Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blog Review – Two Indians in Isloo

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Two Indians in Isloo

They are blogging on life in Pakistan.

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

When London-based writer Peter Mayle rented a cottage in the south of France, he came out with a passionate memoir full of wine, cheese, truffles and the mistral. In October, 2007, two Delhi-based writers rented a house in the north of Pakistan. They have come out with a passionate blogsite that is… not full of Kashmir, Taliban, Zardari or anything else that you read on Pakistan in most websites and blogs.

Set up in February, 2010, by an Indian couple in Islamabad, The Life and Times of Two Indians in Pakistan is a diary of how two intelligent and sensitive people – in possession of some gentle humor – are making sense of a country, which many of their countrymen think is the root cause of all evil. The bloggers – Lamat and Rezaul Hasan – have no agenda to propose except to share the little nuggets of daily life in Pakistan’s capital. One of them is the Pakistan correspondent of an Indian news agency.

In an e-mail interview with Pakistan Paindabad, Lamat said, “We started this blog because we wanted to document our experiences which we think are unique. It's also a fun way to connect with friends and family, who always worry about us having to "live in (arguably) the most dangerous part of the world". We also want to shatter stereotypes about Pakistanis, their lives, and fill them in on the pluses and minuses of being Indian in Pakistan.”

Each blog post (the blogsite shows ten at the time of writing this review) is deceptive simple: taking out the little nieces of domestic helps to Pizza Hut; bringing home a cat (and asking her if she is an Indian or a Pakistani); riding a scooty; spotting the bootleggers. Chattily written, these posts provide a peek into the Other Pakistan, a land where real people tumble through joys and concerns that won’t be out of place in Delhi, Dallas, Dublin or Durban.

This must not be misunderstood as if the bloggers are inside a steel bubble. They are not out of touch with certain realities that unfortunately makes Pakistan unique in the community of nations. Scroll down the site and you would discover that these Indians are regularly followed by “shalwar-kurta clad, Yamaha-riding shadows”. Once a musical soiree in a diplomat’s drawing room was interrupted by a bomb blast that took place not far away in the town.

Such cheerless affairs are not ignored. These expats don’t crib, don’t complain – they cope with it, like the Pakistanis. The dismal facets are presented the way in which people experience them in real life. Almost all the followers of this site are Pakistanis.

With a photo gallery on the right-side bar, the blogsite offers a visual sense of the place. If the images focus less on sunsets and countryside and more on streets and people, the browsing experience would be richer. The absence of picture captions is felt. But this is a minor squabble. A few more months, or even weeks, and may emerge as one of the must-read blogs on the Alternative Pakistan. Pakistan Paindabad is already smelling a book deal.

1 comment:

beena sarwar said...

Great to learn of this and great to meet you at the Khi Lit Fest finally. Keep up the great work.

all the very best