Point 1-updates

June 18, 2011

I will be working in stop-motion animation.
The point I have chosen is the cabin which switches tracks. right next to it, between the tracks is a small white mosque. Now making a mosque in the middle of tracks is quite unusual but it has an aura of silence against the noisy and busy background. Also, this little white structure stands in the middle of the browns and greens and other colours of the busy railway station.
For me, the mosque is the presence of hope in the midst of all the fares of the quotidian. Almost like a white lotus standing in a swamp.
The track changing cabin which is accessed after climbing a creaky flight of stairs made during the colonial times brings the human attempt to run things in order, while the little white mosque down the steps gives a silent prayer to retain our faith in ourselves and our sense of control on the future… (Ancient Greeks believed that hope gives a false sense of control on the future and argued its positivity).

Out Of Office – Reply

June 17, 2011

Hi Nida it’s Steve Thanks for your latest – I love your photographs.. you’ve gone undercover!!
I was thinking re the stencil idea that
a) as you say does it matter that there’s a language barrier
b) if so, perhaps the stencil could be like a ‘I heart NY’ t-shirt (ie just the I, a heart, and a U… might his help cross the linguistic barrier??
I shall head back to Vallance Gardens tomorrow and the I Love U tree and see what knew may arise
Enjoy your weekend
Best wishes from a grey and damp London

please leave your message after the beep…


Hello Hello

Q: Would they be solely religious or could they have been tied there for other reasons?

A: I believe they are solely religious in this context. but we can manipulate it into our own story…

the “exchange”  idea sounds intriguing. i like the stencil idea… keeping in mind a: the language barrier and b: questioning who we are talking to? as in who is the audience for the public intervention… do we want to get the point across? or should we even worry about it? i think this idea can be cooked more ( i’m thinking… im thinking)…

i discovered two  new facts/fiction about this Shrine! well the first one is definitly a fact… the tree is sticking out of a mosque right behind the shrine. its one building with single entrance but a different room. secondly it is said that Gujja Peer has healing powers. so people come here for Shifa- healing i saw a huge container filled with salt and i was told that the salt is taken for the very same purpose. so here is another string to hold on to may be?

lets think about it and call back…

i managed to take some pictures inside the shrine.. i sneaked in when the care taker was not around…

have a look!

"Charhawa" on the grave of Gujja.   



Hi Nida

Thanks once again for getting this exchange up and posted on the blog. The last section about the Taweez being tied in the tree is very interesting. Would they be solely religious or could they have been tied there for other reasons?

As I said I’m thinking of collecting the names of those who people would like to tell that they love them. Perhaps I could send those names to the shrine tree in Lahore and they could be tied to the tree as a symbol of the lengths we will go to for the ones that we love? And perhaps you could send something in exchange, to be tied to the tree here in London?? Although now looking at a picture of the I Love U tree (inserted below) all the branches are pretty high so that may be rather difficult (as my tree climbing days are not at their best!!…) but perhaps we could find a way of tying some Taweez to it in a cultural exchange. And whilst I am still considering the balloon idea that we’ve discussed previously, I am not sure how it could/should manifest itself (ie for what precise purpose, or whether, like love, it may be doomed to uncertainty and potential failure..) Maybe we could release balloons/a single balloon at both locations simultaneously…? Or perhaps I could send something through the mail to the tree… Maybe I send you a replica stencil of ‘I LOVE U’ and you could stencil your tree with ‘I LOVE U I LOVE U I LOVE U’??

I really think we should push this on and find a way of exchanging something that we’re both happy with… Let me know your thoughts

And, as always, best wishes


hay all

just to keep you all updated…

Steve and I have something to share

hi nida

its Steve here from the London slice – how are you??

I’m just wondering if you could: 

a) briefly re-tell me the history of the shrine 


b) if we could find a way of creating an address for the shrine (even though I think you said that it currently does not have an official form of address) so that I can maybe send something/s there… ideally I’m thinking that I don’t want to send anything ‘care of’ but rather directly to the location…

however I’m still not exactly certain how my work might manifest itself (the balloons idea I talked about via Skype is currently just one of many) so hope that any information you can provide about the shrine (beyond there being 2 trees growing through the structure) might potentially expose a way forward for me… I’m happy for whatever is eventually sent to fail to arrive but would like to give it at least the best possible chance of arriving

trusting that this finds you well

best wishes from a grey and damp London


hi Steve

I’m fine thanks 🙂

well… I asked the gadde nasheen (a saint who practically lives at the shrine) about the history of that place, I asked who was Gujja Peer and who made this place? he said nobody knows anything about Gujja. he told me an interesting story. I don’t know how authentic it is but here it is: while goorai -white skinned- were making the railway ,which is now right behind this place, they failed thrice as the land was not accepting it. so, it was decided that a holy spirit or some saint  lives here.. so this place was constructed… this other person told me that a lady from London called Shama spent a lot of money and constructed this place.. I’m assuming before the London lady got this place constructed dr must be a humble set up here..

I can try and find out the address. but you have to wait for a few days. Ooo and also, only one tree is growing through the structure. please find att. the  image of the tree..

I am thinking of giving niaz  (donation in any form food drinks clothes etc)in that place. you see I was given Niaz when I went there…  I am thinking of giving out food in rapped in letters… I’m still thinking about the letters and its details though.. may be a prayer list.. I don’t know… but I really want a strong connection with the tree… hmmm… thinking…

lets copy paste his conversation on word press if you don’t mind.. let’s make it part of the process..

feel free to ask more questions.. 🙂



hi nida

thanks for your swift response

posting these exchanges on the blog is fine with me… I think it should show all our working processes, thoughts, and ideas as they grow and form…

hmmmmnn just one tree not two that’s even more intriguing. one tree here to another tree there, across the continents …it gets more intriguing by the minute. 

perhaps we could construct a cross-continental conversation between the two trees (my ‘i love u’ tree and your shrine tree – or send gifts or offerings from one to the other??) I’m happy to wait for the address if it can be located. thank you.

I really like the notion that the tree has survived where building efforts have not, and that the only way to stop the constant falling-downs was to erect the shrine to ease the spirit believed to be causing them. so much superstition…

I’m thinking of spending some extended time in the park and asking people who pass there if they know anything about the person who left the ‘I love u’ messages, and maybe who they would tell that they love them, and then perhaps send those names somewhere (maybe by balloon or by letter or even some other format) or do something with them…. I’m not certain yet and its all still rather vague… 

I like your idea of offering something to passersby – do you think we could perhaps exchange something (it could be names, or prayers, or something more tangible) and then distribute those to people in each-others cities?? the possibilities are endless…

looking forward to your next reply

best wishes


good am Steve!

I got the address… though I’m not entirely sure if the things you send will get to this place or not.. but the care taker gave me this address..

darbaar Gujja peer

Dou moria pull,



I asked for more details but the guy said that is all you need.. this is the address… this didn’t come to me as a surprise.. all my questions are answered like this in and around the shrine… nobody knows the authentic history of this place… it always His-Story.. it’s always begins with our forefathers told us that…. and it seems every father had a different story to tell, which is interesting because I thing my work is evolving in the same manner. I’m now thinking of making a photo essay and text , perhaps supported by sound… yes I know it sounds a lot different than my previous donation idea.. 🙂 perhaps I should stop going to the shrine now!

I love the idea of an exchanging “something”.. will share an image on the blog today.. and copy paste chunks of our conversation.. you would love that image and I’m sure it will give you some ideas and maybe we can build up on it!

Kind Reg



okay.. yes yes Steve i know i know… that was not chunks of our conversation.. it’s pretty much all of it! 😛

Here is the image i was talking about…

well.. these are some objects hung to the tree at my end…  im assuming they are Taweez (The defenition of a Ta’weez is simply ‘a written Du’a,’ which is from the Qur’an or Ahadith, and isfor the one who cannot read or has not memorized that particular Du’a. It is written on a piece ofpaper and is worn around the neck. retrieved from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2624285/TAWEEZ)  or pieces of cloth hung in shrines here as an act of mannat- phrasal translation would be “to wish upon a coin”- whatever they are im sure about the fact that the do have some kind of spiritual significance.  to my surprise, not many taweez are hanging on this tree… perhaps its not Holy enough for people? i asked so many visitors about this tree and it seems that people just miss it and they ask back … what? which tree?  ooo that tree? yes its a tree.. its very old… and its been here just like any other tree…

So yeah Steve here you go! “do you think we could perhaps exchange something (it could be names, or prayers, or something more tangible)”  here is a version of “tangible prayers” My tree has to offer.

lets talk here now!



June 14, 2011

Shamim Azad and I walked the London slice the other day. What with sheltering from the rain, stopping off for a delicious lunch and the fact that, in the Brick Lane area Shamim gets recognised every few yards, it took us a couple of hours. Well-spent hours, mind you. It started with what seemed like an auspicious sign for an artwork that will use words: letters, caught in Liverpool Street roof structure, awaiting meaning.

The plan, roughly speaking, is for Shamim to work with a group from the community to create something. I’ll then help turn it into a suitable form for the website and installation. One idea is to work with parents to use both visual elements and words to share their experiences of arrival in the area with their children. But it might all change, so I’ll say no more just now!

We met a teacher Shamim knows from Christ Church School, which is a lovely old building, right in the heart of Brick Lane. The slice passes right through it. It’d be great to get the kids involved with the project at some stage.

Gujja peer and the tree

June 12, 2011

in my first visit to the point, i stood outside the shrine for some time. saw people stopping by in front of the black opening for the daily quick performance… the must do ritual… the little black opening had two “dea” (oil candles),  a metal door with a tiny slit for donation secured by a thick metal bar and two big metal locks. the name of the shrine ” Baba Gujja Peer”  was engraved on a white  marble piece above this opening. people on cycles, motorbikes, rickshaws or even on foot paused for a few min… prayed, donated and touched the oil of the “dea” for good luck and blessings.

this might look like a quite shot but the noise around it was an experience i could not miss!!!

this tree growing out of the concrete structure was the other fascinating part of the mysterious shrine.

a lot is cooking in my mind. the black prayer hole, the tree, the railway line right behind the shrine, the noise around this place and much much more…

The tunnel joins the part of the Walled City with that of the railway colony, passing under  the railway tracks. The elemento f surprise just blows of ones mind everytime you cross the tunnel, but its not only about going under the lines, its about how you go through the transition. Everytime you cross the tunnel the air changes, the sight & sounds changes. The tunnel takes you into a whole new world of your own.

thinking out loud

June 2, 2011

On many days like the day we visited the Lahore end of Slice, I think of the colour of Lahore. Islamabad(our home city) is easily a cold grey with all the concrete that invades it- if you ignore it’s green and the hills you will find the ground to be grey, the structures standing very grey, and the sky too is mostly just grey in Islamabad. On the contrary, Lahore is very warm, all tones are warm, the weather, the sun, the traffic that welcome the donkeys and the rickshaws(a very bright, smart, loud, small vehicle, a three wheel motorbike of a kind with a small comfortable cabin for passengers) , the structures- a warm, dusty, alive reddish brown maybe and the Lahore end of Slice in particular a denser, dustier brown maybe.

There is a certain kind of liberation one feels along with a sense of awkwardness when one is dislocated in their own home. You’re not sure if anything jumps out as distinct or if everything just starts to feel more loaded than you remembered it to be. This exercise is very helpful and exciting when you really drill out of yourself an outsider who is as much of an insider at the same time. I repeat, an outsider and insider at the same time, for no one role should dominate your work. If it does, we’re almost taking advantage of that self-acclaimed designation, rather than arriving at something new. Don’t you think!?