Thursday, August 2, 2012

A chance meeting with Salman Rashid

My friend from bank, Adil Mulki, called me up two days back informing me that he just received Mr. Salman Rashid, ace travel writer of Pakistan, in his office and that he was willing to have Iftari with us. I was surprised to say the least. I agreed without thinking.

Yesterday (Thursday) Adil, myself and Danial Shah, my friend from Flickr, took Salman to Sajjad's restaurant in Phase 8 DHA, Karachi. It's a pleasant, sea-side restaurant with Arabian Sea lapping next to its wooden columns. It's a place where you take your friends from afar to impress. Although, I must say, the food quality has progressively declined in recent months. More Pakistanis are now flocking to eat sub-standard food there.

Salman was in a pleasant mood and was talking as always. We were also in quite a pleasant mood despite the fact that we'd reached the place just 2 minutes before breaking of fast. Salman  .... (censored) .... is a man much given to travel and history and discipline. He is a learned man and that is shown by the quality of his articles. Even the basic ones carry a certain weight and a historical background wherever required. His emphasis on correctness of terminology doesn't suit the usual travel-writing world of Pakistanis where names are altered on whim and history is created by one's own pen.

Salman gave us the example of people like ..... (censored).... both of whom receive generous funds from rich Pakistanis; both are psuedo-intellectuals as per my .....(censored) understanding. For comparison read any book of Salman Rashid and then read any book penned by Tarrar sb. If you are into fake ideas, fairies and fantasies, then Tarrar is for you (my idea, not Salman's); if you are into genuine historical perspective and travel writing then Salman is for you. There is no doubt that he is a top travel writer of our generation in our country. And I don't see anyone else approaching his class anytime soon, which is sad.

During our Iftari + Dinner meeting I found Salman very helpful, very keen to learn new things and new routes and very very .... (censored). He wakes up at 5 AM or even earlier and sleeps early too, a rather rare attitude among urban Pakistanis. And he reads a lot. He emphasized that we must read original sources as much as we can. He named a few I knew. He told us how and why he left Army, then went to Siemens Pakistan, then left that job and became a full time vagabond, a hard life to live. He still lives and talks like that and he is still quite energetic. Travellers must be energetic themselves; he is not surely an arm-chair type of a person and loves fish immensely too so we ordered strange-sounding fish for him which turned out tasty. Chicken Karahi wasn't that tasty, though.

All in all, I really liked meeting him and I informed him that he is the only travel writer worth reading in Pakistan. Being a humble person he just shrugged off. Though he feels ... (censored) ... those men and women who've become something in their lives and have now forgotten their poverty and their background. He again and again named .......... (censored) ................. I 100% agree.

When in Lahore, I will now do two things: Eat fish at Salman's house and avoid meeting Tarrar sahib!

Few articles by Salman Rashid here and here.

3 comments:

Suzanne said...

I hope you have a blog post, if you and ASvL get together.

Ameer Hamza said...

I will. But he needs to contact me first!

Memoona Saqlain Rizvi said...

Salman Rashid is very humble n a man of manners. A great travel writer indeed.