Saturday, February 4, 2012

Karachi Lit Fest 2012.

Blogdosts, I was sent this link and was really happy! Getting a visa to Pakistan wasn't exactly a cake walk ( understandably so!). I felt particularly relieved when mine came through, especially after I heard Arnab Goswami confiding to an audience during a panel discussion I shared with him on the 1st of Feb, that he'd been trying to go to Pakistan for the past six years! But zero luck with the visa. Well, this is going to be my third visit across the border, and I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks to Mr. Shaheed Malik, the Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi ( plus, a li'l bit of help from friends in Pakistan), I was issued the visa within hours. The two day Lit Fest in Karachi promises to be a treat, given the impressive line up of authors and performers. I am going to be catching up with old friends and making new ones. That's what Lit Fests are for... is the Government of India listening?? Pehley Salman Rushdie ka tamasha, uske baad Taslima Nasreen .
I got back from Delhi yesterday feeling like a new born baby. Ask me why? Go on... poochho, na? I had my first Turkish Hamam experience in the top class spa at the Aman. Natasha, who has been trained by expert Turkish Hamam professionals from Istanbul, did a fantastic job during the 90 minutes I was being pampered with a scrub made out of olive soap that created millions of fragrant bubbles. Steam and lashings of hot water ( from a large silver bowl ) later, made my body tingle deliciously. Steam and more hydration followed assorted rituals that are centuries old. This is by far the best spa experience ever. The genial General Manager, Robyn Bickford, is a former diplomat from New Zealand, married to a burly Sikh she met 26 years ago when she was posted in Delhi. Love happened! And here she is running one of the poshest properties in India.
I also managed a quick lunch at the sparkling, opulent, brand new Leela Hotel, with winter flowers in full bloom outside the brightly lit 'Qube'. What was I doing in Delhi? Ritu Kumar , India's pioneering designer, is someone I have known for over 30 years. When she requested me to attend a bold, experimental show that combined music, theatre, art and fashion, inspired by five iconic women from the Mahabharat ( Ganga, Kunti, Draupadi, Amba, Gandhari), I'd have been mad to refuse!!! 'Panchvastra' celebrated craft and textile revivalism. I am glad I was there braving a serious chill in the air... and Delhi socialites... ha ha ha!
strong With 65 sessions and over 100 writers, the Karachi Literature Festival promises another sell-out year
KARACHI: Shobha De, Vikram Seth, Hanif Kureishi are just a few of the big-ticket names for the Karachi Literature Festival this year. Small wonder that the organisers were all smiles at the press conference on Thursday to announce the programme of the yearly event, which is scheduled for February 11 and 12 at Karachi’s Carlton Hotel.

The British Council’s director for programmes, Martin Fryer, said that the festival has “almost become an institution in Pakistan”. Perhaps not an institution just yet – this will be only the third year – but few will dispute that it is one of the most important events for the city. In any case, it has the power to attract people from across the country, from media barons to socialites, young academics to veteran policy makers.

A slew of writers from Pakistan and India are on the bill for this year’s festival. Oxford University Press (OUP) Managing Director Ameena Saiyid said that the festival gave authors and readers a platform to meet each other and introduce Pakistan to foreign authors and vice versa. “It is two days of celebrating writing.”

The third edition of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) will include a number of diverse names and promising young authors, from scholar Anatol Lieven, the author of the recently released Pakistan: A Hard Country to BBC journalist Mirza Waheed, the author of The Collaborator, which is set in Kashmir. “There are many festivals around the region that have a great reputation but what we have in Karachi is quite remarkable,” Fryer said, noting the number of sessions packed in the two-day agenda.

Several of the authors, including those moderating and participating in panel discussions at KLF, were at the press conference, including Muneeza and Kamila Shamsie, H M Naqvi, Attiya Dawood and Asif Noorani, as well as dancer and actor Omar Rahim, whose film Meherjaan is being screened at the KLF. Saiyid also announced that clips of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Oscar-nominated short film Saving Face will be screened at the festival and Chinoy will be answering questions.

Organiser Asif Farrukhi said that the festival will be showcasing writing in regional languages, though “not as much as we would have liked”. Last year the festival was criticised for not including as many of these kind of writers. He also highlighted that 2012 is the death centenary of Nazeer Ahmed and the birth centenary of Saadat Hasan Manto. Historian Ayesha Jalal, who is also Manto’s niece, will feature in a session at KLF on his work.

The festival agenda isn’t just about writing – there are sessions on issues such as honour killings, militancy, minority rights and the role of the media.

But the festival’s organisers stressed that it was not necessarily a curatorial decision to include current news issues in the agenda, but it was a reflection of what writers were writing about, as Fryer put it. He also said that festivals were extremely important for people to freely express themselves and debate issues. Farrukhi said that while the choice of issues was not necessarily very topical, they came from the ongoing intellectual debate in literary and academic circles. He also hoped that the debate would be more intellectual and issue-oriented than the likes of what is on political television talk shows.

Saiyid also said she expects a great deal of dialogue and debate, given that the festival features sessions on Balochistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh, as well as on teaching in mother tongues. The OUP managing director also thanked the diplomatic missions of the US, UK, Germany and France for supporting the festival and sponsoring various authors to attend.

Shreela Ghosh, the director arts for British Council in South Asia, said that it was “absolutely vital” to champion the arts in the region to learn about each other. She said the agenda looked “exhausting, but glorious!”


Another Kiran In NYC said...

so are you going? I have always wanted to go and see it and study all about it and talk to people who actually live there and figure out for myself this country I have been conditioned to distrust, since childhood. What better medium to do it than thru contemporary literature. Hmmm that was very wrong sentence structure but an accurate description of my intention.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

ah now that I have recovered my wits I realise that the press release says that you are going. Now we want an ankhon dekha haal... a real one... not one that tells us how generous the storekeepers are and not about a Karachi ball that we are usually want to get from folks writing about cultural exchanges.

I know you will give us the real goods.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

and if I was more awake and had drunk my chai I would have spell checked and realised that I said "want" when I meant "wont".

Ashwini Sane said...

M'am, I am sure you know that our neighbors are just like us! Am sure some good lit will come out of this, how about an Indo Pak science fiction story, contributed chapter by chapter by different writers?
Best wishes to the KLitFest! Enjoy there- the food and people are wonderful!

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

Let us know what Salman Rushdie has to say about India when you meet him in Pakistan :)

goodluck said...

They will present the best side. Shimmering silks, over made up ladies,goodlooking men in their traditional best and the feasts.

You will be the Oprah for them.

You will end up praising them to the skies. When they lavish so much on you, you cant be that rude.

Pooja Rathore said...

Firstly iam happy that you will be there for the litfest-from your post its clear it is an important fest(it becomes important when its in pakistan-may be the curiousity about pak ,last i heard from you about pakistan was with regard to book my feudal lord.)
i will be waiting for your post-on Karachi Lit fest,take care and have a great time!

goodluck said...

Shobhaa, I just read the article or blog written by you in TOI which is very well written. Whenever you write something which is not in the line of what BJP or RSS support, the comments that pour in are vituperative, full of hatred and insulting. You are called porn writer, old hag these haters and it seems moderators at the TOI dont bother to moderate at all and they are sleeping on the job.
It is ok to have different points of view but abusing like this is very painful.

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