KARACHI: It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent 50 years or 15 days in Karachi, it has a way of getting under your skin. The target killings, Altaf Hussain’s face on every sidewalk, graffiti about urination in public, Sea View... the list is endless.
So when Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture graduate, Khaula Jamil, came up with the idea for an online postcard project, ‘Take me to Karachi’, it didn’t take long for it to go viral on social media. Now any Karachi’ite, whether they are in Berlin or Ulaan Baatar, can place an order on Jamil’s Facebook page and pay her PayPal account (this includes shipment).
The name ‘Take me to Karachi’ was inspired by graffiti saying ‘Chalo chalo, Karachi chalo’ that Jamil photographed in October 2007 near Sea View the week Benazir Bhutto was returning. “Everyone said it had the Karachi vibe,” she explained. “It also reminded me of when you’re abroad and you hail a cab and tell the driver to take you somewhere.”
Country roads, take me home
When Jamil moved back to Karachi after completing her Masters in Fine Arts and Photography at Parsons, The New School for Design, her iPhone became her new best friend. Using Instagram, Pixlr O’matic and other camera applications she captured a bit of Karachi wherever she went.
It certainly helped to land a job heading the Citizens Archive of Pakistan photography and video department, which gave her access to areas she wouldn’t normally visit. “I just started taking regular photos with my phone and started playing around with them,” she said while talking to The Express Tribune on Friday. “I didn’t plan on doing anything with them.” She was fascinated by the layers and complexity and wanted to add different textures. “I wanted to interpret Karachi in the funky way I saw it.”
A few people saw the photos and asked for prints to send to their friends abroad. There was no looking back after that.
The process of making a postcard is pretty simple. Jamil takes a photograph with her iPhone, adds the layers, edits them, adds general description or location and prints them using 100-gram or heavier printing paper. The postcards are laminated with a matt finish. She is considering framed prints as well.
So far the response has been “overwhelming”. Overnight the page had over 200 fans, 90 were her friends. “Pretty soon people started asking me how they could place orders. I did not plan a business, I still haven’t. People place orders and I try to accommodate. I get a lot of orders from Karachi, but also send many to Dubai, Singapore, the US and Germany.” She is in talks with a place to house the postcards.
Jamil admits to being a voyeur. “I’m watching people going around their daily routine. It is very fast paced. I just go around catching anything that fascinates me,” she said. “There is a certain beauty and charm about it. In my other project which I started three months ago, ‘Humans of Karachi’ I have to go up to people explain the project and take photos.”
Humans of Karachi, is a project Jamil is working on with the Citizens Archive of Pakistan. It puts forward a positive image of the city. It is based on Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project.
Karachi, dekho magar pyaar se
- To show off all that is Karachi - one area at a time
- Sets consist of five 4”x6” postcards each
- All sets are final
- No custom orders or mixing it up
- To place an order, the client has to get in touch through Facebook, place an order and pay via PayPal (Rs1,000 per set of 5 and includes shipping, prices to be revised)
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Benazir Bhutto came back in October 2008. The correction has been made.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.
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