It was memory lane for me when I visited Gujrat, the city of my birth, and passed my former primary school before visiting the university. Located right in the heart of the city, there is now a new school in its place, but I attended school here for three years before leaving for England. Unfortunately, I had no time to go inside introduce myself as a former pupil, but could not help taking a photo of its old name board.
Set in acres of lush, green Punjab countryside, the University of Gujrat is relatively new, and has the same design for all faculties blocks. I was hosted by the Humanities block, the department for the centre of translation, linguistics, and languages.
I was initially met by Dr. Ghulam Ali, head of the centre, and his team. As most of them were men, I teased them about whether there were any female members, and soon a whole troupe of female staff members materialized. I was also informed that 70% of the students in the university, including postgraduate level, are females.
Before my session, I was taken to meet Professor Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin, the Vice Chancellor, and we exchanged gifts and posed for official photographs. A man of high calibre, wonderful academic and professional credentials, he is committed to making Gujrat a world class university.
The organization for my event was superb, and a lot of hard work had gone into planning, including huge banners to highlight my visit. The best time for me when visiting colleges or universities is always interacting with the audience, my hosts, and fans, and signing books.
The audience were from various departments and campuses of the University of Gujrat. My hosts and the Registar hosts offered warm, and welcoming speeches. As well as reading from Typhoon, I enjoyed lively discussions on so many topics, including translation issues relating to my novels in different languages, themes, and topics of my work, the different genres of writing, identity and gender, the issue of extremism, and the importance of inter-cultural dialogue to combat hatred.
It was my first visit to this university, and they did themselves, and me, proud in hosting such a fabulous event. The marvellous hospitality concluded with a dinner, and this visit remains one of my most enjoyable and memorable.