Pakistani music is diverse and I managed to sample a few styles during my trip.
The music at the second reception consisted of a tabla and a sitar, the basis for Pakistani classical music.
Following are three photos and three videos from the Qawwali performances of 28 December. Vocals dominate the Qawwali style of music and the singing can get quite animated at times. Worldwide, the most famous Qawwali singer was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, someone Eddie Vedder was privileged enough to work with.
Every so often a man would come around to collect tips for the group then performing. At least two or three different formations performed. Some people went and threw notes over the band or other audience members just like at a Turkish wedding.
Following the Qawwali performance, outside of the Shrine of Data Sahib some Gypsies performed in the street. They are societal outcasts with their long hair, body piercings and different dress but are seen as holy/providing good fortune, hence the crowd. Note the bells hung around their belts. These guys also attended the Sufi dancing that night.
Prior to the dancing the brothers Goonga and Mithu Sain drummed, at one stage joined by a saxophonist. The below video is pitch black and the sound is muffled because I recorded it with my camera in my bag as taking of images was not allowed. Despite these defects, the sound is still cool, particularly for anyone into jungle p0rn music or under the influence of mind-altering substances.
Later in the evening the dancers came on and starting dancing their freestyle Sufi styles. The almost purely male crowd were enjoying their hash in various forms and everyone had mellowed out so I slyly recorded the next video. Two of the dancers whirling themselves into ectasy in the below video were not originally meant to be dancing. The guy with the hat gave Drummer Goonga Sain a 1,000 rupee note (the largest Pakistani denomination, about USD 16.50) and for that his mate was allowed to sit front and centre and he could dance with impunity. The guy in the mustard-coloured dress insisted on dancing despite the best efforts to get rid of him by one or two of the ‘real’ dancers.
Despite the extremely loud drum noise, asleep in the tree above where I was sitting were pigeons. Unfortunately, the two people sitting next to me were shat on 2 or 3 times by these winged rats.
As the night was cold, the concrete seat uncomfortable and, most importantly, I wasn’t smoking the weed, I did not totally get into the sound and left with other Regale Internet Inn backpackers before the performance finished early the next morning. Outside the courtyard, other drummers were doing their stuff in front of another audience.
I spent New Year’s Eve at the Regale Internet Inn, Lahore, where I stayed. They had a BBQ and a live Bhangra band played to an audience largely consisting of backpackers along with the odd local and expat living in Pakistan. All in all, I guess people of more than 20 natiionalities were present.
Pakistan’s culture and laws are very conservative and the sale of alcohol is highly restricted, only available to foreigners at specially-licensed five star hotels. Originally, I was happy to have an alcohol-free NYE, but on the day I changed my mind. On New Year’s Eve day I walked with three other foreigners from the hostel to the closest five star hotel. Around the side of the hotel we entered a room. Boxes and boxes of beer and spirits were piled up. The liquor is produced and sold by the State – a nice earner. The prices were very expensive for Pakistan but comparable to Turkish costs. I only drank a few beers. The verdict – drinkable, nothing special but 100 times better than Syrian Barada beer.
The previous 3 NYE’s I spent in the Mersin-Adana area of Turkey and this time I was very happy to be somewhere different. Pakistan is the 7th country I’ve seen the new year in. The other countries: Australia, USA, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Turkey.
Like Istanbul is for Turkey, Karachi is the financial, transport and trade capital, and a former administrative capital of Pakistan. However, unlike Istanbul, Karachi is not Pakistan’s tourist capital (that is Lahore).
Hani’s family company is involved in trade via Karachi’s two main ports.
Karachi is a vast, sprawling city. The weather was mild during the day and occasionally chilly at night. Many coconut palms displayed their fruits and eagles plied the air.
Surprisingly, on 2 or 3 different occasions I saw transvestites street walking in the evening.