An Indian in Love With Karachi

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A Pakistani model sports designer Maleeha C. Nasir's collection for label Daaman at the Fashion Pakistan Week held in Karachi. IANS
A Pakistani model sports designer Maleeha C. Nasir’s collection for label Daaman at the Fashion Pakistan Week held in Karachi. IANS

It is almost impossible to escape the genuine smiles, lavish hospitality and infectious warmth of the people of Karachi

By SHILPA RAINA

It feels like you are in Mumbai only. The tangy evening breeze kissing your skin and reminding you of the sea is just around the corner, traffic jams choking roads in peak hours and the bright sunny afternoons. But there is something about the Pakistani port city of Karachi, home to 13 million people, that makes it pleasantly memorable to an Indian.

It is almost impossible to escape the genuine smiles, lavish hospitality and infectious warmth of the people the moment you disclose you are Indian. The aftermath of this revelation unleashes a generous dose of hospitality — the nature doesn’t matter; it could be an official stamp for a lasting cross-border friendship — if you too are keen to foster it — and a bumper prize to have home-cooked authentic meal for lunch or dinner. I had the privilege to enjoy all three.

You will forget western words of greetings like ‘hello’ and ‘hi’ once you are in Pakistan.

This cosmopolitan city, home to MNCs and a hub for employment opportunities, each year attracts people from different Pakistani cities and many foreign clients, but amid the multicultural boom, keeps positively alive the traditional greeting of “As-Salaam-Alaikum” — “Peace be unto you”.

Also the word “shukriya” or thank you.

From people meeting their friends or family, from guards at five-star hotel to a cycle rickshaw-wala — all speak this common language.

The outside world has created a false image of Pakistan as one where women don’t leave home without a burqa.

If this were true, I wouldn’t have seen many young, dynamic women driving cars. It’s a myth. In fact, Pakistan being an Islamic country, women are dressed elegantly in their long kameezes and palazzos, and quite a few young women in jeans with knee-length kurtas are commonly seen walking confidently on the road. The women might never wear a short skirt on the road, but she does wear elegance in her garb, and a smile on her face.

The amount of resilience the people of this city have is incredible. The hope for a better future and indomitable will not to give up ever allow them to chase their dreams. “We live in a bubble,” said a friend. “Any little moment we get to celebrate, dance and be together with family and friends is cherished and lived forever,” she added.

A view of Karachi, the financial capital and biggest metropolis of Pakistan, at night.
A view of Karachi, the financial capital and biggest metropolis of Pakistan, at night.

Last, but not the least.

Truck art on buses, and halwa-puri for breakfast unmistakably belong to Karachi.

Meanwhile there wasn’t a colour that didn’t make an appearance at the ramp on the last day of the Fashion Pakistan Week here. A pop of neon, a dash of gold, ash-white or saffron, with digital prints in company, brought down the curtains on the fashion extravaganza.

Pakistan’s colour sentiments have always drawn towards subtle pastel tones. But Friday evening at the Fashion Pakistan Week, there was a definitive change in exploring more sunny and summery options for a bright spring/summer ahead.

With many Pakistani designers not capable of producing their own fabric, many of them have resorted to digital printing. All these days if there was a common thread that bound the collections together, it was digital printing.

Friday too was no different.

The colour burst came from the bad boy of Pakistani fashion, Ali Xeeshan. Calling it a spiritual line and inspired by a monk’s life, the audience was set to see the somber side of the Lahore-based designer. But the moment popular Bollywood number “Jumma Chumma” started playing; one knew drama would unfold.

Models in robes, long dresses accentuated at the waist, kimono-sleeve dresses and a head gear, started sashaying down the ramp, with dashes of neon green, feisty orange, and shocking pink staying with the eye on an ash-white base of the fabric. There was emphasis on colour blocking in some pieces, but the monotony was broken soon.

Saffron-coloured dresses in different silhouettes and cuts took over. There was a lot more drama and design aesthetics, but my only gripe was if this was a monk-inspired collection then the color palette should have been maroon and not saffron!

Or else, he should have said it was an Indian ascetic-inspired line.

Welcoming the spring in its fullest was Maleena C.Nasir of label Daaman. Using prints of leaves, roses, trees and petals, this young designer presented a wearable collection — cigarette pants teamed with long kurtas, smart shirts with trousers and a few chic jumpsuits.

The color palette ranged from cherry yellow to blossoming pink, morning orange sun to pure white — it was easy on eyes, and comfortable wear.

It is always pleasing to see a sari on the Pakistani ramp, and a delight to see a well-draped sari.

This was what label Kayseria delivered at the ramp with its finest prints transformed into saris and high-slit suits. The entire show had a rustic feel to it and resembled women from bucolic Gujarat and Rajasthan — from the Indian side. Perhaps, this collection showcased how similar the culture is in these regions that border Pakistan.

Refreshing, vibrant and one of the finest of the day.

Digital prints dominated the collection of designer Wardha Saleem and Tapulicious by Tapu Javeri.

Javeri’s brand features Pakistani designers Kamiar Rokni, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin and Mohsin Ali.

“This collection is an extension of my relationship with them,” said Javeri at the beginning of his show.

Hence, he presented three capsule collections and all of them had a heavy dosage of graphic printing.

From geisha to photographs of Karachi, from monochromatic zebra and tiger prints to psychedelic busy prints — the edgy, western silhouettes were heavy on busy prints. Nevertheless the audience cheered and the show went on.

Shilpa Raina is a correspondent of IANS and can be contacted at [email protected]

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