If you are a bookworm active on Facebook, there is very little chance of you not knowing about Bookay! But let’s not take that chance. Bookay is the virtual hub for literary activity in Pakistan. Throughout the years, Bookay has been providing a platform for literary enthusiasts to join their heads in thoughtful discussion, debate and sometimes a war of opinions! Right when you think you know it all, you step into the world of Bookay only to be amused by the immense amount of knowledge around you.
Daastan has had strong ties with the Bookay family for quite a while now. In 2018, Daastan published an anthology compiled by the writers of Bookay called Bookay 2018. You can read the book here.
To celebrate this mutual love for books and literature, Daastan is paying tribute to a few Bookay members. What better way to start off this feature series than with the ‘Bookay Guy’ Hasan Saeed?
Hasan Saeed — The Bookay Guy
Let me repeat, if you’re a part of bookay, there is a very little chance of you not knowing Hasan Saeed. But let’s not take that chance. Hasan Saeed is one of the admins of Bookay. If the odds play well in his favour, he’d love to write a series of letters that he’s working on. Let us find out more about him, in his own words!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself, who is Hasan Saeed?
To be honest, I am more famously known as the Bookay Guy due to being the admin of the online book club, Bookay. Apart from this, I am currently working at Invest2Innovate in Islamabad as a research associate. Recently, I have started two podcasts focusing on history and literature; and always trying to find time to read a book on my ever growing TBR list.
Q.What is the last book you read? How do you decide what to read?
The last book that I read was the Ministry of Utmost Happiness and I loved it. It does drag somewhat in the middle but Roy ties up everything well in the end and finishes strongly. I like to call myself an eclectic reader. While I might have a few favorite authors, I don’t adhere to a specific genre or bestseller lists. I will be randomly browsing a website, a bookstore or even social media. Sometimes I like the book because of its title, story on the back or the cover. This has led to some fantastic books over the years.
Q. What is one book you think all book lovers must read and why?
I will admit that this is a very difficult question to ask because there is never one book – only a never ending list. The book that I read, which left an impact on me, (there have been many but this one is slightly more recent) ‘The Footprints of Partition‘. I feel that this book should be mandatory reading in the Indian Subcontinent and highly relevant in our current environment. As long as we don’t address and acknowledge partition, we will be stuck in this never ending vicious cycle.
Q. If you could be friends with a character in a book, who would it be and why?
This is difficult to answer because there are multiple characters that I have loved and it will be disrespectful to pick one. I think it would be Sirius Black because I empathize with him. His arc in the Harry Potter series was one of my favorites and we might have a lot in common.
Q. Have you ever written or tried writing a book? Do you think of publishing your work some day?
Yes, I have tried to write a book on multiple occasions and each time, I have barely made it past a page or two. I am still at it and if it is good enough, I will be honored if a publishing house takes a chance on me.
Q. What challenges do you think do Pakistani writers face?
This is a loaded question because in my experience as an admin on Bookay and interactions with multiple writers, there are multiple issues that are interwoven together. The first is the lack of publishing houses within the country. There are multiple houses that publish novels but they aren’t accessible to everyone. Secondly, limited readers. While we have more readers than people think but they aren’t as many as they should be and coupled with lack of PR, it makes it difficult for writers to break through. Third reason is slightly tricky and it is tied to the first two, there aren’t many bookstores. It is difficult for people to know that these books exist. Now, we have social media and new publishing houses such as Dastaan and this could be a game changer.
Q. Lastly, If you start to write a book today, what would it be about?
I actually have a few ideas and hopefully, I will be able to write some more on them. I have already written a series of letters in a historical aspect such as Pakistan writing a letter to India, Punjab to Punjab and one to Manto. Hopefully, there are more to come.
This was the ‘Bookay Guy’ for you all! We loved getting to know him better. We wish Hasan the best of luck for his future endeavours and hope that he fulfills his dream of publishing a book someday! You can read the Bookay anthology here.
In the summer of 2015, Ommer Amer, a then-budding writer from Wah was searching for a publisher for his first novel, The Forbidden Story. However, at that time, quality Pakistani publishers were almost non-existent. Disappointed by the lack of a proper platform to launch and market his book, Ommer decided to do something about the matter. With the help of 2 friends, Hafsa Idrees and Tahniat Saba, Ommer Amer founded Daastan—a self-publishing platform that would give access to all Pakistani writers to get their written word out into the world. And thus, we began our “daastan”.
Team Daastan has a dream—to help writers monetize their work, earn from their talent and grow Pakistan’s literary space. At a time where a large number of people, especially the youth, is tech oriented, the best way to thrive was through the internet. Ommer and his team turned to Plan9 and the startup was incubated in one of its 2015 batches. After a six-month incubation period, it took off and soared to greater heights. We went through a roller coaster of experiences—some good, some bad and some absolutely mind-blowing! (Like when we bagged the 2nd prize on an international platform)
Operating under Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Plan9 is Pakistan’s first tech startup incubator that started in September 2012. A business incubator works as a catalyst between dedicated and enthusiastic groups with unique ideas and help them to start their businesses. It provides funds from interested investors and services including office space and training.
Plan9 is one of its kind; providing its selected candidates (picked twice every year from a pool of 15 groups) with training from its experienced board, working space with computers, internet access, and even electricity so that Pakistan’s power shortage does not become a hurdle for budding startups. It has launched 130+ tech startups in Pakistan, with a vision of each business making a mark on international levels. The startups by Plan9 are gross valued at $70 million and they have raised a gross investment of $2.5 million
PITB’s tech incubator is led by founder, Dr. Umar Saif who
is also Chairman, PITB alongside Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship
and Enterprise Development, PITB.
Daastan upon its Graduation from Plan9
Since it’s incubation, Daastan has surpassed the expectations of many. Shortly after its graduation from Plan9, Daastan arranged a massive caused based letter writing campaign. Students from different schools and UET Taxila wrote letters to the Army. At the Brand Launch of Daastan in Arfa Technology ParkMughees Anwar and Rutaba Yaqub spoke as guest speakers. By the end of 2015, we had organized a number of important literary events such as the Daastan Literary Fest.
2016 was a roller coaster year for Daastan! Filled with endless work despite night and day, we organized out first ever big scale competition, The Stories Untold Season 1. Luckily, we received an overwhelming response. Soon, Daastan launched Qissa—Pakistan’s first self-publishing digital platform, enabling writers from all over the world to publish their books with a few clicks! Qissa garnered appreciation from writers and businesses alike and revolutionized self-publishing as we know it. But that’s not all! Team Daastan kept breaking through barriers by launching its very own Literary Fellowship which would bring together literary activists from all over Pakistan.
Today, Daastan is the biggest self-publishing house in Pakistan. We are working towards the betterment of the country by increasing readership and bringing the works of previously unpublished authors to light. We have helped writers monetize their work, turned passions into careers. Our team has held worldwide competitions, launched businesses, made a space in the media and much more. From one person’s dream, we have transformed into an army of readers and writerswith an unshakable will to rejuvenate literature in Pakistan.
Libraries around the world are perhaps the most peaceful places. Entering a library is like entering a whole new universe. Silence, the enchanting smell of paper and readers all around make up an ideal place to relax your mind. Let me break this wall and tell you my own experience. I visit an old library right behind my college. Now imagine an old building in Lahore. Shameless moist walls, unable to hold the paint together, with huge wooden book shelves filled with books of all sizes. The long-necked fan is hanging low on top of your head while you sit on a worn out chair that creaks every time you take a deep breath. Yes, its sounds uncomfortable but it was paradise for many. The paradise we lost to CoronaVirus!
Libraries And Social Distancing
It is ironic how despite being surrounded by so many people, everyone is immensely occupied with themselves. Once in a while you see two people whispering over a book. At one end of a table, two old men discussing the fresh newspaper are hushed by the angry librarian. Some keep sliding down the aisle looking for a resource book. However mostly, (in my case always) people are drowned in the books under their noses. Point being, social distance is strictly practised in a library. But CoronaVirus is way more demanding!
Are We Completely Shifting To e-Books ?
As going out is not the safest thing anymore, how will libraries survive? In Pakistan, libraries were already far less populated even before the virus broke out. In this digital age where everything is shifting online, will libraries too evolve or completely die in the process? Are libraries even relevant today when every possible information is just a google search away?
Tell us how you envision a post-corona-library. How do you read and how often you used to visit a library. For Daastan, saying goodbye to the old Library won’t be an easy task. Sign Up with us and be a part of this struggle to save the reading culture!
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on human life. Health and economy however, are not the only key areas that are suffering. In a country like Pakistan where we were already struggling to increase literacy rates, Online schooling has further aggravated the situation. The private/public system divide is sharper than ever. Social media is flooded with parents asking each other to find the perfect solution for home-schooling their children. To make this quest easier for you parents, Daastan has come up with a number of online-schooling options that majority of the parents suggested online.
Top 4 Online Schooling Platforms In Pakistan
Our research team took rounds of social media. We read posts from parents, fished through the comment sections and came up with a small list of what appears to be the most authentic online schooling options available for you. In no order, here are the 4 online teaching platforms that you should try for your kids!
Robo Minors offer coding courses that enable your children to think critically, learn problem-solving and take actions independently. Machine language is an essential skill for the next generation. Equip your children with relevant knowledge and skills to prepare them for tomorrow.
2. Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids provide a Free teaching programme designed to promote learning in a fun manner. Targeting children aged 2 to 7, Khan Academy courses are diverse and cover the wide range of interests your child could possibly develop.
IXL offers learning programs from Pre-kindergarten to grade twelve. They have a variety of skills for each standard. A comprehensive curriculum is designed to make sure your child develops a good understanding of all fields of knowledge.
4. Educational Resource Development Center (ERDC)
ERDC, based in Karachi offers learning programs for children and training programs for parents and teachers. Through training parents and teachers, they allow them to better understand the educational needs of today’s children and help them teach their own kids at home during quarantine.
This is a resource for all those seeking to educate their children at home. However, we must not forget the fact that our children will have no bright future in a country where 50% of the population remains un-educated. We understand that parents are concerned about the education of their children, but we by no means imply that this is a viable solution. Families who cannot afford online schooling must be catered to, in order to ensure a bright future for our country.
For more resources and information regarding education, learning or publishing, Join Daastan today and be a part of our community. Let us grow together!
Good writers are always known for their writing skills. Many writers have tremendous stories to tell but only a good story-teller with a polished writing style will find their way to the reader’s heart. The Pakistani publishing industry is growing at an incredible pace. However, as publishers, we come across beautiful stories that lack communication and skill. It is always the hardest task to reject a brilliant story that is not well-written. For this very reason, Daastan has worked out a perfect plan for you to improve your writing skills! Grab a pen and paper, and start the exercise today!
Your Go-to ‘Writing Skills‘ Work-out Plan!
1. Warm Up the brain!
Your mind needs experiences to store new information. Human beings learn from the social memory that they build through interactions with others. Your writing skills require the same warm up. Read! Before jumping off to experimentation, make sure you have the required equipment. Read as much as you can and learn different writing techniques. Reading more will help you differentiate between a good book and a boring one. Identify what keeps you glued to the book and then use that trick to catch your reader. Is your brain active enough now? Great, because its time for you to jog!
2. Onto The Jog..
This is your time to build up that stamina. Hold on to all you have gathered from reading and start applying. Begin with the grammar skills. Tiny mistakes can leave a lasting impression. Your warm-up stage will help you a lot here. Since your memory is fresh with the reading, you are exactly at the right jogging track! (Pun intended) Secondly, don’t forget to look out for your imagination. Your reader needs to explore the universe created within your story. For that, you need to explore it first. Map out your story, characters and situations. Measure each tiny detail intricately. You are the creator of your story. Make sure you leave no loopholes. If you begin with an idea in your story, do not leave it hanging. Reach a conclusion and inject it into your reader.
3. Squat Out Your Expression!
Learning to write well? Why not show it off? Once you have a grip over your grammar, its time to pull the reader deeper into your universe. Work on your descriptions. Talk about each and everything you can to paint the most realistic image. Use your creativity and characterize your surroundings. Make the reader immerse themselves in your story. If you talk about the wind, describe how cool or hot it is. Is it dancing or swinging softly? Use the auditory senses and talk about the whistling sound your wind is making. In short, let your reader feel and view what they are reading.
4. Stretch And Chill
The last stage of your exercise is the most crucial one. You can’t leave your warmed-up body just like that. You need to stretch and let it cool down. Similarly, your draft needs stretching. Proof read your text over and over again. Check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and discard any unnecessary details. The more you read your draft the better you can fix it. Imagine being the reader and explore your story. Make the most of this stage because once you publish or submit your manuscript, you immediately leave your impression.
Great Job, your writing skills are coming in shape! Try out this easy and simple workout plan to get fit in what you do best. Once your manuscript is ready, Daastan will help you design, publish and market it. So start working out today and reach out to us for technical assistance at any time. We are just a click away!
As the last episode of Mused by Daastan aired last week, we experienced a plethora of emotions. On one hand we are sad to pause this journey of learning – while on the other, hopeful for the future. The response we gathered is inspiring and motivating enough to push us further. Have a look at what our host Ms. Summaiya Naveed had to say about this.
We started Mused with the vision to help creatives—a vision we will take forward as the series advances. For now, I hope the first season has helped aspiring writers and given them a nudge towards achieving their dreams. I’ve had a great time creating such content for you and an even better time having conversations with the viewers. You’re an inspiring lot and you give our team the motivation we need to keep putting in our part in the development of the Pakistani Literary industry. What is needed most now is work. Work to distinguish ourselves as a people of superior intellect and an awe-inspiring amount of talent. The first season of Mused leaves me hopeful that we’re talking a step towards achieving that very goal.
Ms Summaiya Naveed expressing her feelings on the last episode of Mused
A Recap of Season 1 – Mused
This season, Summaiya discussed in great detail, the issues related to writing and publishing. We started off with learning the common writing mistakes, Do’s and Don’ts of writing and errors that most writers and publishers make. Then we moved on to the state of our Publishing industry,scope for writers and the condition as well as future of the writers’ community of Pakistan. We were joined by two guests who shared their own experiences and gave useful tips along the way. We had a special episode on writing poetry– on account of the proliferation of poetry writers in our community.
What We Discused In Episode 6
1. Issues With English Language
Firstly, Summaiya shared her opinion on the use of the global lingua franca – English Language. According to her, Languages have socio-political importance. In South Asia, specifically the areas affected by colonization, English language became a symbol of status. The higher classes who merged well with the British and learned the language, associated an attitude of pride with English. We have perhaps inherited the same behaviour. Summaiya condemned this attitude and explained how languages are primarily a means of communication only. Language should not be used to claim superiority or make someone else feel belittled.
According to Summaiya, the role of English in dividing social classes has created a hindrance for those who wish to improve their language. The fear of being ridiculed for pronouncing something incorrectly keeps people away from actually learning the language. Summaiya advised us to change this behaviour towards the language and encourage people to learn in a healthy way.
Secondly, Summaiya discussed the issue of plagiarism in great detail. First and foremost, she explained how plagiarism is a serious crime. In simple words, it refers to the act of copying someone else’s work and putting it as your own consequently, giving no due credit to the owner. This is plainly cheating on someone. It is morally incorrect and demotivating for creatives to work. Summaiya expressed her concern over the absence of laws to protect creatives from plagiarism. There needs to be a certain amount of accountability to avoid crimes like plagiarism. Publishing companies should regulate the content brought by authors to make sure it is not plagiarised.
Daastan is proud to have shared this journey with you all. It is our mission to promote literary activities and discussions through such platforms like Mused. We hope that writers benefited from these Lives sessions and we aim to keep bringing informative content for our followers. Sign Up at Daastan and keep yourself engaged in similar content!