KARACHI: Children squealed in excitement when they saw a live Bankay Mian — the mascot of Express News — prancing around the Karachi Expo Centre. People, young and old, were taken aback to see the animated character in front of them. They surrounded him to take a good look at the qawwali singer and took pictures with him. For the first 30 minutes, he could not enter the expo hall as people did not let go.
The second day seemed like the day for children at the Express Family Festival as they ran from one game stall to another. Some held life-size balloons tightly, as if guarding them with their lives.
At the start of the weekend on Saturday, more families and children thronged the festival. They participated in a quiz regarding Bankay Mian and his qawwali and won many prizes. Organisers were in awe of a group of children who sat on the stage and sang just like Bankay Mian and his ensemble. They emulated the character perfectly, with their voice, accent and couplets.
Children also played darts, video games and had their faces painted. Some did not want to leave the play area with the jumping castle. Others proved their intelligence by participating and acing some tough competitions. In the singing competition, children bedazzled all those present.
Auditions were also held for the Express News and Express 24/7 channels. Many men and women gave their auditions and took tips from the producers on how to become a better TV anchor.
The festival provided everything under one roof: shopping and entertainment. “I have enjoyed myself a lot. There is a stall of practically everything here – from electronics to clothes and shoes — and at discounted prices,” said one visitor.
Not to forget food, and lots of it. Children indulged in all the delicious goodies available.
For most people, it was a good way to escape from their mundane lives. “It’s a good way for people to escape from the daily grind and the problems of the city,” said one visitor. Many attending the festival had come from other cities.
As the sun set, more people swarmed in to hear and watch singer Sajjad Ali.
People entered the festival for free but they went home with lots of prizes.
Many benefited from the raffles and lucky draws. “I’ve having so much fun. I’m getting lots of presents,” said one child.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2011.