Monday, July 30, 2012

The Scent of a City

by Naeem Safi

Façades above Sarafa Bazaar
Much has changed over the centuries but Peshawar’s strategic importance has never faltered. Accepted as one the oldest living cities, it is also thought to have had the world’s tallest building at one point—a Buddhist stupa.

The current image of Peshawar, battered and dangerous, owes much to the mediated knowledge spread mainly through media—and endorsed by events that have killed hundreds of its inhabitants. The consistent collisions of interests in the region have left the residents of Peshawar with little else but to romanticise the city’s past, recollecting bits from the chapters that deal with all that was glorious. Understandable, when much at present appears to be dust and smoke.

But look closely and with love and you will find a lot still to appreciate. Follow the footsteps of world-renowned travellers and conquerors and arrive at the highest point in Peshawar, Gor Khatri. The archaeological findings here date back 2,500 years, in one of the deepest archaeological trenches of South Asia, and make experts claim that Peshawar has been alive for eons. Civilizations here, among several layers of earth, have left occasional terracotta pieces, jewellery, coins, weapon fragments and bones—samples from which are at display in a shabby little museum at the corner of the compound. The Goraknath temple was reopened for worshippers last year and located parallel to a mosque sharing the same compound.

A Door at Masjid Mohabbat Khan
Spicing Up, a Spice Merchant at Bazaar-i-Dalgaran
Through the western gate of the complex, once the residence of the Sikh general Avitabile, go down towards Chowk Yadgar. If not pointed out, one can easily miss the historic Sethi Mohalla, just a few yards towards the right. It hosts a number of architectural marvels built in the 19th century by the famous merchant family, exhausting the art of building and decor by incorporating techniques and styles from India, Persia, Turkey, and as far as Russia. Each house holds a record of the riches and tastes from times gone by.

Lapis at Shinwari Market.
(Peshawar's Christie's)

Further down the road is Chowk Yadgar, now a reinterpretation of the plaza hosting an old monument and the stand from where, up until the late 70’s, one could hop onto buses to Kabul. The new design has an added underground passage with some parking, few shops, and landscaping on top. The steep alley called Sarafa Bazaar, lined with goldsmiths, reaches Lady Reading Hospital and Bala Hisar Fort. The famous Shinwari market has genuine antique Afghan jewellery, ceramics, glassware, and textiles. Nearby is the Mughal period Masjid Mohabbat Khan, its elaborate arches and domes adorned with colourful frescos. Just a few decades ago, a donation of loudspeakers by a devotee had triggered passionate protests by religious leaders calling for their removal. They declared that they were sorcerer’s horns for their resemblance with record players. The legacy of that thinking has sadly come true for the city.
Hakeem's Laboratory at chowk Pipal Mandi
One route from the Chowk reaches Pipal Mandi and winds towards the historic Qissa Khawani bazaar. Along the way is Bazaar-i-Dalgaran, filled with the aromas of teas and Indian spices, serving the taste buds of its customers with unique blends. Even the inquisitive Michael Wood was not disappointed when he ended up here in search of an ancient tea called soma. In his documentary, The Story of India, he says, “the Rig Veda talks about a sacred drink, central to the Aryan’s rituals; a speciality of the tribes around here... there are many of their thousand poems devoted to the merits of drinking soma, almost as an elixir of the gods.”

Teatime: At a balakhana of an old inn in Qissa Khawani
Remains of a Heritage at Bazaar-i-Misgaran

One reminder of the times changing is the aluminium, stainless steel, and plastic being sold by the bronze and copperware sellers of Bazaar-i-Misgaran, catering to the declining tastes or the shrinking budgets of their customers. All that is left of their glory days are the copper samovars that are still used by the traditional qahwa khanas and chai khanas. At the turn to Qissa Khawani is the alley where Peshawar Pottery was once an attraction for ceramics lovers. Once upon a time, Qissa Khawani was the place of exchange for merchandise from Central Asia and India. The bazaar ends where Kabuli Gate once was. It has silently disappeared to make way for the trucks that have replaced the caravans.
Like most historic cities of the region, the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Peshawar has fallen prey to the onslaught of kitsch. The fragments that remain owe their existence to the lack of means for their replacement rather than to their conscious preservation. For taste has hit new depths. Now grey blocks and monstrosities ostentatiously covered with cheap tiles have replaced the classic city architecture such as balakhanas and jarokhas with their intricate woodwork, arches, and stuccoes.
The Replacement at Bazaar-i-Misgaran
Once known as a city of gardens, the cityscape has been vandalised by none other than its elected leaders who have constructed unjustifiable overhead bridges, consuming green belts and trees along their paths, in utter disregard for historic monuments. However, much can still be salvaged. In spring, blocks after blocks of the city are drenched in the scent of citrus flowers, a scent Mughal Emperor Babur had noted on his way to India.
Published in DAWN, All About Lifestyles! June 22, 2012

 Life and Times of Kaka Ram

Gorak Nath Temple, at the Gor Khutree Archaeological Complex Peshawar, is now open
for Hindu worshippers who regularly visit the site to pray
By Naeem Safi

The sun has just disappeared behind the Khyber Mountains. Beneath the long hanging roots of the old banyan tree, a devotee is sweeping leaves to clean the earthen floor for worshippers who are expected to arrive in a while.

Hundreds of birds above are chirping before settling down for the night. The fenced lawns outside are full, with noisy children running around and playing, the adolescent sauntering on the paved walkways, and their mothers gossiping. These late evening visitors are usually from the nearby mohallahs who come here to escape power outages — and take refuge in the Gor Khutree Complex.

The colour palette for the sky is rapidly changing and the light tones of gold are turning into crimson, and violets merging with dark greys. Calls for evening prayers over loudspeakers lure males of all age groups to the mosque at the northwestern corner of the Complex, which has accommodated many before them, including kings, princesses, and camel caravans.

Gorak Nath Temple, at the Gor Khutree Archaeological Complex Peshawar, was built during the Sikh period around 1834 to 1849. Their Italian General, Paolo Avitabile, used the Complex as his residence. The temple is now open for Hindu worshippers who regularly visit the site to pray to their gods.

Just a few yards south from the mosque, Kaka Ram, the seyvek, is giving final touches to the preparations in the Gorak Nath temple. Unlike the marbled floors and numerous fans at the mosque, his temple has earthen floor and a couple of helpers are connecting a power cable to the central building to light a few bulbs. Kaka Ram is waiting for the prayers at the mosque to finish, as some of his guests are Muslim, colleagues from his office at the secretariat, who will also attend Sheranwali Mata’s parshad tonight. 

Six decades back, he was born in a humble little house adjacent to the temple. Many generations of his ancestors have served this temple before. His father died when he was seven. They were expelled from their ancestral house; his mother had fought back through courts. She won the temple back, in the year 2011, but their home at the compound is lost, almost forever. She parted with life on the first day of last May.

According to Kaka Ram, more than 2000 people attended her funeral, the majority of who were Muslims. 

He recalls his childhood times, when the huge well under the banyan tree used to be frequented by parents with ailing children, both Hindu and Muslim, to receive ashnans, a sacrament that is believed to cleanse and protect its receivers from evil spells. His dealings and relationships with Muslim friends and neighbours are not tainted with biases or discriminations. They all celebrate Holis and Eids together and there is no purdah among their families, something reserved only for very close relatives in a traditional Peshawari society.

The Muslim guests have finished their prayers and are now waiting near the well for the ceremony to begin. Pundit Gokal has arrived from another temple to lead the prayers, and the number of worshippers is gradually increasing. The pundit is preparing a huge platter of fresh fruits at Mata’s mandir while the attendees are gathering in the arched aisle in the front. Following a few rituals, the congregation, with equal number of women, and quite a few children, started chanting the parshad

The sky has turned deep blue and the banyan tree looks more imposing against it, the flickering light of oil lamps animating its long shoots. The birds have gone almost silent. The visitors outside, in the lawns, are gradually thinning out and the peace of the night is gradually engulfing the compound, and the streets around it.
Published in The News on Sunday on June 17, 2012

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Profile: Karakul Hat Maker

“Karkul defines us”
Bashir Ahmad Khan from Peshawar has not given up on
the craft of karkul-making that earned him
prestige and bread all his life
By Naeem Safi

Karakul hat, popularly known as Jinnah cap in Pakistan, was much in use, if not in vogue, till the late 1980s. It stood for ‘an image’ due to its symbolic association with the founder of Pakistan and was used by high officials and common citizens alike.

Now its representation is left on the currency bills where a stereotypical Jinnah adorns it. In its heydays, there were more than 50 master craftsmen making various types of karakul hats in the Qissa Khawani and Ghanta Ghar bazaars of Peshawar. Today, against all odds, only a few are left seen preserving the craft.

Bashir Ahmad Khan, in his late 50s, is one of those few who haven’t given up on the craft that has earned him prestige and bread all his life. How he ended up in this trade is an interesting narrative and an inspiration for many.

Living in a small village in Dir, Bashir was only eight when he got a chance to go to Peshawar and with his elder brother, and ustad, Haji Anwar Khan.

“I remember the day when I left my village along with my elder brother. Those were the times when Dir was a princely state where the only public transport was a bus owned by the Nawab, and one’s leaving to the city would be quite an affair. My brother was leaving for Peshawar and I along with my parents were going to drop him,” says Bashir.

“I created a scene there demanding to go with him. He fell for it, and my mother immediately washed my clothes in the nearby stream and I boarded the bus in that single wet outfit and a pair of shoes.“My brother was a master craftsman at Baghdad Cap House with Haji Sabzaali (father of Sen. Haji Ghulam Ali), but he got into a conflict with Haji for taking me along and we left Peshawar. We arrived in Karachi on a steam train and started working with a wholesale karakul hat-supplier on Bandar Road. For six years we worked for 50 paisas a day — eating daal-chappati and sleeping on a wooden bench outside the shop—before moving to Peshawar.

It was 1965 war days, and as a little boy from the mountains, I used to marvel at the red fireworks in the sky that my brother had explained were antiaircraft guns firing at the enemy planes.

“In Peshawar, I started my apprenticeship at Peshawar Cap House, with Habbibullah, running errands and learning the skill for around eight years. But it was with Haji Bashi — at Bukhari Cap House in Ghanta Ghar — where I mastered the karkul making, learning it from my brother who was employed there. Later he parted ways with him and opened his own store by the name of Sarhad Cap House.”

Suffering from arthritis and a plunge in sales, Bashir recalls how leaders like Z.A. Bhutto and Wali Khan had visited his humble store and that how almost all of the heads of the state wore his caps from Auyb Khan and Yahya Khan to Zia ul Haq, Naseerullah Babar, Aftab Sherpao, Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmad. “Gen. Fazl e Haq was a great admirer of our work. And he would order around half a dozen caps every month for as long as he was the governor,” he says.

Unfortunately, none of Bashir’s three sons knows the skill and has a couple of learners running the business for him. “Nothing can match the experience, and respect that it earns for you. It is my advice to my children to master the skill of karakul-making despite other occupations, as this is something that defines us. It has earned a name and respect for my family and me. This is what made heads of the state, governors, and ministers visit our shop.”

Since ages, the fur of the karakul sheep is imported from northern Afghanistan into Peshawar. Karakul (or Qaraqul) is a breed of sheep raised mostly in Central Asian and some African states for their fur that is valued for its unique textures, patterns, and colours. The fetuses or the newborn lambs are slaughtered before the tight curls of their fur begin to unravel with time or the mother’s tongue.

Contrary to the popular notion that the fur is obtained from the aborted lamb fetuses, Bashir says that only the newborn male lambs are slaughtered and the females are left to mature for further propagation. The skins are plastered with hop flour for basic curing by the farmers in the mountains; however that makes the skins very brittle.

The price of these skins have soared ten times in the last decade or so due to their high demand in Europe, Japan, USA, and Canada. Jinnah version of the Karakul hat is the most liked one in Pakistan and the non-Pashtun Afghans, which has both ends peaked and is usually packed flat in a box. However, it is the Peshawari cap, also known as Ayub Cap that is more popular amongst Pashtuns on both sides of the border. It has only the front end peaked and the back side is round, hence packed in a round box and cannot be folded. The fully rounded version, Garda, is popular in certain parts of Afghanistan.


Published in The News on Sunday

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Architectural Heritage

Peshawar, the oldest living city of South Asia, has always been a melting pot of cultures and civilisations throughout its known history. Archaeological investigations on the famous Gor Khuttree mound in the walled city of Peshawar have identified human settlements dating back to 539 BC. That makes it one of the most unique world heritage assets where European, Central Asian, Persian, and Indian civilisations have left their marks.

On the southern side of this mound, less than 200 meters away from the Gor Khuttree, lays Mohallah Sethian -- which has seven magnificent mansions built by a famous business dynasty of the 19th century India, the Sethis. The Sethis had business links with India, China, Central Asia and Russia, which were seriously affected by the Russian Revolution. The Sethi Complex bore the brunt of hard times since then, till 2006 when the MMA government bought one of these mansions for the purpose of conservation and handed it over to the archaeology department.

The Sethi House was built by Haji Karim Baksh in 1882, and has used techniques and aesthetics from a very diverse range of sources. The layout plan resembles plans of old houses in Baghdad, while the decorative elements used here can be traced to Samarkand, Bukhara, Persia and India, which makes it one of the richest living architectural record of building techniques, tastes and craftsmanship of old times of the region.

The Sethi House is a three storey building with huge basements on all four sides of the central courtyard, making intelligent use of the ground levels. The incredible ceiling heights of these basements, there multiple levels, intelligent use of wooden jalis, panjalis, and baadgirs for light and ventilation, and compartmentalisation for different usages are good examples of space utilisation and energy conservation for compact urban properties. A well-protected vault in one of the basements with a strong steel door is a telltale sign of the riches the Sethis had to guard.Walking through load-bearing brick arches one finds a fountain in the central courtyard, which is not functional these days, however it does not need a lot of imagination to picture the calming effect of its music on the inhabitants. The structure of the building has used enormous amounts of wood with brick fillings. The central courtyard is surrounded by doorways and windows on the ground floor. Balconies of the balakhanas, the upper two storeys, open into it and connect all levels for instant communication -- a significant feature as opposed to the contemporary house plans that approves the western-style of individualism. The views on all sides of the courtyard is that of wooden doors, basta windows and panels, all intricately carved with floral and geometric motifs, blending Gandhara with the Islamic practices of those times. The splendid woodwork is embedded with beautiful stained glass pieces which make a colourful show for the indoors during daylight, and for the courtyard after dark.

Mostly pukka kali is used as a base for the fresco work; however there are a few instances of bypassing the standard technique, an observation made by architect Tahir Khattak, head of the documentation of the project.

Inside the rooms and living spaces, one finds ornately embellished cheenee khanas as the central decorative elements. These cheenee khanas alone have used many layers of the crafts that one might find only in palaces of those times. Starting from the aina-kari, which are then embedded in manabat-kari that is covered with kashi-kari. There are panels with paper paintings which are framed in plain glass, with the repetition of the layers mentioned above. The false ceilings are decorated with panels made of hundreds of wooden pieces that are studded with wooden reliefs painted with pigment paints; a technique known as tarseem bandi.

The elaborate use of decorative elements like carvings, fretwork, fresco tracery, stucco tracery, floral motifs used in scrolls, freeze lines, arches, and paintings makes it a monumental and arduous task for any conservation intervention.

Proper conservation and interpretation of the tangible cultural heritage will open many doors for the researchers, a task so vital for a culture that is still in search of its identity on many levels. One must contemplate that it is our built heritage -- which we are leaving behind -- that is most likely to survive in its original form and not our intentions. Our claims or level of honesty should not be the only benchmarks to qualify us to intervene in such projects, for it requires a lot of experience, technical expertise, and above all, sensitivity to qualify for that.

Published in The News on Sunday

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Sanjh

Sanjh by RetroArts, has brought together around 100 artists to raise funds for the flood-affected

By Naeem Safi

It is said that residents of Muslim Spain -- when Granada was at the pinnacle of civilisation of its time -- reached a level of sensibility where giving a single fruit as a gift would symbolise sharing a part of one’s life.

Pakistan, a tiny country in terms of its stature, and all time low on the charts of civilisation, is witnessing something roughly similar in its spirit to the above-mentioned sensibility. Sanjh (togetherness, exhibition’s title) by RetroArts has brought together around 100 artists to raise funds for the flood-affected Pakistanis. The exhibition, which includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, and digital prints, has opened yesterday at Alhamra Art Gallery and is scheduled to remain open for a fortnight.

It is one of those rare art events where one will find such an overwhelming number of artists -- senior as well as new -- from Pakistan and abroad, showing under one roof, setting an example to set aside all differences, if there were any, and connect for a better and secure future. Apparently, all this may sound like a cliché, but in reality, is not that common.

The donated artworks, mostly, were originally produced in other times and with different moods and intentions; it is the collective objective behind their display that makes this particular exhibition different from the others. The visual artists have put in their bit, by gifting some pieces from their lives to get some bread and medicine for the flood victims. Now it is for the art collectors, the donors, and the public to show their level of sensibility.

The Pakistani apparatus could learn a few lessons from its counterparts in the First World for how they have used, and are still using, visual and performing arts for the promotion of their respective ideologies, especially in the second half of the 20th century.

It is not easy for everyone, and especially artists, to remain indifferent to the reality that surrounds them, particularly when the reality is predominantly dark and grim; a spark of light is always welcomed. While the local and foreign media -- driven by the pressures of their respective marketplaces, and greed; the soulless leaders -- political and other; the ever-growing mass of pessimists; and above all the fundamentalists, are painting everything black in Pakistan, let the artists come out of this chaos, head to the forefront and splash some colours on the horizon, neither for left nor for right, but for hope and life. The artists must spearhead the quest for identity, as they are usually the first ones to break on to the other-side.

Some of the featured artists in the show are: Saleema Hashmi, Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Ayaz Jhokio, Farida Batool, Huma Mulji, Aasim Akhtar, Mohmmad Ali Talpur, Ayesha Jatoi, Asif Ahmed, Amira Farooq and others.

Published in The News on Sunday

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: Images of Afghanistan

Beyond the curtains

A book that will help alter perceptions about Afghanistan

By Naeem Safi

Images of Afghanistan: Exploring Afghan

Culture through Art and Literature

Arley Loewen and Josette McMichael

Hardback, 350 pages

Price: Pak Rs.1995

Oxford University Press, 2010

The lack of awareness regarding the Afghan culture is mainly due to the scarcity of literature available on the subject. After the Soviet occupation, whatever interest was developed in Afghanistan revolved around its political history and evolution through various conflicts. And the Afghan arts and literature were overshadowed by the cloud of smoke and dust raised by the decades-long war.

A people of a land can be understood by their expressions, through various mediums, of their beliefs and aspirations. And anyone who wants to understand what drives this magnificent nation must see inside their hearts and minds, which is exactly what this collection has done, to a certain extent, and for the first time ever.

Though it can not be termed as a scholarly reference, as stated in the editors' note, "Academics may say that Images of Afghanistan lacks sufficient critical thought or that it is nostalgic…. Rather than an academic treatise or a cultural history, this book is designed to give a flavour of Afghanistan for people who want a starting point." Perhaps it is due to this understanding that the need was felt to include a preliminary chapter on seeing "Culture through the Windows of Art and Literature," for beginners.

The Afghans' love for music, poetry and other arts is best reflected in the moving foreword by Ashraf Ghani, "In this there is hope, hope for tomorrow, for and Afghanistan with dignity."

It is the first compilation of this type on the art and literature of Afghanistan, 32 chapters, grouped in seven sections that describe and discuss Dari and Pashto literature, themes of cultural significance, traditional arts, performing and fine arts. The two sections on literature cover the history and evolution of Dari and Pashto literature, its major influences, poets and prose writers, various genres ranging from the court poetry of the classic times to the traditional poetry of today, folk tales, children's rhymes, proverbs, short stories, and modern trends. The section on culture evaluates various themes that shape the Afghan mindset, especially their code of honour and everything around it. The traditional arts section begins with a study of Afghanistan's archaeological and architectural heritage from the times of the Silk Route and then covers calligraphy, traditional urban planning, woodcarving, and pottery.

Performing and fine arts are analysed in the second last section, with some beautiful insights that helps one understand and connect to the artists' feelings. The final section features two contemporary Afghan authors who write in English, Mullah Nasruddin, the role of Afghan women in literature and music, some other folk tales and the cartoons and comedy in the contemporary Afghan culture. Citations given at the end of chapters are a good reference for further readings on Afghanistan.

The books published by Oxford in Pakistan are seldom designed according to the contents and one's expectations. Same is the case with Images of Afghanistan, from its dust jacket to the hardcover and layout design, is not even above average.

One must admire the editors' humility and honesty. Their decades-long attachment with Afghanistan, living the culture, and their sincere desire to understand it makes the compilation much more authentic on the level of inquiry, than a majority of other publications on Afghanistan's culture by the 'orientalists.' Along with that, around two dozen contributors from varying backgrounds add myriad perspectives to the assorted themes in this compilation. However, one does have a feeling that the scope of the project is such which demands further editions on each theme discussed in it. The cognoscente from Afghanistan and the world need to explore this untapped region for its riches.

This book will help alter the perception about anyone who wants to understand Afghanistan, its roots and evolution over the millennia, and most importantly feel it beyond headlines.

Published in The News on Sunday

Monday, August 16, 2010

Profile of a Street Artist

An ordinary citizen of extraordinary faith

By Naeem Safi

Lahore has witnessed and endured its own share of the human evolution over the course of the millennia—the greater part of which is—not by the Lahore known to us today, but by what is known as the Walled City of Lahore, once a capital of the Mughal India, where the river Ravi used to flow below its magnificent walls, of which only a few meters of remnant has survived. The complex labyrinth of streets and bazaars within could be accessed by thirteen gates, Delhi Gate being one of them. Here each street has its own story to tell; studded with myths, legends, anecdotes, and events from history—layers upon layers just like the ground underneath them.

Inside the Delhi Gate bazaar, just opposite the lane that leads to the historical spice market Akbari Mandi, is a street called Gali Surjan Singh, within which is Kucha Charkh Garan, a cul-de-sac. Here lives Bhola, in a very old house on the corner of this kucha, originally built by a Hindu, which his father had bought for seven thousand rupees when he and his siblings were little children.

Bhola came into picture, or should one say several pictures, when I was documenting the Shahi Guzargah. Bhola has painted his advertisements "Bhola painter, Delhi Gate" in Urdu with consistency over the entire route, composing them into the available spaces on the façades, which are not very prominent yet clearly visible. It was the paradox between the very name Bhola, which means gauche, and this advertisement campaign that first intrigued me. Being from a relevant discipline, it was an interesting set for me to respond to.

Bhola is painting for the last 25 years, a profession that he inherited from his father who left this world about exactly the same period. But he is not our regular bloke who caters to the aesthetics (or the lack of it) of the bourgeois. He paints advertisements, mostly text based, on banners, streamers, and walls etc, usually for the common folk. A profession which used to be considered as art that later evolved into graphic design. But he still calls himself a painter, just like the others here, who are in the same business. And he would share with pride how he did projects on the GT road, outside Lahore.

A few days back, I was walking down the gali when someone asked me, "When will I get my photos?" I looked back and it was Bhola, standing there just wearing an old but stainless brown shalwar, holding a blue t-shirt in his right hand and a cigarette pack in the left. A caked layer of henna over his unevenly shaven head, some of which had dripped down his neck. He seemed much weaker and down than before.

Since he uses the walls in the gali to hang the banners, his work was very slow due to the monsoons. We both looked up to the dark grey sky as a few drops announced it was time to move. We took cover under the scaffoldings that are being installed for the restoration of the street façade. I asked him how he is managing all this and he said he can barely make ends meet for himself and the medicine of his mother— who is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. She is like this since he moved to the ground floor of the house along with her, following the marriage of his younger brother, where there is no ventilation or view. Once, he did get engaged with a fine girl "…when there was no silver in my hair." But somehow they could not get married. He dropped the idea altogether afterwards. I asked him who will take care of him in his old age.

The level of his indifference towards material world is such that he said he refused to get his share of the house transferred in his name because he has nothing much to do there. Once his Heaven (mother) is gone, he would rather sweep up his parents’ graves and live in the graveyard.

His left arm and right leg are affected by polio, most probably, but he says it was typhoid when he was an infant. He can not lift that arm, though he can hold things in his hand. Despite the low season and other challenges he has not lost his hope and says that Allah is their guardian. Then to support his belief, he shared his observation of an old man who rides a bicycle through these lanes early in the morning and scavenges various recyclables from the garbage.

One may wonder that if everything about and around Bhola is so common, then why should one be interested in his story? He may appear to be an ordinary citizen and his story may be common, but his outlook on the sound and fury of life is not; just like his existence.

Published in The News on Sunday