Sunday, 21 June 2015

Of new beginnings...

Hello, all!

I'm sorry it's been so quiet on the blog. I've been spending a great deal of time working on this new venture, and it's taken up all my free time.

The picture above was taken at the Kuch Khaas Farmer's Market a couple of weeks back. While visiting Islamabad, I thought there would be no better place to launch this new chapter than their crafts market, in what is a place I call my second home. So, armed with my bag of handmade goodies, I set up my stall and got ready to be a "crafter" for the first time.

It was a lot of fun, got a bit hot, and I found a new appreciation for the people who do this every single week. There were some people who stopped and chatted, asked questions, enjoyed having a look, some just walked by without a glance, and some just smiled furtively and carried on. I'm new to this so I'm terrible at it, rather than solicit customers, I was sitting there doing more calligraphy and painting. Ah well!

I had a few people come up to me and tell me I should give Urdu calligraphy a try. I said I would love to, except that my Urdu handwriting looks conspicuously like that of a 6 year old. The most interesting exchange I had was with a middle-aged Pakistani gentleman who told me, in just about the thickest American accent (much more so than anyone I ever encountered IN the US), "I could buy this in New York, you should do some Urdu calligraphy". I couldn't say much in reply, because I'm not really that good at comebacks, I always think of the right thing to say when it's far too late. What I would have liked to tell him is, "Uncle, you can find beautiful Urdu calligraphy made by local artisans. Just visit Rana Market, they're sitting on the sidewalks. And they could really use the patronage." Those artists sell their hard work for practically a song.

That's when it occurred to me that in Islamabad you have a certain breed of people - those who move within F6, F7 and the Red Zone. They don't step anywhere outside that perimeter, and if they do, it's within the safety of their cars. Is this what Islamabad has become, or has it always been like this? I used to be much more adventurous pre-mommyhood, now if I have to go to G9 or Aabpara I won't take the kids simply because they get really fed up wandering around with me. But they still exist in my definition of Islamabad.

Moreover, the issue of identity cropped up again. I've been living in Pakistan for 11 years now, but I grew up all over the globe, which is why my Urdu took a beating. I've worked very hard to improve my oral Urdu and reading, but when I think of Urdu calligraphy, it would be like learning Chinese calligraphy for me. A challenge I'm ready to accept, mind you. What I don't understand, though, is why is there a need to make people feel smaller because they are more comfortable with a certain language? Had I grown up here, I would understand the stigma, which is why I want my children to be perfectly bilingual as they are growing up here, and luckily their school has a strong Urdu programme. Well, I guess I shouldn't expect "New York wallay uncle" to know that I didn't grow up here, but I did find the whole experience quite chuckle-worthy even if it irritated me at first.

Anyone want to help me with my Urdu script? I need all the help I can get! I have a feeling uncle still wouldn't want to buy those pieces, because, considering my favorite quote is, "When life gives you lemons, throw them at someone", I'd say my style is more "Bitchy Urdu ecards" than Bulleh Shah. *Wink!*
That's my work, right there!