Skip to main content

FESTIVAL


A Review of Masala Family Festival – 2013
By: Afrah Jamal

When a festival proclaiming the biggest food court with 150+ dishes and the largest ‘Kids Mela’ comes to town, it tends to get people’s attention. It also sends a polite little message about Karachi’s resilience. Because Karachi Expo Centre suddenly gets packed to the rafters by die-hard foodies and doe-eyed fans.

Some are simply responding to the call of their favorite Masala or HUM Chefs featured on numerous banners, who beamed down from their lofty perch and extended invitations from the comfort of the studios.



Masala Family Festival 2013 opened its doors on 30th March 2013.



The two day event organized by HUM Masala Tv and EC Gateway promised a mixed platter of food, fun and famous faces under one roof. And for the most part it delivered on that promise.



The super-sized festival had reportedly brought in three lac people. Perhaps it was the ‘free entry’ sign with the ‘shop till you drop’ clause, or the hope of crossing paths with a celebrity chef - or the word mini golf. Families came in droves to splurge on brands, select from a variety of cuisine, gape at the gigantic T-Rex and watch ‘the masters’ cook up a storm.



There was food aplenty with music and laughter to spare. The trick was getting close to the action which, given the swirling wave of devotees, proved to be quite a feat.



The festival used tempting offers of ‘Live cooking demos’ by Zakir, Zubaida or Zarnak as its ‘pièce de résistance’. Though the purported meet-cute with cooking giants remained a pipe dream for many and sheepish looking chefs spent the next few days apologizing to broken hearted fans on air.

Every FMCG company was represented with a smorgasbord of activities laid out to appease all tastes. Inside, un-obtrusive bouncers had been stationed to keep the peace while dazzling displays of fireworks lit the skies, & talent scouts roamed the halls. The lucky ones came away with signed copies of magazines or a nice little makeover. A carnival like atmosphere pervaded the Expo.





It may have looked perfect from afar, but the festival is also on a steep learning curve; there were shortcomings that need to be pointed out to help organizers, who got a monumental project off the ground, keep it afloat.



The Expo Centre is the venue of choice for exhibitors and can easily hold a large crowd in its massive halls and enormous grounds. The noise pollution and navigation woes go with the territory. The awaam, though packed like sad sardines was observed bargaining away before running off to catch a breather outside. A chef later confessed to being overwhelmed by the numbers and driven to a corner.

That ‘free entry’ clause highlighted the challenges of crowd control. It is an ambitious undertaking that requires a top-notch management team on their toes. The legion of mostly polite volunteers deployed all over the venue were on hand to direct the surge of humanity that flowed from 10am to 10pm but the sheer number of people present made their job that much harder.



With the inevitable security checks, come slow moving lines and long waiting periods. Ensuring that Entry and Exit points do not end up as bottlenecks will improve festival’s image, and make the experience a little less intimidating.

The event is in its second run and judging from the turn-out and the feverish energy on the first day, it had hit its intended mark.

s

Masala Family Festival has become an annual feature that needs to work out the kinks and adjust its dimensions to cater to the needs of a city of 18 million; or in this case - three lac. The social media commentary seemed fixated on the considerable crowd and little else. From a business standpoint this calls for a dance of joy. Such statistics cannot be the sole determinants of success.



Making celebrities accessible, while appealing in theory, could become tricky in the presence of mob mentality and requires crisp planning. Although, at a literary festival held earlier, celebrities and mortals shared the same space with nary a protocol in sight. On the flip side, it speaks for the immense popularity of these stars and their cult like status that sent half of Karachi scrambling towards chef central.



For now, the concept of a star studded family extravaganza has captured the imagination of the nation. Plans to extend the ‘Maza, Masti and Fun’ to other parts of Pakistan are reportedly on the cards.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Quiet Diplomacy: Memoirs of an Ambassador of Pakistan / Author: Jamsheed Marker

PUBLISHED IN Daily Times /February 06, 2010

REVIEWED BY: Afrah Jamal

Jamsheed Marker belongs to an exceptional cadre of Foreign Service officers entrusted to keep things on an even keel on the diplomatic stage. Providence chose him to fill the void brought on by a sudden influx of newly independent nations and the subsequent need to expand diplomatic service during the 1960s. A stellar career in fostering global diplomacy as the longest serving ambassador has earned him a special place in history.

This veteran Pakistani diplomat has a striking resume. With ten posts and nine accreditations, his name appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the only person to have served as ambassador to more countries than anyone. He took his curtain call when Pakistan declared him Ambassador at Large in 2004, and has been on the faculty at Eckerd College, St Petersburg — Florida as Diplomat-in-Residence. He ended his tenure with a wry observation, ‘the batting card on the scorecard to M…

OP-ED: What’s In A Name(sake)?

First Published in Daily Times / 2 Sep 2013

A beloved cricketer’s name adorns the billboards but this is not a biopic. The cricketing world it allegedly represents provides a compelling front but it will not be a return to his old stomping grounds. Main Hoon Shahid Afridi (MHSA) draws upon a living legend’s legacy to leverage the passion and throws in a cameo or two, but that is the extent of Afridi’s involvement. Meanwhile, somewhere in a small little village, a disgraced cricketer turned coach who trains a rag tag team will be moved centre-field. And the one thing that binds the nation together and provides the soulful soundtrack will become the anchor.

The newly minted flight is bound for cricket-ville and in some parts of the world that is reason enough to join in the festivities. Humayun Saeed, seen at the helm wearing a number of hats as the producer/actor enlists the classic underdog formula to launch his ambitious vision. The village club is in danger of being shut down, and m…

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

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…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

OPED: The Afghan Policy in Perspective

Published in Global Village Space / Aug 2017

True to its reality show inspired template, the Afghan strategy was rolled out after months of speculations, suspense and dithering. It used memorable taglines and inflated figures. ‘Agents of chaos’, sunk costs described as ‘billions and billions’ and going all in seeking victory against all odds. It offered to be tough on Pakistan, even as it was vague on the outlines and predictable in its deployment.

Reading between the Lines

This is essentially the new, improvised policy meant not just for Afghanistan but also Pakistan and India. With it the U.S. administration appears to have heeded the advice of keeping the enemy in the dark. They have also dismissed the necessity of keeping their allies close and have instead embarked upon a strategic vision that aims to expand the theatre adding India to the volatile mix and potentially widen the gulf between allies.

Yet it is not the public performance of the commander-in-chief that catches the e…

VIEW: GOING DUTCH (2008)

Published in THE POST May 18, 2008

What does Cadbury have to do with 12 sketches and a 17 minute film? Nothing, really. Cadbury is neither Dutch nor Danish. But by now most Pakistanis - if not all - have probably received a text message stating otherwise. And thus begins a boycott campaign of all things Dutch or Danish. The self righteous lot, in their overzealousness, would acquiesce willingly. Yet, few who have received an email or sms that proclaimed the success of this boycott and lobbied for its continuity - or witnessed the demonstrations meant to convey outrage against both Denmark and the Netherlands for their alleged laxity in safeguarding certain religions’ sanctity - will stop to reflect on the virtues of pushing a hostile policy intended to coerce but neglecting to convince. Fewer still will bother to dig deeper and corroborate details of such episodes.

The cartoon controversy returned in 2008 – helped on by the aptly titled film ‘Fitna’- similarly denounced for its unflat…