Indian Novelist Describe Pakistanis as “People with Promise”

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 Vasant Dave is an Author of the historical novel “Trade winds to Meluhha” set in ancient Mesopotamia & Indus Valley Civilization. By profession, he retired in 2008 as an industrial market research expert.

He visited Pakistan for the first time in August 2015. Jovago Pakistan invited him for an interview to share his views about Pakistan and his visit experience.

Vasant Dave in Pakistan

  1. What were your thoughts while packing bags for Pakistan?

Let me narrate an incident that answers this question:

As I carefully placed my shirts in a bag, I felt a warm drop on my hand. I looked up perplexed. My wife was standing over me, her eyes filled with tears. “Is it so important?” she pleaded. “After all, yours is just a twenty minute lecture. Nobody will miss it.”

I cursed all the news channels and all the perpetrators of violence whose gruesome scenes the channels broadcasted regularly. “A few thousand suicidal men don’t represent a nation of 20 crore, Bharti,” I said, putting a hand over her shoulder. “The University wouldn’t have invited us if the situation were as bad as you fear.”

By ‘us’, I was referring to several participants from India who had been invited by COMSATS Institute, Sahiwal, to speak at the Harappa International Conference.

  1. Can you share your feelings the moment you landed in Pakistan?

On August 15, 2015, when I disembarked at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, I was wished ‘Happy Independence day’ by a smart lady immigration officer. After a long fruitless wait before the conveyer belt, I walked around and spotted my bags among a pile of several others. I approached the officer who was apparently guarding them, and pointed at mine. He smiled disarmingly and waved consent. As I came out, amidst the waiting crowd I spotted a placard displaying my name. The man who held it was intently looking at me, and even before my hand rose, he broke into a smile.

Those three seemingly insignificant incidents imparted an unexpected spring to my steps. I could sense that I was among friendly strangers who were happy to see me visiting their country.

  1. What makes Pakistan different from countries you have visited so far?

In few countries, have I come in contact with as inquisitive youngsters as I met in Pakistan. The young speakers and delegates attending the Harappa International Conference impressed me as men and women pursuing a definite purpose. I could perceive a big dream behind each pair of those bright eyes.

Vasant Dave with Youngsters of Pakistan

  1. If you get a chance to visit Pakistan again, which destinations you would like to visit?

In my novel Trade winds to Meluhha, the protagonist Samasin visits several Indus Valley sites which are in Pakistan. I simply created the scenes of those ancient towns from imagination, but I would like to make my next novel more realistic by projecting what I gather from actual site visits. Hence I would love to visit the Indus Valley archaeological sites of Harappa (near Sahiwal), Mohenjo-daro (near Larkana) and Ganveriwala (near Bahawalpur).

In the paper entitled Novelizing the Ancient Indus Valley which I presented at the Harappa International Conference, I highlighted how both Pakistan and India could use their ancient Indus Valley heritage to attract tourists and create jobs, and how historical fiction could provide a helping hand towards attaining that goal.

Therefore I hope that Pakistan takes a lead in starting a ‘heritage tourism’ circuit, Harappan Trail, on similar lines as the recently introduced Gandhara Trail.

  1. What were some of the problems you faced in Pakistan as a foreigner?

I faced only one problem. My movement as an Indian citizen was restricted to the place specified in the visa granted to me by the Embassy of Pakistan based in New Delhi. I wish that your Government were more lenient towards academic visitors and tourists. 

  1. How will you describe your trip to Pakistan in three words?

‘People with Promise.’

Lahore, Pakistan

  1. What is your favorite spot in Pakistan?

Due to the visa restriction, I was unable to go outside Lahore, and so my perception is limited only to a few places that I visited there. I loved the environment of Food Street, Lahore.

Lahore Pakistan

  1. Out of the different types of cuisines you had in Pakistan, which one was your favorite?

Gol-gappa served at the Haveli restaurant on Food Street, Lahore.

Food Street Lahore

  1. Share one of your most memorable moment or incident in/about Pakistan.

I was participating in a Heritage Walk along the narrow lanes in the walled city of Lahore. Our group from the Harappa International Conference had just visited the Royal Bath of the Mughal period, popularly known as ‘Shahi Hamam’. Two young delegates accompanying me were trying hard to make me, an Indian, feel at home.

“The Pakistanis and the Indians have so much in common,” one of them said.

“Architecture,” said the other, picking up the thread, “art, music, recipes –”

Before he could complete, a couple of banana peels descended right in our way from one of the beautifully carved wooden balconies above. The two youngsters hastened to sweep them away to the roadside with their feet. Both turned red-faced, and were struck dumb by the sudden missile attack.

“Yes, indeed, we share a common culture,” I told them ;).”

With this Jovago’s interview session with respectable Vasant Dave came to end.

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  1. Pingback: Mohen Jo Daro- The Hill of the Dead Brought Back to Life | Spot Light

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