At the Lifestyle Pakistan trade exhibition that concluded in Delhi on Sunday, one stall stands out from a distance for just its name — Deepak Perwani, a Sindhi Hindu from Karachi, who spoke to Shivam Vij about the common strands that run between the two estranged neighbours.
This was the first of its kind exposure for Perwani outside the Indian fashion circuit, of which he has long been a friend and fellow traveller. The humble Perwani, though, has long been used to facing Indian surprise. “People keep asking me, ‘Oh you guys didn’t migrate?’, ‘How are you treated there?’ and so on. The questions show a lack of awareness.” Perwani is part of Karachi’s flourishing Hindu community, which is small but visible and influential even today. One lakh of Karachi’s 1.3 crore population is Hindu.
“India and Pakistan have more in common with each other,” he says, “than any two countries in the world. Our food, dress, habits, language, everything. We are similar — and yet so different.” What are the differences? The two countries have had a different political trajectory, he explains. “Just look at cinema, which in Pakistan died and is now reviving. Bollywood, on the other hand, is so big and flourishing.” India’s booming economy also gets noticed. “You guys are big and you’re going international. I visited Emporio yesterday and it blew me away.”
Emporio is a shopping mall in south Delhi where India’s top designers have outlets — and they are all his friends. “We meet each other across the globe because we’re part of the fashion scene. We’ve done shows together in Colombo, Singapore and Bangalore amongst other places,” he says.
Image: Pakistan fashion designer Deepak Perwani (L) acknowledges the audience at the end of his fashion show as part of the Colombo Fashion week in Colombo February 19, 2009.