Monday, February 21, 2011

Shahid Husain tries to interview President Obama but fails. However, he claims that he has not given up as yet


The other day, I sent an e-mail to Tim Kennedy whom I knew since my Daily Times days. He was a participant at IDEAS, a defence conference. I wrote: 'Tim do you remember me? I interviewed you in Karachi when I worked for Daily Times. I would love to meet you.' Tim replied instantly: 'Of course Shahid! I remember you!'

We met at a caf' over a cup of coffee. We talked for nearly two hours and exchanged ideas. I told him I was writing a book in Urdu based on my memoirs/ diaries, and a book in English entitled: 'Nature and Homosapiens.' I explained that I was very good at mathematics and literature when I was in school but my parents wanted me to become a doctor. But circumstances made me a journalist.

Tim asked me to read Old Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreaux, a 19th century writer who believed that humans become whole by returning to nature.

Also sent an e-mail to Clausane, an American scholar whom I interviewed in Karachi for my paper The News. He teaches at the American University, Washington. He was in Brazil and sent a message from there that he would be returning on July 29 and then we could fix an appointment.

I also requested President Obama for an interview. The President must be busy but if Dawn's Anwer can interview him, why can't I? Friends encouraged me not to give up. I always had a theory: Learn from your kids! Long ago in 1986, I wrote a piece in Urdu titled 'Ankhein' (Eyes) and showed it to Professor Haroon Ahmed, Pakistan's top psychiatrist. I used to talk to my daughter, Zoya, then three, and now a doctor who got married last year and lives happily in Dubai with her husband Mustafa, an engineer. Zoya would paint, write poetry, short stories, participate in debates and was also a very good student.

Dr. Haroon suggested that I should write in Urdu: 'Aap Urdu mein likha karein (You should write in Urdu!)," I remember his words. But, thought I, how was I going to sustain my family if I wrote in Urdu. The pay is meagre in Urdu papers and publications.

In the meanwhile, I have almost completed my book in Urdu. Some of my friends thought I was crazy. I ignored them. Writing has always been a passion for me and if work is a passion, one never gets tired of it.

Also received a message from Whitney, secretary to Taylor, president of an American life sciences association, that he would be available on August 10. He had shown keen interest in my theory on Nature.

Meanwhile, I have confirmed my ticket to Karachi for August 14. Many friends have become sad that I am going home instead of staying here. Immigration has allowed me to stay till December but I miss my family and feel lonely.

I also intend to meet my old friend in Illinois. We established Young Writers' Forum in 1972 when National Students' Federation (NSF) was showing signs of disintegration. It was my idea. And we organised wonderful programmes, including one on Pablo Naruda and Salvador Allende that was also broadcast from Radio Moscow.

Distinguished writers such as Ismat Chugtai, Ali Sardar Jafri and Kaifi Azmi participated in our programmes besides anthropologist and historian Syed Sibte Hasan, poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Muneer Niazi, Himayat Ali Shair, Mohsin Bhopali, and Fahmida Riaz.

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