Saturday, 27 December 2014

An Off-road adventure to Jhal Magsi

  Few days back Red Bull Pakistan invited me to cover Jhal Magsi Desert Challenge Race 2014 It's a yearly race event between 4x4's like the Dakkar rally and the Baja it is on a very smaller scale compared to those events but is the most challenging of all 4x4 rally in Pakistan. I was so excited to witness this rally race on the track. The adventure starts on the morning of 20th Dec. We left Karachi at 7pm and reached Hyderabad after 2 hours then we stopped at Al-Zaib Resturant at 10am for breakfast.

omelette and paratha 
 Here I met the famous Sabir Shah aka @AsliBinLaden 

  Then we left for longest road trip of my life till now. We stopped at some restaurant outside Larkana for dinner at 6.30pm.

Tikkain and Maash Daal
  For first time I've tried Tikkain and Rosh. Tikkain was served with minced meat and fry kaleeji while Rosh is like Paya but they served piece of Rosh with minced meat, usually Rosh was served with the soup in which they cooked it for 4 hrs. Rosh was delicious and not so spicy while tikkain is dry and maash daal was okay. We left Shahdadkot at 7.30pm and then we reached Jhal Magsi after 16 hrs. At 2.30am they turned off all the lights were switched off. I thought this was the best moment to capture some night sky shots at Jhal Magsi. Orion constellation and Sirius (the brightest star system in the earth's night sky) which was above our heads while Jupiter was rising from the East.

 night sky at Jhal Magsi

  We slept at 4am and woke up at 7.30am. After freshen up we went back side of our tents where drivers were staying in their camps to photograph their vehicles. I was amazed to see those vehicles and how they modified them for the track.

Toyota Tundra

  One of the driver told us that there is a delay in race and now it will start at 10.30am due to fog. So we went to the starting point. 

Initial Starting Point
   And here we are at the Red Bull starting point where Ronnie Patel was waiting in his 4x4. It was one massive crowd waiting for race to start while media personals were setting their equipment. That was the initial starting point for the race but due to fog they shifted it to the other point which was 10km away from this point and the track was shortened to 100kms.

Ronnie Patel - runner up of 2013 race
   So we headed out with our driver Mustafa to the new starting point in his Land Cruiser. It was one bumpy ride as he was driving off-road with the speed upto 120kms. At times it feels like we are part of this race.

Our driver Mustafa and his Land Cruiser
   So the race starts at 11.45am. Every driver was leaving with some difference of time. This year 48 drivers were participating in different categories. I was so excited to see this action live on track.

and this was the second starting  point
  Red Bull gives us the opportunity to explored different parts of this track including some jumps and the Muller River crossing so we can experience this race more closely. 

after the jump
  This was the first shot I've captured while standing near the jump. It's bit hard to see them coming, all you can see is the dust cloud coming towards you. Here I've seen one of the best lift kits. After that we went to Muller River crossing. Where one massive crowd waiting for cars to passing by the river crossing. 

making splashes through the Muller River
  Then we headed towards the desert side of the track which was the tricky one due to the slippery sand and many drivers were stuck at this point.

Making his way through the slippery sand.  
   The race ends at 5pm. Then there was a prize distribution ceremony at 8pm. Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi and Marvi Memon were the chief guest. For the first they've introduced Ladies category in this race and this year only two ladies drivers were participating.

From left: Tushna Patel, Marvi Memon and Maliha Elahi
  Tushna Patel was the winner of Ladies category with time 2.03.34. She is the wife of Ronnie Patel and she was the first female ever to participate in the 9th Cholistan Jeep Rally 2014. She received her prize from Marvi Memon.

From left: Mian Farooq (co-driver), Tushna Patel and Marvi Memon
   Speedtrap was won by Zafar Magsi and Luqman from team Red Bull is giving him his prize money.

   Next morning we left Jhal Magsi at 9am and after 14 hrs of road trip we were back in Karachi at 11pm. The event was very well organized by Red Bull and their team. Thank you Red Bull for inviting me to this event. It was once in a life time experience for me and for the first time I've traveled with tweeps @aadii_ @ashar_ali and @aslibinladen . More pictures of this trip are uploaded here and more will be uploaded soon. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Launch of HBL Always On

HBL, Pakistan’s largest bank, recently launched its new internet banking service for its customers on the 30th of November, 2014. HBL highly values its relationship with its customers. With revamped internet banking service, it aims to provide them with an enhanced experience. In addition to offering a comprehensive range of features, the new internet banking empowers the customers with greater control of their finances.

The launch event was held at Dolmen Mall, Clifton, Karachi which comprised of day long festivities. The audience was briefed with the services and convenience that HBL Internet Banking provides them and the crowd especially enjoyed getting their pictures taken with fun props at the HBL Always On photo booth. Vj Anoushey and Ali Safina hosted the launch event.

Noori performed live for the entertainment of the crowd and managed to keep spirits high throughout the day.

Noori performing live in front of huge crowd
In attendance as the chief guest was Mr. Nauman K. Dar - President & CEO – HBL along with other senior executives of the bank. Mr Faiq Sadiq- Head Payment Services speaking at the occasion, expressed his views and said, “HBL as Pakistan’s largest bank with over 7 million customers has always been at the forefront in delivering innovative banking products and services to its customers. The launch of this platform will allow customers to conveniently and efficiently carry out their banking transactions on the go. They can now experience utmost convenience in transferring funds, topping up their mobiles or for that matter paying their utility bills at the click of a button” He added that this launch will be a major boost for the growth of electronic payments in Pakistan.

President HBL Mr. Nauman K. Dar launching HBLAlwaysOn
As HBL looks to the future, it continues to innovate with the view of improving transacting convenience for its customers through HBL’s 1500 plus branches, 1600 ATMs and diverse banking facilities. Our endeavor is to continue improving our services and the launch of internet banking is another step in that direction.

You can join the conversation and give your suggestions or feedback by tweeting with the #HBLAlwaysOn hashtag. If you want to know more about HBL’s Internet Banking Services or the launch event, check out: Facebook: /HBLBank
Twitter: @HBLPak
Instagram: @HBLPak