Friday, July 15, 2011

Friends and Shopping

You know I thought I had talked about my connection with some of my friend's here but in looking back over things, I realize I haven't.  I met Salima Hashmi through one of her students, Sarah, who is an art teacher in Jackson. I met Sarah through one of my coworkers, the fabulous Mr. Fred Burton in summer 2010 and this is how all this started.

Sarah needed help with an art education pilot workshop overseas that Salima (who is the Dean of Visual Arts at Beaconhouse) was sponsoring.  Sarah had been a former student, was going back to visit family for the summer and was asked to teach a pilot class. She came to me for help and we became friends.  She introduced me to Salima over the phone who later invited me to present at a Beaconhouse conference in November in Lahore. In Lahore, Sarah had arranged for her extended family to take me under their wing and make sure my stay was comfortable. Her mother Maryam is very special and has been so kind to me (as has been all her family). While in Pakistan in November, I was asked to fill out a Fulbright application, help set up an art ed program, and come back to teach. BNU brought me back for this summer, my college gave me a grant to help with expenses, I found out I got the Fulbright for next summer and voil√†!  That is a year's history in a two paragraphs!

Now on to Salima who is one well known lady in Pakistan.  First her mother and father were amazing people.  Her father was one of the most highly celebrated and well known contemporary Urdu poets in the country. Her mother was an English woman who fell in love and moved to this area before the partition so they both saw and were a part of history in the making.  This year is the 100th anniversary of her father's Faiz Ahmed Faiz, birth and there have been commemorations all over the world. Salima is in her own right one of the best known artists, critics, educators and all around great gal. She and her sister who was a well known TV producer are married to brothers (who were both in TV and then moved on to other endeavors), so the family is very close.  Salima was the head of the National College of Art before starting a new program at BNU. Outside of her accomplishments as an artist, educator and writer, Salima is what I would refer to as a fearless woman (my kind of gal).  She has a kind heart and really makes an effort to make people feel they are valued and special, but she is also a very strong person with staunch beliefs, and willing to stand by what she says.  She seems to  attract like-minded friends as all the people I have met through her are go-getters.  So, that sort of brings things up to date in terms of how I got here...a series of fortuitous events.

So, now that is covered-on to my day yesterday.  I taught class and my students did a good job. They are still adjusting to writing using a style manual but making a really good effort.  We decided that tomorrow we will go to the Lahore Museum as many have either never been there or haven't been since they were children. We are about to cover visual culture so this should be a good starting point.

After class, Sofia Shahid picked me up and we went shopping.  I mentioned Sofia in an earlier blog.  She is a sweetie and her father, who is a well known sculptor, sent me a small bas relief cast piece.  It is lovely and a gift I will treasure.  We had a great afternoon and she took me to places I probably would have never negotiated on my own starting with Liberty Market.  This place is blocks and blocks of outdoor shopping.  Poor Yusef.  Driving in this area is a nightmare!

One of the many cloth seller booths at Liberty Market
The Liberty was a visual feast of color.  The streets are narrow and if you're not careful you can get hit by the cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and even donkeys that are constantly weaving in and out down these small streets.
The first place we went was a shoe shop where traditional handmade shoes were sold. Lovely!
Along with the many shops, there are street vendors for food everywhere. I have been told not to eat anything from the street vendors but what they were selling smelled wonderful, looked delicious and  they were plenty of people eating!
Corn seller.  He puts the corn deep  in the coals and you sprinkle it with seasoning.

Fabric dyeing using natural pigments

One of the streets I really loved was the cloth dyers street.  Here you can bring fabric (or they have it), tell them what color you want and they dye it there in vats on the street. The next day you pick it up. You can see the pots of color and it smells of dye along the street. Loved it! After the fabric is dyed, you can have it stitched right there on the street, take it home or it goes to shops. However, most of the shops specialize in elaborately embroidered or printed rolls of fabric. The shops are probably 8 feet wide and maybe 10 deep. Piled high on each side are stacks of fabrics and trim.
      The market place was like a maze and we got lost a couple of times, but that was ok. I had so much fun just looking and taking pictures.  There are shops for everything and basically this is supposed to be the most inexpensive place to shop for some fairly good items. If you aren't willing to haggle with the street vendors-you don't get a deal and that is part of the shopping experience.  In certain types of closed shops you don't try to bargain. (This is usually a shop with air conditioning).  I am starting to recognize the signs!

There are aisles for jewelry, cloth, wedding supplies (a big seller here-lots and lots of amazing stuff).

Traditional Costume Jewelry
I took a lot of pictures here, but the blog server is not cooperating so I will upload more later.  I had a big time at Liberty.  After that we went over to another shopping center in the Defense area (close to where the guest house is located). This is more or an upscale area and not as picturesque, but I found a few treasures.  You can buy DVDs here for very little.  They are usually copies from what I can see in the movies (people in the theatre getting up and down, not great sound quality, etc.).  I didn't realize that until I got them home.  I wondered why the guy said he could get me most any movie I wanted by the next day!

We were pretty much wiped out after that and came back to the guest house. Maryam Hasan dropped by and we had a nice chat, then laundry, movie and bed.

Tomorrow I am flying to Islamabad, and Maryam Aslam is picking me up to take me to her house in the foothills of the Indian Kush.  Mr. Aslam said you can see K-2 (highest peak in the Himalya's) from their verandah on a good day.  Maryam Hasan's driver is taking me and picking me up from the airport so off on another adventure!

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