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Friday, December 26, 2008

Fellow Pakistanis, rejoice ...

the ICT revolution has really come to Pakistan now: Story #1: Our driver, Ehsan, is literate. He reads an Urdu newspaper (sadly, the wrong one, but that's because the relatively better ones are overpriced and unaffordable for most). He loves Dr Sher Shah's short stories. He can also read English signage and headlines and has been asking me for a cheap computer for his 7-year-old child (I am looking around). He wants the child to be tech savvy, because "ab iss kay sivaa chaara naheeñ ..." Recently his brother, who runs a cab, fell very ill and had to undergo biopsies and numerous tests. When one of the reports arrived, it contained the usual indecipherable jargon that labs use so that you have to go back to the doc (with whom it's in league and has paid commission to for recommending it in the first place). You need to do this to be able to understand even that the tests are all clear. I looked at it and said I'd ask my friend, Dr Shamim, and Ehsan said that he'd certainly like to follow this up as the report had indicated a heart or lung problem "üss mayñ 'pulmonary' ka lafz likha haé aur maeñ nay mohallay kay ayk la∂kay say Internet par check karvaaya to yeh matlab maaloom hua." Story #2: Our maid, Fatima, is illeterate but not innumerate. The latter hurdle she crossed when she got a phone at home during Karachi's killer days so that she and her sons who worked in factories could communicate. (She now has a cellphone, to keep in touch with her expanding family for whom she has slogged away over years of widowhood, during which, despite increasing illnesses and weakness, she has even saved and managed to help her sons build a small house.) The other day I bought a Sandwich Grill and decided to teach how to use it. I had hardly begun to talk while opening the box when she said, "haañ, haañ, sahab ... do. Müjh ko aata hae." Surprised, I asked her if she owned one. "Naheeñ. Apan loag iss ka kyaa karayñgay. Maeñ nay to 'BBC Food' par daykh kar samjha hae!" Delightful, na?

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7 Comments:

Blogger Farrukh Ahmed said...

:) really delightful. love the way you've put it, brings a smile all the way

26 December, 2008 14:07

 
Blogger Maleeha said...

truly!

26 December, 2008 19:42

 
Anonymous Shehla Anjum said...

You may want to check out One Laptop Per Child, a fairly new organization that is dedicated to providing low-cost laptops to children from poor familiies. I am not sure if anyone in Pakistan is involved or not, but a good friend of mine Satish Jha is working with them in India. I strongly recommend that you peruse the organization's website.

On another subject, I believe you are related to my late first cousin Sultana Kirmani. I was wondering if you have any thoughts of her that you might want to share with your readers. Sultana Apa was my favorite cousin and I last saw her when I was in Karachi in July. A sad visit of less than half an hour. I quietly bade her farewell, knowing I wouldn't see her again.

Shehla Anjum
anjum@alaska.net

27 December, 2008 04:01

 
Blogger Zakintosh said...

@Shehla Anjum

I am familiar with the OLPC project and also know of Satish Jha's work in India. Given Pakistan's usual approaches to such matters (from the BBC Computer disaster in the early 80's to the more recent Worldspace Radio screw-up), it is not among the 133 countries -so far- that have taken up this initiative.

SK was married to my mother's cousin, Ziauddin Kirmani ( whose name has appeared in a couple of my blogposts). She was an amazing lady, dignified and affectionate, and our family was very fond of her. I hope that someone like Rashid (Latif) Bhai or you will write something more about her than I can.

27 December, 2008 06:12

 
Blogger sabizak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

27 December, 2008 15:30

 
Anonymous sumair(szad) said...

thats really good

29 December, 2008 10:28

 
Anonymous mansoor said...

very inspiring!

i guess we can see this little revolution happening all around us if we take the time to look.

thanks for sharing, found it via jehanara's blog.

29 December, 2008 15:05

 

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