Tuesday, January 19, 2016

An 8-9 Year Old Interview

Looking back to see what I thought 8-9 years ago.

Nothing has changed 

(other than the list of blogs that I now read, for some have left and one is sadly no more.)


Interview with Blogger Zaheer Alam Kidvai

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Could you tell us what made you decide to blog?
Glad you didn’t ask “Who”.
What do you think sets your blog apart from other blogs?
Just that it’s hosted on another webpage. Each person’s blog is different. Some find mine interestingly diverse. Others have posted derogatory comments to say it’s absolute trash. Who am I to judge?
If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success, what would it be?
I am not sure if the definition of success is universally the same. But, for me, it was the immediate understanding of and total acceptance of Buckminster Fuller’s dictum: You have to decide early, whether you want to make money or you want to make sense.
What were the happiest and the gloomiest moments of your life?
Happiest: Running away to sea!
Gloomiest: The response would upset many here, and, as this misra’ says:Ham ahlé dil haeñ, hamaaray mazhab mayñ dil dukhaana ravaa ñaheeñ hae!
If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’spaid for – what would your top 3 choices be?
I’d love to revisit :
Costa Rica
What is your favorite book and why?
No one book is possible for me to single out, though the 2nd edition of the OED comes close.
But some did change my way of thinking or have a larger than usual impact. Among them,
Paine’s The Rights of Man
Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian
Sherman’s The Rape of The A.P.E.
Hoffman’s Steal This Book
Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse
FiveHeller’s Catch-22
Greer’s Female Eunuch
Abbot’s Flatland
Then, there’s Shakespeare’s Complete Works,
Ghalib’s Deevaan,
and Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland
– three books that I open at random, again and again. Unbelievably rich!
What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?Whatever s/he ‘projects’. I would be lying if I said that the first thing I noticed about Marilyn Monroe was the (very real) gentleness of her soul.
Do you think Pakistani politicians could benefit from the social networks and things like Twitter?I am not entirely sure what Twitter does, but given that most of our politicians are Twits, I suppose they could.
How can Pakistani bloggers benefit from blogs financially?
Your question reminds me of Iftikhar Arif’s shayr:
Koee jünooñ, koee sauda nah sar mayñ rakkhaa jaae
Bas ayk rizq ka manzar nazar mayñ rakhaa jaae
But if someone does want to gain financial benefits, there’s nothing wrong with it per se. However, like most commecially viable products, blogs needs to deliver! The Baghdad Blogger is an example. As a secondary earning source, of course, one could populate the blog with ads, if they can live with the awful design that results from this. The more serious ones or respectable ones could charge for subscriptions. If Ardeshir Cowasjee blogged (independent of the stuff that goes into the conventional Dawn column), his following may be happy to pay a reasonable amount. Finally, if a blogger feels that selections from her/his writings have the potential s/he could put them together as an anthology and sell them. As e-Books, first, perhaps.
Do you think Pakistani bloggers tend to remain somewhat self-centered and really don’t go out of their shells? Is it the oriental style of blogging, or they are still unsure about it?Pakistani or Oriental (what geographical limits, I have always wanted to understand, does this label cover) bloggers, like their counterparts from other parts of the world, will, by and large, reflect their culture and society in their writing styles, contents, and issues. Blogs are, frequently, merely personal jottings, aimed at close friends and families. Other blogs are more universal in their scope: a Science blog from Pakistan will be not much different from one from Kansas, I guess. 😉
Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?
You mean time on their hands from other more meaningful things? As if blogs are not meaningful? So those who write novels or make passionate self-financed documentaries to bring about changes, or write poetry, do so because they have time on their hands? What an awfully patronising and degrading question!
What are your thoughts on corporate blogs and what do you think the biggest advantages and disadvantages are?
There are, in the long term, only advantages: If the corporation and its clientele are in touch, the products and services will improve, fill real needs, and also (if done honestly) have the consumer understand the constraints under which corporations operate: Laws that need to change. Taxes that need revision. In the short term corporations may view feedback and criticism as a disadvantage. But that’s only until they adopt mechanisms to understand the reasons for the negativity (flawed products, poor service, misunderstood aims) and respond honestly.
However, there is ample justification, today, to consider Corporate Honesty an oxymoron.
Does it pain you or make you feel proud that we have made history by electing a uniform general as our president?
Why do you think we call them General Elections?
Do you think this whole emphasis on blogs and whatever online is a significant indicator to show that the web, the social web, is becoming a very important social force?
Globally, yes. But there are pockets – large pockets – where, for numerous reasons, many economic or geo-political, this is not yet a relevant question. We need to find ways to change this, though.
What do you think where the Pakistani blogosphere is right now?
Is there a Pakistani Internet (apart from a sign in Lahore that I saw for ‘Pakistan Wide Internet’)? So, there either IS a blogosphere or there isn’t. Pakistani bloggers are bloggers are bloggers. Some are Pakisanis by birth and live abroad and write about issues that affect them in their current surroundings. Others are expats with one mental foot in Pakistan. Some are in Pakistan but their blogs live in the same bubble where they do. Others are non-Pakistanis living here who write about Pakistan, objectively and subjectively. So what’s this Pakistani Blogosphere meant to include in it’s complete isolation (which is what a sphere is, na) … ?
If there is such a thing then, like Pakistan itself, it is trying to carve a separate identity in a world where ‘group identities’ have proved to be nothing but sources of misery and strife.
Who are your top five favourite bloggers in Pakisan?
In alphabetical order:
Ayesha Saeed
Jehan Ara
Omer Alvie
Sabahat Zakariya
Sabeen Mahmud
BTW, why 5? Is it inspired by religious symbolism? (You know: 5 Pillars, 5 Prayers, Panjtan Pak, Ahlé Baet …)
Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger in Pakistani blogosphere?Oh, yes. More than one. But naming them would make me sound like a member of the Mutual Admiration Society. So, I pass.
What is the future of blogging in Pakistan?
I think it’s great. But it will really flourish if we can – more easily than we can, now! – blog in our regional and national languages. While people say that there aren’t enough affordable computers, bring out the facilitation software apps in these languages, add the under $100 computer, provide it to schools (in exchange for non-existent teachers), set up community centres with these in Government schools … and – not all – but many, many more will be computerate. And many will blog. The thrill of communicating with people in a different mindspace is addictive.
In political respect, can we call blogging a ‘democracy of message’?
Why? What’s poor Blogging done to be treated with such contempt?
Can Pakistani blogosphere play any notable role in the forthcoming elections, if they happen at all?Too many variables: Many bloggers are not registered voters. Many are too young to vote. Many won’t step out on Election Day, fearing violence. We ought to add eVotes through a secure application and insist that they be counted. Yes, I know they won’t be. Not this year. Not the next. But soon people will begin to think about them. And, one day … Voila.
Will the elections happen?
Haven’t they, already?
Reminds me of the joke that was popular when a certain party was eliminating not just it’s avowed enemies but also dissenters within its ranks. A foreign dignitary supposedly called upon the Sindh CM to offer condolences on the death in a car accident of one his party’s MPAs. The CM looked at his desk calendar and said,” Oh, that’s tomorrow!”
You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?
In my personal life I have found blogging to be a great rejuvenating medium because it provides a space where the majority of my e-friends are a lot younger. I get to learn so much more from them than I would from other dinos. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Professionally, it has a direct bearing, I am sure. But I’ll need to first understand what my ‘profession’ is. I wrote “Unzipping minds” in the Profession column for my passport application, but they did not accept that.
What are your future plans?
I am 67… hoping to be 25 next year. (I often get asked, as a taunt, what I want to be when I grow up. My straight-faced and honest answer, always, is: A child!
Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?
Engage! Express yourself without fear! Allow others to do the same! Develop this forum into a thought-provoking medium. There’s enough space elsewhere on the ‘Net for LOLs and ROTFLs and other necessary emotional outbursts.

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