"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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Karachi Literature Festival - A DWLer's observations

This entry has been submitted by Hamdan Malik.



Day 1: Confused, anxious, even shivering slightly.

My first KLF sitting was the Zulfikar Ghose writing workshop, which was quite interesting even if more of a lecture than a workshop. Some of what he discussed had already been advised on the DWL forums. He encouraged writers to write with brevity and recklessness and insisted on avoiding generalization and abstract notions.

At the end of the session, I met Jalal, Batool, Afia and Faraz. After a few minutes of chitchat, they ordered lunch and I took a zuhar break.

Returned to attend “Kia Urdu parhney waley kam hotey ja rahe hain” late and was sure I won’t find a place to sit, but all went well for me since they'd had technical difficulties and were running a half hour late. 

The session started with Ms. Arfa Sayeda Zehra apologizing for the delay in very pure, refined Urdu. After a few initial remarks, she handed the floor to panel members - interrupting only when the discussion veered too far off its course. It was pointed out that regional languages were facing the same problems across the Indo-Pak region as Urdu; various causal factors were put to light. One of the problems noted was the print and binding method used here; others were more abstract like natural birth and death of languages.


Day 2: Ego, anger, compassion and conclusion.

"A talk on Sufism with a foreign majority panel... this should be interesting," I said to myself. It was interesting but to be honest I felt the only thing they did was to endorse contemporary mazaar culture and very safely ignored the real essence of tasawwuf . I had a question for Wasim Frembgen that I tried to ask in the lecture but they didn’t have the time to field it then.

Came back after Zuhar to find Afia distributing flyers. Then she had to buy a book and at the bookstall we bumped into fellow DWLer Madiha. We went back to the same table where we were sitting the day before and started chatting with some people who were sharing the table with us. They left after a while and we still hadn’t placed our order before Afia started running around again, trying to catch celebrities to milk interviews out of them. Finally, we had coffee and a short while later I spotted Wasim Frembgen and had my questions answered. It didn't change what I thought of the Sufism talk, but we finished off nicely with a walk to Karen Armstrong’s lecture.