issue
Lot of problems

Car park contractors' limited liability has led to increase in their disputes with vehicle owners
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Finding a suitable parking place along the city roads, government offices or near shopping centres is the foremost concern of a commuter. Even if one finds a parking lot, it is mostly short of space and already full. It is also because of this reason that many car park contractors have declared their own 'loose' boundaries and pushed their limits beyond those defined by the City District Government Lahore (CDGL). In many cases, these contractors use roadsides and footpaths as well to accommodate vehicles.

MOOD STREET
Yes, me at a committee party

By Sarah Sikandar

An ordinary evening. I am sitting in front of the TV flicking mindlessly. The phone rings. It's a friend, reminding it's that time of the month again. I hang up and lo! I've found something to do. I go to my wardrobe and think of what I can wear this time. "I don't have any nice clothes," I think imagining all the girls and aunties who will be there with their solitaires and Gucci and Maria B. I renew my search but in vain. I give up. 'O whatever! I'll wear anything'.

Town Talk
Baba Bulle Shah's Urs 
begins on Sunday 26th till Tuesday 28th August 2007

Jazz Night at Peeru's Cafe 
-- a fusion of Jazz and tabla on Sundays at 9pm for free. 

enterprise
The art of our times

Freelance web
designing has grown to become a lucrative opportunity for many
By Naila Inayat

"I know the tricks of the trade. I have taken proper training for graphic proficiency and I don't think that such skill should be wasted," said Fawad a freelance website designer who works as a cashier.
"Freelance web designing is means of making easy money for me," said Jamal, a physician by profession.


Secure platforms
The city railway station remains the most insecure place 
By Khan Shehram Eousophzye

With terrorist threats looming large the world over and in Pakistan, security at public places has been beefed up everywhere. The security situation at the Lahore Railway Station remains at the mercy of the authorities and half-hearted.



RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'S
QUESTION
TOP 10
Lahori phrases


issue
Lot of problems
Car park contractors' limited liability has led to increase in their disputes with vehicle owners

By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Finding a suitable parking place along the city roads, government offices or near shopping centres is the foremost concern of a commuter. Even if one finds a parking lot, it is mostly short of space and already full. It is also because of this reason that many car park contractors have declared their own 'loose' boundaries and pushed their limits beyond those defined by the City District Government Lahore (CDGL). In many cases, these contractors use roadsides and footpaths as well to accommodate vehicles.

Another common trend nowadays is that contractors allow people to park vehicles behind the already parked ones. In such cases, they ask owners not to lock their vehicles and hand over their keys to them so that they can move them freely if required. Most of the people immediately hand over their vehicle's keys to the attendants without realising the risk involved in such cases. There have been many cases where people found valuables missing from their cars on their return to the park or found them damaged because of careless handling by the car park attendants.

Waqas Chaudhry, a travel agent, tells TNS that imported rims of his car wheels were stolen from a parking lot. "I raised immense hue and cry but no one was ready to accept what I was saying. Every body asked me to bring some evidence or excuse the poor attendant who could lose his job if I insisted for compensation," he says.

Waqas says the slip issued by contractors often state that they would not be responsible in case of damage or theft to a vehicle. "If that's the case, what do they charge for? Shall I take off the rims and carry them wherever I go," he adds.

Rahat Ali, a resident of Rang Mahal, says the situation at D-point car parking plaza is even worse. This plaza was constructed by Lahore Development Authority (LDA) at a cost of around Rs170 million to resolve parking problems in the area. "People are supposed to park their cars and motorcycles here. But the attendants allow vendors to park their carts here just to earn easy money. Our cars get scratches due to the movement of these carts but nobody cares," he says.

Babar Ali, Inspector Punjab Police, tells TNS that disputes between contractors of parking stands and owners of vehicles are often referred to police stations. The first priority in such cases is that the parties reach a compromise and amicably agree on a certain compensation amount. Locals and representatives of disputed parties are invited to participate in the meetings held in this respect. In case there is no breakthrough, the concerned police station has no option but to file a case and start investigations. He says cases of theft of valuables from vehicles are mostly resolved on site whereas those related to theft of vehicles definitely reach police stations.

He says it's not an easy task to reach a conclusion regarding the compensation amount. The owner of the vehicle would quote a high price whereas the contractor would try to bring it down to the bare minimum. But the best way is to get an idea of the stolen vehicle's price from the open market. Babar tells TNS that the overriding principle is that if a contractor is charging Rs5 or Rs10 for parking a vehicle, he is bound to protect it or compensate the owner in case of theft or loss. "If they have no liability, then why shall people pay them any amount, however insignificant it is?"

Arshad Zahid, District Officer Public Facilities CDGL tells TNS that not all the parking lots in the city are contracted out by CDGL. "We are responsible for renting out parking spaces along 32 main roads whereas others are the responsibility of respective town administrations," he says. Arshad says extreme care is taken so that only the contractors with sound credentials are short-listed. It is ensured that they have a spotless track record, he says adding: But if any incident of theft or damage to a vehicle takes place, it's the concerned police station that has to be approached. CDGL is not the dispute resolution forum in such cases, he says.

A contractor, who does not want to disclose his name, says most such cases are frivolous and filed to blackmail car park owners. He cites a case in which he did not allow a high-ranking government officer to park his private car free of cost. What followed, he says, was that the said officer got a parking slip from him and on return claimed that the side mirrors of his car had been stolen. The case was referred to the police station. "Though the official had no evidence to prove his claim, the police sided with him and pressurised me to compensate him. They also warned me never to confront a government official in future," he adds.


MOOD STREET
Yes, me at a committee party
By Sarah Sikandar

An ordinary evening. I am sitting in front of the TV flicking mindlessly. The phone rings. It's a friend, reminding it's that time of the month again. I hang up and lo! I've found something to do. I go to my wardrobe and think of what I can wear this time. "I don't have any nice clothes," I think imagining all the girls and aunties who will be there with their solitaires and Gucci and Maria B. I renew my search but in vain. I give up. 'O whatever! I'll wear anything'.

I am there. All dressed up I look for my table. It's not hard to locate. Twenty ladies with more than twenty maids. There they are. My committee members. Yes! I am a part of the monthly committee, a significant part of Lahore's social life. No matter where you go, at any time of the day, you cannot miss it the committee party. If you still can't remember, think of the loudest table in the restaurant you saw at your last night out with your friends. Also the most colourful.

They are the ones you hope you are not given a table with. If you are, forget about a conversation because you cannot pretend to ignore the juicy gossip at the next table.

Committee parties hold a vital place in the lives of its members. Every member is distinct in her own way. Ashee's husband is Income Tax commissioner. Faiza's husband has two Mercs. Saba's world tours are the most interesting, especially with her brandishing the assets she collects from all parts of the world. Fauzia's daughter just got married -- to a millionaire's son mind you. Never for once they let their 'special feature' slip from their companions' minds.

Then there is the match-maker. She usually holds a central position in the committee. She knows everyone and pretends to know even those she doesn't. She never parts with her rishta catalogue that makes you believe that every bachelor in Lahore has his/her name in it. The match-maker is very close to all the members for she gets an invitation to all the households.

Then comes the juiciest part.. the gossips. Nobody wants to miss this one. It is usually before the food is served and every one if nibbling on their crackers making sure their lipsticks do not smudge. The unfortunate ones who miss this part are preyed upon by the vicious gossip-mongers at the table. The Hassan Sheharyar group tells how their designs have been copied by their friends. How Lubna saw Tehmina's husband with his female colleague at Fredday's last Saturday night. Every one tries to boast of the dinner they ate with the Chief Minister's family. But they are completely overshadowed by the president's 'relatives'. Political opinions are given. Musharraf supporters argue for his 'enlightened moderation' while Nawaz 'league' assert his times were better.but why they are totally clueless.

The venue of the committee is very important. It puts immense pressure on the committee host to surpass the lavishness of the previous one. If someone gave the party at her husband's farm house, the next host would start working on it from that very moment. Even if she has to arrange it by asking someone else's favour. Giving the party at your house and making them eat the local bakery stuff is a committee party suicide. If you are taking the risk of 'home made party' you cannot afford to order food from anywhere less than Kitchen Cuisine or Kaps. Never. Otherwise you are doomed for the rest of the parties.

Committee parties are fun and they are the best way to vent anger at your in-laws and relatives. They are also the best training ground for to-be-married girls. Committee parties are our answer to ever increasing trend of therapies. Who needs a shrink when you have aunties with handy suggestion about taming your daughter-in-law. How you should keep an eye on you son who is bringing the same girl home every time. None of my committee party visits go without an attempt to look for one meaningful. Nothing. Life is hard as it is. Why not, for a few moments, forget about exploring the meaning; shut your mind and think about what to wear for the next committee party.


Town Talk

Baba Bulle Shah's Urs

begins on Sunday 26th till Tuesday 28th August 2007

 

Jazz Night at Peeru's Cafe

-- a fusion of Jazz and tabla on Sundays at 9pm for free.

 

A concert of unheard melodies

at Government College University Lahore every Saturday at 01:30 PM

 

Puppet Show for Children at Alhamra,

The Mall at 11a.m.

 

Horse Race Shah Jamal - Shalimar Bagh at Shah Jamal

every Thursday 09:00 PM

 

Puppet Shows for everyone at Peerus Cafe

Every Sunday03:00 PM

 

Qawwali Music Session at Data Darbarevery

Thursday at 03:00 PM

 


enterprise
The art of our times
Freelance web designing has grown to become a lucrative opportunity for many  
By Naila Inayat

"I know the tricks of the trade. I have taken proper training for graphic proficiency and I don't think that such skill should be wasted," said Fawad a freelance website designer who works as a cashier.

"Freelance web designing is means of making easy money for me," said Jamal, a physician by profession.

"If the people are willing to get their websites designed by freelancers rather than big companies at the cost of quality then it is not the designer who is to be blamed," comments Faiza associated with a Multinational company.

On the contrary, Hina, an ardent supporter of freelance web designing, believed that after polishing one's skill it must be utilised. She told TNS that while studying graphics at university she designed three websites of her classmates as their final projects and charged heavy amounts of money from them. "Not only for my work but also to keep it a secret from the instructor!"

Be it renowned contributors in print or radio jockeys or web developers in electronic media, freelance web designing has become almost a phenomenon. Gone are the days when a man was satisfied with a single job; now people prefer multiple job opportunities. Where the World Wide Web has become a new dimension of information gathering, similarly it has grown to become a lucrative opportunity for many. Even the educational institutions all across Lahore have made 'graphic designing' their USP (Universal Selling point). No matter what the forte of the institution, web related courses top the list in the admission prospectuses. The softwares usually taught in web design programmes are: CorelDraw, Corel Photo-Paint, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Page Maker and Macromedia Dream weaver, whereas Java Applet, Macromedia Flash and Adobe Premiere are helpful in adding video clips on the website.

Freelance web designers also called 'blue lighting' have an aura of mystery attached to them. Who exactly are they? How do they function in the market?What is their target audience? And most importantly what do they look like? By the look of things it seems that a man dressed in a black suit with dark glasses fits the bill of our freelancer. Muhammad Ilyas, ERP (Executive Enterprise Resource) of Total Parco and a freelance designer says: "The market rates of web designing are so high that it becomes difficult for the client to meet the requirements of the market."

The freelancers do not operate in an open market. They work through social networking; they usually give their portfolios to a close friend or a family member who would then get work for them.

While working with a software house, the customer has to put up with the entire calculation that comprises the total number of employees plus working hours along with the pay scales of each employee per day (till the project is completed, which might take 15 to 30 days). And not to forget the profit margin, the average total cost per day is approximately Rs.8000. On the other hand, a freelancer's costs are comparatively low as he/she is working individually on the project.

When working with a company the procedural agreement also becomes a hassle for the clients, 50 per cent advance has to be given, a timeline is set and a contract is signed. "One has to take no such pains with a freelancer, he keeps an email communication with his clients," says Omar, an owner of a factory who hired a freelancer to design his factory's website.

Sohail Hashmi the Business Development Manager of 4D Technologies disagrees with this attitude of the people. "The biggest downside of the freelancer is his availability, you can never reach out to them. They give you limited information about themselves and you have to do with that much," he said. He further shared his own experience by telling TNS that he once approached a freelancer for web designing, the deal of the entire website was struck at Rs. 50,000 with Sohail paying Rs. 25,000 in advance. "Ten days passed and there was no news of the designer, his cell phone was switched off and there was no other contact of his, he ran away with the money."

The fact is that freelance designers have no guarantors as in a software house. They work on their own free will and their rates keep evolving due to which they are able to manipulate their customers. When asked from software house owners about the recommended changes that a client proposes they said that usually the company makes complimentary revisions without charging extra money. Mohd Ilyas negates this notion outrightly saying: "A freelancer does not charge any extra money for revising the design. In fact the company owners never make changes even if the client is unhappy with the design because they are bound by a contract."

When asked about the quality difference in the designing by freelancers and professionals, the majority of freelancers opined that their web designs match market standards. "Elen Mon Wayne, a famous Oprah singer from West Wales, got her website designed by me. Wayne had seen my portfolio she knew my reasonable rates and it suited her," claimed Madiha, a student of graphics. She said that while earning the craft she has designed websites getting handsome amounts out of them.

In Lahore's web designing market, people want extraordinary work in less money. Maintaining a website has become essential in all fields today. People get their websites made in as low as Rs 5000-6000 and for this, students or professionals who have got formal education are the most viable. By freelancing they can easily make extra income.

Team expertise, however, cannot be undermined because when a team works on a project there is the aspect of specialisation such as, animation schemes and the sound mixing that would be handled by experts. All that many clients want is a 'contact us' link on the website no matter what the aesthetics of the design are. This trend has especially taken a leap in the last few years knowing how youngsters are graduating in bulks from universities and colleges. It gives them an opportunity to explore new dimensions of the market.



Secure platforms
The city railway station remains the most insecure place 

By Khan Shehram Eousophzye

With terrorist threats looming large the world over and in Pakistan, security at public places has been beefed up everywhere. The security situation at the Lahore Railway Station remains at the mercy of the authorities and half-hearted.

Thousands of people flock to the Lahore Railway Station daily; a majority of them travel on a daily basis from nearby villages and cities to Lahore through trains in search of a better livelihood. Similarly many people use this mode to travel to far flung areas within Pakistan. According to an estimate, a hundred thousand people come to the Lahore station daily and a four-fold increase is seen in these figures on public holidays and Eids. With such a huge crowd, the station lags in security.

The claims of the railway authorities are unveiled when an individual is given a hassle free entry into the premises of the Lahore station. Huge contingents of police, high security at the walk through gates, and proper checking of all people entering the station are mere claims from the Pakistan railway authorities. In fact the platform ticket that is compulsory for people to get hold of before entering the platform area is only applicable for people who either have some civic sense or are simpletons. Others who are seen without a platform ticket on the platforms enter through the exit gates without being checked. Similarly the bomb disposal squad and the police personnel who have been assigned the duty to check every single person and their luggage are seen to be busy cracking jokes and spending leisure time on duty without paying any heed to the passenger who cross into the platform area.

When these on-duty officers were questioned they defended themselves by saying how can they check a thousand people at the same time? They further added that inadequate facilities and a low number of staff ends up in a chaotic situation which can't be efficiently handled by meagre resources. On the subject of security, a senior officer said that we eye only suspicious people. "If a person is carrying something that could lead towards an untoward incident he could be recognised among a million other people."

When the IG of railways police was approached with these questions he said, "Yes I agree that we don't have the adequate number of staff but the real thing is how perfectly can we operate with the existing staff." On a question about the security measures taken in the Lahore Railway Station he said: "We have started installing CCTVs (cameras) within the station which will be become operational soon. As far as checking each and every individual who seeks entry into the railway station is concerned, it is a hard task. In our society it is taken up as an insult if some one is being questioned by the police or is being checked. That's why we are in search of people who we think are suspicious."

The people on the platforms generally said that this irresponsible approach of the railway police officials was indeed dangerous. Mohammad Tariq who usually travels through train said: "The railway police should do their job properly but this does not mean that we shouldn't help ourselves and stay in our dream world."

Judging by the past, anti-state elements have usually targeted public places to pressurise the government. Lahore's Railway Station where rusty metal detectors rarely work, security personnel spend leisure time on duty, and lack of discipline is the order of the day, may prove to be a target for terrorists. Proper walk through gates with detectors, sealing of all entry points from where people have an easy access to the station, and a high alert 24/7 on the station are easy methods of avoiding terrorist activities.



RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'S

QUESTION   

TOP 10                                                                                                               

Lahori phrases

1. Kee ho rya ai?

 

2. Hor kee haal ai?

 

3. Kee farq painda ai?

 

4. Miti pao

 

5. Fair kidon aao gay

6. Gaddi keri rakhi ai?

 

7. Aithay ee rehnday o?

 

8. Mulaqat honi chaidee ai

 

9. Magharon lai

 

10. Tahanun kitay vekhaya ai

 

To enlist by popular vote the 'top ten' for next week, send in your emails on [email protected]

'Next week's question: Top ten rumours'.


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