The proceedings of the second and the last day of the conference were to start from 9 am, and Saba had her paper reading due that day, which meant that we had to get up early morning for it, which meant that I had to take a shower early morning (Honestly, I would never have bothered with the idea of taking a shower, but I was sure that Saba was good enough in her maths to calculate that since I had not taken a shower since Thursday – the day of my arrival – it means that it has been 2 days.. which equals to me being a dirty person) (I guess the word mean has a whole new meaning for me today .. I know lame joke). Anyways after the shower, we got dressed, and for breakfast I had my last day’s leftover lunch sandwich from CTC (told you it was really big) and reached the venue at around 8: 15 am… no one had reached by then! (I would have collapsed somewhere from sleep if only I was able to find a place) but Mr. Vandal and I got some time to talk, and he asked me about my future plans, and we discussed the proceedings of the day before. He is a very punctual man, because at 9 am with still more than half the venue empty he started the proceedings.. he would have continued with it too.. if only Dr.Mubarak Ali, who was supposed to chair the second session would have been on time (he had genuine reasons to be delayed because he is a very punctual man). And as soon as he came the show was on the road.
The first speaker of the day was Dr. Gulzar Haider on the topic “The Historiographers and Pedagogues, with Respect” but he wasn’t able to attend the conference because of some personal issues (I really wanted to meet him though), but his paper was presented to the conference by Dr. Khalid Bajwa.. he started off on a light funny note, joking about his reading speed and all, but it was nice. After him he has Ms. Aisha Imdad, who read her paper about “The Evolution of the Tree of Life as an Islāmic Decorative Element in Fresco Painting in Mughal or Mughal Inspired Architecture of Pakistan. ” I had come to known her in the past one day.. and have to admit that she is a gem of a person. She is very excited about her work and what she is doing in respect of bringing to the forefront many of the crafts from the rural area. – an undertaking by another wing of THAAP, under the title of THAAP Crafts. She was wearing a beautiful shawl made by one such person, and when she talks about it, she has this glow in her eyes. Their exhibition is to take place in Islamabad in this month… so try to check it out! Dr. Sylvia Shorto was not able to come to the conference, but her paper, titled “The Sahlimar Bagh and the Mubarak Bagh: Histories from the garden houses in north-west Delhi” was read out by Muhammad Taimur. And after that came Ar. Saba Samee – I love you Saba! I loved her paper, titled “Lahore – The city of travelers” – and I mean that as a completely objective third-party observer with absolutely no personal interest in the matter! (:D) It was a nice way to look at history.. checking and tracing it from the traveler’s account. I loved it (Yes I know I have already said that)!
After the break, it was Dr. Priyaleen Singh’s paper on “Changing Imagery of the Mughals Garden of Taj Mahal”. In her paper she recalled the attempts that are being made India to conserve the Taj Gardens into their glory periods during the Mughal period and how they have evolved to their current condition of being a mere “lawn” – a factor of colonization! Dr. Banu Pekol also couldn’t make it and his paper was also read out regarding the “Architectural impressions between Turkey and Pakistan: A tightrope between objects and the historian”. Dr. Anis Siddiqui of Punjab University who was the last speaker of the session spoke about “Narratives and Storytelling: Teaching Tools for Architectural History, Theory and Design” and talked about how story telling can be a great tool to awake certain emotions in a student. I agree with him to a point, but I think it is very important to keep in mind that we all perceive things differently and it is not necessary that a story would ignite the same feeling in everyone!The third session began after the Lunch Break, chaired by Mrs. Vandal … and again a round of applause for Baji who prepared a wonderful feast for all – the first speaker of which was Dr. Neelam Naz talking about the teaching tools, her paper titled the “Teaching History of Architecture in Architectural Institutions of Pakistan: A problem or a solution”… her presentation was unique.. but maybe it was also a clue to her teaching methods! Prof. Nimal P.De Silva spoke on the “Kalpawruksha the Celestial Tree in Asian Art and Architecture: A Sri Lankan Expression” and in many ways the concept was quite similar to Aisha Imadad’s presentation only that it was in much more detail and talked from a SriLankan point of view. Dr. Anila Naseem’s presentation on “Understanding Urban Built form traditions using methodical study of historic sources: A case study of Sindh, Pakistan” was completely different from the bunch – primarily because of its focus on the urban development. it was part of her Ph.d research paper and was a detailed understanding of the evolution of urban centers in any region – in this case Sindh. (I hope I have understood it right)
The last two presentations – Dr. Kaiwan Mehta couldn’t make it – were by Dr. Ahmed Zaib K. Mahsud and Dr. Khalid Bajwa – who talked about “Reinventing Modern Urbanism: Doxiadis ‘City of Future’ in the plan for Islamabad 1959-63” and “Androon Shaher [Lahore’s Inner City]: Revisiting the mystified origin” respectively. Dr. Zaib spoke about how the building of our capital had more capitalistic stake’s than has been discussed (I will be honest most of it went over my head), while Dr. Bajwa talked some possible older roots of Lahore, which can only become clear when further archeological evidence has been collected. I have to say his paper makes too much sense for it to be otherwise. As usual at the end of the session, the question answer session happened, but because of the time restraints only 6 questions were allowed. At the last question two people had their hands up – one being Pervaiz Vandal, and some other guest. The person who was handing out the mike got confused, since she couldn’t obviously not choose her boss for this last question. But being the gracious host that they are, Sajjida Vandal told her to give the mic to the guest instead of Pervaiz Vandal. The entire hall saw it, and shared this sweet moment with the couple, and everyone bust in a laugh…. ! I only wanted to share this moment, because it is things and moments like these that would always make this trip and these people memorable and immortal in my mind!
And that was the end of this two-day conference, and was truly a testament to the effort of this wonderful couple. Mrs. Vandal gave her concluding remarks, she thanked everyone, and with that the two wonderful days ended… well not quite exactly. We still had the musical program! For the musical program, Israr Chishti was invited and OMG! He has such a beautiful voice. He is the head of the musicology department in The Punjab University – and they have had to face a lot of issues because of the psycho self appointed commando’s of Islam there! And after an hour or so of wonderful music, amazing food was served.
That night we talked with Mrs. Vandal till around 1: 30 am and it was lovely listening to her stories of her National College of Arts (NCA) days as a teacher and then a Principal. She is the most sweetest person ever (I will not get tired of saying this no matter how many times I have said this before). I think we finally reached home at around 2 or something.. and after that me and Saba must have talked for an hour or so about all sorts of things.
I was due for my city tour the next day and I was super excited about it. (I am a travel freak .. as in I love to travel). But then came the reason for the butterflies to return.. there had been a plane crash that night.. and that too real close to my house … (Hope that the telepathy will work this time with the pilot .. will I be able to learn this art form in less than 24 hour *biting fingernails*)…But tiredness won the butterflies (finally something won them .. they needed to be taught a lesson) and I dozed off. Details of the next day to come really really soon! Promise!