Logic is Variable

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Experimental construction

This article appeared in monthly Techno Biz

The future lies in mud architecture. Though this sweeping statement may sound prehistoric, but it is very relevant to modern times. Building living spaces with mud is a tradition dating as back as the start of civilization. Some excellent examples from the Great Mosque - the world’s largest mud building and UNESCO’s World Heritage site – to the oldest surviving mud specimens found in the Harappa, Pakistan, show the continuous use of mud buildings.

Having grown up in mud house myself (before I moved to urban center), mud buildings have a special place rooted deep in to my cultural consciousness and this personal bond encourages a more intimate relationship between me and the mud as the material transformed from formlessness to form. Hence my interest in mud architecture and how I see its future in Pakistan.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:14 AM, , links to this post

Flooded Lands Overrun by Spiders

Weeks after water from the devastating floods in Pakistan began to recede, photographer Russell Watkins traveled to the Sindh province to document humanitarian relief work funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. As he photographed the return home of the 10,000 people who had been displaced across an area the size of Lousiana, Watkins heard about an amazing phenomenon. In the absence of people, spiders had taken up residence in the trees to escape the floodwaters, creating a bizarre and dramatic scene. On visiting the area Watkins found that every single piece vegetation was covered with arachnids. “No one,” says Watkins who has traveled the world photographing relief work, “had ever witnessed anything like this before.” The rainy season dispatched most of the webs, but not before many of the trees, suffocated by the cocoons, had been killed. But there was one benefit. The risk of malaria was much reduced. Presumably most of the disease-carrying mosquitoes had been by caught amongst the spiders’ webs.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:36 PM, , links to this post

Old Food Street

Gowalmandi Food and Heritage Street was an enriching experience in Lahore only a few years ago. A wonder what a few million rupees spent on the renovation of built heritage with balconies and angular projections lining the street some had done to the ambience of the street.  It is no more there though  Lahorites still compare it with food lanes in Rome, Paris and Athens.

Sizzling spicy foods on display in Gowalmandi reminds of what Vasco de Gama shouted after setting his foot on South Asian soils on the dawn of May 21, 1498, "For Christ and spices!" No data for consumption of spices in Gowalmandi Food Street are available but a proprietor of one of the biggest shops in the street told, "On the average I sell about 120 Kilograms mutton and over 40 kilograms of chicken every day. People prefer to eat mutton karahi and chicken barbecued. A milk shop proprietor said, "My daily milk consumption - in the form of chilled milk, yogurt, Kheer, khoya, lassi -- is over 2000 kilograms." (Consumption should be a little more now. This data is old.)
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:55 PM, , links to this post

Khanuspur mein kuch khas

The beauty of Khanspur lies in the lights and shades, unlike any other tourist mountain region in Pakistan including Northern Areas. Fiercer, stronger, and sharper light silhouettes the mountain resort and scattered houses on slops in ever changing patterns against the skyline. The sunlight plays with the green nooks and crags of the Khanspur landscape, tossing out long shadows that ripple across the green gorges, sometimes through tall pine and fir trees. It turns the hills from opal in the morning to sapphire to gold to silver and finally to dross before descending swiftly in a bright red ball in the evening.

It is the light of sculptors, not painters, who love the soft diaphanous hues and tones. Out of that light come the great image of green hills and the long, clean lines of the spurs separating craggy countryside from the plains. In the background of photogenic natural settings, Khanspur weather proves fickle, switching from sunshine to downpour and again to sunshine in minutes. The rain that falls over the land and blots out the sun can be seen in the red, grey and brown layers in the cliffs that plunge dramatically into the horizon.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4:03 PM, , links to this post

Women need to work

The position of women in our society is characterized by multiple roles. A woman is a mother, wife, sister, and daughter; may be all at the same time. In some cases women are working persons as well. What do men – fathers, brothers, husband or other male family members — think about women working away from home? In our society, women’s options to pursue a career or stay home largely rest with the male members who generally decide about it under the influences like particular family situations, family and social background and the financial needs.

Women are seen working in corporate Pakistan largely doing jobs which have traditionally been labelled as women’s work like clerical, secretarial, catering, teaching, public relations and front desk, medical practitioners and other health related jobs, labourers in production units and to some extent in human resources and marketing fields, notwithstanding exception that can be found in almost any discipline; far and few.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:09 AM, , links to this post

Habib Jalib

Hassan Siddique

Halib Jalib lived his life by his ideology, prominent lawyer Abid Hassan Manto reminisced at a seminar arranged by the Souh Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) on the 18th death anniversary of the revolutionary poet Habib Jalib on Friday. Manto said that Jalib’s poetry has an emancipatory effect when experienced by the common man. The occasion was graced by a number of Jalib’s old companions with Manto accompanied by human rights activist I A Rehman, SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam, reknowned poet Shahzad Ahmad, Zahid Akkasi and lawyer SM Masood. Voice against dictatorship: Manto said that Jalib became the voice of public against dictatorship.

Sharing his personal experience with Jalib, he said, “Once I was addressing a law college’s function for my college union elections and suddenly Habib Jalib came on stage and spoke a few words in my favour. I think it was because of this that I won the election.” Amidst despair, a new slogan: Secretary General SAFMA Imtiaz Alam said that Jalib became his favourite immediately after he heard his poems for the first time. He said that Jalib became the voice of public when people needed new slogans. Gen Ayub Khan wanted to celebrate his ten-year rule when Jalib began to agitate through his poetry and fought for democracy, he added. He also said that Jalib had the gift of knowing how to motivate public into action. He also said that Jalib own life passed in tough conditions in which he had to wait for food for days.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:56 AM, , links to this post

My interests in Sheikhupura

Those who take their chance to cross the River Ravi from Saghian Bridge to go to Sheikhupura in the suburbs of Lahore have to pass through the flower nurseries. Also, along the road has come up a Flower Market near Saghian Bridge. After turning on Sheikhupura-Sargodha Road from the Chowk where a beautiful replica of Hiran Minar (The Deer Tower) has been made, you drive along the bumpy two-way road lined up on both sides with smoke emitting factories of different kinds: fabrics, chemicals, glass, and paper pulp. At places the pungent whiff reminds as if one is driving on Grand Trunk Road near Kala Shah Kaku. Wall chalking, religious and or commercial slogans - is another thing that one notices all along the road to Sheikhupura.

Jehangir Abad turned Sheikhupura is situated in Ravi-Chenab corridor and fast turning from a market agricultural town to an industrial city. Adjacent to Lahore, the town is surrounded by old places like Sangla Hill (old Sakala), Nankana Saheb (birth place of Baba Guru Nanak) and Jandiala Sher Khan (last resting place of Waris Shah).
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:38 AM, , links to this post

Carry the dust to Multan

Standing in Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh - accumulated debris of ages - one can think of Alexander the Great, Muhammad Bin Qasim, Saints, Mystics, Sultans, Gardezis, Gilanis, Qureshis, and Khawanis. But what you see is the aging town hall and Ghanta Ghar, Hussain Agahi chowk - Hide Park of Multan - with the nerve jarring rattle of auto rickshaws, tangle of tonga and donkey carts vying for space with mechanical transport, vendors and shoppers, blaring music of audio video music centers and second hand cloths (landa) hung on the walls.

A city of monuments, Multan has been around for centuries. History of Multan dates back to ancient times. As per the legend, its origin is assigned to the time of Hazrat Noah (A S). Under the various Hellenic forms of ancient designations (Kasyapapura, Kashtpur, Hanspur, Bagpur and Mulasthan) Multan figures into works of Hecataeus, Herodotus and Ptolemy. It has been an empire, a kingdom, a province, a state, a capital and now a divisional headquarters. Thousands years after Macedonians, the conquerors of Multan present an amazing variety of races: Graeco-Bactrians are followed by the Kushans who in turn give place to White Hans. The Arab first arrived here in 662 A.D. and it came under Muslims rule in around 712. Multan also remained under Karmatians, Lodhis, and Ghaznivids. Between 1221 and 1528, ten invaders swept through the city till it finally fell in the hands of Mughals in 1528.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:34 PM, , links to this post

Straw engineering

We are very familiar with straw and mud. Explore the countryside and you will see dried stalks of threshed grains, especially wheat and rice everywhere. Straw is used as a fodder, for covering floors, and thatching roofs, and in weaving mats, screens, baskets, ornaments, hats, fans and more. You can also see mud houses dotting the countryside landscape.

Building homes and other living structures with straw is also tradition dating as back as to the start of civilization. Since prehistory, human beings are using straw as a construction material. The incorporation of machine compressed bales seems to have started in early last century though. Compressed straw bales are being used like bricks in the buildings.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:43 AM, , links to this post

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