Opinion

Sheba Sultan pays tribute to Miss Saeeda Ghauri, who will always be her inspiration!

By Sheba Sultan

As I type this words, I cannot help but feel very sad. A beloved person has gone to her final rest and there was nothing that I could do for her. So with gratitude to my friend, Omar Iftikhar, who has agreed to post my humble note, I write these words with a heavy heart.

Miss Saeeda Ghauri, age 80 years, known to many people, especially the students of St. Joseph’s Convent Girls High School, as our Urdu teacher of classes 9 and 10. We are all sad as we hear of her demise. But she was here, in our city Karachi, all her life. None of us, me and my school-mates, or any of the students before or after us, were in contact with her. Perhaps because the era to which she belonged kept a distance between teachers and students. This makes me glad that at least in this age of digital nativeness, we can somehow be in contact with one another.

Ms. Ghauri was a really nice lady. She taught us Urdu. And I don’t remember her ever being harsh with anyone. She was one of those people who kept their thoughts to themselves. I did my matric in 1998. Two years ago, a book was published by renown writer Mrs. Hamra Khalique. As I held the book in my hand, I said to my mom that this lady on the cover looks like our Urdu teacher, Ms. Ghauri. And lo and behold, the back cover said that on the cover was a photo of the author with her two best friends; Ms. Haseena Moin and Ms. Saeeda Ghauri! So in this way, fate gave me a chance to meet Ms. Ghauri once again after almost 2 decades!

She was quite frail and quite tired of life. Having remained unmarried, the burden of singleness in our society weighed heavy on her shoulders. When I visited her, she was living in the bosom of her loving family; nieces, nephews, and their children flocking around her. Ms. Ghauri was sitting on a peaceful diwan, her parrot at her right hand and the breeze from a spacious window blowing at her back. Her niece, the Principal at a prominent school, really has a lovely home. And the most charming spot at this home belonged to Ms. Ghauri. This year her niece also provided her with the blessings of Umrah. Indeed, Ms. Ghauri was a much-loved person.

A few weeks ago there was a luncheon for her. Her friends and her family gathered together and had a nice afternoon of lighthearted sharing. Recently, her family celebrated her birthday. And right now, we all remember her and feel the sadness creeping up again and again. Miss Ghauri was a gentle soul. She really never harmed anyone. She lived a quiet life. And she was a beloved friend and family member. Miss Ghauri has gone to her final rest, today, Saturday, May 5, 2018, and I write these words in her memory because in her quiet way she left an undeniable imprint on our hearts. I will never forget and this will inspire me in the years to come that teachers are always remembered by their students. Teachers always remain in our hearts. And Miss Ghauri will indeed remain in my heart forever and ever.

Sheba Sultan is the author of ‘The Room in the Mausoleum’ and ‘Daldal kay Paar’.

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Interviews

“I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle” – Faiza Kayani

“We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die,” says Faiza Kayani as she discusses her life and activities in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am Faiza Kayani. A software engineer by educational qualification and part of Civil Armed Forces. I belong from Tehsil Sohawa of District Jhelum to a family with an army background. I have remained a bilingual debater for nearly 8 years, won different prizes and trophies for my institutes. I was President of COMSATS Literary Society and worked with different societies as a volunteer for the betterment of society.

2. What inspires you to write? 

I started writing when I was in grade 6. At that time my father was posted in Gilgit and I was studying at Army public School, Gilgit. My father is a book lover. And we have a vast collection of books at home, most of them comprising Urdu Literature. I am basically a keen observer and notice daily life routine of people around me and the changing trends in society, both positive and negative, social issues around the globe particularly in Pakistan. I convert my routine observations in verses and normally write about the common issues of society.

3. Tell us about your book “Mohabbat gustaakh hoti hai”?

“Mohabbat Gustakh Hoti Hai” is my very first published book. Its genre is poetry. It’s not only poetry actually. It’s me and what is happening around me. It reflects the common things happening around us. Readers will be able to relate themselves with the poems.
4. What challenges did you face when writing this book? Team Daastan has played a vital role in this regard. Especially Syed Ommer Amer remained supportive and encouraging. The only hurdle was the lack of time. It sometimes became difficult for me to follow up in time due to workload.

5. Which authors from Pakistan and from abroad do you enjoy reading? 

Bano Qudsia is my all time favorite. May Allah bless her soul with peace. And specifically speaking about poetry, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Saghar Siddiqi and Parveen Shakir are my favorite. Juan Eliya also has a status because of his poetry.

6. Where do you see yourself five years down the road? 

Hopefully, an author with many books published in my name and I am planning to write “nasar” as well. I actually want to work for the betterment of Urdu literature and book reading. As due to advancement in technology and availability of E-books, the trend of having books in hard form is vanishing from our society. I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle. That trend has faded away and I intend at reviving this trend. I want to work in collaboration with team Daastan which is already doing their job in a great manner. We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die.

7. What advice will you give to aspiring writers? 

Continue doing your work. You yourself are the best critic and analyst of your work. Keep on reviewing your writings periodically. It will help you in maturing your work. The more you will write the more your skills will be polished and never ever get disappointed by criticism. It will always help you in grooming.

Interviews

“Peshawar2.0 was founded with a rebellious spirit to inspire the next generation of tech startup founders” – Bilal Ahmad

Bilal Ahmad, one of the Co-Founders at Peshawar 2.0 shares his insights about the tech startup culture in Peshawar in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am Bilal Ahmad, one of the Co-Founders at Peshawar2.0 and the Director at Basecamp.

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Bilal Ahmad, Co-Founder, Peshawar 2.0

2. How did you conceive the idea of Peshawar 2.0?

Peshawar2.0 was founded with a rebellious spirit to inspire the next generation of tech startup founders, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, and scientists. Our lead Dr. Faisal Khan, shared the idea of creating an enterprise of local champions for evangelizing Peshawar as a hub for technology and design. The idea materialized after our initial discussion in December 2012. The co-founders helped in kick-starting conversations around tech entrepreneurship in the region through events and community interactions like TEDxPeshawar, Startup Weekend Peshawar, Digital Youth Summits (2014 and 2015) and the Art Tech Festival. The dream is to make Peshawar2.0 a city of Science, Technology, Design, and Art. We believe making a vibrant startup community can get us there in the coming decades.

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Dr. Faisal Khan, Co-Founder and CEO, Peshawar 2.0

3. What is the story behind Basecamp Peshawar?

Our team used to meet in cafes in downtown Peshawar for our brainstorming sessions and social interactions. Initially, it worked well, but then we needed a space for work too. So we thought why not get a bigger space and share it with other entrepreneurs, startup founders, and freelancers in the city. That is how Basecamp got started in late 2013.
Basecamp is a co-working space For Peshawar’s creative talent in tech, digital marketing, design, and art.

It’s the go-to place for young creative, quirky designers, weird artists, playful filmmakers, free-spirited writers, geeky coders, mad scientists, cool business-devs, passionate marketers, crazy entrepreneurs and tenacious startup founders. These folks can get a desk and work from Basecamp, play Ping-Pong and attend events, collaborate on exciting projects, and sip loads of coffee. We also host startup events, socials, launch parties, hackathons, reading clubs, poetry slams, exhibitions, classes, and summer camps.

4. Are Peshawar 2.0 and Basecamp interlinked?

Yes. Peshawar2.0 is the cause and our mission. Basecamp is one of our projects. It also serves as our headquarters.

5. What challenges did you face when setting up Peshawar 2.0 and Basecamp? 

Sowing the seeds of an entrepreneurial revolution has been a major challenge. It is amazing to see a creative renaissance and rebirth happening in our city of Peshawar. Despite all the traction, we know we still have a long way to go, but we are in it for the long haul.6. Your future plans?   We are focusing disproportionally on ‘Revolt’ – our flagship incubation and acceleration programme for local startups. We also realize that we have been tech-biased so far. So, you all can expect something really cool on the design end as well!

7. In your opinion, how important is an entrepreneurship ecosystem for Pakistan? 

Scientific discovery, technological innovation, and entrepreneurship are vital if we want to see a double-digit growth rate that can help us take off and become a developed country. There is no other way.

8. Share with us some of the success stories coming out of Peshawar 2.0 and Basecamp? 

We are super-proud of the ecosystem and its trajectory. In a city where there was a gloomy lull and almost no conversations on technology and startups, seeing all these youngsters talk about ideas and innovation, these new startups emerging so often and all the new players joining hands in building the ecosystem make us happy beyond bounds.

9. What is Revolt all about?

Revolt is a 3-month business incubation and acceleration program. It invites applications from passionate teams with ideas for turning them into startups. This program is run by partners and not some random mentors. Instead of monthly sessions with mentors, residential partners challenge and help teams throughout the incubation cycle. Revolt is not only limited to tech startups and encourages ideas from sectors of education, agriculture, fashion, health, art, design, education, robotics, energy.

10. What message will you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Find interesting and hard problems and solve them.

Interviews

“Ever since forever, we have been told to compete and push ourselves to the limit.” – Ushah Qazi

Ms. Ushah Kazi, founder of The Kollective, and author of ‘The Pop-Culture Junkie’s Guide to Pakistani Cinema’ talks about her life’s many experiences in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites

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1. For how long have you been a freelance writer?

Nearly ten years; and honestly I had not realized that until just now. I started writing when I was fifteen. The school I went to (The CAS in Karachi) had a great journalism program for young students, and our instructor liked one of my pieces and had it published in a national newspaper. Since then, I have written for a number of publications and websites. More recently, I have been writing for my own website, The Kollective, and since a lot of this involves writing scripts for video essays, it keeps me busy. I do also write for Suhaag, a Canadian lifestyle magazine, and some Pakistani publications from time to time.

2. Writing requires patience and consistency. What factors do you think make a good writer become great?

Scented candles and a bowl of pasta! No, really. Writing definitely requires patience and consistency; and you will be surprised how quickly you will come up with an excuse to miss a deadline. Make sure you are comfortable with what you are writing. Try to have enough free time. I say ‘try’ because most writers find time as a luxury as they juggle between multiple assignments.

On a slightly more technical note, I do believe that reading other writers’ work makes you a better writer. Here’s a tip that I have started following recently. Get a few copies of some literary magazines, subscribe to one maybe, and set out a day each month to read a few short stories. You can do the same for political magazines, and the like. Reading can make anyone a better writer.

3. How did you come up with the idea of launching thekollective.pk? What is its purpose?

I have been a pop-culture junkie for most of my life. I have usually been able to talk about what I liked or did not like about a film, song, book etcetera for hours. The Kollective is an extension of that. I think there are a lot of great media websites that report on happenings from the showbiz and world of entertainment. However, a very few analyze them; very few question trends and tie them to Pakistan’s pop-culture history. That is where we come in, and we usually have a lot to say. We have been known to watch a two-minute music video and make an eleven-minute video essay analyzing it.

Because of this, our audience is understandably more niche; we are literally the opposite of click-bait. But the goal was always to bring together like-minded people who loved talking about music, movies, books and the like.

4. Tell us about your upcoming book?

The book is titled ‘The Pop-Culture Junkie’s Guide to Pakistani Cinema’ and it is a light-handed take on understanding Pakistan’s cinematic tradition and industry. I love to read, and as Pakistan’s cinema made the much touted ‘comeback’ I was interested in reading about what was happening. Either most books about Pakistani cinema date back to the 1990s, or are academic (in every sense of that word) and I felt that there was a gap for a light-hearted book, which looked at certain interesting aspects of local cinema. One thing leads to another, and before I knew it, I was typing out a book proposal. The book is divided into five chapters, each tackle a specific aspect of local cinema. These range from the importance of box-office numbers, to the oft-ignored genre of Pakistani horror, to the great ‘item number debate’. It is not a history book or a textbook. It is a conversation, or rather, the beginning of a conversation, and I hope it inspires us to talk about Pakistani cinema.

5. What challenges did you face when writing your book?

The first, and expected, the challenge was the research. As I said earlier, this is not meant to be a textbook. However, I like to have my opinion based on fact. So, I had to read a ton of other books, academic articles, news articles and watch interviews. This should not scare people; the book is very much a light read. It just does not suggest any idea without backing it up with facts.

Secondly, the process was much more of a herculean task than I had imagined. I had to juggle a lot simultaneously, and it took multiple tolls on me.

Finally, the actual writing was a chore. I love to write, but when you have churned out twenty pages in an hour, and there are approximately twenty more to go before you can call it a night, it begins to feel like a weight on your shoulders.

6. Where do you see yourself ten years down the road?

Hopefully happy, healthy, content and doing what I love.

7. How was your journey from Nixor College, Karachi to the University of Western Ontario, Canada? What lessons did you learn and the cultural differences you faced?

Nixor was an experience. I know that many ex-students talk about how the place is a world unto itself, but it really was. It was tough, trying and over too quickly. Between Nixor and Western, I made a brief pit stop at Malaysia. This was a good thing; because it is important to understand that cultural differences do not just exist on the other end of the earth.  The cultural differences are undeniable, but I was actually astounded by how many similarities I encountered. At the end of the day, we all love food, friends, and a good movie.

8. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?

I would just say that take a breath. This is something that I have to remind myself to do as well. Ever since forever, we have been told to compete and push ourselves to the limit. But, it is okay to take a minute, to breath in, to accept your situation and be who you are. It will help you gather your thoughts and get back in the game, stronger.

Interviews

“I just wish to study at different universities around the world until I hit forty or fifty. A guy can dream, can’t he?” – Naveed Sheharyar Khan

Naveed Sheharyar Khan, winner of Daastan’s 3rd Season of “The Stories Untold” talks to MOIWrites in this exclusive interview.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am studying Accounting and Finance at a leading business school of Karachi. However, unlike a majority of peers, I enjoy reading, writing and poetry more than the matters of compound interest and time value of money. They say that we all have a purpose to fulfill in this world. If that is the truth, then my life purpose has to do something with writing!

2. Since when are you writing?

I started writing almost three years ago when a friend of mine, literally, coerced me to write my first article. The article was not as good, obviously, but I craved more of the euphoria that followed.

3. How was it to be the winner of the Stories Untold Season 3 by Daastan?

It was surprising, to be honest. Several of the contestants were much more accomplished writers than I could ever hope to be, which is why I did not have much expectation to win it. I am proud of what I have achieved.

4. What was the name of your winning story and what was it about? 

The title of my short story was “True Justice”. The plot involved a young Threader, who was seeking justice (read: revenge) for the extinction of his race. The story is centered on the difference between justice and revenge, and how love makes its way into the equation.

5. Do you plan before you write or do you write by following the concept of “going with the flow”?

Stephen King has always been an advocate of going with flow. Considering the things that he has accomplished, it is only natural for lowly mortals like me to follow his advice, no?

6. Do you think writing is a skill that one learns or is an in born talent? 

I honestly do not know. All I know is that I had to spend long nights learning the rules of grammar before I could ever hope to improve even an aspect of my works. Talent might have a role, but I do not think we can get anywhere without a good work ethic, sleepless nights and disrupted daily routines.

7. If you were to give aspiring writers five writing tips, what will they be?

Honestly, I am an aspiring write myself, and I do not see myself fitting to instruct others in the art I know very little of. However, if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that you need to let your imagination run wild.

8. Who are the authors from Pakistan and from abroad are among your favorite? 

Saadat Hassan Manto, definitely! He might have written in Urdu, but there is no writer who has had a deeper impact on me than Manto. Other than that, I love how Elif Shafak sees the world and writes about it. And who could forget J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”?

9. What are your plans?

I hope I knew, honestly. For now, I just wish to study at different universities around the world until I hit forty or fifty. A guy can dream, can’t he?

10. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?

I mean, a twenty-one-year-old advising the youth of a country would seem pretty bizarre, right? However, if you were to ask me one thing that I have learned from my twenty-one-years on Mother Earth, I would say that it could be: “Only a handful of people are going to, truly, believe in us in our entire lifetimes. We need to hold them close; but most importantly, we need to believe in ourselves, regardless of everything. No one will do it for us!”

News and Happenings

“YOU RISE TODAY!” is now available on Amazon

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Click here to order “You Rise Today!” from Amazon 

 

Interviews

I want to motivate people by my quotes and stories: Sajal Shaikh

Sajal Shaikh is the youngest author of Sindh, who holds this status with her friend, Lareb Soomro. Both have co-written “The Secrets of Spring”. Sajal talks to MOIWrites in this exclusive interview.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am Sajal Shaikh, a student of class 10 at Indus Girls College, Larkana, Sindh. My favorite subjects are Physics and Mathematics. Writing is not just my hobby but it also gives relief to my soul.

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2. How does it feel to be the youngest novelist of Sindh?

It feels amazing to be the youngest novelist of Sindh. It gives me happiness. It was never planned by me that I  would be the youngest novelist of Sindh because it is said that every single movement is planned by Allah. I want to say thanks to Almighty Allah who gave me this glorious status. I cannot describe this feeling.

3  What is the name of your novel? Share a brief synopsis of it?

The name of my novel is “The Secrets of Spring” which I have co-written with my friend, Lareb Soomro. This story revolves around a girl spring. You will find many secrets on every page of it. The life of spring is very mysterious and interesting.

4. How did you develop an interest in writing?

I started writing at the age of 13 as my hobby. I began with prose writing. Whenever I am happy or sad I start writing quotes, passages, and poetry. Actually, writing is a source of expressing your thoughts and gives relief to your soul.

5. What motivates you to write?

I enjoy writing. My father is also very supportive in my interest to write and he also supported me in my endeavors. My younger sister, Sara, also motivates me to write. However, I could become the youngest novelist of Sindh because of my dear friend, Lareb Soomro, with whom I share this unique status. Lareb is an amazing person.

6. What are your academic and writing plans?

I am very interested in machinery. If I will become a mechanical engineer then I will create common machines on slat energy. And if I will choose bio-engineering, I will find the treatment of pancreatic cancer. As a writer, I want to motivate people by my quotes and stories. I also want to write scripts for dramas and films. I love my country so patriotic writings are my goal.

7. What message will you give to aspiring writers?

My message is to work hard and never give up on writing. However, aspiring writers should also focus on their studies.

MOIWrites interviews Lareb Soomro for Super Saturday Interviews on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Read Lareb Soomro’s interview here: Lareb Soomro