Friday, December 19, 2014

Khalid Rana at Jashan-e-Tashie Zaheer

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Remembering 145 schoolchildren of Peshawar

Light rain did not deter around one hundred people to attend a candlelight vigil at the Stanford University, held to remember the 145 schoolchildren of the Army Public School, Peshawar, massacred by a group of terrorists on December 16.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tina Mann at Jashn-e-Tashie Zaheer

Any given day Tina Mann can have Hadiqa Kiani biting the dust.

A better audio of this song is present here
starting from 02:04:20.

Tina Mann with Ashneel Singh on tabla and Ali Shahabuddin on the keyboard.

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Murder of Ibolya Ryan: A UAE National Day Celebration…of an evil kind.

The United Arab Emirates celebrated its National Day on December 2.  There were flags everywhere..flags to tie your misplaced identity to, flags to hide your identity if you can cleverly use them to cover the registration plate of your car.  Dala al Hashemi used an Emirati flag to hide the number plate of her SUV, when she went out to stab to death a Romanian-American, and place a home made bomb outside the residence of an Egyptian-American doctor.  The attempt to kill the American doctor (fortunately unsuccessful) was premeditated--Dala allegedly went to the doctor’s residence, several days earlier, to make sure he lived there. But Ibolya Ryan, the special education American teacher, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Dala stayed in the women’s room of a mall for an hour waiting to kill an American, any American…Ibolya finally walked in; it is not clear how Dala identified Ibolya as an American.

For those of you who have been fortunate not to visit the UAE, understand that that union of seven Sheikhdoms along the Persian Gulf reeks of gaudy phoniness.  It is a place of the foreigners, for the foreigners, (build) by the foreigners--all three groups of foreigners pretty much living in mutual exclusion.   This is where European-descent people and the wannabes can shamelessly get a taste of life once lived in the colonial era.  The social hierarchy is hard to miss: Westerners at the top, non-Emirati Arabs and skilled workers from other places in the middle, and disposable labor from South Asia, Philippines, and other countries at the very bottom.  Many have been wondering how long this last vestige of ‘colonialism’ will last.  Ibolya Ryan’s murder may be signaling an end of that era of exploitation.

Thanks to the surveillance camera footage; Dala’s folly of visiting the doctor’s residence for reconnaissance, days earlier, when the registration plate of her SUV was not covered with anything; and the hard work of the Abu Dhabi police Dala al Hashemi was nabbed.  But what can be done about the malice that exists in the hearts.  Can Dala’s arrest deter others who might be harboring the kind of ill-will towards Americans and Westerners that Dala holds?  Probably not, especially if such people are driven by religion. 

Many in the Western expatriate community of the UAE must be thinking along these lines.

Photo, courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Police.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Iqbal Day program at the PACC

Iqbal Day program at the PACC
A belated Iqbal Day--normally observed on November 9 or on a weekend close to it--was celebrated on Saturday, December 6, at the Pakistani American Cultural Center in Milpitas.  Over forty people attended the program.  The centerpiece of the event was a paper on Iqbal’s poetry book ‘Javid Nama’ presented by Sabahat Rafiq, a Bay Area community leader.
Atiya Hai and Talat Qadeer Khan sang Iqbal's poetry.
The program was moderated by Dr. Waheed Siddiqui.
Complete audio of the program is here:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Zinda Bhaag, A Review

Zinda Bhaag (movie)
A screening of ‘Zinda Bhaag’, a 2013 Punjabi-with-English-subtitles feature film out of Pakistan, took place at CineArts Theater in Palo Alto, on November 15.   The show was a part of Third I’s Twelfth South Asian Film Festival.  The annual festival normally takes place in San Francisco; this year a Palo Alto venue was added to woo South Asian crowd living in the South Bay.  At the CineArts Theater Zinda Bhaag was introduced by Third I’s Saqib Mausoof (director of ‘Kala Pul’ and ‘In Search of Meluhha’).
Set in a working class neighborhood of Lahore—Samanabad, to be accurate—Zinda Bhaag is the story of three marginally educated young men— Khaldi played by Khurram Patras, Chitta played by Salman Ahmad Khan, and Taambi played by Zohaib Asghar--in their twenties looking for ways to get out of the country.  Spirited Rubina (played by Amna Ilyas), Khaldi’s lover, is an entrepreneur determined to stay in Lahore selling her organic ‘Face Look’ beauty soap.  Besides the main theme of three young men’s desire to migrate to the greener pastures in Europe, Zinda Bhaag touches upon a number of Pakistani oddities: poems of Marxist poets are only appreciated by the privileged class; Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides ample opportunities for making out, tippling, and gambling; and that in official business and in romance Punjabis prefer using Urdu.  Zinda Bhaag, dotted with upbeat songs shot against garish backgrounds, beautifully captures the comedic conversational style that is the hallmark of the Punjabi language.  On a budget-to-entertainment-value-scale Zinda Bhaag ranks very high.
Any movie coming out of Pakistan is expected to feature elements international audience associates Pakistan with: terrorism, suicide bombings, lynch mobs chasing perceived heretics, madrassas preaching extremism, Taliban, and the War on Terror.  In order to keep it light, Zinda Bhaag’s filmmakers have stayed away from these uncomfortable topics—Zinda Bhaag is a pun on Zinda-bad, a common South Asian chant of encouragement and well wishes.  But then doesn’t this deliberate avoidance of the Pakistani realities nullifies the title of the film?  In the movie, if  people staying in Pakistan are living well (save for some financial hardship, common everywhere in the world), and the ones who try to run away to other countries are being killed, then instead of ‘Zinda Bhaag’ (Run Away Alive), shouldn’t the film be tilted differently to correctly portray the contrary theme of the movie?
The Twelfth South Asian Film Festival was supported by a large number of sponsors including The Center for South Asia, Stanford, and the Pakistani American Culture Center (PACC).  The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi—the two were introduced by Dr. Sangeeta Mediratta, the Associate Director of the Center for South Asia.  The filmmakers explained how they succeeded in recruiting superstar Naseeruddin Shah to act in his first Punjabi film and how most of the actors in Zinda Bhaag were common people chosen from the locality the film was shot in.

فلم زندہ بھاگ، تھرڈ آءی، ساءوتھ ایشیا فلم فیسٹیول، سمن آباد، لاہور، خالدی، خرم پطرس، چٹا، سلمان احمد خان، تامبی، زوہیب اصغر، روبینہ، آمنہ الیاس، نصیرالدین شاہ، فلمکار،مینو گور، فرجاد نبی، سینٹر فار ساءوتھ ایشیا، اسٹینفرڈ، سنگیتا میدیرتا، ثاقب موصوف، پنجابی فلم، پاکستانی فلم، آسکر ایوارڈ۔