Children’s Literature Festival 2014 – Karachi

Though I am not an avid reader, but I have always found it irresistible to visit a book fair or a literary event. One of the best things happening to Karachi every year is Karachi Literature Festival, and this year it was followed by Children’s Literature Festival. I could not attend KLF, but resolved not to miss CLF, in particular because I had to take my kids there too. The Children’s Literature Festival was jointly organized by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), Oxford University Press (OUP), Open Society Foundations (OUP) and Karachi Youth Initiative (KYI), and to them goes a huge applause. Events like CLF provide opportunities to the kids to read and write, to listen to their favourite books being read and sung aloud, to listen to their favourite stories told by famous writers/story-tellers, to read their own writings to an audience, to attend sessions in their mother tongue, to watch theater and puppet shows, and other activities related to reading.

I had told my kids that though there won’t be any roller-coaster or merry-go-round rides, but they would still have good time with story-listening, creative activities and other performances. They were excited to go. The festival was scheduled to start at 0930hrs, but we reached at 1100hrs, one and a half hour late. Just upon our entry into the Arts Council I was asked to get registered and was handed down a booklet which listed the events of the day. Since there were at least five different sessions happening at the same time at different venues I had to choose the ones I thought were better.

We started off with a visit to an indoor camp called “Harry Putter Corner”. We could see newspaper clippings and comic strips on the walls. The camp was being run by Laajverd. The activists explained their project “Bacha (Kids) Bulletin” to the kids and got them involved in thinking about a real-life event and coming up with a way to report that event.

Bacha Bulletins

Bacha Bulletins

The volunteer explaining to kids how event are reported

The volunteer explaining to kids how event are reported

Reporters at work!

Reporters at work!

Reporting an event

Reporting an event

Then we headed towards a workshop on Innovative Methods of Teachings. The presenter was best at keeping his audience engaged. This was followed by our visit to an outdoor camp where the kids were having great time with paints and brushes. But by the time we got there, the piece of cloth was already filled with colors.

Playing with colors

Playing with colors

Next stop was a big white board where the kids had to write anything they wanted to.

'Say no to war'

‘Say no to war’

Then we walked towards the courtyard where there were a number of bookstalls selling all the kids stuff. Sliding through the crowd, we arrived at an open theater where an interactive music session was being conducted. By the time we reached, the session was in its last 10 minutes.

Theater

Theater

Afterwards, we went all the way to a booth set up by Habib Bank Limited to promote its product called “Money Club” which was aimed at encouraging the children to save money by opening a bank account. This seemed to be the most-thronged booth as the kids were required to play an interactive money-saving game, make a score and win a freebie.

All waiting to win

All waiting to win

In the line of play

In the line of play

It's my turn now!

It’s my turn now!

Grab as many cents as you can!!!

Grab as many cents as you can!!!

Next was the storytelling session conducted by Ufone-fame artist Adeel Hashmi. He conducted the session quite successfully. The kids enjoyed a lot. And finally I was asked by my kids if he was the same person they see on TV. 🙂

Man at work!

Man at work!

Kid hearing the tale

Kid hearing the tale

Finally, the kids told me that they were tired and wanted to go home. I told them there was one other event that I wanted to take them to. If they didn’t like it in the start, then we’d surely leave. They said ok. We reached an auditorium where a play “Alibaba Chalees Chor (40 thieves)” was going to be performed. As it turned out, the kids enjoyed the play till “The End”.

Actors at play

Actors at play

Encore!

Encore!

And we left happily afterwards. 🙂

Wanderlust

Wanderlust is a word that perfectly defines the state I’m currently in. I have been cherishing the dream of travelling as many destinations as I can. I can remember this desire of mine was awaken by a high school teacher Mr. Mehtab Junejo. Though he never had gone abroad, however he shared the stories of hang-outs with friends during his years at the University. He was one of those rare teachers who knew how to keep the kids captivated, he told us the stories from world history as well as of his adventures and misadventures. Sometimes he was apprehended by Indian guards for having trespassed the border mistakenly, and sometimes by the Chinese border authorities. He travelled from the hot deserts of Thar to the green pastures of Naaran & Kaghan. I loved the idea of roaming around different parts of the country.

Then, I grew up but, quite unfortunately, couldn’t go to a university for some reasons. I believe university education not only would have given me opportunity for a wider perspective of the world around me but also of the world at large. Anyways, this just didn’t stop me from having a good time in life. The first ever trip I undertook with friends was a week-long one in January 2001. We started from our hometown Larkana across different towns to Karachi City. Then, while still a 2nd year Undergrad, I got married in February 2001. Life changed and for almost full 8 years I couldn’t go nowhere. By that time I had three kids :-). Then in the summer of 2009 karma smiled on me and I was among the lucky 58 candidates to join State Bank of Pakistan. The best of the best thing to follow was our 24-week-training at National Institute of Banking & Finance (NIBAF) Islamabad. Islamabad had been the city I really dreamt to visit. Sir Mehtab had mentioned it a hundred times and told us that it was the only well-planned city of Pakistan.

The journey started on September 25, 2009 and ended on February 2, 2010. These were the best of the times of my life. Now it’s been more than two years and I haven’t really been to anywhere outside Karachi. However, I have a plan to go to a place where I’ve never been before by the end of 2012.

Cheers*

Through the Windscreen (from Larkana to Karachi)

One hundred and twenty eight days is the longest period of time I didn’t visit my village (8km off Larkana). On April 18 I went over there along with my family and stayed for 5 days. We had the wonderful time indeed. On way back to Karachi, I took some shots right from the front seat of the car that we rented for the trip. Amazingly after two hours of travel, a strong blast of dusty wind met us followed by heavy rains. This just added more flavor to already sweet journey. Here are some shots.

Beach it is…

The trip to the beachside was long due, especially for my kids who have been pushing me almost everyday to take them to the sea. It happened to be the first day of the New Year 2012, and the plan had been decided well ahead of the day by us friends. The morning was cool and the day turned out to be quite sunny. We had to leave at 7 in the morning, have breakfast at Teen Talwar (Three Swords) and then set off for the beach. But it started a li’l late. We left at 8:30 am, had breakfast and reached the already-reserved hut at Tushan, Karachi at 10:30. In no time did we come out of cars that the kids flashed off to the sea. Everything went fine except the coffee maker which didn’t work because of low voltage. We all enjoyed every piece of the sand. 🙂

Life’s good.

[Faith, Love, Family, Friends and taking care of oneself are the ingredients of a happy life.] Anonymous

Life is on the move. It goes on with all the good things and bad things happening around from time to time. A few good things have happened quite lately.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

November 29, 2011: Afaque Ahmed passed the Civil Services Examination of Pakistan successfully in his first attempt (a candidate has three attempts in total). That is really brilliant of him as out of 9063 candidates only 882 could pass the first phase of the selection process. It is his dream come true. He had been looking forward to this achievement since he started thinking 🙂 . The inspiration might have came from the social environment, but the credit goes to his father who provided him all the resources and kept pushing him through all the years to do the dew. He has been brilliant throughout his academic career, bagging almost all top positions. I wish him best of adventures in times to come.

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” J.F. Kennedy

Two friends of mine became fathers of their first respective children.

November 18, 2011: Muhammad Ali was blessed with a son, Ali Shahbaz.

Ali Shahbaz

December 07, 2011: Raja Ansari was blessed with a daughter, Soonh.

Soonh - The Beauty

This is one of the greatest changes to have occurred in their lives. Now their lives will certainly have a turn, and they will think in a different way. They would start planning for the best possible future they could best possible give to their children. And most importantly they would now know what and how it feels like being a parent. God bless their kids. [Amen]

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

Last but not the least, I moved my family from a hushed, calm serene small village to a much bigger city Karachi. It is one of the major decisions I have taken in my life. I had been living away from my family since October ’09, and visiting home only once or twice a month. Now the time seemed too ripe to continue to live all by myself, I needed my family but more than that my family needed me more. Life may not be the same, in fact it is never the same. But I gotta work harder perhaps to get going in metropolitan life as I’ve spent over 28 years of my life in countryside. Personally I don’t adore city life, but it has its own charm and chill to go with. 😉 Kids seem to be loving the new place, so do my wife and my mother. Mom is at more ease as her sister is living just round the corner whom mom would only teletalk before.

I thank Almighty for everything, everything.

 

Chuckels*