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The HAT Project 2006/07 is supporting 20 exchange fellowships between England, South Asia and Australia


Residency at Beaconhouse National University


Posted by Peter Chatwin and Pamela Martin on 4th December 2006

Thursday night is Shrine Night. Every week at the Shah Jamal Shrine dhol drumming and dhamaal (dancing) are ritually performed to huge crushing crowds of hundreds of men and a segregated pen of a handful of women. As the crowd expanded Peter and Ehsan, a 3rd Year Fine Art student, who generously took us there, also took refuge in the womenís section as a safety measure. We were fortunate enough to see Pakistanís star Sufi dhol drummer, Pappu Saeen, and his accompanist perform mesmeric rhythms around which violent head shaking and twirling dhamaal dancers rotated. As the night wore on and the pace and atmosphere grew more intense, the dhol drummer himself began to rotate, still drumming as he spun, at which time spontaneous chanting erupted from the crowd in response. Peterís tinnitus is developing nicely.

A trip to the lorry painters and decorators just outside the Old City of Lahore the next day took us into another busy area. Every part of these lorries, from the whole of the outside to inside the loading area, to the cab interior, to the wheel hubs, to even underneath the bonnet is highly and colourfully decorated with status, competitiveness and labour of love as motivating forces. We had only a fleeting glimpse of a painter - brush behind ear, paint-stained overalls - before he disappeared into the crowd. We found, instead, amongst the multitude of parked lorries, dark sunken workshops where complicated engine parts and inventive, improvised running repairs keep these exuberant masterpieces on the march.

In stark contrast to both these events was a visit to Mr. And Mrs. Salmanís peaceful farm on the outskirts of Lahore. Here we saw how both canal and artesian systems work in harmony to provide water to a large farm producing mixed vegetable crops, citrus trees and alfalfa, all of which are pollinated by indigenous bees. The farm will provide an ideal site for Dr. Muzaffarís bee nest experiments. We must start making moves to introduce farmer to scientist.

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Peter Chatwin and Pamela Martin talk to conference during cHAT week at Sanskriti, Delhi, India. March 2007