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Striking Balochi dance performed

Striking Balochi dance performed

HOW many of us know that in the 1960s there used to be a very efficient Balochi literary circle at the University of Karachi? Answer: not many. Well, there was one, and it arranged cultural events depicting vibrant Baloch culture on a regular basis. The annual Balochi Diwan, for example, always drew large crowds.

On April 26, 1967 a scintillating performance of Balochi music and dance on university campus marked the Diwan organised by the Balochi literary circle of Karachi University Students Union. The highlight of the show was the sprightly Leva dance. The Leva is a happy group dance from the coastal region performed by scores of men circling around musicians. That day, however, it was presented by a man and a boy on a makeshift stage in the university’s Teacher-Student Centre’s spacious hall with not-so-good acoustics. The improvised bits from the folk dance made the predominantly Baloch gathering jubilantly clap to the music. Earlier, the Diwan began with a programme in which papers on Balochi literature were read out by the students. Eminent scholar Prof Karrar Husain presided over the event.

Mind you, it was a culturally vibrant week, on the whole, for Karachites. On April 24, a preview of an exhibition of one of the most distinguished artists of the country, Ali Imam’s artworks at the Arts Council attracted a large number of art aficionados. There were 40 odd paintings on view, and all of them were made in London where the artist had stayed for a decade but never lost sight of his roots. According to a critic who wrote on the show, his early work was somewhat decorative, etched in sparkling colours and heavy with cubistic compositions. The paintings done a little later, he opined, had more stress on form and design, and his use of colour, like a distant background, was soft and touching. Speaking on the occasion, Ali Imam said: “The form is important, not colour.”

On April 28, another exhibition of more than 100 paintings illustrating Allama Iqbal’s verses was inaugurated by Finance Minister N.M. Uquaili at the National Museum. The 12 paintings made by Abdul Rehman Chughti stood out. They were in a league of their own.

That very day, April 28, the city suffered a heavy downpour (the month of March had already experienced an inclement weather) as a result of which Karachi was waterlogged. By the end of the day, the city had countless puddles, flooded streets, stalled cars, toppled trees and blacked-out neighbourhoods. The rains, as it often happens, terribly affected the transport system. On April 29, all trains ran late by at least half an hour because the signal system was playing hide and seek with railway authorities. It was thrown out of order after the rain soaked all the wiring.

One wonders how the wet weather impacted the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s Garden Department’s efforts which on April 27 had launched Operation Propagation in order to reinforce the supply of shrubs, creepers and tress in its nursery. The step had been taken because the nursery had ‘gone dry’, and with more municipal parks to come up, they feared a dearth of shrubs and creepers. The KMC had a garden department? Does it still have one?

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2017

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