As well as meeting family, the centre of life in these parts, and the reason for our visit to Pakistan, I am taking note of all things modern in the land of Pak. Shazi´s trendy interior designers love to point out all the non Third World aspects of Lahore, and of course, there is a lucky minority that live life just as if they were in NY, London or Tokyo. Unfortunately 95% of the population don´t share such a lifestyle, despite the fact that the LCD screens in every room at Shazi´s place spit out images of a youth culture where girls aren´t covered up, guys look like tanned Justin Timberlakes and the dance sequences are reminiscent of the greatest Bollywood choreographies. But none of this really reflects what you see on the streets: sure, young guys have swapped the traditional curta plus shalwar combo for Levi´s and a cool haircut, but I haven´t seen a single skirt out there although there are some pretty Pakistani girls dressed á la western at the priciest shopping malls. I wonder whether they can get out of arranged marriages as easily. It seems to me life in Pakistan could head towards moderation quite easily, but current world politics will probably send this society in the opposite direction.
But let´s not get too distracted, this post is all about the discovery of beautiful Ali Zafar, Pakistani Pop Star if ever there was one. He´s just released his second album called Masty (which means joie de vivre, apparently) and is an expert at creating teenager oriented pop music. Oh and he does it ever so well, cute as they come, his second single Sajania is on every music video channel, but I prefer the first track, Masty with its catchy guitar riff and live energy swell. I bought the album and it turns out Ali writes and composes most of his stuff which takes him out of the pop product category: the guy´s a musician whose art sells rather well. I haven´t got a clue what his songs are about, but there´s another one with a modernised Qawali vibe that I can´t help but put on repeat (yes, I am the obsessive sort), it´s called Kharayaan day. I would shoot a music video in the middle of the Thar desert with a Burning Man style installation piece in the background and beautiful lotus-eyed women that appear and disappear like mirages as Ali stumbles around in the sand. That´s the thing about being on holiday, you have time to come up with cool ideas.
Anyways, here´s a write up of Ali´s first album, Huqa Pani, and there´s loads of material about him on the web. Look him up on YouTube or take a walk around his website It wouldn´t surprise me if his record company suggested he make an album in English one day and then we´ll get to dance to his music in Euroland aswell.

Ali Zafar