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Khantrasts March 28, 2006

Posted by KG in Uncategorized.


At times I am struck by how modern Islamabad is. One notable time was a couple days ago, driving to work. Rounding one of the (almost always poorly designed) traffic circles here, I snagged a pretty nice picture of the super-modern looking Supreme Court building:

The Pakistani Supreme Court

Sure, its not Frank Gehry, but it remains striking. What was all the more striking was the fact that while rounding the corner, Hoobastank came on the radio. Hoobastank! In Pakistan! Suddenly, I hated that "Reason" song a little less. Well, okay, not really. But if I had simultaneously seen skateboarders doing ollies on the Court's steps, I suspect I would have teared up, just a little bit.

Tonight, again on the drive home (the three radio stations I can get here are all very… interesting) I heard a young lass of Islamabad extolling the virtues of Kelly Clarkson. At first I was quick to agree, since the awesomeness of "Behind These Hazel Eyes" cannot be argued. But then I realized I was driving towards a giant Mosque, on the left side of a poorly lit road, surrounded by Suzuki Mehrans and kameez-clad pedestrians. The clear conclusion: Kelly's holding the Intercontinental Idol belt now. Good for her.


This weekend, my favorite couple here in Islamabad (let's refer to them as "The Candlestickmakers" for anonymity's sake) took me to a store hidden below Islamabad's Blue area, a dank and musty dungeon of a place that holds untold delights for those looking to enhance (or, indeed, begin) their furniture collections. The store was one "Tribal Arts," a barely-adequate name for one of the coolest stores I have ever been in. The proprietor was a third-generation furniture artisan who hailed from one of Pakistan's northern tribal areas. For years, his business has been to travel to the more isolated parts of Pakistan (and possibly, though he was reticent to say, Afghanistan) and purchase old handicrafts and everyday items. From these, he creates entirely new pieces — for example, a tri-level display shelf made from a dromedary camel saddle. Any piece in the store is made to order from the customer and takes about a month to complete (give or take based on complexity). You come in, look at a display book or sold items, pick out pieces of wood, metal, or the like, and wait for it to be constructed. The prices? Well, high in the local currency. That is to say, embarassingly low given the effort, creativity, and beauty of this man's work. Unfortunately, I was forbidden to take photographs of actual pieces; the artisan felt that some customers might not appreciate their unique designs being photographed. However, I was able to snag a picture of a super cool item that was, alas, not for sale:

A Beautiful Antique Record Player

The owner (pictured) apparently picked up this antique record player somewhere on his travels. The turntable and speakers were powered by a crank; the record being played in the picture is actually of Hindustani songs. The record? Pre-vinyl — acetate. Amazing.

Photos of my inevitable purchases from this store to come.



1. Sister - March 28, 2006

Word up to Kelly Clarkson. Even super-hipster-indie kids jam to her, shamelessly. Now THAT’S breaking boundaries.

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