Posts Tagged cafe

Culture, conservation in Toronto – ideas and plans

29 January 2010
My dear [cyber-]friend Shaheen Sultan has sent this interesting email. Those who are interested in helping her with the cultural and conservation efforts can either contact me or leave a comment here. In particular, truck art and other ideas for this haven in Toronto (Raza)
My friends  and I are in the midst of compiling a future project for Art and Culture restoration and conservation — an initiative very dear to my heart, as I have always believed in conserving cultural heritage so the generations to come shall benefit from global cultures where they are becoming endangered with exploitation and falling prey to decadence due to the age of modernity. No, I do not scorn “modernity”, but, I do not endorse the opinion that world culture becomes extinct with the arrival of technology and IGeneration. (more…)

Delhi and Lahore – globalised fads and trends

3 June 2008

This piece of mine appeared in the Hindustan Times yesterday. An accidental piece it was, written on the request of a friend during my recent stopover in Delhi.

Delhi-Lahore hip factor

Be it Khan Market or MM Alam Road,  life for young guns in both Delhi and Lahore is a blend of cafe culture, cool music and retail nirvana

A Pakistani like me who is visiting Delhi cannot help but identify the commonalities between the Indian capital and Lahore. The climate, the predominant Punjabi influence, the urban chaos and indeed the quest for a good life are as shared as the centuries of mixed history.

In Delhi, these ingredients are packaged into a single space, loved and mourned in equal measure, the Khan Market. Its swanky cafes, retail outlets spell out a comfortable sense of the plentiful. A trip to Bahri Booksellers is essential to check on the new, profound and banal book titles. Step out of the book-zone, walk around and you see young men and women holding hands and out to buy a little dose of happiness from the upmarket retail stores. New frames for glasses, an array of pret-a-porter garments and of course cafes where one can lounge while sipping an exotic coffee brew with a fancy cake. Barista is a favourite of mine with its neo-modernity ambiance and an ample variety to select from. If Barista is crowded, one turns to Cafe Turtle. Wi-fi access is available in these places along with soft music and trendy customers, whose snazzy mobile telephones rest silently on clean little tables. Connectivity is another facet of the global search for fulfillment.

In Khan Market cafes, one reminisces about similar haunts in Lahore. The MM Alam Road there is now a bustling venue for stylish cafes and restaurants that are popular hangouts for the youth defying the silly stereotypes of Pakistan. Men and women converse in their designer jeans about the world, quite unaware of the residual violence of the war on terror on the Pak-Afghan border. The Coffee & Tea Company is hugely popular. Another joint, Massom, a pancake lounge, sells mouth-watering desserts with coffee brews and plays cool music as one plunges into leather sofas to chill. Places such as Cafe Zouk, Hobb-Nobbs, Jamin Java continue to lure the hip Lahorites.
Since globalisation’s onslaught on Pakistan, Lahore’s traditional love for eating out has transformed into a fusion culture bonanza. The Hot Spot Cafe, Little Italy, Cafe Aylanto and The Dish have emerged as havens of cross-continental culinary blending. Young women drive alone to meet up with friends at these places; and hordes of teens are seen flocking to the Pizza Huts, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.

While the affluent have these arenas, the underclass youth, both in Lahore and Delhi, finds its own recreational spaces in Carom and Snooker clubs, sleazy internet cafes with loads of porn, the weekly trips to parks; and the occasional sojourns to police lock ups. Life goes on. Globalization has something to offer to everyone.

Meeting Iqbal Hussain in Lahore

17 August 2007

During my recent visit to Lahore, I met the Lahore artist, Iqbal Hussain. We had a nice, engaging chat, saw his recent works some displayed and some eating dust in the splendid Cooco’s Cafe located next to the Badshahi Mosque.

Iqbal’s matter-of-fact portraits have introduced the multiple nuances and shades of Lahore’s red-light area to the world. The women subjects are mostly from the area and he paints them with stark candour and brings out the depths of expressions and emotions in his lines and brush-strokes.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of Iqbal is the establishment of Cooco’s Cafe that has turned into a cultural landmark and has also catalysed urban renewal in the neighbourhood.

Among his recent paintings is the portrait of actor-writer Feryal Ali Gauhar with her dog. This is an uncommon subject but the result is fabulous. I was quick to take a photo (see the image below).

Iqbal is a down-to-earth artist with no pretensions. The directness and simplicity of his work is a reflection of his personality. He braved the mainstream opposition to his paintings with a stoic attitude and has invested his time and soul into the growth of cooco’s as a fine place that offers much more than the old city delicacies and cuisine. I can’t wait to meet him again and see his new work.