Subhanallah! I survived.

I feel like a wrung out dish cloth, but I survived.

Having two major trips so close together was NOT a good idea!

It might seem really cool and fun, and it is, if they’re spaced way apart!

But having basically two days in between to recuperate…uh uh, not good.

Sharjah was amazing! I learned so very much!

Especially from this lady I met at a coffee shop.

Maybe I should explain how I approach opportunities.

When someone gets in touch with me, and I can accommodate them with an interview or meeting, then I tend to do so. I have found that you never know what can come out of such chance meetings!

It’s one of the ways that I’ve kept the momentum of my career going forward.

It’s often the case that you might be chasing after this or that group, but it’s some totally different group that acknowledges you and wants to work with you!

So this lady had contacted me, she’d come to the Expo centre in Sharjah looking for me because she lives in Dubai, had brought her kids and everything but I only had two small presentations at the Expo centre. One was a panel that was actually covered in the Gulf Today newspaper here:

It was a very nice panel but a small audience of mostly intellectuals. The other was a presentation I did for some twelve year old girls at the booth of my publisher Kalimat.

So not surprisingly she couldn’t find me. So through Facebook she told me she wanted to meet me, I did have some time available so they picked me up at the hotel and we went for coffee.

We had a lovely conversation! Up till now I’d been rather disappointed by the limited vision of some of the people I’d met in Sharjah. It seemed that they were trying to blow their horn from a perspective of Arab nationalism and personally I could care less about any sort of nationalism. I’m not patriotic in that sense, not particularly proud of being any sort of ethnicity because I think that ethnicity is not where we get our goodness. I mean I’m not ashamed of being Pakistani, but I don’t see being Pakistani, or even Canadian for that matter as being any better or any worse than anyone else.

And I find all cultures interesting.

So sounding off about how great it is to be Arab…nope. Doesn’t really appeal to me.

But this lady was talking about encouraging Muslims to be better people, and yup, that does appeal to me. Because heaven knows, we have a long way to go as a community to be better people!!!

She comes from an artistic background and she said that she wanted to try her hand at writing, that she wanted to write for teens to show them that they should be better Muslims, and I blurted out, right then and there, a truth that I hadn’t realized that I had realized, (if that makes any sense at all). I told her, “No. You can’t write a story to encourage kids to be good. That’s propaganda. It has to be about the story!”

And then I explained to her that you need to just write, let the characters figure things out, do not impose upon them, or else the story will come out terribly contrived, which is the case for most Islamic and even multicultural fiction that’s out there!

And in telling her that, I also reminded myself of that. Because heaven knows we all need reminding from time to time.

When I was writing Wanting Mor, I had no agenda whatsoever. I just wanted to find out how this girl would survive this abandonment by her father. And that was precisely the right approach to take.

The people in Sharjah were so hospitable and nice! Oh my goodness!

And I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara McClintock and Tanya Landman! Two wonderful authors the first from the U.S. and the second from the U.K.

Would love to go back to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival!