Truck Art Culture: Sana’s Qawaali Recommendations For Children


The Introduction

Salaam kids and grown-ups! Hope you are enjoying your time in December although the month for us Californians started a few hours ago. I am spending a weekend away from home and already feeling so relaxed and pampered. It is a mini-vacation to celebrate many milestones in my family – my dad’s 70th birthday, my mom’s 65th birthday, my sister’s 10th wedding anniversary, my 10th Nikkah anniversary and my brother’s 2-year wedding anniversary (…what?).

This week, I went to see the latest installment of Dr. Seuss’s bugger and it is quite cute. Yes, the plot is essentially the same and you can depend on “Grinch” being a sourpuss during the holiday month, but there are certain aspects I love to twist your brain around, if you allow me. So here goes…

The Grinch doesn’t like anyone so why would he have an adorable dog that he looks down upon? What if the dog in the animated movie is his collective conscience, in other words, his brain? No? He loves it, talks to it, nurtures it almost to a point the little dog becomes his side-kick in his big evil plan to steal Christmas. Real dogs don’t do that. How can dogs go to heaven then? Nope. Doesn’t happen. Cant happen. Not even Grinch’s real dog, if he had one that is, will steal Christmas. The dog has to be an imaginary friend.

The second thing I want you to focus on is the direction the objects are moving towards or just focus on the right side of the animated movie (please take breaks). Notice what you are noticing and YOU will come out of the movie theater with a smile 3x its original size. It is that good. I promise in this 90-minute installment, I resolved some big life issues & recognized some major emotional breakthroughs. And all I did was relax on AMC’s reclining cinema seats and ate cookies n’ cream ice cream. Sooo, try it.

How Did The The “Truck Art Culture” Start In Islamabad, Pakistan

In between getting into trouble, socializing with friends, learning in my classrooms, and doing my homework, I was planning world domination of some sort. Yes, evil entrepreneurs (I started companies, remember that) start young. Kids, if you have a brilliant idea, be evil, funny evil. Hhee Hhee. But, being the little Grinches you are, I know you already do that. But, I know you like to learn something new and frustrating all the time. So I want to teach my readers about Truck Art Culture, which I started from Pakistan.

Most people are curious about my “Truck Art Culture” and how I came up with it. Well, it took a bit of dependable genius, good timing, and a killer business sense. One day I was reading a book in my school’s garden and eating a sandwich during my school’s lunch break when my father came to me with a nice folder and an eager/fearful look on his face. I was kind of a big deal given who my family was and my razor-sharp wit had broken a few hearts so I don’t know what was going through his mind. Anyway, he said he wants to show me something… He showed me some of the most beautiful artwork I had never seen. I asked him where he got the idea (and the colored pencils/pens/markets so I can buy them) and he said he “literally” (haha) used his imagination and thought of colorful patterns and colors because he was bored.


We talked the entire lunch period what we can do with this artwork and where I want to see it in Karachi and joined in saying it will look nice in Lahore, as well. I think my cousin Seher (an art graduate nagged) him to us as I spotted her sobbing face in the middle of that garden. I, and along with my cousin, Seher worked on Karachi and Lahore projects. I am not sure what other parts of Pakistan have this cultural phenomenon reached.


It started with putting the art on trucks and buses with help and grew to billboards and so on. I made $0 from this cultural phenomenon, but we gained a skill set that helped us in our professional careers. By adding layers to the “Truck Art Culture” I won the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.  I later added layers by including qawaali music, butchered words that became known as Urglish, and a colorful traditional fashion craze unlike no other (remember THIS). Shiny metallic embroidery like kamdani (see HERE) and zardozi became popular again (my mom drew the line on kiren as edging (see HERE) as it was too 70’s for her). Dancing was not “customary” as I couldn’t think of one dance appropriate for my “Truck Art Culture”. This was a good decision as Pakistan is so diverse, it is not wise to limit beautiful creativity in such a way. Sorry, no contracts here.


* On a side note, I would like to thank my art-fanatic Seher Baji for supporting me on this even though we fought through the whole process. As a grown empathetic woman I can understand why you were so emotional. To learn more about my cousins or Pakistani weddings, see HERE.  

Musical Aspect Of The “Truck Art Culture”

For the “Truck Art Culture” I picked qawaali as its definitive musical aspect. Qawaali’s roots are in Sufism (a spiritual pillar of Islam). It originated somewhere in Turkey and brought to the Sub-continent (as seen here in Noor Jahan’s Mughal-e-Azam HERE) by the Mughals. Although it wasn’t a preferred music genre of the Mughal emperors, who preferred classical music with sitar and tabla, and called qawaali too spiritual or free-handed, devoted music lovers have been perfecting qawaali music for centuries and will continue perfecting it.

Pakistani music legends “tweaked” the genre by including new instruments like the harmonium, tabla, dholak, which I am familiar with, but also including sarangi, saringda, and rabab, that originated from Balochistan, Pakistan. Besides these inclusions, not much has changed about the genre of music since the Mughal period. Sad, yes. The music is so devoted to spirituality that with instruments, voices, and yes, the synchronized claps, you feel like life’s big questions are answered.

As a child, I overheard this music blaring from radios belonging to truck drivers and off-duty chauffeurs so much that I decided to include the musical genre in the “Truck Art Culture”. I know I made many people happy because of it.

The Qawaalis I Recommend Are:

  1. Pakistan’s Original Afreen Afreen: The father of qawaali in Pakistan is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As you can see from this Youtube video (See HERE) there is simplicity, not the colorful drama that is “Truck Art Culture”. He hated the “Truck Art Culture” because it is anything but simple.
  2. Bollywood’s Tumse Milke Dilka Jo Haal: Bollywood reintroduced qawaali again (since Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan’s Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast – See HERE, which was hated so much since the legend’s voice was digitally contrived beyond recognition and qawaali was banned in Bollywood movies). However in 2004, after the permission was granted it was revived in Main Hoon Na’s Tumse Milke Dikla Jo Haal (See HERE) sung by Nusrat’s nephew, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The video was meant to modernize the musical genre, but failed and is not even truck artsy because the “Truck Art Culture” has a very vibrant feel.
  3. Modern Bollywood’s Tere Ore: In 2008, this Bollywood hit “Tere Ore” (See HERE) was in almost every sense a modern qawaali. Shot in Cairo, Egypt, it is a far cry from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s vision of qawaali culture & Sana’s vision of “Truck Art Culture”. But the music and cinematography was modern, classic, and beautiful like my aunt, Katrina, who stars in it.
  4. Modern Pakistan’s Bhar Do Jholi: Amjad Sabri, a student of Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan, sang my favorite qawaali (see HERE). He was lovely enough to borrow colors (like on clothes & decor) from the “Truck Art Culture” and incorporate it in videos as a sign to show inclusion of Pakistan’s “Truck Art Culture” phenomenon. I will be forever grateful to these qawaali legends.
  5. Qawaali In “Sana’s Truck Art Culture”: This video featuring Kareena & Salman is the quintessential “Truck Art Culture”. Fun, inappropriately derivative, layered, colorful, cheaply humorous, visually melodic; and did I mention colorful? Although dancing is not part of the culture, the formula is derivative enough to be an inspiration. I love the choreographed “Bollywood-Style” dance these two have included in this video. Check it out.

For other qawaali’s on YouTube, check out this playlist (See HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE). I will add other aspects of The “Truck Art Culture” later, in the future.

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