Throwback to when Dr Tabassum Kashmiri hosted an Urdu-inspired Japanese delegation
This article was penned in 2003 when Dr Tabassum Kashmiri hosted a Japanese delegation for promotion of Urdu language and culture.
Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri is a known name in the literary circles of Pakistan.
After establishing his name in poetry, he ventured to Japan to teach Urdu literature to the Japanese. He keeps on visiting his family off and on but even during his visit to Lahore, he does not sit idle.
He meets his family, friends and he makes sure to see his literary friends. He has a number of books to his credit but his recent work ‘History of Urdu literature’ is a very good addition to the Urdu literature.
He has been able to promote the cause of Urdu in Japan and it was quite evident the other day, besides making money. He hosted a dinner in the honour of the visiting Japanese Urdu speaking delegation consisting of about two dozen persons, most of them young females, all attired in Pakistani Shalwar Kamiz except their leader Professor Ustaz.
Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri hosted a dinner in their honour at the Club of Defence Housing Authority on the evening of January 1st, 2003 (Wednesday). Dr. Sahib wanted that the visitors should meet the leading lights of Urdu literature in Lahore. Those who graced the occasion, besides the host and his family members, included this scribe, Dr Ikram Chugtai, a leading research scholar of Urdu who is not only known in Pakistan but also in Europe because he spent a couple of years in Germany, Dr. Siddique Javed, another leading research scholar of Urdu who confined himself to Iqbaliat, Prof. Shahid Hameed, translator of War and Peace, and Brother Kamarzov, leading TV playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed, Chaudhry Niaz, owner of Sung-e-Meel and Zaman Khan, a freelance journalist and peace activist.
All first assembled at the beautiful house of Dr Tabassum, in DHA, where they were served a special ‘Kashmiri tea.’
The head of the delegation told that he has brought this group to perform stage play of ‘Ragender Singh Bedi’s’ ‘ Naql Makan’, which is about a prostitute who decided to lead a normal life after marriage but the society never accepted her new role, life and the difficulties faced by the couple.
He added that they have also added ‘Mujra’ in the play to make it more attractive. The delegation spent about a week in Karachi and performed this play there. They performed at Alhamra and newly established university of Government College Lahore.
Then they went to Islamabad where they were hosted by Kishwar Naheed. Kishwar had recently visited Japan at that time. She is good in making new friends. When Tabassum presented a copy of his new book the leader of the delegation said he had already received it from Kishwar Naheed.
After meeting this delegation the reason for the progress of Japanese nation could easily be understood. The head told that since they intended to perform Mujra in the play, they decided to visit the red light area of Lahore. For that purpose, they contacted Iqbal Hussain, leading painter who had already secured time for the delegation.
The delegation there learned the culture and ethos of Mujra (although Hindi films had given lot of insight to them). Everybody tried to contribute a bit according to his/her knowledge. Some body commented that Dr. Ikram Chughtai must be an expert on this subject since one of the reason of the downfall of Mughal dynasty was Mujra.
At the Defence Club before the dinner somebody suggested that as the dinner was being laid why not avail this time to listen to some Japanese songs which the delegation was going to sing at Alhamra.
They readily obliged and sang a couple of Japanese songs. At this point, Dr Kashmiri requested a special Japanese song which he described was sung by a leading singer like Noor Jahan.
During the dinner, I, a peacenik said the people of India and Pakistan, particularly the leadership often talk the use of atomic weapons.
I suggested to the Japanese friends that since they have come from Japan, the only unfortunate nation attacked by atomic bomb, they should have performed an anti-nuke play.
The idea was greatly welcomed and the delegation promised to visit Pakistan the following year and perform it.
On the way back, we encountered alot of fog from Defence Housing Authority but the interaction with Japanese guests was worth it and we hoped that there would be more cultural exchanges.
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Zaman Khan is a journalist and former staffer at Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.