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Friday, November 02, 2007

aaj ki shab jab shama'a jalaaéñ, ooñchee rakkhayñ lao

Yesterday, at T2F, the Citizen's Campaign to Reclaim Karachi, kicked off with Sabeen reading blogger Salacious Samosa's wonderful "Ode to Karachi, My Love". Although her blog (The Nightly Narrative of a Nervous Nomadic Deep-Fried Canuckistani Super Hero) is password protected, she was kind enough to permit me to share her post with the public - (S: I think you might as well un-protect this particular piece, considering several people really enjoyed it yesterday and the 'reading' got taped/video'd/streamed, too). UPDATE: Done! Thanks, Samosa.

Following Sabeen's brief presentation of what the campaign is about, the young, brave and passionate reporter, Urooj Zia, of Daily Times, talked in detail (often gruesome) about the harrowing experience of the Oct 18th Benazir rally. She was up close to all of it and helped with the efforts to do whatever one can in such moments - and went on to tell us what a reporter's tasks and duties should be, in her view.

Two members of the audience pitched in with horrifying and moving accounts of the blasts. Sophia Hasnain stopped mid-story, unable to carry on describing the smell and sights of charred burning people and scattered bodyparts.

Of course, what would such an evening be without the usual cynics? ... Among them was Yusuf, still a friend despite his messaging me a joke a day :-) Y was of the opinion that the blasts were choreographed by BB herself. C'mon, yaar. BB may be corrupt ... laykin stupidly suicidal she's not. These blasts were too close for comfort.

The star cynic of the evening was, naturally, Karachi's second most well-known icon after Jinnah's mazaar: Toga-clad Ardeshir Cowasjee. He suggested that if people at the meeting really wanted to save lives, they should do what he did: He saved a life on the day of the blasts by convincing a friend to not go!

I interjected to say that I was getting sick of people on TV and in the press harping on about the government's failure in not stopping the rally, arguing whether BB should have postponed it or moved the rally at a faster pace, or even blaming the victims for the "stupidity" of going to the rally despite known threats. Are we all to sit at home while, slowly, political rallies, cricket matches, social gatherings, school-houses, markets and other public places become dangerous? By the way, considering the number of mosques that have been blown up, I don't see too many people advising against heading out to Eed and Jum'a prayers. And for how long do we stay locked in? Until 'they' come to our mohalla and we cannot get out of our homes (something that has happened in parts of Karachi in the past)? Or until 'they' come knocking on my door? And, by the way, aren't some of 'them', 'us'?

At this point, AC moved out of the meeting space to the area outside - near the elevator - and held court with all the smokers who had stepped out, regaling them with tales more of his interest. He re-joined us for coffee an hour or more later, after the main program was over, and was - once again - as much fun to talk to as an intelligent cynic can be :-D

(Let me add that Ardeshir is a frequent visitor at T2F and very willing to engage with everyone in conversation. Particularly the young. So if you spot him on your next visit there, head for his table. He's very approachable! Of course, if you are a prude - as far as language is concerned - you are advised to steer clear.)

Bloggers were represented well at this really lively session. They included Photo-blogger Jamash, activist Awab Alvi and the visiting Sabahat Ashraf who - on the spur of the moment - decided to stream the event live. Isn't technology just lovable? There were also the usual suspects, part of the growing T2F regulars who, to my delight, include students using it as their study space (the free wifi is a factor, I guess). And there were many new faces, too.

It is most pleasing to see how the new young bunch of journalists (in the print and electronic media) interact across competing channels and publications, helping each other feel their way across new territories. Dawn TV's Khawer A Khan was there and enlivened the discussion with questions and comments that, perhaps, only a journalist could think of.

Much after the presentations and the structured Q&A, which went on for a lot longer than anticipated, and once the coffee-house was re-opened for service, the energetic discussions and loud arguments could still be heard raging at tables and in corners ...

Great start! Log on to the T2F website to see where this campaign is headed. And please add a link to your site, if you can.

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Anonymous Salacious Samosa said...

Hi Zakistosh!

Just read your post today. Thank-you! I will unpassword protect it for regular readers to enjoy. Until then, would it be possible to access the recording via the internet? I am dying to see what it's like read out loud in another person's voice.

And thanks for the compliments. I do appreciate it greatly!


06 November, 2007 00:20

Anonymous Neena said...

By the way, considering the number of mosques that have been blown up, I don't see too many people advising against heading out to Eed and Jum'a prayers.


12 November, 2007 11:03


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