Thursday, February 05, 2009

We All Have Five Fingers

I arrived in Lahore, Pakistan Saturday after 3 days of travel, almost half way around the world. As I progressed westward across the Pacific, the time zones and the visual landscape changed dramatically. As the plane touched down at Allama Iqbal Airport in Lahore, the first thing I saw was the air terminal – an earthy red brick building – in a style that reflects the Mughal history of the city. After spending so much time in the achromatic metallic and glass environments of Tokyo and Bangkok’s airports, this building welcomed me with a sense of humanity. Natural materials, color, and an architectural style that reflects the cultural history.

So what do I see? The trees are green and the sky is blue. People dressed in the traditional garb of long tunics over pants (shalwar kameez) line the streets. If it weren’t for the cars, this is a rare timeless place that looks as if it could be hundreds of years ago.

A few days ago, I had a unique color experience. The setting sun was a bright carrot red. It was especially remarkable since you could look directly at it, which I suppose was due to the filtering effect of the dust particles in the air.

Some background now: I am here to teach color at Beaconhouse National University for the next four weeks. My first contact with the students was Monday at a bonfire in honor of the 15th Century poet Kabir, whose Sufism represented a fusion of principles from both the Islamic and Hindu tradition.

On Tuesday I reviewed an exhibit of student artwork. I regret that my wonderful camera chose this time to break down …(the dreaded Canon lens error) but I did manage to take a few pictures of this exhibit. This is my first teaching experience outside the western world and I can only say that students everywhere are concerned with the same issues. The underlying themes are ecological issues and concerns for humanity. One student created a life-size beggar puppet, suspended by black-gloved arms – a symbol of the Mafia controlled beggardom here in Lahore. I am learning so much about Pakistan. “We all have five fingers,” so spoke Umar, my driver. Yes.

I will buy a new camera tomorrow!

Typo/correction of a link in the previous post.”Alif Laila.” is the correct name of the book bus.

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