Saturday, April 9, 2011

MAGAZINE REVIEW: Introducing ‘Aye Karachi’ - Karachi’s first quarterly bilingual city guide and features magazine

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, April 09, 2011

By Afrah Jamal

T2F may be a popular hunt but it was not easy to find; not without a GPS enabled phone, a knowledgeable Karachiwala or both to lead the way, which is ironic, since that day, it was to be the venue for the launch of a “city guide and features magazine”.

‘Aye Karachi,’ a brainchild of Rumana Husain, has been five years in the making. ‘Aye’ is not a nautical term (as in ‘Aye Aye Capn’) but an Urdu word formed by combining the letter Alif with a Yay (‘O’ in English); this means that the region’s first quarterly, bilingual city guide and features magazine has nothing to do with pirates and everything to do with Karachi.

Described as a quarterly portrait of the city, ‘Aye Karachi’ is more than a city guide – and serves to fill a void that few realised even existed. This need was first identified by Rumana when she noticed that while major cities of the world boasted of their own magazines, the commercial hub of Pakistan was forced to make do without any. She set out to correct this oversight with an ambitious project which is Karachi-centric, bilingual (Urdu and English) and most importantly – free!

Karachi – a sprawling metropolis with its frantic pace of development and multi-ethnic sensibilities continues to astound (and, in some cases confound). It pulsates with a vitality that is exhilarating, if a little overwhelming. Keeping up with the changing dynamics of this magnificent city means composing a symphony which can hit multiple chords while staying true to an overarching vision.

That vision has been brought to life by a powerhouse team that includes Founder/Editor Rumana Husain, who already heads ‘NuktaArt’ (a biannual, contemporary art magazine as its co-founder / Senior Editor), Amra Alam (SUNTRA magazine Chief Editor) and Shammi Jameel Hussain (Advertisement Coordinator) without whom – Rumana admitted, this would have remained just a concept. Amra Alam (Co-Editor), who has penned numerous award-winning children’s books and collaborated with her sister (Imrana Maqsood) to write 15 serials for different TV channels, is in charge of the Urdu part of the magazine.

The team insists that this decision to pay homage to the metropolis with a publication that strives to be accessible to everyone does not threaten to knock existing players off their perch. Au contraire, ‘Aye Karachi’ is set to be distributed in places “where people are likely to congregate, like banks, prominent hospitals & clinics, salons, cafes, hotels, gyms clubs, airport and all public and private libraries, including educational institutions.”

In the inaugural issue, a substantial section has been devoted to listings – bookshops, health/beauty centres, Wi-Fi hot spots, travel agencies, eateries and a compilation of websites specific to Karachi. Rumana adds that the lists will be continually updated in future editions based on feedback received. The remaining sections cover heritage, personality, eating out, sports, technology, entertainment, street fashion, fiction, events etc.

In 2010, Rumana Husain’s coffee table book ‘Karachiwala – a subcontinent within a city’, endeavoured to capture Karachi’s diversity and now with ‘Aye Karachi’ comes the opportunity to expand the narrative even further.

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