NOVEMBER 2002




NOVEMBER 2002 Contents


 South Asian Travels


 Arrival in Kabul
 Spirit of the city
 Cultural Suicide
 Panjsher Valley 


 Natural Heritage

Sundarbans of Bangladesh


 Recognising Depression

 Real Issues

 Bonded Labour of South Asia


 Letter from Pakistan

 From the pages of History

 Maldive Islands - in 1884


 'Rudraksha' - a review
 Artiste: poumi

 Around us

 Coffee break



 South Asian Events in
 London & Washington DC

 November   8 - Nov 14
 November 15 - Nov 21


 the craft shop

 the print gallery


 Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh





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 Bak Mai 

"Raiders of the lost Ark" now playing to packed audiences at Plaza and Regal Cinema , Lahore . 

Our democratic façade is almost ready to be launched , once again on the poor suckers at large ; the old rogues , the Ali Babas and the forty thieves are already salivating and smacking their chops ; " …imagine there’s no country , imagine all the people……" sang the Beatles.

Now imagine Harrison Ford in his Khaki safari suit and outback sun hat playing to packed houses in a new version of "Raiders of the lost Ark" .  

This lost Ark has had many raiders , the most prominent were Alexander the Great from Greece in 300B.C.Then there were many from Central Asia including Genghis Khan and his hordes. His grandson, Babur, and lastly our beloved Queen Victoria and her raiders of the East India Company Bahadur who as the old rock song [ group –Men at Work] goes " I come from the land down under [ should be above ] where the women glow and men plunder …… " replete with their Chota Hazri [ Bed Tea ] and Burra Hazri [ Morning Breakfast ] and "Gin & Tonic" and Nimbu Pani [ lemonade] . The British were loathe to leave this lost Ark [ Sonay ki Chiria – or the Goose that lays the golden eggs] and that explains why the current Harrison Fords [ our feudal lords the Two-annas=Tiwana and the Noons who pulled the oars and fans for their British masters in the afternoon heat] in the latest version of "Raiders of the lost Ark" are once again re-enacting a current series of this epic adventure . 

The TV has been full of the new Channels ARY Digital broadcasting from London and Karachi – a lot of coverage of old Tonga political parties [ a Tonga is a one-horse carriage that can carry about 6-7 persons] ; female politicians such as Sherry Rehman one-time –editor of "Herald" defended their Party Kings & Queens – reminded one of the Shakespeare’s plays one read in high school -- Much ado about nothing and Full of Sound & Fury signifying nothing ………… . Hidden agendas are being followed such as the return of the exiled Queen and the release of her husband.

On ARY Channel TV one can also hear pious maulvis [ muslim priests ] explaining to kids what constituted a religiously correct sajda [ bowing in the foetal position on the ground ] – technically, the maulvi intoned – the nose must strike a hard surface – as such bowing onto a cotton pillow was a foul…….!!!!! 

On November 4, Diwali the Hindu festival got coverage on the local TV ; the yellow flowers called Gainda are in bloom . Ramzaan , the month of fasting is a day away ; the winter is approaching – the stuffed cotton blankets – Razaiis are being prepared in the bazaars here. The Sun and the winter light are changing and the days are getting shorter.

Lahores’s new International airport has started operating from its new site close to Raiwind [ south Lahore ] near the new motorway. The transport infrastructure has improved and even the new train coaches built in China have started running from Karachi to Peshawar although on the old rail track which was left behind by the British in 1947 .

Meanwhile, the taxi drivers struggle to pick up their daily fare – a driver who worked some years in Kuwait as a crane operator , said he could make about Rs 15,000 a month out of which half went into the maintenance of his small Suzuki taxi. With the current mushrooming of universities, it appears that very soon a new crop of graduates will hit the markets here. In similar fashion to the Philippines where girls with MBA’s work as maids in HongKong and the Middle-East and young men with degrees in Computer sciences join the unemployed youth.

The much publicized spin by the ministry of science and technology [ MOST] of achieving great "progress" in Internet connectivity remains a myth. Universities that teach computer science have yet to get this high speed internet connections even on payment . Progress is slow and that is the reality .

In the financial sector the bulls [ bullish hella is the word local newspapers use] are taking the Karachi stock exchange to beyond the 2000 barrier ; this is a great climb from around 1000 on September 11, 2001. However foreign direct investment remains a mirage despite foreign exchange reserves build-up to about $8 billion thanks to the halt of illegal money transfers called " hundi". The prices of petrol and electricity increase making life difficult for the working class and the business classes who live on export profits.

The military forces on both sides of the Indo-Pak border have finally started their homeward trek to their barracks. This will ease the stress on the poor jawans [ infantry soldiers ] and their families at least. There is no sign of wisdom on both sides for a long lasting peace in south Asia. The night of the generals is long out here .

Some voices even with a military past talk of building bridges, but these are still far too few or influential. The winds of war mongering blow away their words; and the latest version of "Raiders of the lost Ark – 2002 " is playing once again to packed capacity houses .


During the recent elections in Pakistan, the major parties PPP and PML were using songs based on the tunes of Indian film hits for their campaigns.

This is in addition to the local maulvis using Indian songs as base for their morning hymns as a wake up call before their sermons - many a time have I woken up to a hymn/naat being sung by our discordant neighbourhood maulvi to the tune of "Bachpan ki mohabbat ko, dil se na judaa karna ....."

The power of good music lives on in the hearts of all fellow south Asians !








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