Sunday, March 23, 2014


If you live in Pakistan today then you either live on the “right” side of the bridge or you are left to the cruelties of the world.  Life in Pakistan is NOT easy and the pace of living has become so rapidly fluid and complicated that one does not realize what actually goes on outside their own nucleus of sin. 

I was living in Islamabad about 6 years ago.  I met a lot of people in Islamabad but no one managed to touch me in several ways more than a father and a son.  However this is not about the father who I tremendously respect but this is about his son Mobeen.  I used to frequent the NCA Rawalpindi campus and came across my fair share of narcissistic youth who always thought that they would be the next Rembrandt and were in the institution for the supreme purpose and that was to fit into an alternative hippie click that they had somehow managed to convince their parents was the right career choice.  

Through the arrogance of this youth and their confused ideologies hardened in the kilns of a surreal world where artists don’t survive I met a young chap that was somehow seemed to me to be a misfit in this goof troop of would be so called creative genius’s.  For one thing he was incredibly polite and very humble!  The second thing I liked about him was that he had (& still does) these shining and inquisitive eyes that were two shining orbs protected by his cheeks that always stood out because he was always innocently smiling!  I always noticed him in the college because he was one student who always had a camera strapped around his neck or in his hands.  My last reason for noticing him over a year was because when after every three weeks or so when I would show up he had morphed into a different person with a different hair style or had done something really funky with his facial hair. 

I realized how much I liked him when one day the arty farty kids of NCA Rawalpindi decided to have some gathering in the evening that included music and food.  It was winter and the Pindi cold bit into you but these kids in the middle of the campus had a bonfire going and it was a mini Woodstock in the city of the newly wed or the nearly dead!  As the evening went on Mobeen came up to the stage with his guitar and played a couple of rock numbers supported by a bunch of youth that screamed Confused Anarchy yet he stood out for his neat attire.   The music ended and the food was served and all the kids rushed to the tables but I saw him wipe down his guitar and pack it up and pick up his camera. I wandered over to him and being a geek started talking to him after a second he turned towards me said “sorry” one minute” and fiddled with his ear and that is when I realized that Mobeen had a hearing disability.

After that awkward moment I befriended Mobeen on social media and then somehow found out that I had known his father as well as he was related to the Technology world!  If we are to stereotype then one realizes that kids follow their father’s footsteps usually especially when the father is so successful in a particular industry and try to jump start their careers in the same line as the old man’s goodwill would help them gain a couple of years somehow or the other!  Anyhoo back to Mobeen, I realized that Mobeen was very different!  Mobeen as I got to know him was one of the warmest, caring and sensitive people I have come across in my life who has the resilience to excel by himself and that too without taking shortcuts and asking for any form of help!
I travelled with Mobeen and his college buddies to Sri Lanka and was stunned because two days after we landed in Colombo we found out that his Grand Mother had passed away.  His father insisted that he stay for the week we were there and then come home.  I was sure that this meek boy that I knew would be emotionally distraught but he held it together and what surprised me was his maturity in dealing with matters by himself.  He spent the entire trip capturing Sir Lanka like no one I had ever seen and I realized it was because of his inquisitive innocent nature that helped him actually take a picture that spoke a million words.
Now being a geek I like to analyze things and realize and know that today all you need is a 5 megapixel camera on your iphone and you are a photographer.  The young Ansari is weird because he uses technology to help him but does not depend upon it to do his work for him.  Over the years I have seen Mobeen and realize that as a photographer he has this unique talent for taking breathtaking pictures in any genre of photography!   His work is honest, his style is not plagiarized, the result is more realistic and detailed than the original, and he has the ability to write an Iliad through his camera and the honesty to capture what he wants when you need it!
I was fortunate to view Mobeen’s Dharkan and as time was short I skimmed through some of the 98 stories that he had covered I realized that Mobeen had done what no other person has done and that is to go back into the old school of thought and put pictures in print.  When you see an image on a screen the result is nothing compared to what you feel when it is printed.   Printing an image brings out certain elements in it that your 1080 Hi Definition led can and will never be able to show you or make you feel.  I salute Mobeen for respecting photography by going through the ordeal of printing his story!
Forget the positive image of Pakistan because we will always have our opinions but if you want to see a virgin honest time capsule of this country then Mobeen Ansari has achieved at a very young age what many clichéd photographers have tried to do so.  This young man has captured time and space and the lives of so many who meant something and make no difference today!  He has brought you the lives of ordinary people encapsulated in their own galaxies of tears, happiness and thought!  I would strongly recommend that you buy Mobeen’s Dharkan because this is one book that is NOT a coffee table book.  This is a collector’s item for any and all people who would like the ability to look back and reflect upon what Pakistan meant to them or what they hope to gain from it!
I have not spoken to Mobeen for over 4 years now and he has no clue that I wrote this but I can assure you that I for one am humbled by his integrity when it came to following his passion and not selling out! I wish him the best of luck for his future because Mobeen is the Dharkan of Pakistan!  

PLEASE NOTE! – Any and all images are the property of Mobeen Ansari and if you would like to use them please seek his permission -

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