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!
#WeToo is Daastan’s Story Writing campaign based on Sexual and Reproductive health issues. The aim behind this campaign is to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Pakistan. In many countries including Pakistan, discussing Sexual and Reproductive health issues is considered a taboo. Seeking medical help is out of question for many. A huge amount of people living in Rural areas lack even the basic knowledge regarding SRHR. Story writing is a powerful tool to help spread awareness. We are thankful to our writers who always participate enthusiastically in our campaigns and invite you all to be a part of our cause.
What is SRHR and #WeToo?
#WeToo is the name of our story writing campaign. It derives its meaning from the context of #metoo – sexual harrasment campaign. #WeToo focuses on how men and women are not allowed to share their sexual and reproductive health issues simply because it is considered shameful. SRHR stands for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Sexual health is the physical, mental and social security of men and women. Sexual rights are the rights associated with one’s sexuality,sexual privacy and pleasure. Each one of us has a right to make descisions for ourselves. Marriage does not give your partner the right to dictate your sexual life and this needs to be accepted and respected.
Reproductive health rights are the basic rights to decide for your reproductive capability. Deciding when and if to have children is your right. Couples should be allowed to mutually decide and carry out family planning. Seeking medical help and consultation and not being discriminated against for doing so is also part of your reproductive rights.
Details of #WeToo
We are looking for authentic stories that highlight the harsh realities we face in Pakistan. Domestic abuse, marital rape, having no consent in family planning, being harrased online by threats to leak your private information or pictures on the internet are all around us. We witness these stories on a day to day basis but in whispers and private chats. By bringing these stories to the forefront, we want to show support to the victims and make the perpetrators feel threatened. We hope to educate our public on what their rights are so that next time they are being shamed, they know how to defend themselves.
Word limit for the story writing competition is 1500-2000 words. You can have a look at the themes and submit your stories on this link. If you support our cause and want to be a part of something meaningful, sign up with us today and play your part. Every voice matters!
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!
Pakistan’s growing literary space has created opportunities for writers to earn through Publishing. Daastan helps authors market their books and reach their readers. Think about the last book you bought. Were you sliding past the ‘South-asian books‘ section and randomly picked a book because it looked interesting? Or did you surf the internet for top 10 south-asian books, consulted your friends and short-listed books to finally cross your fingers and buy the best pick? We’d do the latter. And so did our Writer, Ms Sijdah Hussain make sure her book lands in your top picks!
‘Sijdah Hussain’ Chose Daastan To Market her First Book – ‘Red Sugar No More’
Daastan has been publishing hundreds of Books each year. But one thing most of you don’t know is that you may not necessarily publish with us to market your book through us. The literary enthusiasts that we are, we will always be ready to show off a good book. This recent book that we have endorsed is the best example of an unconventional Pakistani English book that you will read in 2020. Red Sugar No More takes you to a journey of healing and self-exploration through the tiny life lessons learnt by the author in the process of compiling this book. Let us learn more about the book, through the writer herself.
Sijdah Hussain and Her Sugar series!
A mental Health activist, Sijdah Hussain is a debut, modern-day, Messy writer who works as a Content Marketer in Lahore, Pakistan. While her writing is mostly based on her experiences and other real-life inspirations, it does have a flavour of hyperbole at some points. She first got the idea to turn her poems cum songs into a chapbook when she started to see a pattern in them. They were all intertwined intricately to form something more than just one song or two. This is a story of someone going through a rush of emotions from blaming others to herself, every now and then.
When did you discover your talent for writing?
I don’t quite remember how it happened, in all honesty, I just remember watching cartoons and reading books and wondering if I could do that too, some day – one day. I wanted to write something fun like Mary Kate and Ashley or the famous five, ha-ha. I actually wrote a lot of excerpts and freelanced as a ghostwriter before writing my own book & that too with rhymes and whatnot. You know I failed a poetry course in my Bachelor’s degree and had to repeat it. I promised that teacher I’d write a poem one day … a good one. I graduated from the Government College University with BA(hons) in English Literature and Language in 2017. I guess I’m just keeping that promise.
How was your experience writing your first book? How long did it take you to finish writing it?
I sort of started writing as a form of catharsis, I used to do social work and that too a lot, before switching to writing permanently because when I started working I didn’t really have that much time to just go to an orphanage whenever I wanted. The book took quite a lot of time because it wasn’t written in a day or 2 it was written in I guess 2 years and it has a lot of experiences & stories within each stanza; each lyric has a different story in it so I am just a bit scared, what if people don’t really understand where I’m coming from?
You work full time, how did you manage writing and working together?
Writing has never been difficult for me because I write out my feelings most of the time. As a content marketer when I am writing something for the sake of marketing – I focus on the feeling my words would give to a reader. Therefore, whenever I had the time and felt like I needed a break I would scribble down a few lines. Once I used to start, the words just used to pour out of me on their own. It used to feel like either someone else is writing through me or I’m in an entirely different world. It used to be a different experience every time. I used to stop talking, listening etc and just, you know, focus on my train of thoughts turning into black and white gloriously. Now when I edit or format the book over and over again, I come across some points when I have to ask myself if I really did write that and I don’t remember the intensity that made me write that.
How was your experience publishing your first book? What are the difficulties you faced?
Let’s face it the biggest problem in Pakistan is that although we are on our way to becoming a developed country – we are still very much under developed especially when it comes to publishing. We don’t have the sort of literary publishing houses who could help us format books. We need to figure it out on our own and it gets frustrating at times. I had been thinking of publishing the book for a year and now. In 2020, I thought maybe it’s time. The beta readers, whom I gave my copies, loved it. So my friends thought it’s better if I just push it out rather than hide it somewhere never to be found.
Amazon is a great self-publishing service for unsolicited writers but they don’t deliver to Pakistan as often nor do they give Pakistanis a chance to add their bank account to the KDP. You need to really get into it to figure it all out. Thankfully, Ayesha Muzaffar helped me with all my annoying questions, big time. However, once Amazon was taken care of the next big question was how I would be distributing my books in Pakistan. That’s when I approached Ommer from Daastan and told him I wanted to go for the POD option. Since then Ommer and Daastan have been nothing but helpful throughout the procedure. After getting it all sorted, I stumbled across Pakistan Book Readers Club (I’d been inactive on social media for quite some time) & their team as well as members are the most supportive human beings I’ve come across after my friends, haha.
Who inspired you to write Red Sugar, No More? Tell us a little about the book.
It’s a very common notion that healing only takes 7 steps to accept and let go of denial, guilt, regret and whatnot. However, when you actually do have to heal it’s a totally different story. It takes so much time and emotional investment to move on from one step only to come back to it after some time again. It’s a complete try, try again situation. You get tired. You get angry. You get frustrated at yourself and the world. You start to see negatives in every single thing around you. You start to romanticize pain & believe that you don’t deserve anything better. Self-doubt is your meal and depression, your lover. Healing is a very difficult process and it does not come that easily. My book Red Sugar, No More is all about that. It portrays the mental space of a person who is in the process of healing.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Contrary to popular beliefs, writing does not come to you by reading too much. Writing comes to you through your heart from your feelings & experiences – from what you know because you can’t write about anything that you don’t feel connected to. We actually had quite the debate on it as well in one of our classes that if a writer does not write something he feels strongly about, maybe the writing is not worth reading because it’s fake. Obviously, it’s just a debate and there are pros and cons to everything; there are different styles of writing as well. However, you don’t have to read too much just so you could write.
Readers and writers are two very different sorts of people. Understand that and don’t be hard on yourself. Writing would come to you when it is the right time for you! My only message for you is to never stop believing in yourself because if I can make it work … anyone can. And an even more important message for your friends and family is that if you know someone who is trying to launch themselves in whatever capacity, please support them by promoting their creativity, by buying their skill not by asking for it for free that’s just rude and harsh to someone who’s trying to make it out as a newbie.
This is Ms. Sijdah Hussain. Her book ‘Red Sugar, No More‘ is currently available for Pre-order here. We are proud to help Ms. Sijdah Hussain reach out readers and wish her the best of luck for her book!
Urdu writers in Pakistan have been decreasing lately. One reason for its downfall is the traditional publishing methods used by Urdu publishers. There has been a decline in Urdu language since English writers and publishers in Pakistan have grown quickly in the past few years. It is a crucial time for Urdu readers and writers to save the glory of the dying language. Daastan has been working towards the improvement of the literary space in Pakistan. Through digitizing the publishing process, Daastan seeks to revive the reading and writing culture in Pakistan.
How Daastan Supports Urdu Writers
Since its inception, Daastan has been keen to promote education, literacy and healthy learning in Pakistan. Daastan has always laid equal importance on literature in Urdu as well as English. At Qissa we have published around 70 Urdu books and are working on many more. We believe the best way to keep a language alive is to read it. Since Urdu is our national language, we know it a lot better than English, which means we can write better in this language. While writing in English, most writers struggle with translating their thoughts into words. With Urdu, it is a lot easier consequently producing finer stories.
Services For Urdu Writers
Daastan provides Editing services for Urdu writers. Our Urdu Editorial works with the author to help them improve their book. A basic level editing includes spell check, and editor’s advice on improving the manuscript. This level of editing is required for ebook publishing. Level 2 for Urdu editing includes grammar check, fixing the sentence structure and formatting the text. Our Editor will discuss your story, layout and characters in detail and work with you to improve the text. At the third level, our Editor will guide you with formatting the book for print, after a detailed overview of the text. Any required changes will be made with the help of expert Urdu Editors to ensure good quality of your book. Our Urdu Editorial also offers a customised Mentorship program for writers where you can learn and explore different genres and writing techniques through exercises.
Importance Of Urdu Language
The world today is no longer disconnected. Countries are interdependent in terms of economic, political and social activities. In this global village, sticking to regional languages seems like a backward idea to many. Most writers want their name to be known all over the world. Pakistani writers too, perhaps carry the same vision. To broaden their market and reach out more people, writers stick to English language. On the contrary, protecting and safeguarding your language is probably more important today than ever. With an increasing threat to smaller cultures and languages, we need to make sure that our language survives and flourishes.
If you are an Urdu writer, Daastan is the best place for you. We do not treat your books as merely a product that has to be sold. For us, it is our cause. Publish your book with us today and join our mission to revive the reading culture in Pakistan!