By Koshal Hamal
... Sometimes, reality become a 'frequently occurring dream'; when I was in grade 11, one of my teachers used to say "when you love something that takes a position of 'a frequent dream' but 'love' always comes after your proper understanding of something. If you do not understand it, it will be meaningless to you". I was not in LOVE, when for once, I heard about the 'Karachi Trip'. However, with the passage of time, journeys and moments overlapping each other, I realized I had surpassed not only with love, but it was pretty much initiated with the blessed purpose of marriage!
Recently, School of Visual Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University proposed and initiated a trip to Karachi for 4th year visual art students. Being one of them, I had planned not to go, because I had to commit deeply with my own art practice pending and also because my flu and cold symptoms had still not withered away. I told my Dean, Mrs. Hashmi that I should not go to Karachi in consideration of my health problem. My dean told me and insisted I think otherwise: "I think, you should go to Karachi, it is nice weather in Karachi". Suddenly I had to change my time-table, and eventually, decided to go to Karachi.
18th January, 2011, by train, our Journey starts with the sunset of 4:00 pm. We were 10 students, two teachers, and two assistants. Seated in the locally famous 'Karakoram Express', it was my first longest train journey in my life, which was about 21 hour's nonstop travel. Honestly & unbelievably, after the half an hour’s travel, I lost my flu and cold, It is may be because of a subtle happiness and lively atmosphere. I was in the presence, we were having so much fun, taking pictures, and looking outside the window, every frame almost like a Monet's color palette! After four hours of travel, we had a wonderful dinner ( " Garam Biryani, Paratha, Chicken Role) amongst the company of teachers and friends. We were really enjoying the train's shakiness, movement, sound, etc. With great entertainment, short sleep, mysterious night, bright environment, we reached Karachi around 2 pm on 19th January.
A Busy Market, almost like Mumbai, India, the weather was so cool. After 20 minutes, our first destined stop was at VASL residency by taxi. It was really a great opportunity to see the space of VASL, with so many works displayed by national and international artists. After the lunch and refreshment, we decided to go to Clifton Market for shopping and to see the beach, around 7 pm. We spent our time at the beach for good two-three hours. We enlivened in the spirit of the nature and beauty, riding camels, horses, etc. The first day and evening in Karachi was summed up to a really wonderful experience.
2nd Day, we planned and proceeded to visit 'Mohattta Palace Museum', Mughal Architecture, a Curative art exhibition by 40 contemporary Pakistani artists " The Rising Tide", curated by Artist Naiza Khan. We were welcomed by three young female artists such as Asma Mandranwala, Adeela Suleman and Naiza Khan. My curiosity finally paid off, after a good survey around the building and paintings being culminated and rendering out reflective social generes and messages about the painters via their work. Ms. Naiza Khan gave us a good explanation of every artist's work, she said "our main goal was to show Pakistan's dynamic art scene, I have been able to bring the works from different parts of the country and from Pakistani Artist living abroad from the time of 1989 to 2010". Quddus Mirza's "portrait of my village" (1989) to Rashid Rana's "Desperately Seeking Paradise" (2007-8)" gives a diverse metamorphosis process to the Pakistani art scene. It seems like that they are moving with the European art tradition. We spent almost three hours inside the gallery. Now we decided to re-visit this gallery again.
Our next survey and visit was proposed to Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture around 12 noon.
The Architecture of IVSAA is a perfection and historic masterpiece in itself.It has an old age mansion feel to, for over the years, cultivating and generating brilliant artists and architects. Ms Adeela Suleman gave us overview and insights into visit of different studio spaces, organized Photography, Textile & Fine Art Studios. We could see the beach from the 4th storey, we all were enthusiastic beyond everything prevalent, taking pictures, asking lots of questions to shrug off our curiousity, getting answers were the most remarkable part at IVSAA ! After IVSAA, we visited Canvas Art Gallery, Koel Art Gallery, Gandhara, Clifton Market. After the Galleries survey, we decided to go for crabbing, in the middle of the sea, we spent almost three hours; 7pm to 10 pm were felt like over on the moon, it was so exciting and exotic! We came back to VASL hostel at 10 pm. This night, we had a great discussion about art in the context from Marcel Duchamp to Damien Hirst.
Our next day's journey was the 'French Beach", where we decided to spend the whole day at the beach. Sunrise to Sunset, we had great fun becoming ONE with weather and the sunny day! It was my first time to observe the sea, deeply. The meeting point of the sea and sky divided by a horizontal line, where we cant really see the line but we can see the difference between sky and sea. 2 pm's waves of the sea looks like Waimea. Our sea entertainment ended with the sunset of 5:40 pm. Still my friend were having fun, this time was so-real, it reminded me "The Slave Ship" by Turner.
4th day in Karachi, 21st of January, artist Ms Adeela Sulemam gave a presentation on VASL art at VASL residency office. Her main goal was to furnish us with information on VASL. She said "We must debate and discuss amongst our community". In that context, we really need to care about our art boundary. We want to save ourselves! After her presentation, we decided to re-visit the 'Mohatta Palace Museum', we had abundant time to observe the art works. After 'Mohattta Palace Museum', we decided to go for the shopping, we went to Sadar and Clifton Market for shopping. We come back to VASL hostel around 7pm. We had a dinner party at artist Adeela Suleman's home, which turned out to be one of the most remarkable moments in Karachi. Young National Artists and art students all fused into one place, for dinner and artistic communication were synergized and enlightened.
5th day, 22nd of January, It was our last day in Karachi, we spent our time at VASL residency home till 2 pm, we had to get ready to Lahore. We were enveloped and seals with the spirit and remarkable theories behind the establishment of the VASL residency and the last three day's entertainment in Karachi. So many friends felt dreaded and down for a moment that eventually, like everything else, had to temporarily come to an halt. We had this urge in us to continue for some more days, and to re-live and bask further in the aura of Karachi, but we had to get back. Our " 'Karakoram Express' " was ready, waiting for us souls, at the rail station!!
Around 4 pm, our another part of 23 hour's travel starts, and still, thanks to good food & company, we were never entertainment deprived-in the junk foods!
23rd of January, around 2:30 pm, we arrived in Lahore, entrenched in the most remarkable experiences and treasured memories to gallop by. Around 4:00 pm, I reached at BNU hostel. This is a reality, not a dream! My spirit is still in Karachi with all friends and teachers.
Today, I see the same place as I used to see before. Back to same time-table, back to 9-5 days. 'Karachi Trip' seems like a fragment of a dream, an exotic freedom of dream, 'a frequent dream' with the spirit of love.
Koshal Hamal is a student from Nepal, currently studying at Beaconhouse National University, with Fine Arts as his major.
He was awarded by SAF Scholarship for Fine Art from Nepal in 2007.