the great escape

I look around and eye the **exit** my great escape, the red flashing sign, the word EXIT, written up, loud and clear, I eye it. And I make a run for it. The two hosts grab me before I even take a step, each with one arm locked into mine, they **crack a joke** about me, the audience laughs. They hand me a metal statuette, I hold it --the heaviest thing I’ve ever held on to-- it falls through the stage, through the wooden floor, with me holding tightly onto it, through and through. “Ladies and gentlemen we just witnessed **a great escape** for the first time in the history of this event, has the winner escaped in such a dramatic fashion, and without giving a speech either.”

Saturday, October 31

Culture Survives in Nooks and Crannies

Cultural expression seems to be the ultimate quagmire-- even when its very existence is threatened it seems to craft itself anew. While cultural activity has been at a down low in Lahore of late, it seems artistic expression is managing to adapt to this new climate, and evolve.

Last week I attended an art exhibit of some of Lahore's younger and upcoming artists, marketed as a presentation on affordable art and aptly titled "OMG I Can Buy Art!". Hosted by a local gallery called Grey Noise, the exhibition was confined to a small but happening room which allowed the those considered whose-who of art along with the would-be's to scuttle through.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a small rock gig in someone's backyard, while you would expect only novice bands to be playing such a venue, the veteran rock band co-Ven nefarious for their politically laced songs, and experimental music were headlining the show while giving some newer acts a platform to perform. As a surprise addition, the famed pop singer Ali Azmat showed up and even did an impromptu performance with one of the newer bands. Despite being a small-scale event, it was a pleasant gathering, layed back and chilled out.

These cultural events arn't just restricted to the elite of the city, a very popular and age old cultural event around the weekly mystic beating of a drum at a locally revered Sufi saint's shrine was recently resumed audaciously at a different location for a more toned down atmosphere after receiving bomb threats.

Culture doesn't merely dissipate when faced with threats on the surface, it merely reorganizes itself, while also capturing and expressing those very developments which threatened it in the first place. Even if it is restricted to small rooms and backyards, the important part is that it is still there allowing people to partake.

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