The publisher from Harper Collins called and said, “Happy reading.”
“I don’t want to read it,” I said with some nonchalance.
But I did…started looking for typos! But…as night fell and I read through I knew it was me. My ghost of those days haunting…
It should be out at the bookstores within a week. Here are a few glimpses of a bit of a bit…for those who have shared so many moments with me here…
The back-jacket blurb
'You need to be deported,' said the retired army general. What follows is not deportation but the beginning of an exploration. An exploration that is nuanced by the identity of the narrator: an Indian Muslim woman travelling alone in a space notoriously difficult to negotiate, vis-a-vis its history and politics.
From travelling in the cockpit of the PIA aircraft to having the door shut in her face by a born-again nationalist to attending parties in perfumed salons to examining the minorities; from being treated as a philistine to engaging in enlivening conversations with those who had to pay the price for dissent, the author attempts to understand what it means to live in Pakistan today.
In the course of her journey, at times interrupted, through the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar, Farzana Versey finds herself struggling with her own identity 'When I was on the soil of the land of the pure, my impurity struck me. I was the emotional mulatto,' she writes.
A Journey Interrupted is not your conventional travelogue. In the vignettes the author weaves together, of living and travelling in a complex society, the personal becomes the political. And the picture that emerges is of a changing nation with a unique mix of religious tradition and barely-in-check liberalism. In these times of political and social unrest in Pakistan, this is a timely book – one that delves into the Pakistani mind and traces the chasms in its recent history.
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The Indian Question – A Beginning
Section A: Cities, ruins, resurrection
1. Vestiges of Valhalla
2. Where phantoms walk
3. The haunted, the hunted
4. The First Frontier
Section B: Inside Outside
5. The Kafir Mussalman and the Confused Muslim
6. The Marginals
7. Changing faces, Static Masks
8. Dissent and Defence
9. Birth of a nationalist mullah
10. Soliloquists in a swarm
11. Falcons in the desert
Section C: The Pakistani Question
12. Jinnah to Jihad
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I think most of the chapter titles are self-explanatory, yet…
Section A: Deals with Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar respectively. Not a tourist brochure guide, okay? I wish I could say more…how about my encounter with a djinn? And why was I in the cockpit of the aircraft on my first trip? And the cops in my room…what happened?
Section B: It talks with the minorities – socio-economic, sexual, intellectual…essentially outsiders. There are also longish interviews with Ahmed Faraz, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Sheema Kermani, Pervez Hoodbhoy and a few others…we discussed the whole question of the Pakistani identity and not being Indian.
Section C: The primarily political chapters, but with some short interviews and quite a bit on Kashmir from both sides.
There are lots of conversations, and where Urdu is used I have retained it (with translations).
This is not an academic treatise although I have woven in several details. It does not read different from anything else I write, perhaps there is just more space, more time to ruminate: 299 pages, but readable font.
It is primarily from an Indian Muslim perspective and I should hope in however subtle a manner I have managed to debunk a few stereotypes that exist about both Pakistanis and the Indian Muslim 'affiliation'. This is about Pakistan, but it is also about India. It is about Them and Us. About Her/Him and Me. The Prologue, Introduction, and Epilogue are intensity personal and, yes, I have cried here too…
What more can I say? If you do pick up a copy, I would like honest feedback.