_By Ushah Kazi
This week, as we are nearing the end of this rather turbulent roller coaster ride (aka 2016) I was pressed for a theme for my little roundabout series. I skimmed through the usual social media platforms for something that I could share with you guys, all the while still trying to decide on a theme. Eventually, I decided that instead of a genre or art-form, this week I’d bring your attention to a few things that should be appreciated simply because they exit. They are perfect for no reason and range from talented artists to ambitious entrepreneurs. As this year has confused me into an identity crisis, I just wanted to take a few minutes today and focus on some people and places that warrant appreciation simply because of who and what they are.
1. Letting art breath; Commune Artist Colony
In a world that loves stratifying, Commune Artist Colony (often simply referred to as ‘The Commune’) defies labels. It is simultaneously everything and nothing; a platform for exhibition, creation, discussion and general gathering, it functions as a sanctuary for the creative minds of the turbulently beautiful city of Karachi. They offer classes, a space for artists to work on their projects and a slue of events.
This musical performance is a small snippet of what The Commune has to offer.
The brainchild of Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (who is involved and active in everything that his platform offers) he once claimed that he wanted a place that would “release people’s fears…” it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that he has accomplished that. The Commune really is like nothing else, and just for that it warrants support and appreciation.
2. Love, music, and everything else in between; Zohaib Bilal
My love for music has been well documented in these posts, not too long ago in fact I dedicated the whole list to candid musical performances (read here). So in the spirit of melodious rarities, I do believe I’ve found my favourite undiscovered genius. According to his Facbeook page, Zohaib Bilal dabbles in writing songs when he has “nothing better to do…” and is drawn to writing “acoustic-y, indie-ish, poppy stuff about girls that don’t exist.”
Now, if you feel your lips curling into a smile at how adorable this description is, don’t fight it. This panache for understated charm is why I love this guy, and you should too.
He recently put up some of his music on Patari and Spotify so hopefully he can get the attention that he deserves in the not too distant future. Anyway, this is a cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ that he uploaded some time ago, still it is worth listening to because it encapsulates his talent perfectly.
His voice is like a rich lather of molten chocolate gushing over gravel (yes, I realize how strange that sounds. But trust me, it makes sense when you hear him.) Simultaneously he has a way with romantic music that makes it palatable; it is sweet but it wont give you a toothache.
3. Moving pictures; Eliza Fahad
There are a lot of aspiring artists seeking to use the virtual world to make their mark. But Eliza’s simplicity has a magnetic quality to it. That she is talented is unquestionable, but that she is able to translate her talent so perfectly via quick online videos is both clever and makes for binge-worthy watching. This is her latest sketch of the exceedingly hilarious Syed Shafaat Ali.
4. Cementing identity; Braadri Broadcast
Pakistan’s cultural industries have been booming of late. Every week showcases a wealth of independent productions that are worth their weight in gold. The one that eludes many of these is the country’s rich cultural heritage. Now, I’m not someone open to dictating to artists what qualifies as art and what doesn’t. Nor do I buy into the distinction between high culture and low culture (the distinctions often reflect the preferences of the person doing the defining.) Still, as a devoted folk enthusiast, I’ve always had a soft spot for initiatives that experiment with folk music, and the Braadri Broadcast is arguably the most ambitious of such ventures.
A collaborative effort between the MAD School and Karachi Youth Initiative, the group consists of an acoustic 32 piece “Desi Pakistani Orchestra” with performances in 10 Pakistani languages (Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi, Pashto, Siraiki, Shina, Brusheski, Marwari, Hindko and Urdu) it is the best representation of just how diverse Pakistan’s cultural makeup is.
This is there latest song.
5. Appreciating independent ventures; The Last Word
I’m an avid reader, and the only thing I love more than books are bookstores. Still, I can’t help but mourn for the days when every bookstore didn’t belong to a corporate chain. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against businesses expanding but there is a charm to independent bookstores (and independent coffee shops for that matter.)
Hence the fact that this place exists is such a joy. As a preface to this list, I stated that some things warrant appreciation simply because they exist, and The Last Word is a perfect rendition of this fact.
Yes, the venue is lovely, the team behind it obviously loves what they do, they have a vibrant online presence and host a milieu of interesting events. But these are just flourishes, the actual reason for supporting this business is simply that it exists. That somewhere in Lahore, there is a little bookshop that manages even in these corporate, mass-produced times, to maintain that traditional relationship between a business and its clients.
A small appeal;
I’m sure at this point most of us have heard at least a little about what is happening in Syria. Even if you don’t understand the extent of it, you must know that the situation in Aleppo is getting worse and thousands of people are trapped amidst the violence. There is very little we can do but we did compile a list of organizations that you can support, all of them are attempting to help people in Syria (read the list here). Also, recently a petition was started to urge the Pakistani government to take part in relief and diplomatic efforts to help Syrians (find out more here). Finally, an initiative has been started by Syrian activists that aims to keep the global community informed about what is happening on the ground, as hardly any journalists are actually on the ground in Syria efforts such as these maybe the only way to keep abreast with the worst of what is happening (read more here).