As a writer I have been extremely lucky to have reached an international audience. In the last few years I have travelled to many cities and countries; including Fiji, Ottawa, Jaipur, China, either as a participant at international literary festivals, book fairs or multiple city literary tours to promote new novels in different languages. The country that I have visited the most in the last ten years is Germany. This is all thanks to my short story ‘A Pair of Jeans’
This story, as explained in my previous blog, has been studied for the German ‘Abitur’ literature course in schools since 1991. It has led to numerous tours and school visits; including a visit to the prestigious Salem International College near Constance. Some schools have hosted me several times. It has been a marvellous experience indeed.
In the last few years, ‘A Pair of Jeans’ has opened out a whole new world to me both on a personal and a professional level, leading to many new friendships: with reading tours, teacher training seminars, and even the writing of a literary guide book for German teachers, ‘Emerging India Study Guide’. It has been an excellent two-way traffic. Whilst I fell in love with Germany, marvelling at the beautiful churches, well-kept cemeteries, sophisticated ICE trains, and the breath taking beauty of rural landscapes, I introduced my German friends to my home city of Manchester: a wonderful, multicultural world of settled migrant communities, thriving harmoniously together, where integration is the aspired norm not assimilation.
The story has become a vehicle, actively engaging me in robust discussions with an audience of often up to two hundred 17-to-18-year-old German students and their teachers, on a number of topics ranging from migration, integration, veiling, Islam phobia, racism, terrorism, arranged marriages, etc. This interaction is mutually welcomed and appreciated, giving me the platform to explain, describe, challenge, and raise awareness. Above all to build inter-cultural bridges; pressing home the message of the need to understand and respect other faiths and cultures and to look beyond the western.
This week I am touring the Ruhr Valley of Eastern Germany and am Düsseldorf being hosted by Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft Ruhr e.V. I’ll be visiting the beautiful cities of Essen, Düsseldorf, Munster as well as Schwerin. This time it’s not the schools that I’ll be paying a visit to but the general public and adult readers who are interested in literature. Again I look forward to the inter-cultural dialogue and interaction with my German hosts and guests.I will be reading from and discussing my ‘A Pair Of Jeans’, ‘The Holy Woman’, ‘Typhoon’ and ‘Revolt’.