Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

TEDxNUST 2011

It was held this week on the 24th in an outdoor setting in SEECS, NUST H-12. It was the first NUST related event I had attended, since it was in the evening, and by chance I had taken the day off for some research related work at the university. My expectations for the event (prior to attending it) had shifted constantly from really grand to mediocre and then to moderately grand. But whatever it was, it didn’t disappoint, and it was a fun evening too, out in the open in the SEECS fountain area, as they call it, with a spotlight lit ambience, rose petals, umbrella outdoor heaters, and lots of charged up youngsters, who really made me feel like an old timer, BTW.

I may point out some things that I felt were a bit wrong, but it does not mean in any way that the event was not good. The event was brilliant. So my criticisms, if any, are to be taken in good spirit.

As with all student managed NUST events this one was well done too. Pretty little X’s on the path outside SEECS led me to the venue, where a group of students wearing cool black TEDx t-shirts were busy getting stuff in order. Last moment arrivals of necessary hardware like the mushroom heaters caused a bit of a disturbance prior to the starting of the show as the providers had to make their way through the corridors with their gas cylinders and other accessories… I feel that should have been done a bit earlier. But you can’t blame the event organizers entirely for that. They on their part were doing a really good job with the registrations and the other management stuff.

Apologies for the absolute lack of pictures. Maybe someone else on our blogger panel can put some up.

The Setting

So as I made myself comfortable on the left of the sitting area, a little higher than the stage itself. Since it wasn’t a proper auditorium, the lack of “levels” caused visual problems for the ones sitting at the back, since they were not able to see what was going on down on the stage, especially when the amazing sitar player and his tabla player had to sit down on the stage floor for his performance. The floral arrangements were very artistic, and we were later told that they were designed by one of the speakers themselves. However, the TEDxNUST poster on which some of these lovely floral arrangements were made was a little too reflective itself, which caused messy bumps and waves on the poster to be visible under the bright spotlights, creating a mildly unpleasant stage background. It would have been better if it were smoothed out in some way, pasted to a flat panel, or a clear white background were used.

The projection screens were placed on either side of the main stage, for the attendees to see from the left and the right of the sitting area. That was thoughtful, however the excess lighting on the stage caused the screen projections to dim out a bit, thus making it hard to make out the pictures that were being displayed. Usually a larger TV type screen works in these settings, but of course that could not have been possible too easily. A little clever lighting arrangement would have had made it fantastic.

There was a distinctly feminine touch to the entire setting; rose petals scattered near the central fountain area, little candles being lit up prior to starting the show, the stage sets like the matkas that were quickly arranged during the sitar players’ performance, the floral arrangements, etc. That’s probably why the environment looked appealing!

The seating was cleverly arranged to make use of all the space available, since the area wasn’t too large (the fountain is to blame). The rear gallery type view was taken up by the blogger class, who were actively involved in sending out live updates of the event to the website/twitter. It’s worth pointing that out at this point because the involvement of these tech-savvy youngsters in sending out live information over the internet made the event all the more dynamic and sort of digitally expansive, allowing thousands of viewers around the world to view and follow the proceedings live, online. Technology works wonders, BTW. That may sound like an old man’s statement, but visionaries like yours truly can’t help but imagining a time when digital holographs are beamed across the miles of this planet to be displayed in exactly the same three dimensional arrangement somewhere else in the world.

However, the NUST organizers did not have hologram technology, or Scotty’s beam-me-up tools, so they made most of whatever tech gadgets they had to make the event a success.

The People

I could see some externals and internals in the crowd, very eager to see what was about to transpire on stage. Most of them could be seen tapping away on their devices, probably tweeting about the event, or maybe even texting each other! It wasn’t an unruly crowd, kind of like the ones who spend their time giggling in the back seats, however it did need a little 101 on event ethics, as my cynical self noticed the excess disturbance when the show had started.

What bothers me most is people walking around the venue during the show, finding their seats, and hundreds of photographs crawling around with their cameras, taking pictures of whatever things of interest they could spot (glory to the days when camera films were expensive). Not only here, but photographers tend to be quite a nuisance at every event, where every second person in the audience has a camera, and they quickly move to front to get a first-hand view of the couple getting married (if it’s a marriage event), or for any stage performance, thus merrily blocking the view for all the unfortunates sitting on their chairs. That’s probably one of the first things I would make sure would not happen if I were an event manager at any event.

The crowd was mostly the young, other than some distinguished oldies. The event probably would not have been a success if it had been dominated by the internet ignorant generation, who frequently pesters their children to teach them how to e-mail. Moreover, most of the talks were targeted more towards engaging and motivating the youth, though the ideas can be built upon by the older generation (given that they have any mental flexibility left for drastic changes and new challenges).

The Speakers

I hope you haven’t skipped all the above to read this part, though I realize I should have written a bit about the speakers earlier. You can get their profiles on the TEDxNUST website, so I won’t bother going through their achievements.

I felt that the event had a theme to it, and the theme was Pakistan. I am not sure if that was the actual intent, but every speaker had a very Pakistan focus on their talks, unlike most of the TED talks one gets to see on the internet. Maybe it’s like that for independently organized events like these, or maybe it’s because it’s the first ever TEDxNUST event and it was necessary to give it a more focused and digestible beginning. It was good in a way; helps to assimilate all the ideas presented as a compendium, and then it can be implemented in a synergistic fashion to achieve all the speakers objectives.

The first speaker, YBQ, came on stage in a traditional dhoti-shalwar dress, and naturally everyone in the audience were anticipating a fantastic opening talk from someone who belongs to the distinguished artists class of our country. And that’s what he did. His dress was a striking green and white, the first indication of a very Pakistani event. He tried to kindle the kind of challenge-accepting spirit in everyone’s hearts by asserting that we should learn to believe in ourselves and do what we love doing the most. Apparently, he loves what he does, and he pointed out that most people come to Pakistan to die, but he came back from America to live. Now that’s original! The general theme of his talk was to look inwards into your soul, to accept who you are. Not too easy as said (for a large majority!), but motivating nonetheless, and a great start to the event.

I don’t exactly remember the sequence of the speakers, and I may mix up the points from their talks since I happen to have the memory of a cyborg goldfish, but I’ll try to bring it out from the heart, if you know what I mean.

Azhar Rizvi delivered a very crisp and professional talk on entrepreneurship, on engaging universities and institutions on the initiative that he was involved in, and startled everyone with the large numbers and facts that he presented. His talk built up into a final crescendo; the beginning felt like I was in an MBA lecture, frankly speaking. But through the interesting case that he built up and presented during his talk, he was able to send across one important point that I totally loved and is still stuck in my mind. He wants everyone to:

Engage in small groups and develop ideas for improvement in any aspect of the society, and then propel these ideas to platforms where they could be heard and transformed into a reality. When there are tens of thousands of these idea cultivation groups and cells across the country, it would not only connect like minded people who are passionate about innovation and development, but also connect their hearts which would help in improving the overall development of the country.

Those are not exactly his words, but that’s what I was able to extract from his interesting talk. It’s a sort of extension to the look-into-your-soul concept stated by YBQ earlier, only here you are extending your soul to other souls, creating links to let the passion flow like a river through the entire society, and engage people in developing new initiatives and startups which they alone could not have achieved.

Farhana Azim’s talk was a bit of a hassle for her as she struggled to keep herself in sync with the flipping slides on her PowerPoint presentation. She probably wasn’t comfortable with controlling the slides herself, so obviously it had to get a bit messy when someone else was doing it for her. However, what she presented was thrilling. She’s a floral artist, and the pictures that she showed were of outstanding works of art made from all-organic materials, especially flowers. She had ended her talk with a passionate description about the beauty of flowers in Pakistan, and her experiences being around them. Not as motivating as the other talks I should say, but an interesting foray into the art of floral arrangements, and a realization that passion is what can help you make wonders.

Now Shah Sharabeel came up with probably the most interesting ideas in all the talks. He was supposed to talk about how changes can take place with performing art. I was expecting something on the lines of all the theatre stuff and talk about art, but it was a bit more creative than that. The story that he told to send across his idea definitely portrayed him as a strict man who sticks to his principles, and that he’s the kind of guy who is serious about bringing a change in his society. His tone, however, got a bit harsh at various points in the talk, which showed his distaste for the prevailing ills in the society… but I guess that is what makes the talk all the more interesting, and gives more weight to the speakers statements.

He told how he always wants everything to start on time, and that his events are never a minute late. His staff had to bear a lot of manhandling, torn shirts and bruises because of angry late comers outside the theatre gates, but he would not let them in. So gradually, in the later shows that followed, all of the attendees came on time, and now his shows have 100% attendance. He also told how he was notified of a very senior government person, that he would be coming around 15 minutes late because of some family matters he had to attend to. Sharabeel thought out a plan, and that was to ask everyone in the audience to stand up from their seats and shout at the latecomer to get out, when he would enter the auditorium. The audience at his show loved the idea and were ready to that. Too bad the government guy was notified of this when he was on en route to the theatre in his entourage on the Mall road, and turned back home.

So HIS idea was based on a theme of Unity; that no one in our country would help us end corruption (he asked to mark his words on that), and that it would only be possible if everyone united, and openly declared war against all the corrupt people in the country. Now the idea may seem oft stated when you look at it on the surface, but there are certain societal dynamics, if I may call them as such, which need to be considered, as they play an important part in enabling this unity. Sharabeel introduced the idea before his performance had started, on stage, and obviously the audience were there for a purpose, and that was to watch HIS show. So naturally, the entire group of people at the event had a common thinking, a common objective there, and since the concept of a corrupt society is already understood and abhorred by every sane mind in the society, his idea motivated all the like minded people to instantly connect together to support his objective. So in my opinion, no matter what you do, you cannot unite people unless you have a uniting concept first, which should be independent of the objective you want to achieve. This would help automatically develop a kind of atmosphere of subconscious unity among the people, without them realizing that they are trying to unite themselves together. Simply stated, telling people to unite themselves in not the way to go, uniting them with something that secondary that they are all interested in doing will link their minds together.

The above concept can be used to explain the rationale behind Masoora Ali’s talk as well, in which she pointed out the importance of Active Citizenship. She raised a general idea, but I think it can be linked with Sharabeel’s idea for a synergistic effect. Thus, active citizenship can be one common uniting concept that can bring people together for a common cause, and when they come together for a common cause (which has to be a good one of course), they are linked, and when they are linked, their actions can be extended for creative revolutionizing concepts like the one introduced by Sharabeel; to put up slogans and posters at your shops, institutions, hospitals, etc., that no corrupt person of any standard would be entertained in these institutions.

Swaying away from these topics are the interesting talks by Badar Khushnood and Adnan Shahid, which revolved around more IT technology related stuff. Badar focused on effective utilization of the internet and active involvement of the Pakistani netizens in creating a better online Pakistan. He showed interesting facts about Pakistan’s internet behavior, which Google can very easily analyze. A bit scary when it comes to privacy issues, but I guess we can all trust a Pakistani working in Google (can we?). He talked about how there has been an increased use in mobile phones in Pakistan, something which I personally did not feel was a great “achievement” as owning a mobile phone does not signify progress on a smaller scale. It may show the adoption of technology by the country, but if the technology is not playing any role in the betterment of the country other than bringing it on top of the statistics lists, it need not be mentioned at all.

Adnan Shahid delivered a well organized, crisp and chilling talk about e-waste in Pakistan, how the west dumps their discarded electronic waste in the third world like ours, how the poor people here are making a living out of selling, burning, disposing, transforming these highly toxic materials without considering the health hazards involved, and how our society is completely ignorant about these ills. It did spark a bit of resentment for the developed world, how they used less developed countries as a means to dispose off their old electronic waste. His initiative, Green Pakistan, revolves around the recycling concept, and also that we should always carefully check our electronic gadgets before buying them (whether they are “green” products or not). He said that we should tell the developed countries responsible for the waste to take back their waste and give us back the precious metals they used in making them. Now that’s an awesome statement, and practicable too if thought out well. It would be encouraging to see people following his initiative to dispose off our electronic materials in a well planned way, and not letting it fall in the hands of poor children who risk their lives by trying to make a living out of these toxic materials.

Puruesh Chaudhary came up on stage with her very MBA-ish talk about… ummm… well frankly speaking, most of her high level terminology went over my head, but her initiative, Agahi, struck has an essential media revolution of our times. She showed a very cleverly complied short video documentary about how the media had shifted in its reports over time, and what is being displayed on TV nowadays. My thoughts exactly; as I watched the video, I felt like going back home, picking up the TV and throwing out of the house… something which I had been thinking of doing for a very long time (something which Adnan Shahid would not like, BTW). I do not understand why there is no regulatory body on media ethics in Pakistan. In the name of free speech, our TV channels constantly bombard us with hate, hate and more hate. They don’t even spare us on happy events like Eid, when they continue complaining about how the prices have risen during Eid, and other nonsensical material. Does a person really need to waste his day learning about elevated price items during Eid, when all he wants is just a pleasant time with his family and friends? Media needs a serious revamp, and we need to support people like Puruesh to bring this ethical revolution to the forefront.

The final speaker of the event, a photographer, delivered a highly patriotic talk about his unique travels throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan, the pictures that he had taken, and his experience with various places that a very large majority may not be aware of. Danial Shah presented a slideshow of his photographs which showed all the exocita in our country, stuff that I would personally like to see on my 2012 calendar. I’m not a big fan of nature and all-the-beauty-of-Pakistan, but I was engaged by the enthusiasm and determination of this young man to bring a good name to his country. People may constantly criticize these people who are simply doing what they love to do, and who strongly believe that what they do will eventually bring about a big change. But one should realize the criticisms will only make these people more stronger, and more unique. I thought that whatever he is doing is fantastic, and he should continue exploring deeper aspects of our urban, sub-urban, and rural societies, creating a link between the amazing natural beauty of the country, and the beauty that lies in the society that thrives and continues to mature in this part of the world.

Rakae Jamil is being discussed at the end here, though he performed midway during the event. And that is because his performance was outstanding, and I didn’t want it to be overshadowed by all the discourse that I would have written later on. It’s funny that he played Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday on his sitar, probably to captivate the younger audience. But his performance that followed appealed to everyone; his control over his instrument, and the accompanying tabla, both gave the impression that there was an orchestra of around 12 instruments playing. There were a thousand sounds with each of them having their own pulse… it was mesmerizing… if only the people walking around and leaving had realized that. I am glad there was no underground rock band or something like that at the event, and Rakae Jamil decorated the event with his auditory delights in a fascinating way.

Conclusion

I skipped the dinner at the end, but that was supposed to be a networking session. However, what the overall impression that the event left on me, and of course on everyone else, was a very positive one, and it would definitely be a pleasure to attend more NUST organized events like these in the future. The event was well managed by the students, and I don’t think any other event management body would have done it as well as the students did it themselves (whoa!). You can check out the TEDxNUST website for more details. They might even upload the videos of the event for your viewing pleasure.

Easy steps to bring a revolution..

 

How to bring a revolution in ten easy steps:-

1) For starters, wear a lot of sunscreen if you plan to bring a revolution in the summers (because skintone is if not more, as important as the said purpose itself).

2) Wear either Nike’s or Adidas sneakers, Servis joggers don’t cut it when the cause has so much international importance.

3) Make sure you keep your latest iPOD in handy so that when the Naara’s go out of tune, you can listen to revolutionary songs by Lady gaga and Justin Beiber. John Lennon? John Lennon who?

4) Eenie meenie minie mo between Imran Khan and Zaid Hamid, one is a confused apologist, the other is a state of the art fighter sent to the world to rid the world of all Zionists, regardless of their nationality.

5) Watch a lot of star plus before you go out in the scorching heat to fight for justice.

6) Believe that everything wrong in the country is because blackwater wants it to be wrong. Yes, your alarm clock didn’t go off in the morning because blackwater wanted you to be late for class so you couldn’t learn and bring change in the world.

7) Revolution doesn’t come overnight, so ask your mothers to pack you supplies for at least two days, sandwiches, lollipops, orange juice and a good bedtime story.

8) Go to protests with the opposite sex in numbers, because while you’re ridding the world of evil and social disorder, you might even score, how cool is that?

9) Before heading out, twitter, facebook, text message your friends that you’re going on the mission of your life and if you don’t return, they should forgive you for all the wrong doings that you’ve done and return an hour later and re-do the process with, “I almost died for the country”…

10) After the protest, tell everyone that the country has gone to the dogs and then take your dogs out for a walk in the evening.

OMG… Kuch Khaas.

There has been a constant debate over how the critically acclaimed city of the dead is actually living up to its name as far as performing arts (mainly music) are concerned. The overall security situation of the country amongst many numerable reasons contributed to this sad state of affairs. But as they say, all hope is not lost for 2010 saw KUCH KHAAS (A community space for discourse, learning, meaningful entertainment and participation in Islamabad) break into the scene. I recently caught up with the KUCH KHAAS program team to discuss their new venture called Open Mic Gig (OMG).

1) For starters, tell a little bit about the program team at KUCH KHAAS and what it actually does.

The Kuch Khaas Program Team has Program Managers, Assistant Program Managers, Interns and extended Kuch Khaas Family Members. There is a whole lot of collaboration between the team on how to execute various ideas into programs such as events or classes/workshops.

2) How much in your view has KUCH KHAAS affected the arts/music scene in the capital?

Islamabad happens to be a place where previously being self-taught was the norm for most artists and musicians. Kuch Khaas hopes to have instructors who now can impart their knowledge and skill to eager learners. These learners have a relationship with their Instructors and Kuch Khaas, which later becomes a source of confidence for them to show their talent in events such as OMG.

3) You people have various music courses going on, tell a little about them.

We have previously hosted classes and workshops by Singing Instructors, Natasha Ejaz and Ahmed Ali.

Our ongoing classes include:

“Singing Success” instructed by Shahbaz Zaidi which has been one of our longest running classes alongside “Guitar Lessons – Beginners and Intermediates” instructed by Syed Salman Haider Zaidi.

“Classical Vocal Training and Tabla Classes” by Ustaad Umeed Ali Khan, student of Barey Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab, while Ustaad Naimat Ali Khan Sahab accompanies him on tabla have been a great source of inspiration for all of us.

We also have “Percussion Training” with Asfendyar Ahmed. Rawal Shadab Ahmad is our instructor for “Basic Keyboard and Piano Lessons”.

A weekly facilitated drum circle conducted by Ammar Latif also takes place at Kuch Khaas, open to anyone who would like to participate and get together to make music, the purpose of this activity is solely recreational.

4) Do you think KUCH KHAAS caters to particular strata of society or is it inherently universal in its approach?

Kuch Khaas does not prescribe to a formulaic approach in building its community. We are here to mobilize not only the youth but also reaching out to adults in order for them to redefine their notions of everyday life in Islamabad. Kuch Khaas is an idea impacting society physically and theoretically.

5) When did you people decide to hold open mic nights and how has the response been thus far?

The Open Mic Night was to ensure a platform for local enthusiasts and musicians, a gathering that is intimate and casual enough for different genres to come together creating a diverse program for the audiences.

Kuch Khaas hoped to bring together acoustic playing singers, solo acts and local bands. To balance out the night we now ask for submissions a week before the event. These processes lead us to rename the Open Mic Night to Oh My Gig! Or OMG as Kuch Khaas manages the entire program. This does not in any way shape or form mean we dismiss or undermine some talent over the other.

The program each time leads to new realizations for the next OMG. As the Kuch Khaas Team we want to set out an example for local youth to come out and perform not because OMG is an official musical gig but a night to celebrate local talent.

6) A lot of noteworthy musicians have played at this venue; do you think it’s slowly becoming the GEN-Y Civil Junction?

Absolutely not, Kuch Khaas is not catering to solely musicians but multitalented individuals, who have potential and want to perform.

7) Are there any facilities/programs except the Open Mic Gig platform to facilitate budding musicians at KUCH KHAAS?

We now have started Karaoke Nights for those who might just want to sing out loud to their favorite tunes in a relaxed and informal environment. It is not about OMG the event but about the people who go through the experience with us.

8) Why did the chicken cross the road?

To go to Kuch Khaas.

9) Do you people plan on expanding further, if yes, then what avenues are you people looking to explore?

We have an extensive video library in the making of all our previous programs and events. We hope that having an archival process will enable Kuch Khaas to go a step further in delivering constructive dialog beyond its four walls.

10) Any final words of wisdom, messages, dedications or statements?

Kuch Khaas is now coming to a full circle with the completion of its first year in May. A place open to youth and adults alike, bringing forth opportunity and support for a more engaging Islamabad.

 

Photo credits: Zeeshan Jamal/Kuch Khaas

Who deserves what?


Confusion is the prime of sorrow and everything that has been happening in the land of the green and the pure for the better half of the last decade can briefly be summarized as a confused view point following an even more confusing ideology. Everyone has a brief stint of identity crisis where the greener pastures seem blue if focused on properly but even more daunting than this is the global rejection of the green.

“We deserve it; it’s just God’s way of telling us that we aren’t good people”

This is something that I get to hear very often and it just makes me sad thinking how people can so aptly point this out without paying heed to the fact that the law and order lapses and the massive failure of infrastructure is a direct consequence of the short-term thinking of everyone who has been in power for the last six decades. It has all been due to the cat and mouse game that the honchos in big government establishments play when they could have diminished their differences and given more attention to both economic and environmental sustainability.

Why sit back silently and accept this as an order from the heavens and not ask questions? Why do we always give into dogma and refuse to question anything because either it is the ultimate word or it won’t make a difference if we ask questions. We know there was a flood, we know people are dying of hunger and disease, we know it’s the worst disaster of this century; we know it will take years to get everything back to the way it was. But isn’t it about time we start pruning every little detail and make amends so that it doesn’t happen again, isn’t it time we finally stop blaming it on some sect that doesn’t go to the same place to worship as you?

Acts of barbaric undertones have been happening for as long as I can remember. There have been public beheadings, little girls have been raped, people have been tortured and the recent incident in Sialkot is no less. It did not happen because we “deserve it”. It happened because people are afraid to raise a voice against anything that goes against their confused ideologies. It happened because at the end of the day every act of heinous malicious intent is justifiable using means ranging from scriptures to principles to how it’s a religious thing and no one should question it. It’s sad, really sad.

Tell this to a mother who lost her children or a kid who can’t ever have his parents sing lullabies again, tell them that they have been isolated in this world because “we as a nation” don’t deserve anything good. It’s about time we stop fighting over personal lives on national television, it’s about time we stop joining social networking sites to enhance a political image and it’s about time we start thinking about sustainability and a long-term view because you can have the best leader who can get people together but what direction to steer them is of utmost importance.

To think nine out of ten people that I asked about the recent catastrophe and what the solution to it post-rehab could be replied:-

“It’s happening because we aren’t good Muslims and we should hit the government with “a-shoe”.
Bless you I say, bless you.

(Picture taken by me)

The World Music Day Concert by Cityfm89 and what followed…

The National Library auditorium in Islamabad was the venue for the “World Music Day Concert” organized by CityFm89. What follows is a review of how things shaped up and should have shaped up but didn’t shape up due to certain psychotic fiasco’s on part of the people managing and the people playing. First things first, as one of the performers “Zujj” correctly pointed out before the show even started “.. The management has gotten the demography wrong”.. reason being the invitation cards. Apparently you could only utilize the pass if either:-

a) You were a couple.

Or….

b) You were two girls.

So there is an event which features relatively underground acts ( I hate the term but it is what was commonly used so I will do exactly that)… and you can only go in if you either have a “girl”.. (as required by the management.. I swear..) Now as derogatory to the female population as it sounds, it indeed was the case and it indeed is a case at relatively all the concerts which are well, concerts and to me, it makes no sense at all. If there is a concert, instead of relying on the gender derogatory management rule, what can be done is to properly scrutinize the entrants and if there was an incident in which some hormonally imbalanced people got out of their safe zone, security could simply throw them outside.

That was a starting opinion, now on to the exact concert itself. It featured very diverse acts ranging from Zujj to Natasha Ejaz (Brilliant songwriter/singer) who was playing for the first time with a complete band (She is critically acclaimed for her solo acoustic performances), the Islamabad Heavy metal act Saturn and another classically trained vocalist who went by the name of Shan Khan. There was also another band by the name of “Alag The band” who will get a separate exclusive part in this review (Owing to their extremely versatile rock star persona’s, and arrogant rude behavior).

What startled me the most during the initial sound check proceedings was the sheer epiphany that it is very evident that a sound check scheduled for a 5 pm kick off will always manage to start off a couple of hours later but here’s the best part worth a million laughs, the other bands “had no bass guitar”…Yes, the Rock stars HAD NO BASS GUITAR… Here’s the part where all of you can say ” Hein WHAAAAT?”… But let’s leave that part even though I am still “HEIN WHAT-ofying”… The gruesome procedure of the bands sound checking did manage to be done but since the invitation said 6pm, people had already started to come in so the bands were technically “checking their sound check in front of a live audience”…

The concert kicked off with “Alag the band” which technically means “Unique” in urdu, but the only thing unique about them in my humble opinion was how they weren’t unique at all. Just your run of the mill people who think that making original songs on the underlining Roxen/Jal/Every other urdu dipsy pop act is “Cool” and wearing “chains and lockets” makes them a Rock Star. Their Rock star element failed to blossom on stage and all they delivered was an average set which had worse crescendos than Atif Aslam on a bad day (yes that bad)…

Following the rather unique act was Natasha Ejaz, accompanied by her live band which had Parham Faraid (The guitar player of Iranian descent, an amazing friend and someone who has played with the likes of Zeejah and Silversmoke and is a full-time band member of Sketch) playing the bass, Ahmed Ali (The immensely talented ex-vocalist of the ex-brilliant now no more band Nafs, stage play star and the new face of the Ufone family) alternating between the bass and the acoustic guitar, Asfandyar Ahmed (Drummer par excellence who has played with almost everyone from the Islamabad circuit and has an immense amount of concerts to his name) and last but not the least the extremely talented musician from France, Mickael Bon who was playing the keyboard and the acoustic guitar on a few songs.

The set list included a few originals and a few covers. Natasha along with her extremely talented band played a set list that consisted of original songs which went by the name of “Kahan”, “show me the mirror” and “Ankho ko Ankho nay”.. along with a Coldplay cover medley of the songs “Fix you” and “viva la vida (which was performed with a slightly up-tempo rather unique and refreshing arrangement) and a song which went by the name of “Fight for your right”. Her set was the high-light of the show and was very well received by a majority of the crowd present, the minority being the usual “lamers” who have nothing better to do than to hurl abuses at people who take music very seriously and practice all day to put up a good show.

This is the part where Alag the band gets a special mention, apparently one of their mail groupies had the nerve to abuse not only Natasha but also her friends present in the crowd as a reaction of which there was a minor tussle between the lamers and the good people who were only trying to tell the lamers that using the word “Fuck” in a concert is NOT cool and does NOT impraas any gaalz… But the band held their nerve and completed their song. Kudos people Kudos.

Following Natasha was Shan Khan who belted out a few covers which were very well sung and got the crowd on their feet. Talent was plenty in that person as Salman Zaidi of the band Saturn said after his first song ” Dude, Dude, DUDE.. (He might not have EXACTLY said these words but the dept of the connotation was pretty much that.)”.

Saturn followed Shan Khan and by this time, mentally as well as physically each and every person waiting for their turn was exhausted but Saturn put up a very decent show and played an original and a few covers (One of which was the Baby national anthem of Pakistan, Dil Dil Pakistan)… Which was I guess the “surprise cover” most of them were talking about. Saturn’s drummer Shahbaz did an amazing job on the drum kit so hats off to you man.

Zujj was to end the show and by the time he got on stage, as it was late and well the crowd wasn’t really the sort who would listen to System of a down or other linked musical acts, the hall was half empty. Due to the torment of not having a drummer to play with and no bass guitar (Due to Asfandyar’s other commitments and the bass required at an adjacent concert venue), Zujj with his band that consisted of Parham Faraid, Zain Ali (Deframed fame and awesome musician) decided to go unplugged and sang 2 of his original songs that were to be featured on an upcoming Bollywood film and ended the set with his ever famous “phoonk lay” which is quite quickly becoming a crowd favorite.

Being someone who has had the pleasure of being to amazing concerts and some not so amazing ones, this concert just didn’t cut the cake as it should have done, Natasha Ejaz as I mentioned earlier was the highlight of the show. The sound was “Okay” and the lighting was “annoying” but commendable efforts put in my Cityfm89.

Football was being played in the parking lot and there were CityFm89 finger gloves all over the place and that was something I HAD to mention because today was the first time I ever bought something at a concert… *thumbs up*

Apologies for not taking ample pictures and the two used were the only ones that came out good.

Youtube and Flickr- Need lube and a kick-er?

Life restricted? Everyone committed? details omitted and every fucked up thought in the world remitted. Welcome to Pakistan. Welcome to the land of the free and green. Welcome to the den of the Holy. Welcome to the Mecca of corruption and welcome to a place where you’re an asshole and the Government is holy and doing stuff like this will stop the Zionists from ruining our life. SOS ZAID HAMID YOU WERE RIGHT… fucking hell.. *shoots himself*

Golden…

This year, Islamabad turned 50.

Islamabad has been through ups and downs of her life, but she has always managed to emerge as a beautiful and a lovable place to live.

May Almighty bless our city with the peace and stability that she was once popular for.

Amen!

YLES’10 comes to an end

*Sigh of relief*… Yes, today was the last day of the leader and entrepreneur summit. I can safely say, it has been fun, and it’s been tiring, it’s been annoying, disappointing, smiling and so on and so forth. Today was the final round of the Business idea competition which I don’t know who won but I’m sure the chosen team was the deserving team *I hope*…

The event that I did attend (well half of it) was the PLAY-IT ad making competitions final. The selected teams were to re-present their ad to the panel of judges (new panel; more later) and also make a 40 second radio jingle along with it.

I’ll be very honest here, last minute good judge backing out is bad. It showed, the panel of judges consisted of the guitar player of the band Irtaash from Islamabad who “has worked in the telecom industry”, and three other people that I did not catch the name of. Now I might be biased, or jealous or simply bitching. But I’m sorry to say, the FINAL, didn’t really get the right panel of judges. And well, I don’t know who won or who lost, because mid-way I lost interest (Sorry everyone, I just did)… so I’ll find that out later *again*…

The closing ceremony is under-way, so as the delegates bid each other farewell and receive their certificates. I need to mention that whatever the competitions were like, or the social events and all that followed. It was a very very well organized event *organized*… I bear witness to the fact that it takes months and months of pre-event logistic work, organization, tears, sweat, hard work etc. But the whole team put up an amazing 4 days for the people.


I am extremely thankful and very grateful to Momna Azad, who was the external affairs director for YLES’10. She tolerated my annoying calls, she got me an observer tag, she made sure everything worked fine, and even though she wasn’t as visible as say the social event manager or the media manager, she did a mighty fine job and worked super hard. So Thank You Momna =)

Goodbye everyone =)

Play it. Sway it. Slay it. YLES’10

Today was solidly an uneventful day. Well in the start at least. The same foggy state of mind and thought prevailed as I got on the rickshaw to make it to LUMS. Yes, again at 8:30 am. I have learned my lesson now. Never ever will I go anywhere on time in Lahore.

Today, the starting events were the “leadership quiz” and the “Harvard case study competition”. Again I had to choose between the former and the latter. And I chose the latter simply because I think (or perhaps thought) that case studies are fun (More on this later). The delegates were handed out a huge pile of papers that I’m sure made little sense (if any) to 70% of the delegates, or maybe it was their facial expressions that gave out that very impression.

I read a little through the case study and it was basically a case study that talked about raising finance options for the tea company called “Honest Tea”. The judges for this competition were an MBA student from LUMS, and a faculty member of LUMS as well. I couldn’t get their names (so if there is a 1/10000000 chance of anyone actually reading this from this very competition… I’m sorry *sniff* ). What made me really let go of my usual serious stance and laugh was how the delegates took the “BCG MATRIX” and totally raped it


“This firm is a star firm, just like starbucks”…. WTF? =p


“They should.. erm.. aah.. like.. ahh.. like… umm… you know.. like.. ummm.. do something? ” …. Ahawn!?
=p

“The company should opt for venture capital because it’s a coperation and they should cooperate”… R missing anyone?!

For all the people who know what this finance is. This would make sense to them. But at the end of the competition, one team was selected from that room to compete against the teams selected from the other room in round two. I unfortunately couldn’t attend round two because I couldn’t. So I don’t know which teams made it to the final.

Next up was PLAY-IT. The competition which requires teams to come up with a 1 minute advertisement for an assigned product. Again the teams were divided so I could only sit in one room. The advertisements that were played in the room I was in were interesting. Some very good and catchy, some crappy and sloppy, one ripped off advertisement as well (Funny no one noticed). Some notable mentions were the advertisement for “Total petrol pumps”, “Rafhan Jelly”, “Knorr ketchup”.. and “Dairy Milk”… The results weren’t announced right there, right then so I will find out tomorrow who made it to the finals.

The social event for today is the “grand dinner”. And the theme for this dinner is “Greece”. Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite will be plenty (I hope). For today.

C ya? =p

The business idea competition at YLES’10 and all that followed.

I left early in the day (7:30 am) in pursuit of a rickshaw to get me to LUMS so I wouldn’t miss the business idea competition which was “scheduled” to start at 8:30 am. But due to the state of mind that is prevalent these days, it didn’t start till my watch sounded the 11:00 am hourly chime.

In my head was the though that it’d be the best that YLES has to offer, but an hour into the presentations, I couldn’t stop yawning. Oh and since there were A LOT of teams, there were two places where there were presentations so like I mentioned previously in my earlier posts, I trusted my instinct and went into one of the two venues. Oh and yes, they were boring, didn’t catch my attention, except for 2 or 3. But then again that is my view. The judges for the competition were:-

a) Ambreen Waheed who is an executive director at Responsible Business initiative.

b) Sadaf Adnan who is the regional head for the National Fullerton Asset Management Limited (NAFA)

c) Iram Fatima Jafry who is the manager advisory for KPMG Tasweer Hadi and Co Lahore.

The presentations revolved around one team wanting to open a fitness center, another wanting to open a Cafe’, another wanting to open an institute to groom ACCA students. (Being an ACCA student, I particularly found his presentation very offending =p). One team wanted to open a security company and one individual wanted to open a Fashion swapping business, which in my discussion with the judges after wards floated as their favorite presentation. Half of the total number of teams who presented their ideas were chosen for the second round.

Though I’d like to mention here that the judges were very careful as to what they say to me, or maybe it was the fact that they just didn’t like me *laugh*.

  • ROUND TWO:-
  • Round two had the first round chosen teams presenting in detail to a panel of judges the financial plan of their business followed by a question and answer session. I’ll be honest here, I was half asleep by then and the judges (except for one) were asking STUPID questions in my opinion. Regardless of the presentation or idea at hand, the judges shouldn’t shove their “experience” or “thoughts” in the faces of the teams who have worked really hard. One judge even had the nerve to go up to one team (after the computer was troubleshooting) and say ” beta koi chota idea socho, woh na socho j o tumharay baray bhee na kar sakay hon”.In my view, that is as demotivating as a Maulvi trying to tell you to be a nice person.

    Anyways, the results will be announced today so I will update that later on. The social event for the night was a concert. The band playing at the concert was none other than “a thousand girls dilo ke dharkan”…. NOOOORI.

    I sat through 3-4 songs. The concert though was marred by sound issues, and pretty much an average performance by the band.

    That’s about it I guess.

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