Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

FILM REVIEW: West Bank Story a live-action short film (2007)

Published in The POST May 17, 2007

Directed by:Ari Sandel
Written by: Kim Ray and Ari Sandel
Duration: 21 Minutes
(An official selection of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival)

The Middle East is better known for staging violent uprisings, certainly not for inspiring comedic masterpieces.

Since 1967, the West bank has spawned a surge in Arab hostility, frequent visits to the Middle East by Condoleezza Rice and lately, a small little inspirational musical comedy about competing falafel stands, directed, co-written and produced by Ari Sandel (part Israeli, part American Californian native). Since there is no easy way to represent both sides fairly, the very notion of West Bank Story is greeted with a justifiable mix of scepticism, wariness and resentment at first. No doubt, it is a precarious balancing act that mandates such a film to be witty without being offensive, show compassion without discrimination and entertain without losing substance. So does West Bank Story deliver?

West Bank Story

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Sunset — The Rise & Fall of the Lahore Durbar Author: Amarinder Singh

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times under the heading: Lahore Durbar in free fall

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

After the Mughals exited, but before the British arrived, the Lahore Durbar was presided over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bahadur, affectionately known as the ‘Lion of Lahore’, who makes a brief appearance in Amarinder Singh’s narrative, but leaves a lasting impression on his history.

Ranjit Singh, who has been described in the book as a great man and an outstanding military commander, was a mass of contradictions. For instance, he was against the death penalty but not averse to robbing widows, believed treaties were meant to be broken but treated the vanquished with kindness, and thought nothing of inviting guests only to divest them of their most prized possession — like the Kohinoor diamond. He may have spent the better part of the day leading military campaigns, yet he did not always harbour territorial designs and is said to have waged a war on hi…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.

Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

BOOK REVIEW: Inside the Pakistan Army: A Woman’s Experience on the Frontline of the War on Terror

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Author: Carey Schofield

First Abbottabad, then Admiral Mullen, and now the BBC — whispered allegations against the Pakistan Army have picked up pace. Thus far it has been unable to build an effective counter against the barrage of accusations headed its way. Thus far it has watched its credibility plummet and the problems mount. That the military’s weakened standing can be attributed to a series of unfortunate events — some of their own creation, others beyond their control, have left their image tarnished. Even the fact that a Pakistani checkpost recently came under NATO fire and suffered heavy casualties did little to alter the negative perception.

Carey Schofield, the author of Inside the Soviet Army, who admits to having spent seven years studying the Pakistan Army, is off to vindicate her hosts. Since she does not practice the military’s customary caution, her…

OP-ED: Fashion Week – More Than A Pretty Footnote

First Published in Economic Affairs June 2013 Issue

‘Artists are the gatekeeper of truth. We are civilizations radical voice’. Paul Robeson

There was a conference on counter-terrorism underway in Hyderabad as fashion week was winding down in Lahore. One of the presenters, a Dutch with a Phd and a thesis on the effects of fear on social behavior had indicated resilience as part of the counter-terrorism strategy. ‘We had a fashion show, does that count?’ I later asked Dr. Mark Dechesne who was in town recently. If he was startled, he did not show it.

Two things have been trending on twitter since April 2013. Fashion week finds itself in the same time slot as politics and as politicians perfect their strut on the political ramp, the fashionistas have taken to the red carpet and designer-wear floods the catwalk. Though fear overshadows both events, people refuse to let the claustrophobic environment dictate their social calendar.

The famed fashion week which started from Karachi and co…


First Published inDaily Times / 5 Jan 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Demigod fans who bade farewell to Percy – (son of Poseidon) & the Olympian franchise a few years ago must have wondered what the writer was up to as they came across a ‘final’ Prophesy conveniently left unresolved at the end of the saga.

The Last Olympian’ concluded the five part series wrapping up Percy Jackson & his merry band of demi-gods' extended arc with a high-octane finale and an emotional send-off. Though Rick Riordan had moved on to explore Egypt in ‘The Kane Chronicles’, he wasn’t done with Olympus, its ever shifting centre of power or its hoity-toity god population for that matter.

The cryptic warning heard in the final pages is used to establish the credentials of this spin-off. The gods return in the ‘Heroes of Olympus’ series - distant as ever and in Roman form heralding a brand new dawn with the promise of new crusades, a shiny new quest, fresh faces and an ancient threat. And Percy is b…