the best,

Dr. Ilmana Fasih,
A proud Indian-Pakistani.

indopakcake

Old Fashioned Sweet and Sour Pickle


Eons ago as a teenager I had a delicious pickle at an aunts place.
For almost 4 decades I hunted for it in the aisles for pickles in desi grocery stores, searched for it on family or friends tables. I even asked if anyone knew or made it.
Some friends knew about the pickle but I never had the luck to find it ready anywhere.

So one day I hunted for its recipe on the net. And there it was,  at several places.

To my utter surprise the method of preparation was very simple. So there was no excuse left to not make it myself.  So here it is:

Sweet and Sour Pickle of Carrots, Turnips and Cauliflower with Jaggery.

Ingredients:
Carrots: half pound
Turnip: half pound
Cauliflower: 1 pound
Anise seeds(saunf): 1tsp
Black seed(Kalonji): 1tsp
Fenugreek seeds(methi): 1tsp
Mustard seeds(Rye ): 1tsp
Jaggery (Gurr): 1 pound
Mustard Oil: 2 tbsp
Salt, chillipowder, garam masala powder:  to taste

Cooking method is described with the pictures:

Step 1: Chop washed carrots, turnips into medium thickness sticks and break cauliflower into medium sized florets.pic1

Step 2: Mix half a cup of apple cider vinegar and half pound of jaggery in a pan and leave on slow flame till all the jaggery melts.
pic2

Step 3: Boil water in a large deep pan till it bubbles. Once boiling, add the chopped vegetables and cook for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are blanched. Drain off water and spread the vegetables on a kitchen towel till dry. (I did for about an hour).
pic3

 

Step 4: Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a wok. Add mustard seeds, anise, fenugreek and black seeds and let them splatter for half a minute. Then add salt, ground garam masala and red chilli powder. Finally added the vegetables. Stir fry them.
pic4

Step 5: Stir fry the vegetables with seeds and spices.

Step 6: Add vegetables mixed with spices  & seeds into vinegar and melted jaggery mixture. Cook till most liquid evaporates.
pic5

Step 7: Once cooked and cooled, store it in a sterilized air tight cannister and leave in the sun for 2 days to pickle well. 

Step 8: Once ready(in my case in 2 days) enjoy it with parathas and hot steaming chai. 🙂
pic6

This pickle is a delicacy prepared in winter in Northern India specially because that is the time carrots are available.

Its easy and very delicious. I wonder why did I just keep looking for it everywhere and did  not try it myself all these years? Do try it out in a smaller amount as a trial. You will not regret it.

Happy Pickling !

Eid e Nowruz : The Persian New Year


The word Nowruz meaning New Day, is the most anticipated and favorite celebration for Persians. It occurs exactly on the Spring Equinox. This occasion has been renowned in one form or another by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerians, 3000 BC, Babylonians, the ancient kingdom of Elam in Southern Persia and Akaddians in the second millennium BC, all celebrated this festival. What we celebrate today as Norooz (Also spelled Now Ruz, Norooz or Norouz) has been around for at least 3000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrians of the Sassanian period.

It’s no secret that Persians love any excuse to celebrate. But of all the many reasons to celebrate, Norouz, The Persian New Year, is by far the most important and dear in the hearts of Iranians around the globe. Literally translating to “A New Day,” Norouz marks the first day of Spring (March 21st) and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar.

Originally a Zoroastrian holiday, Norouz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years. The most significant aspect of Norouz is the fact that it is a non-religious and non-ethnic celebration. Norouz brings together several hundred million diverse peoples spanning from Iran to northwest China, India and Central Asian republics,Turkey and Eastern Europe, Iraq and westward to Egypt; all celebrating this joyous holiday which represents new Beginnings, and the start of Spring.

Sofreh Haft Seen

In harmony with the rebirth of nature, the Persian new year celebration starts on the first day of Spring, illustrated by a beautiful spread Haft Seen:

haft seen1

 

A symbolic illustration of Norouz is the “Haft Seen” (Persian translation of “Seven S”), a ceremonial table spread, including at least seven items whose names start with the letter “S” in the Persian alphabet; hence the name “Haft Seen” or “Seven S”. The spread itself is usually a beautifully crafted and decorated fabric such as “Termeh.”

At the specific time of Vernal Equinox (when the sun is observed to be directly over the equator) which varies every year, the family gathers around Haft Seen holding hands. At the moment of transition into the New Year or “Sal Tahvil,” family members embrace each other and eat a sweet…for a sweet year! This is followed by exchanges of “Aydi” (cash gifts exchanged) and having the traditional new year dish “Sabzi-polo and Mahi” (herbed rice and white fish).

The Most Common Haft Seen Items: 

Sib (Apple): Red apples representing health and natural beauty.

Sabzeh (Sprouts): Wheat, barley or lentils sprouts growing in a dish,
symbolizing the fertility of the land in the Spring and the rebirth of nature.

Samanu: Common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as
this sweet and creamy pudding, representing the reward of patience.

Sir (Garlic): Displayed in beautifully decorated dishes, garlic represents
good health, and is believed to chase away evil spirits.

Sumac: A popular Persian spice used as a symbol to wish for some zest
in life in the new year.

Senjed (Oleaster): The Senjed or wild olives represent love and compassion.

Sombol (Hyacinth): Hyacinth is placed in the Haft Seen to signify the beauty
and fragrance of Spring, and the rebirth of nature.

Sekkeh (coin): Coins representing wealth and hopes for prosperity.

Serkeh (vinegar): The vinegar also placed in a beautiful bowl or decorative
container is a symbol for maturity, and the wisdom and patience that comes
with age.SONY DSC

Other items not starting with letter “S”, but included because of their symbolic
meaning and cultural significance include:

Mirror: The mirror is usually set at the top center of the Haft Seen,
representing self-reflection.

Candles: Lit candles are more commonly set on each side of the mirror
and represent enlightenment and happiness.

Gold Fish: One of the most fun traditions of Norouz is buying the gold
fish for Haft Seen. The gold fish are used to represent joy and movement.

Holy or Poetry Book: Religious families will often place their holy book
in the center of the Haft Seen. Others opt for famous poetry books such
as Divan of Hafiz or Shahnameh.

Eggs: Usually, one for each member of the family, artfully decorated eggs
are used to represent the human race, as well as, fertility.

Sweets: Traditional Persian sweets are another popular item for the Haft Seen.
The pastries are a symbol for a sweet life and are meant to be eaten
during the celebration.

Seville orange: Floating in a bowl of water, it represents the earth
floating in space.

(Credits: The above text and pictures are crossposted  from here: http://www.partybravo.com/Norooz-Persian-New-Year-Haft-Seen).

Other traditions of Nowruz:

Hajji Firouz:

Haji Firouz (Persian: حاجی فیروز / هاجی فیروز – Hāji Firuz‎‎) or Khwaja Piruz (Persian: خواجه پیروز – Xwāje Piruz‎‎),[1] also spelled Hajji Firouz, is a fictional character in Iranian folklore who appears in the streets by the beginning of Nowruz. His face is covered in soot, and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. He dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine, and is the companion of Amu Nowruz(“Uncle Nowruz”).
(Source & further details: here >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajji_Firuz).

Lyrics:
Beškan Beškan
Beškan beškan e, beškan! (It’s a snap-snap, snap!)
Man nemi-škanam, beškan! (I won’t snap, snap!)
Injā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap here, this one will complain)
Unjā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap there, that one will complain)
In siāh e bičāre če qad howsele dāre! (How patient this poor man is!)

Bonfire:

People traditionally jump over bonfires, shouting “Zardie man az to, sorkhie to as man,” which means “May my pallor be yours and your red glow be mine.”
The flames symbolically take away the unpleasant things from the last year.

Nowruz fire.jpg

Following is my favorite song  Nasim-e-Farvardin( The breeze of Spring) by Marzieh , an ode to arrival of  Spring:

The Flawless Purse: Dilemma of Consumerism


In style she clutched a glossy purse,
Tight between her hand and her chest,
Protecting it from falling or
From being scratched,
From the pointed necklace
Around her own neck.
She had saved for years,
And dreamed of even longer
To own this branded gem.
She holds on to it firm,
Yet all tender, all protective,
Like a beautiful relationship,
Between two souls,
Knowing how hurt,
The purse can get,
When there are bruises
And that the purse
shall never be the same,
if held back after it falls.
So precious, and so priceless,
She finally owns a flawless dream.
But oh for the flawed souls,
They come and go in our lives.

ClutchBag

Ashure’ : Noah’s Pudding


Ammi called me early in the morning on Friday, the day of Ashura( 10th Moharram). Ashura commemorates the day of the battle of Karbala for Muslims.
I knew why did she call that early, as it has been a regular practice since years, I have lost count of
“One request beta.”
“Yes Ammi.”

I knew it but still wanted her to say it.
“Please don’t play music today on Ashura.”

This is all she expects from me. But she does a bit more than just not listen to music. One of her routines is to cook a pot of Khichra( Haleem) and not let anyone touch it, or munch any of the ingredients till the Niyaz is done.

South Asians make Haleem on Ashura, a complete food with multiple ingredients in one: whole wheat, lentils, rice, barley, and meat with a host of rich spices in a lengthy procedure.

Along the same lines, the Turks make a sweet Haleem, called Ashure or Noah’s Pudding. The ingredients vary from 7 to 10 to 12 varying from whole wheat, beans ( red and white), chick pea, to dry fruits including figs, peaches and nuts like almonds and raisins.

There are multiple legends associated with it.

It is cooked on the day of Ashura ( 10th Moharram) by all communities in Turkey across different sects: Sunnnis (Balkan Sufis), Shias, Alevis and Kurds.

Ashure is then distributed to all in the neighborhood in small bowls, after performing prayers for health and harmony.

Alevites fast for 12 days, and break it on Ashura with this special dish Ashure. Alevis prepare it with 12 ingredients in their version of the dish. They refrain from killing animals or eating meat in these days of fasting.

There is also a different but popular legend of why it came to be known as Noah’s pudding. According to the legend, it was the day when Noah’s Ark came to the banks of Ararat and Noah’s family cooked a dish from all ingredient leftovers in the Ark.

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As I asked a Turk friend to confirm my list of ingredients, she added:
“The most important ingredient is the ‘Intention’ and the ‘Will’ to make this dish. In Turkish we say ‘Niyet Etmek.’

Asure – Noah’s Pudding
Ingredients
(can be found at any Whole Food Markets or Middle Eastern Store) –
• 1 cup of barley whole wheat
• 1 can of chick peas,soaked & boiled
• 1 can of white kidney beans
• 3/4 cup of black dried currants & raisins
• 3/4 cup of almonds/pistachios
• 6 dried Turkish Figs – cut into small quarter
• 6 dried Turkish Apricots – cut into small quarter
• 2 cups of brown sugar ( or plain white sugar)
• 1 lemon zest or orange
9– 12 cups of cold water/4 tsp rosewater(optional)
Condiments: salt/cloves/cinnamon sticks
Garnishing: Fresh pomegranate

Preparation:
One day Before: Soak 1 cup of barley whole wheat in 3 cups of water the night before. This will allow the barley to soften.
Day of:
1. Drain the soaked barley, pour into a deep cooking pot fill with 8-10 cups of cold water leaving about 2-3 inches of the top. At this time add in, sprinkle some salt, add in the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
2. Over a medium to high bring the pot to broil fior 30-40 minutes. The barley will have cracked open and have become white and soft to touch and taste.
3. In the mean time into a small sauce pan, boil the black currants and in a cup of cold water. Once the color of the water turns dark, drain the currants through a sieve.
4. Once the barley has softened, add in the washed chick peas and kidney beans and stir.
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients – the drained currants, raisins, apricots, figs, and almonds, stirring each time you add in an ingredient. Let this mixture boil for 8-10 minutes.
6. To thicken fast, in a cup of cold water mix the 4 tablespoons of corn starch, leaving no lumps. Add the corn starch into the boiling barley mixture and give it a thoroughly stir. *the corn starch will act as a thickening agent.
7. Add brown sugar to your liking, and again stir thoroughly, continue cooking over medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve.
8. Finally add in the zest of the lemon or orange and the rose water and let cook for a 5-7 minutes.
9. Let cool for about 15 minutes, ladle into serving bowls. Top with cinnamon, nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Ashure can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.

Ashure is a vegan dessert too.

NoahPudding1Noah's Pudding2

Ashure served with a traditional touch:

NoahPudding0

A peep into Truck Art- a chat with ‘truck artist’ Haider Ali


While strolling in a Pakistani Mela,  Khyber to Mehran, in Mississauga I was attracted to a giant canvas partly filled with vibrant colors. As we got closer, we saw a man with was effortlessly making strokes with a brush creating flawless images. Without the initial sketch, even the symmetry was perfect.

That’s truck art.” Screamed my daughter. I stood watching him in awe…not just the perfection, but the speed and the choice of colors. He turned back and in response to our questioning smile, introduced himself as ‘truck artist Haider Ali’ from Karachi. ( The stress was on the first two words).

Haider Ali is visiting Canada on the special sponsorship of the Pakistani Consulate and represented Pakistani Truck Art  in the South Asian Heritage Celebrations called RUNG, at Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and Carrasauga Festival in Mississauga in May. Last week he also painted a panel at the Canadian Parliament at Ottawa.

I had a million questions to ask about the Truck Art, so I followed him at the exhibition Moving Art  arranged by a  friend Asma Mahmood at her Promenade Gallery

First of all I wanted to know the history of the origin of truck art:

“It all developed very gradually. In 1950s after partition, the Karachi Port ( Keamari Port) became the main source of trade. It was mainly the camel carts and the donkey carts that carried the goods. The camel carts being bigger, brought goods from the port upto wide roads and then transferred the good were carried on smaller donkey carts, to navigate through the narrow lanes leading to the City Station from where trains carried them to the rest of Pakistan. The painters painted camel, donkey and horse carts , while their animals were adorned with intricate accessories and ornaments made out of beads and wool.
In 1960s, Bedford trucks started to arrive from Luton, England. So the trucks gradually replaced the camel carts. Three  painters which included his father, started to comply to the demands by the truck drivers’ demands to paint the names of their cities, and sometimes for their kids mention on the truck.

  • Mera Sona sheher Chakwal
  • Aao sanam Kashmir chalein
  • Sonu tey Billo di gaddi.

Like the animal cart owners, they considered their trucks as their companions. Perhaps ( speculates Haider Ali), the more imaginative ones wanted their trucks also to be more ornately adorned like these animals. Hence the idea of more detailed motifs developed. The idea got better, and better. The painters started to add more colors, and designs like flowers, birds, scenes, and human figures on the truck. This inspired a competitive spirit, not just between the truck owners but also between the painters, who boasted of their  newer and more creative designs. Thus the art kept evolving, and it still is.”

“In the 60s and 70s the Garden area, which is the hub of truck art in Karachi, used to look like an artists street from Italy or Spain”. says Haider Ali.  Many foreigners used to come and appreciate the art. Many wrote articles on it, as they went back.

Haider ali began learning from his father at the age of 7. After school he used to play around the place where his father painted, and sometime out of curiosity for colors, his father let him put dots or lines on the truck. He learnt mixing of colors, contrasts, and how to make strokes. Seeing his interest and flair in strokes, his father sent him to a friend who used to paint posters for films.

At the age of 22 he decorated a truck for the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. one of the most detailed piece he has painted, The truck still stands there at the institute.

HyderAliSmithsonian

He has exhibited his art on a truck &  vans in London and Luton too:

hyderAliUK

HyderAlivansUK

A bus and a friend ship car in Turkey. The doors of the car below show King Faisal Mosque(Pakistan) on the left  and Blue Dome mosque(Turkey) on the right.

HyderAliTurkey

HyderAliTurkeyBus

There are so many  colors and details to be added. Isn’t it very complicated?

“Each truck is worked by 6-7 group of artists specializing in different areas.When it is our turn to paint,  start from a white painted background, the add details over details. Once painted, a sticker paper is added in lines to reflect the light, called the chamak patti. Then the electrician adds the electric fitting like colorful bulbs , metal workers add the colored chains, and metallic frames to make it more intricate. Even the interiors are explicitly detailed, including the faux leather seats, which  match the motif designs.”

The play of color begins:

HyderAliColors

HyderAliWhiteTruck

HyderAliPredetailsHyderAliDetails

The explicitly detailed interiors:

Elaborate Truck Art Of Pakistan
Asking him about the details of the kind of motifs the truck drivers demand, he says.

The image that stands most popular since time immemorial is Ataullah EsaKhel.  They love his songs, and he has been painted thousands time over.
Ayub Khan was also one of the popular figure among the drivers from KPK na they often comes with: Teri yaad aayi tere jaane ke baad.”
Are there any demands for politicians? Yes few have aslked for Baloch sardars, but mostly it is Ayub Khan. Some have now started to paint

Imran Khan, but I guess now this demand will increase. He has painted the famous Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s  photo for a few:

HyderAliBB

Film stars?

“Yes Mustafa Qureshi was very much in demand some time ago. Amongst the Bollywood, Mamta Kulkarni with a unique picture of a chain in her mouth( I have asked Haider to look for the picture) is much in demand. He has also made a few of Rani Mukherjee, and one of Aishwarya Rai”.

Any male stars? Shahrukh or Amitabh Bachan?

And he smiles, “No. Not yet.”

Among the monuments, Minar-e-Pakistan, Faisal Mosque and Khyber Gate are the most popular. Taj Mahal is also demanded by many.( That was a surprise, indeed.)

HyderAliMinarePakistan

HyderAliTaj

“One driver demanded Bruce Lee on his truck.” smiles Haider Ali.
HyderAliBruceLee

Many want birds, or even sher ( for which he paints a tiger).

HyderAliSher

Haider Ali loves drawing all kinds of birds and their details including falcon, peacocks, partridges, eagles etc.

HyderAliMacawsHyderAliDove

HyderAliPeacocks

Are there any unusual themes that you worked for?

The demand for themes and designs vary with changing times.
For example, in the times of war, in 60s and 70s, there were patriotic slogans with missiles and jet planes.”

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While in the last elections, he painted a truck on demand for Pak Election 2013, by SAMAA TV channel.

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Talking of the slogans, he said calligraphy on trucks is another field and many artists do it as a separate. He loves to do the calligraphy too.

What are your favorite slogans:

Anything that a truck driver demands. Almost all trucks adorn a Masha Allah on the head. If they leave on us, we choose for them.

  • Dekho fasla rakho, warna pya ho jaaega.( Keep distance, otherwise we’ll fall in love)
  • Hum chalein, dushman jalein( As we roll, our rivals envy)
  • Na ghabra ai zaalim paas aney sey, Khuda bhi rooth jata hai kisi ka dil dukhane sey.
    (Don’t be afrais of coming close, even God is displease by those who hurt others.).

Most who get their trick repainted the favorite is:

  • “Waqt ne pher sey dulhan bana diya.” (Time has turned us into a bride again).

Haider Ali’s favorite shair being:

  • Tum ney aisa rabta rakha, na paas aye na door rakha. ( You kept such a relationship, neither came close, nor went too far apart).
  • Zid na ker, assi aap barey ziddi aan. ( Don’t be stubborn, I am the same too).

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Among the famous in Pakistan Tapu Javeri the photographer, had commissioned him to make a panel for his house. Ever since they became friends. Haider Ali pays tribute to his friend by at times changing the famous slogan to:

  • “Tapu yaar tang na ker.”

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Can truck art be used to promote Peace for India Pakistan Peace friendship?

Haider says he went to Museum of Peace in India  just 1.5 km from Atari and painted an India Pakistan friendship van. He again has been called to Calcutta this September for a yet undisclosed Project.

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My daughter was curious: “Does NCA or Indus Valley have Truck Art’ in their course? Have yuo ever been to those places?”
He smiles: They don’t consider truck art as an art. However, thanks to Sabeen Mahmood, I have my works on display all the time at T2F. And Lok Virsa.  In Pakistan we are a moving exhibition, 24X7, spreading the message of peace and harmony through colors and slogans. You will not find any hateful message on any truck or bus. Like our designs, our location of exhibit have no bounds.( “Hamre art ko koi qaid nahin hai.” ( Our art knows no bounds neither of ideas, nor of locations).

People copy your ideas?

“Yes, though our art is not considered an art, many designers have copied them on dresses, furniture, crockery etc. They can copy our designs, but can’t copy our ideas and skill. I don’t feel offended. Infinite is the limit of ideas for a ‘truck artist’. No two motifs are identical, no two trucks are same. And they are what they call in art world, ‘custom designed.’. .”

If not painting on truck, Haider Ali loves to make painting depicting stories( owing to his interest and training in painting the film posters when young.

I particularly liked the one of Omar Khayyam:

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And the Sohni Mahiwal

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He has a two year old son, who he aspires to be a ‘truck artist’ too, but also wants him to first complete his education, which Haider Ali missed out on. If educated person will come in the truck art, we will get more recognition.

My daughter pointed out how in film BOL the place where trucks are painted was shown as the place where the transgender boy was raped. Haider Ali retorted, “There are good and bad everywhere.” Though there is no dearth of respect and recognition we get world over, wish our Pakistani films and dramas showed the positive side of lives too.

Some more of Haider Ali’s works:

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He invited me to his work shop in Karachi to learn the swift and  steady brush strokes that fascinates me so much. But before I seriously go and master them, I practiced them out on the ‘truck art’ inspired  silk scarves the same evening.
(One in Hindi & the other in Urdu)

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