Pakistan Diaries – 2nd March


PM. I reach my session in time. It is already a packed hall. Huge banner about me and my session grace the wall of the stage area. I am  met enthusiastically by my host Professor Shirin Zubair and a group of other staff. There is a good introduction by Junaid, the male teacher who met me at the airport. Prof. Shirin as she has studied my work and contributed a paper to the critical analysis textbook on my work presents a fairly detailed paper on my work and bio.

The Vice chancellor who has taken a special interest in my visit also presides over my session. He sits through it and gives a very intelligent and comprehensive closing speech on my work and other issues, including urging the students to read as much as possible. I am impressed by his interests and views.

As elsewhere there are a lot of wide ranging questions by the students – from why I wrote the work to tips about writing. It is a very interactive session and ends with lots of sighing of books and photo events and newspaper interviews. Our special dinner hosted by the Vice chancellor is at the Guest house where I am staying. And we have a chance to enjoy not only the delicious meal cooked by the chefs who have been serving me my dinners and breakfast but also enjoy the company of different professors and the Vice Chancellors. I look forward to the evening meal that I have been invited to in his home…Before that there is the evening event at NUML….

Multan. Evening. By now I am quite tired. However I am looking forward to my 3rd literary session of the day. This time at NUML (National University of Modern Languages – Multan branch) I am met by a group of elegantly dressed group of young teachers and a huge banner and bouquet of welcome.

The session goes well. It is very interactive and similar sort of questions are asked, including having to explain the rationale of writing about Pakistan whilst living abroad. My reading of the Typhoon extract as elsewhere has the audience totally spellbound as they imagine the scene of Gulshan finding her husband in the arms of another woman. I discuss the serious themes that I am exploring in this novel. Lively discussions ensue followed by signings of books and lots of photo taking a gift of a lovely Multani suit to take back with me and tea. Again as elsewhere I leave with wonderful impressions and feelings and know that I have made more friends and gained more readers. Last event of this never ending day is a special invite to have evening dinner with the Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Khawaja Alqama, the man who presided over my event in the afternoon. I am totally bowled over by the palatial grounds and majestic building of the Vice Chancellor home. It is a beautiful place both in and outside.

Inside we are warmly received and hosted by his elegantly dressed wife in a beautiful sari. There is a group of women already waiting. Professors of different depts. as well as the new Vice Chancellor of the new Women University in Multan. We are all delighted to make her acquaintance and wish her well in her new post. The Vice chancellor and his wife are terrific hosts and we are treated to a sumptuous banquet. Quite a few of the women have PHDs from the UK, including one from the University of Lancaster and we enjoy each other’s company.
All in all it is a lovely end to such a packed day!