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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rocking Karachi, Fundraising photography by G.M.B Akash

KARACHI -- A few years back, a couple of friends of mine from New York dropped by Karachi. It was winter, gorgeous weather--75 degrees during the day, 65 at night--and the city was lit up for Christmas and the wedding season. In downtown Saddar, the spire of St. Patrick's Cathedral coruscated from a distance, and every other house seemed to be garlanded with strings of lights, like strings of glowing jasmine. Processions comprising bhangra dancers or brass bands and the odd coven of sari-clad transvestites could be observed early into the morning. We started at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a huge, white marble dome set in verdant, terraced gardens that is one of the finest structures in modern Muslim architecture. After walking around the premises, we sauntered down the street to the stately, members-only colonial compound housing the Karachi Goan Association. Inside, we happened upon a hardwood dance floor that is packed on the weekends by members of the Christian diaspora of Portuguese descent. There was also a well-stocked bar, a library, a chapel upstairs and a vaguely Moorish courtyard outside. Then we crossed Bandar Road, the artery to the sea, to Parsi Colony, a magical neighborhood structured around a park that recalls a London suburb and the rich Zoroastrian heritage of the city. Continuing, we drove down toward the sea to Swaminarayan Mandir, a 200-year-old temple nestled in a Hindu enclave. In the evening, we listened to live qawwali music at a saint's shrine lodged in an alley of the Jama Cloth Market. It wasn't Nusrat, the late, great maestro, but it was rocking. Rocking Karachi H.M. Naqvi

While doing some of my own basic research on the topic, I stumbled across the photo gallery of acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer G.M.B Akash, the link to whose site I found in an email sent to a distribution list by a friend at Asha For Education, the non-profit I am volunteering at. Besides receiving numerous awards and international recognition, in 2005 Akash was awarded Best of Show at the Center for Fine Art Photography’s international competition in Colorado, USA. In 2006 he was awarded World Press Photo award and released his first book “First Light”. In 2007 again he became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the 30 Emerging Photographers (PDN 30) by Photo District News Magazine, USA. I was much enraptured by the pathos that ran so deep in his photographs,and so instead of forwarding his link around in email distribution lists to other friends, I contacted him for an interview, which he was kind enough to consent to give, even though he was traveling on various assignments to remote places. Here is a summarized transcript of the exchange that followed: Fundraising photography by G.M.B Akash - by Manisha Verma

Other references to photography
1.G.M.B Akash - . Gallery for Born to Work
2.Heldur Netocny, Mark Henley, Stuart Freedman,Fernando Moleres,Dieter Telemans on Panos Pictures
3.Vikas Malhotra - He covers a wide range of other subjects also, unlike the rest of the above, but do check out his gallery. Don't forget to check out his Streets of Old Delhi, Jabalpur, Pushkar, Varanasi galleries (to say the least).


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