for a cause
killed the cooking stars-- 2
of the head
By Sabeen Jamil
Humid days and sleepless nights (thanks to the power break downs in the city) is not just what summer is about for Karachiites. It's also about the summer fruit that people in the city, and all over the country for that matter look forward to all year round, that is; mango. With the rising temperature, soaring prices and endless power failures, mango is perhaps the only high point this summer and perhaps for all summers to come.
Currently, mango mania is in full swing in the city, be it in any form. While a majority of the Karachiites buy ripe, yellow Sindhris and Anwer Ratores from the street vendors, a lot of them prefer buying the 'keri' (unripe, green baby mangoes) instead. Keris are used to make pickle and chutney while mangoes can be used to make a plethora of things – from milk shakes to home-made mango ice cream to soufflé. Some people, in fact, also like storing mangoes in their freezers. " I love mangoes," says one such mango fan, saying that it is indeed the king of all fruits "I make sure I can have them throughout the year," adding that, she preserves almost 10kg of mangoes in the form of home-made pickle every year.
So great is the love for mango that apart from having them raw as well as in the form of pickles and jellies at home, Karachiites specially arrange mango parties at home, inviting friends and family over. In fact, many restaurants and hotels are cashing in on this trend. ..andhave mango festivals every year where a range of mango treats are on the menu.
Several parents use mangoes as a way to get their children to maintain a healthy diet. "My children usually shy away from drinking milk but if I give them milk shake, they will happily lap it up," says a mother of two. She says that her children are quite fond of the mango milk shake available a popular juice shop in the city. "I wish they were available throughout the year," she adds.
The fruit grown in the farms Different mango varieties from different cities of Pakistan reach Karachi with the beginning of the summer season (May/June). However, as the summer ends, so does the fruit almost as if it has completed its task of providing respite to the people of the city from their stress-laden lives.
As she deftly draws on her art pad, Raheema is like any other 13-year-old. But a closer look at her henna-stained fingers show the skin infection caused by peeling prawns at a fishery in the city. "My day starts early, sometimes at 3.00 a.m. in the morning. I peel prawns. If I do five gaaras (baskets) in a given day, I earn Rs100." As she tries to draw the outline of an apple, she says that she has to apply medicine regularly to make the burning sensation in her fingers go away. When asked as to why she does not wear gloves or anything to protect her hands for that matter, she smiles and says "I don't think it's possible to peel the shrimp shells if I am wearing gloves". Little does this girl realise that over time, the skin disease will worsen. In some ways, the art class is a respite from the rigours of her daily life. Raheema enjoys the class and hopes to become an art teacher some day.
A resident of the Mohammadi Machar Colony (MMC), Raheema shares the same fate as many of her peers. Since most residents of this colony work in the fisheries peeling shrimps, it's not strange to see underage kids working alongside their mothers, squatting on icy floors, peeling away the prawns. Many of them do not go to schools while those who do quite often help their parents to earn a livelihood. In this depressing scenario, students get respite in the form of the Concern for Children (CFC) art camp. A part of the Community Driven Development Project by CFC, the annual art camp is in its third year, giving the children of the colony an avenue for their creative endeavours.
Mohammadi Machar Colony, one of the biggest slums in Karachi, is a world unto itself.
Housing more than 0.8 million inhabitants belonging to various ethnicities, the community is marred by its illegal status. An unofficial (or unauthorised) commune comprising mostly Afghan and Bengali immigrants, the residents of MMC are deprived of basic civic amenities.
Potable water, sanitation, education and health care are luxuries for the residents of this colony and living on a day-to-day basis, putting two meals a day on the table is the first priority for all and sundry.
Concern for Children is an NGO working n this under privileged area with its community driven pilot project aimed at meeting the needs of the residents. The main idea is to build a model that can be replicated in other communities, with the provision of better facilities and improving the standard of living.
While many projects related to health care and socio-economic uplift are in progress, it's the CFC Summer Art Programme that is popular amongst the youth. Living in the repressive surroundings of the colony with hardly any recreational activities, the young and impressionable children are affected the most.Sadly, bBeing in a low-income, high-poverty area makes them lose out on activities and opportunities that their peers have access to.
According to Samrah Humayun, the Program Officer CFC, these kids are being provided an opportunity to explore their talents. "Its an excellent way to let them unwind and be in touch with their creativity".
Adnan Lotia is heading the art program. An art teacher by profession, he created an art course for these students so that they could learn to draw and paint and at the same time enjoy the activity. "Art is not a part of the curriculum and for a lot of these students it was their first brush with art. The have taken up this activity with a lot of penchant and it reflects in the pieces they have created".
Sitting on dari covered floors in a cramped building that serves as a school, the kids enjoy mixing the paints and doodling with colours. Painting to their hearts content, for some the trees might be blue with sky painted a pale shade of yellow. It's the freedom of expression that maters the most in this stimulating art class.
"Initially when I first came here, these kids were shy. The girls especially had a hard time communicating but overtime they have come out of their shells", says Manisha, a young student who is volunteering at the art class. Talking about her bright pupils, she says that they never make excuses and are always willing to learn. "It does not matter what class you are coming from, what matters is the person you are and with these bright young minds this is very true. I hope that someday they are able to break these shackles and who knows they might be the best people in the country".
While painting gets the creative juices flowing, the charm of a film roll and camera are too hard to resist. Some of the best photographers in town shared their expertise with the enthusiastic children. Looking through the lens, as they clicked for pictures, it was a learning process for both sides.
Kohi Marri has been a part of the CFC art camp for the past three years and is at ease with the pupils. "When I came here three years ago, I was shocked. Once you step in here, it's a very sobering experience as you realize your place in this world". Talking about the theme of this year's art exhibit that would be held in August, Kohi said the idea was to let the kids focus on their everyday lives. "Their interactions with their parents, siblings, their favourite things, these little things that would let us have an insight into the young minds as well as the community and enable CFC help them in a better way".
Giving them an avenue to express their inner most feelings and a way communication through their drawings, the CFC art camp brings these children closer to the society. Raising funds by clicking snaps of this underdeveloped community, Kohi has actively made it a point to rope in his fellow photographers. Arif Mehmood, Tapu, Izdeyar Sethna, Amean J and Yousaf Qureshi took time out to volunteer for a few hours. While these are names and faces that any fashion conscious person would recognize in an instant but the Machar Colony kids were totally unaware of the celebrity status. Nonetheless, it was good to see compassion and kindness these men showered on the children.
As the kids took Tapu Javeri for a walk across the neighbourhood, he was humbled by the living conditions there. It was quite a sight as the youngsters walked on the solidified layer of waste oblivious to the fact that they were treading on dangerous ground. Sharing tips on how to take good pictures, Tapu stayed true to his zesty personality, he also gave them a social sermon, telling them to be aware of their surroundings. "These kids are on the inside, looking on the outside. Their perspective is going to be different".
By Hira Najam
Last week Hira Najam talked about the cooking shows on TV and the hosts that accompany it. This week, she delves into the subject some more, talking about her favourite and not-so-favourite local chefs on TV Chef Gulzar
Chef Gulzar is someone, who I think, has come a long way in the last few years that he has been on TV. He cooks with flair. His dishes are easy to cook and palatable. What I like most about him is that he is not at all pretentious. Chef Gulzar's several shows on TV are well above the average and so is the food he cooks.
Chef Gulzar's food gets a 3.5/5 and his personality gets a 3/5.
I have a serious bone to pick with whoever brought Juni on TV. Why is Juni even ON TV?! What is Juni famous for? I have seen several episodes of the previous series where he cooks for celebrities and just sitting down for the entire duration of his show is a chore (and I'm someone who lives for cooking). Juni is super-annoying. He goes to a supermarket, buys expensive items and goes to a kitchen where he along with his guest chatter quite often and cook something obnoxious. At the end of every episode, he stands at the back but in the frame of the camera end says something which seems profound but is eloquent rubbish. Juni should be taken off air immediately because frankly Juni on television is equal to a lot of anguish.
Juni's food gets a pitiable 1/5; his personality gets a -1.
S for Shai and S for super, I have just one word for Shai: spectacular. Shai is lovely and wonderful and all those things together in a beautiful package. I have never seen Shai be anything but down-to-earth. Here is a woman who is a cordon bleu chef but comes across as someone who has a lot of on-screen presence. Her spatula does not drip all over the stove, her non-stick pans do not have haphazard lines across them, her counters are always clean and so is her stove. Shai is simply marvelous. She is a combination of a smart, normal woman who cooks, sings, reads books, and has guests over all the time. And what's more she can make great pizza from scratch within an hour. She does all of that with a smile on her face, her eyes dancing with merriment and takes joy in simple things.
Shai's food gets a 4.75/5 and her personality gets a well deserved 5/5.
I think what most TV chefs in Pakistan fail to achieve is a connection with the audience. Shai, Zakir, Rahat and some others have all taken up phone calls to connect with the audience, but Shai does it with a grace where she comes across on screen as someone who respects the viewing audience. Zakir takes phone calls with a humbling attitude which shows that even though Zakir may use similar spices in most of whatever that he cooks, he is a simple person at heart and his humbling attitude translates well on television. Chef Rahat on the other hand, usually comes across as pretentious and a bit of a narcissist. That is not to say that Rahat does not respect her audience but she needs to work on her style of presentation.
We Pakistanis love food, we love cooking and we love eating. We also have several people on screen who come across as genuine foodies and some who are all wrong for television, but such is the beauty of this country. It has accommodated tastes from everywhere. All in all, the future of celebrity chefs and food as an industry is very bright and we can hope to see improvement and better things from all of them. Hopefully, the visuals will match the cooking skills of all the celebrity chefs.
Twenty-seven-year-old Ahmed had a nervous breakdown one morning on his way to work. He knew that something was not right since he was not in the mood to work or talk to anyone, unusual for Ahmed. He was in his car when he suffered from a panic attack in which he felt he could not breathe, the walls were closing up on him and that there was no way he could live through the next moment. In the middle of a Karachi street, he started screaming for help and began banging his hands against the windows. A crowd of passers-by came to the rescue and took him to the nearest hospital.
This is just one of the many examples of people suffering from nervous breakdowns in the city. The fact of the matter is that thousands of Karachiites suffer from various mental health ailments. Given the high pressure life in the city, it is no surprise that people in the city suffer from breakdowns. For example, stepping out of your door means risking your life (what with all the incidents of street crimes), bare necessities such as sugar, wheat, and rice have to be fought for tooth and nail, power outages, rain disasters and what not become a part of everyday routine, stress is bound to take its toll.
But it happens a lot more then one would think. In a survey conducted by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) in 2006, the results show that in Karachi alone there are 1.5 million people suffering from mental, emotional, intellectual and/or social adjustment disorders. Among them, at least 400,000 are those who need immediate attention. If those related to stress-related disorders are included then the figure rises to million. These people are likely to become a permanent burden on society if not taken care of.
However, the question is will anyone of them voluntarily go to get help? There are many problems in this regard especially when culture comes into the equation. People often try different things before they finally come to terms with the fact that they need professional help. The same thing happened to Ahmed. Once he was admitted in the hospital, the physicians could not diagnose him. Later, he learned that he suffered from a panic attack. "It only lasted five, maybe 7-8 minutes. On the way to the hospital I kept telling them to let me go but they kept telling me to calm down and that I would be ok," he added.
Subsequently, Ahmed was released from the hospital without any further complications. It was only afterwards when he had recurring panic attacks did he realise that his condition was getting worse and that he needed help. He said that he went to different places before he went back to a psychiatrist. "My family wanted me to see a Pir (spiritual healer) first in case someone was using black magic against me," he said. "It didn't make me any better, but I did it just to put my parents' worries to rest."
But this is not just unique in the case of Ahmed. Though people who suffer from minor disorders such as anxiety and depression are becoming more and more aware about getting professional help, a majority of the people suffering from major mental disorders are not. People with low resources and little or no knowledge, visit pirs, jirrahs and the like before going to a psychiatric clinic, said many health experts.
Dr.Amanat Ali Mohsin at the Gulshan Psychiatric Hospital, said that as far as minor disorders are concerned people usually come themselves to the hospital and do not hesitate too much to consult psychiatrists. "For major symptoms such as various psychoses, patients usually have to be forcefully brought in by concerned family members," he explained. He said that people usually come there after trying and being fed up with various fakirs and jirrahs. "They come to us after trying everything else and are surprised to find improvement in themselves here. They come in with reluctance but leave giving prayers," he added.
Dr. Saleem Ahmed, a resident doctor at the Karachi Psychiatric Hospital concurred with this view. "Though many people come in, most of them come after their visits to mazaars, pirs and fakirs bear no fruit," he pointed out. However, "no matter when they come in, they find a change in themselves and always come back to get more help," he added.
For treatment, there are 11 psychiatric hospitals/centres in Karachi at the moment. Other hospitals that have psychiatric wards and units include the Aga Khan Hospital, Hill Park Hospital, Liaqat National Hospital, Civil Hospital and the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. Psychological services are also provided by The Institute of Clinical Psychology as well as the Institute of Behavioural Sciences (which also acts as a mental asylum).
Purely psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic clinics, however, are rare and very expensive. People from low-income groups cannot afford them while those from a higher income group are not always satisfied with their services. Tariq Ahmad, a resident of Defence Housing Society, suffered from manic depression a few years back. "I didn't know what was happening. None of the physicians could diagnose me, and finally I decided to see a therapist," he explained. Tariq said he was reluctant to go see one in the beginning. 'That is why I felt better visiting a private therapy clinic here in Defence." When asked how that turned out, he said that "it was okay at first but then I was given medications I felt I did not need. I wasn't being treated right at all and then I finally went for a second opinion and treatment to a psychiatric ward at the Aga Khan Hospital."
One reason for this could be that most private clinics in the city are either not registered or are run by amateurs. This is probably why Tariq was less than happy with the treatment he received there.
A student at the Institute of Clinical Psychology (an institute that specialises in graduate studies and offers psychotherapy and psychological testing facilities) said that "psychological help is not something we can put a price on. So many people from different social and monetary groups need help that we keep our costs as flexible as possible." Similarly, Dr Raja at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), when asked about the fees, said that "there is a pre-set fee structure which varies according to the individual's mental health as well as with the amount of money a person can afford to pay. But we never turn patients away due to financial problems. Instead we work things out," he said.
That there are thousands of people suffering from various problems all over the city is an undeniable fact. Despite the fact that many people are aware of the facilities offered in the city to deal with such issues, the fact of the matter is that more needs to be done in this regard.
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