Another end of the season event was that of the Asian Study Group which took place at the Australian coolabahs club, courtesy ASG’s patron, Australian High Commissioner, Margaret Adamson. One of the most eagerly awaited of ASG programs every year, it was a ‘house full’ event featuring folk and contemporary music and entertainment; announcing of the prize winners of the photograph competition whereby thirteen photographs are chosen for the famous ASG calendar; a quiz on a particular subject - this time it was on the Moghuls; door prizes – and of course a sumptuous dinner. All this took place in a wonderful ambiance that had been created in the garden, with nature helping by providing a clear night with an almost full moon.
Welcoming members and their guests, president ASG Parvin Malik thanked the patron and members of the high commission, as well as her committee members for their help and support in arranging the affair; said a few words about the performances and concluded by hoping everyone would enjoy the evening.
Margaret Adamson was highly appreciative of the work that the ASG is doing, not only in terms of showcasing the best of Pakistan in its many diverse programs on the amazing art and culture of the country but in highlighting historical and geographical aspects as well. “I have learned much about the country and been to places I would not have had a chance to visit if I had not gone with the ASG groups,” she said. “All the volunteers are doing a wonderful job and I highly recommend that you become a member if you are not already one.” She concluded by thanking all the sponsors of the event, including the management of the Serena Hotel.
The program began with a very interesting ‘Gatka’ performance which was far too short to really sink in because most of the guests had never heard of this form of martial art and were eagerly looking forward to it. The two member team entered to the accompanying rhythmic beat of drums and flutes with dance like steps, waving their sticks - somewhat like what the dancers do during a ‘khattak’ performance when they wave their swords. Needless to say, the group with its colourful paraphernalia – musical instruments, sticks and shields - was the focus for photo buffs!
A dinner break was followed by a performance by the “Keynotes’ band who sang both contemporary as well as old time favourites which, frankly speaking, were more appreciated by the older generation – we could have happily listened to more of the same! It was good to see girls up on stage doing what they love to do and if the band adds a few more popular numbers of days gone by for events where a mature audience is present, they will be much in demand!
Gatka is the name of a north Indian martial art that, in the middle ages, was used to teach young men the art of swordsman ship. The sport involves practice with a Gatka (wooden sword) and Phurree (leather shields) to the drum beats of folk musicians. The Gatka is an important part of the Sikh martial tradition. In Pakistan, the martial art survives among remote tribal communities in the Kashmir and Hazara regions.
The ‘Keynotes’ are four Islamabad based friends who joined together as a cover band in 2015 to indulge in their passion for music. All four members sing, with Ahsen on the lead guitar, Asjad on rhythm guitar, Iram on lead vocals and Zahra on the keyboard. With their diverse professions they take out time to perform retro music from different genres ranging from rock, alternative, rock ’n’ roll and pop.
Altogether, it was a very pleasant evening that merits full appreciation of all those involved in making it so. Here’s looking forward to next year!