A personal point of view as I was participating for the first time.
National Book Foundation is an organization which is purely book based and encourages writers and reading throughout the year. Once a year they hold this festival.
After Nigar Nazar had taken me to the LLF (Lahore Literary Festival), she asked her friend Afshan if she would consider me too for the reading session. So, my name was put in for NBF – the National Book Festival – in Islamabad. We enjoy each other’s pursuits and she has roped me into several of her projects.
Remember my blog on Renton Writer’s Salon, which I joined when I went to Seattle, in 2016? I wrote about it. My first Renton Writer’s Salon Meetup. I really wanted something like it in Pakistan. Finally, I found the time to initiate it. I hope it continues, as the first one was absolutely wonderful!
So, it was great that Ammar Masood came. He is a popular television anchor, specially of literary and musical programs. His main program of interest has been the late night show in which he interviews well known Urdu poets and artists. There is music, and interesting conversation. I had interviewed him for Dawn newspaper. His, is the only family where I interviewed three members of the same family: his father Anwar Masood, his (first) wife Saima, and him. Ammar has helped build ten television channels and has a regular column in the popular Urdu daily, Jang.
He is reading out from his story on Islamabad:
He said, ‘In my family, it was a thing of disgrace to speak in English. Urdu language was revered, and I was never allowed to take the language lightly. Punjabi, Persian and Urdu were the languages spoken in our home.’ He feels it very strongly, that Pakistan is the only country in the world where the national language is faced with so much inferiority complex.
It was an open invitation, and I specially invited the Norwegian Atle Hetler who is a regular correspondent in The Nation, where he has a weekly column. He has also worked in daily Dawn for many years. He has been settled in Pakistan for over fifteen years. You know, he holds these monthly meetings in Serena Hotel every month.
So, Shagufta Zafar was the first to arrive. Atle, Ammar, Faryal and Mudassar followed. Nadiya, my daughter and a wonderful blogger and poet was there with me. We all were eager to begin the session, it was nice to be discussing the agony of publishing, and the writing process. I could see everyone was enjoying it, as there is this thirst to share our common struggle to write, in a country where buying books and reading isn’t much of a habit.
We valued how great writers like Mumtaz Mufti, and Josh and many others found satisfaction of writing in this very city. A time without the internet, when reading was a very popular habit. Where writers were revered and their work was much read.
Ammar read out his well-known piece Muhabbat Ka Neela Rang and the piece he wrote on Islamabad. It was just awesome. Here it is:
Mudassar read out one of his short stories from his collection of short stories. Nadiya had met him during her travels. That is when she asked him to meet me and I got to know about his first book.
Faryal who had recently completed her PhD, has written her research paper on the works of Indu Mitha, a classical dancer in Islamabad. She read out one of her academic writings, and we all enjoyed it so much. The words used to describe physical movements in classical dance, were so beautifully written that no photograph was needed. You could just see it all. She expressed how the concept of ‘salam’, or greeting to another Muslim was so much more meaningful when explained by her non-Muslim teacher Indu, and other Buddhist personalities she met during her studies abroad.
Shagufta read out her Punjabi and English poetry. She said, I never like to read out my stuff, I only came because I know you. Yes, she joined the art classes too, as Rahi’s Studios.
Atle reiterated the importance of story-telling in even an academic account. The need to not tell everything is important; to just raise the important questions, and leave it to the reader to make his own conclusions. That is an important aspect in writing.
I read out the Introduction from my book published in USA, My Life, My Stories. It is available on Amazon.com.
Nadiya read out her poetry which was so well received by all.
Later in the evening when Nadiya remarked,
“I’m thinking of starting my poetry again!” (She has left it for many years.) I really felt wonderful. This is the whole purpose of such activities to bring out the creative person within yourself.
Each of us writers need to pamper our own creativity. We have to give time and space to ourselves.
This is the purpose of such meet-ups. We all need to help each other stand up with our souls in tact. To give a helping hand to the one who is in need of it today. Tomorrow it can be me who needs that kind of help.
The talk on Media and its irresponsible behavior began, and Ammar said, ‘we need to have more channels opening up. Competition is the best thing to bring up the standard of television channels.
Though this wasn’t exactly the format of Renton Writer’s Meet-Ups, yet, I guess it has been a good beginning.
Robert W.C., I wish to thank you for welcoming me into your writer’s group. You have shown me how to conduct such meetings, and how to make them valuable in getting results. I want to say a very special thank you.
Anyone who lives in or near Renton or Seattle should try to join this wonderful group and learn from each other’s experiences. Rose and Stephanie have been in contact with me through Facebook.
It feels nice to know how much progress can be made by learning from each other.
I’m going to conduct a workshop on Time Management for Creative People, on the February 4th, 2018. Hope you can be there. See you! Meanwhile, keep smiling! 🙂
Usually, weeks and months go by without connection with other writers and poets. The weekend of 6th and 7th May was an exception, I attended two literary events. On Saturday, May 6th was the book launch of Untouched Octaves with poetry written by Amin Hashwani and photographs by Bobby Hager, a Jewish photographer from the US of A. Then on Sunday morning the 7th of May, I attended my first PANA meeting. It’s a once-a-month event that takes place in Serena. Khalida and Atle had invited me last year, but somehow, I couldn’t attend their events. The main protagonist in PANA Atle Hetland is a Norwegian whose articles are regularly published in daily Dawn.
Held in Evergreen building, on September 18th 2016
When I come to USA, my greatest thrills are the books, travel and the ‘meet-ups’. – Besides meeting my family and friends of course! Firstly, Seattle is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Spectacularly beautiful! Well, staying in Renton, nearby this time, meant that I looked up a meet-up which is closer to ‘home’. What attracted me to this group were the comments of the members. Specially the words “Let us help one another answer the question: “How to finish my project?” perhaps, I’d get the right incentive to complete my next four books? I expressed my interest to attend online, and immediately I was accepted as a member. (In spite of my funny pic next to the magnolia flower, which was most un-writer like). I was so happy.
Last week, when I received a call from Danish Rahi asking me to speak on the occasion of book launch of The Pakish Identity. I found out the book was 364 pages, and my speech was to be between 3-5 minutes. I became happy and apprehensive at the same time. – Happy that it is just 3 – 5 minutes’ speech. (I can easily speak up to one hour!) Yet, very apprehensive at the prospect of having to read 364 pages. – It was quite frightening. Like a true Pakistani, I let the project be delayed till the last couple of days.
However, the moment I picked up the book, I just couldn’t put it down. I hated, leaving the book to do any chore. I felt like just dashing back, to read it onwards.
Iv’e worked for over 22 years as a freelance writer. Once I asked Ziauddin Ahmed the resident editor at Dawn office, Islamabad, if he could give me a tip about writing. He said, “whatever you write, write straight from the heart.”
While I was reading this book, I thought of those words by Ziauddin Ahmed. Yes, Danish, you have written straight from the heart. Your purity of feelings is evident. Your narration and flow of words are beautiful.
The size of the book is just what is the demand of the subject. You have taken on this topic with such single-minded bravery and detailed research. The in-depth scrutiny is even deeper. I loved the way, you wrote simply, yet without leaving out any facet of this intriguing subject.
The approach is refreshing and flow is great. Danish, you smoothly glide through the complicated nuances, history, and world personalities’ you quote freely from western and eastern authorities on the subjects. This book certainly is the need of the hour.
As a reader, I dislike books where the writer is taking too long to get to the point. Danish gives us credit for having the intellect to grasp his words. At no point did I feel while reading that any part of it was unnecessary. Each word is vital in explaining his message.
All I want to say is that this is a book that must be read by every Pakistani. Specially those ones who believe that Pakistan has nothing left to offer.
I can’t tell you how much joy has been given to me, personally by Danish, for having accomplished this feat. He has done it for Pakistan, and its future. He has joined in with the ‘Relay race’ he has mentioned in his book, which was begun by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allama Iqbal, Quaid-e-Azam, and other true leaders and can be continued by so many others today.
Mansoor Rahi, and Hajra Mansoor have a son who has offered great hope for the future of Pakistan I hope, he is not alone in such an endeavor. Recently, I read a book by Nadeem Farooq Paracha called the ‘End of the Past.’ Which also calls for us to know the past but be directly involved in building a better future for a Pakistan which we all love.
On August 14th, 2016, it will be 69 years of Pakistan. – Almost seven decades. Let us all promise ourselves, that each one of us will do our best for our country. Where ever we are , and whatever we are doing, we will do it better, for the sake of our Pakistan.
In the end, I would like to suggest, that when you get a copy for yourself, please also get a few more to give as gifts to your near and dear ones. We all need to read and apply this concept offered by Danish.
Thank you Danish for a great piece of work, your work has given me great hope for Pakistan’s future.
Please note: this book is available on Amazon.com, kindle, espresso books, Barns and Nobles throughout USA, also, in US, libraries. It shall also be available in leading shops in Pakistan.
A few notes I made while reading the book:
Not soft image – soft power.
Marketing strategies can be used for countries too. In this case, Pakistan. (Compare with other countries, which have ‘packaged’ their countries so well, in spite of many obvious set-backs and negatives.)
Biro – piano that worked after a few attempts. Every product of a country, no matter how small is its representative. It is vital to make every piece at its best.
Crank up the second engine of the aero plane, (India’s plane is running on both !) The second engine is the soft power.
Pakistani history starting from millions of years…. just 16 miles from here. Oldest stone tool found near Rawalpindi, from stone age.
History of Pakistan written so beautifully. It should be in all school text books.
Proved that Pakistan has a history of identity independent of India from the very beginning.
Histry of Urdu began in 1193. AD.
Urdu Literature began with Amir Khusro.
Urdu back ground is Turkish, Persian and Arabic.
Jihad: jadd-o-juhad. Exertion or striving.
Hadise: ” Jihad is word of truth in front of oppressor.”
Jinnah said 3 main elements needed education, economic (industrial) defense.
Iqbal: Self-actualization of Maslow’s theory and ‘Khudi’ are the same. While Pakistan has not been sure of its identity and is still confused: Japan, South Korea, China and Turkey’s progress – needs to be noted.
At 18 years, Danish how he was treated at Heathrow airport, when he lost his baggage. (For the first time in his life, he heard a person use the words like ‘Bloody Paki’ while referring to him) – perhaps, this book was born on that day.
Identity crisis a term coined by Erik Erikson. Seven areas that need to be seen:
Time perspective: moving towards your long term goals.
Self-certainty: are you the same inside and out?
Role experimentation: have you chosen best role for youself?
Anticipation of achievement – optimistic about your own prospective achievement….. etc.
Pakistan facing acute identity crisis. The same points mentioned above can be figured out for our country too.
Leadership crisis. Pakistan is a country which become orphaned at the outset.
“Leadership is like a relay race, similar to the Monarch butterfly.” – Carrying on the legacy in-spite of key personalities, losing life in the middle of the session. -The torch to be taken generation to generation in the same direction, to achieve the same objectives.
18. Home with windows open.
19. Art: “Artists play a key role in the advancement of a nation.”
Terrorism to Tourism.
Letter to my great grandchild. (I loved the thought.)
There is much more to this beautiful book. Please do read it with relish, slowly and enjoying each page and paragraph of it. Just like you enjoy a favorite dish of yours!
Found this article about how my life began as a writer.
I became a writer quite by accident. And like all accidents… it happened rather suddenly. One fine morning Najib (my dearly beloved husband) walked into the room, the shaving foam still on one side of his face, and announced that “Kuwait has been taken over!” He had fixed a radio in the bathroom. (Yes, this is August 1990)
“That’s impossible!” I cried out. Having lived in Kuwait for over three years, one felt rather attached to the place. It was a real shock to hear that a country can just be taken over in this day and age.
Its about my experiences as a published writer of features for newspapers and magazines …..
I always thought that what you read in an article is exactly how the writer planned it. It isn’t. In fact many a times when a writer sees his or her work in print – it comes as a shock. It can be a very pleasant one. Or an unpleasant one, depending on the editor, or printer’s mood or skill – which ever is worse!!
Of course while writing, a writer also feels secure in the knowledge that her work will be read by an editor. I mean, “a huge blunder cannot be printed” she thinks. What a writer does not realise is that the editor’s as well as a printer’s blunders might be added to his own!!! So one can come up with a rhapsody of blunders in the finished printed version.
When I first became affiliated with writing, I worked with the well known Editor of Tuesday Review, Dawn, Najma Babar (who is no longer with us – God bless her soul), one day she narrated this joke to me once: “It is said that when a doctor makes a mistake – he buries it. When a lawyer makes a mistake – he hangs it. And when a writer makes a mistake – he splashes it all over town!”
After about twenty six years of free lance writing in the leading dailies and monthlies of the country, I have come across many versions of my writings. After the thrill of seeing my work in print wears off, I read the article. First of all, the title comes as a shock! “This was not the topic I had written on!!” I think. Then I have to agree that its not bad as a heading! As I read through my familiar words in the unfamiliar print I find out that printing errors are quite a few. But well, the readers are used to these! I suddenly remember that I hadn’t quite ended the article as its been ended here! And then remember how I had carried on and on while writing. So of course the editor had to do a bit of chopping – after all that is what he is there for! The entire magazine is not dedicated to my solitary and long drawn out musings alone!
Many times while reading an article of mine, I have some across words that are totally alien to me. I realise that the editor got quite carried away and decided to add in a bit of his own flowery vocabulary as well! Thanks a lot.
But let me grant this. No editor changes the ideas of the writer. The basic ideas and thoughts belong to the writer. Changing a word here, and a sentence there or chopping a paragraph here or a heading there, is all that has happened!
Generally, I send in some photographs or sketches to complement my article. This too comes as a surprise. Sometimes the sketch is not so good, (I will have to accept!), but when I see it in print – I am thrilled. It has been blown up and looks really good! Paradoxically, I send in a ‘work of art’ and it appears as a pathetic drawing in one corner. A coloured photograph is printed in black and white and dim print. Yet, sometimes the photograph is given a full prominence in superb colour and impressive size.
And then as I look at the other articles, I realise that the same must have happened with the other writer’s works. So what you read is a merging of the writer’s editor’s and printer’s work. You’ve got to give the devils their due!
So after all is said and done, I am as eager as can be, to see how an article will finally appear! – (If at all!) I mean the possibility of rejection cannot be ruled out either!
As they say “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip!”
Thank you so much for stopping by…. stay blessed. 🙂