"A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. " ~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Coffee Culture: Whipped Literati?

Today's Magazine (Dawn) had a plethora of articles about the budding cafe 'culture' in our dear Land of the Pure - I counted four, which is actually pretty sad because all of them were similar - "Down Memory Lane", "Eat, drink and be merry", "The lost kulcha gali" (why can't we do something instead of complaining about it, is the bigger question), and "Smell the coffee, please" which I must take offense against - the writer's need to appear witty was nearly as bad as the people she wrote about. The whole pot calling kettle black and all.

It's as if they all collectively decided to tackle this insane topic of discussion, which must have been written to death for the past two-three years when the houses first started mushrooming in the three cities. Point to note: Islamabad's growth hasn't been mentioned in either of the articles - hmph, typical. Usually, when Dawn presents a case, it's a for-against thing consisting of one article for each, not this insane idea of 2 for 2. Some respect for the readers here, please! Sheesh. You'd think all they were worried about was selling copies.

I believe writers are thinkers, and to be a writer you must, in some part at least, be a thinker, be the person willing to defy and challenge the conglomerate rules that bind the rest of society. To awaken, to change. Not sit back and write about idiotic things like the cafe culture. You have a problem with it? Well, you obviously do so let's stick to the rhetoric here, shall we? Do something about it. Don't tell me, show me, damn it! I'm tired of the constant whining and bemoaning of what the coffee "culture" (or lack thereof I should say) has infused into this country. If you're bemoaning the loss of doodh-patti, advocate for its return and I mean, beyond writing about it in Pakistan's third English language newspaper. Arise, arise! Move people to action. Constant criticism and berating never did anything except give the rebels further cause to rebel. Come on, people. A little creativity here.

You want forums for literary endeavors and lack them in coffee houses? Fine, that's perfectly acceptable, but then create those forums. Show you do care.

I know that the whole literary conversion thing is slow, but hey! At least I'm doing something about it - I'm running that website - bringing out a quarterly ezine for the amateur and budding writers of tomorrow, in the hopes of creating more awareness. So what are you bringing to the table aside from those nags and moans for yesteryear? Because if that's all, the door's that little tiny thing in the corner.

Don't let me stop you.

I guess you have to ask yourselves one question: "are we, the flag bearers of the grand Past whipped by the coffee culture?" Because if your answer is no, I beg to differ.

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