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! 🙂