THE TRAIN DRIVER play by Athol Fugard – March 23 to April 16 in Vancouver


Pasi Clayton Gunguwo and Paul Herbert, Photo by Nancy Caldwell

United Players of Vancouver presents
THE TRAIN DRIVER
A play by Athol Fugard
Thursday – Sunday, March 23 to April 16
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Jericho Arts Centre
1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver
http://www.jerichoartscentre.com

Director: Adam Henderson
Actors: Pasi Clayton Gunguwo, Paul Herbert

Roelf, a train driver, has spent weeks searching for the identities of a mother and child he unintentionally killed with his trainon the track between Philippi and Nyanga on South Africa’s Cape Flats. After a fruitless journey through shanty towns, he encounters an old gravedigger named Simon who helps the desperate man unburden his conscience. Based on a true story, Athol Fugard’s beautiful and haunting The Train Driver is a soulful exploration of guilt, suffering, redemption, and the powerful bonds that grow between strangers.

“Brave, confrontational and tender… Essential theatre viewing.” Sunday Times, South Africa.

For tickets click on this link
http://unitedplayers.com/Pages/Season.html#TrainDriver

Read a review
http://joledingham.ca/the-train-driver/

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Dhahan Youth Prize in Creative Writing in BC High Schools – Launching Surrey Feb 28/2017

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Uddari welcomes the launch of Dhahan Youth Prize, a province-wide creative writing contest where EIGHT British Columbia students of Punjabi will be awarded a CDN$500 prize, four in each of intermediate and advanced language skill levels.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
10:45 am (SHARP)
LA Matheson Secondary School
9484 122 Street, Surrey

The contest is open to all secondary school students of British Columbia who are studying Punjabi in grade 11 or 12.
The writing submitted must be in both Punjabi and English.
Submissions will be accepted from March 1st to May 31st, 2017.
The awards will be given out at the Dhahan Prize Awards ceremony at the end of October 2017.

Coast Capital Savings is the presenting sponsor for the new Youth Prize, and L.A. Matheson Secondary is a supporting partner with Founder Barj S. Dhahan.

Punjabi is the 2nd most spoken language in British Columbia. This youth initiative will be recognized along with the Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature.

For more information about Dhahan Prize visit
dhahanprize.com
facebook.com/DhahanPrize

Contact: Carolyn Treger
Dhahan Prize
604-831-6831
admin@dhahanprize.com
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Saraiki Poet Rifat Abbas refuses the Pride of Punjab Award for Punjabi Poetry

rifat-abbas

All admiration and support to poet/educator Rifat Abbas for taking this action in favour of his mother language at this year’s International Mother Language Day.

“I’ve no moral ground to accept the award; I refuse it due to three main reasons: being a poet, being a Seraiki nationalist and being a neighbor of small nations struggling against the suppression of Punjab,” said Mr Abbas. Explaining the reasons, he said that being a poet he had not rendered any service for the promotion of Punjabi language but his all services were for the promotion of Seraiki language.
dawn.com/news/1316216/seraiki-poet-turns-down-punjab-award

As a Punjabi writer, i much appreciate his insistence on the three points he has mentioned: that he is a Saraiki language poet who doesn’t like to be packaged as a Punjabi poet; that he is also a Saraiki nationalist demanding independent rights and resources for Saraiki speaking people; and, that the harsh oppression of Balochis and Sindhis being carried out by the Punjabi power-holders can not be ignored.

It is my experience that Pakistan’s Punjabi writers, mainly based in Lahore, hold the few resources available for mother languages in the Punjab, and their bigoted attitude does not allow them to listen to people like Rifat Abbas who for many years are saying that Saraiki is not Punjabi and that it is a distinct language with it’s own culture and geographic location. It’s understandable that Pakistan’s federal and provincial state structures would have a negative view of this position but why is it that Punjabi writers feel offended by it? Perhaps some vested interests and literary hegemonies are preventing us from supporting another writer’s stand for his mother language.

As Punjabis, who are we to judge if a language is a dialect of Punjabi when the representatives and speakers of that language are saying that it’s not? Because not only that Saraiki is not Punjabi but it also does have it’s own culture (a Punjabi, for example, will greet another Punjabi in a different way than a Seraiki will greet another Seraiki) and land. If we don’t acknowledge it, we are putting forward the same colonial concepts and aspirations that make us complicit now on the suppression being carried out by Pakistan’s Punjabi-led state structures against Balochis, Sindhis and Pashtuns- like we were complicit against Bengalis in the 60s and the 70s.

Uddari fully supports Rifat Abbas and other friends in Saraiki wasaib for their ongoing struggle to get recognition and rights for their language and culture.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com

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‘Tellers of Short Tales’ – Fauzia Rafique with Nasreen Pejvack – Feb 16 New Westminster

tellersofshorttales

RCLAS presents
Tellers of Short Tales
Featured Author Fauzia Rafique
Open Mic.
Host Nasreen Pejvack

Thursday, February 16
18:00–20:00
Anvil Centre
777 Columbia Street
New Westminster

Fauzia Zohra Rafique writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has published two novels: ‘The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior’ (Libros Libertad, Nov 2016) and ‘Skeena’ (Libros Libertad 2011); an ebook of poems ‘Holier Than Life’ (Purple Poppy Press 2013), a chapbook of English and Punjabi poems ‘Passion Fruit/Tahnget Phal’ (Uddari Books 2011), and an anthology of writings of women of South Asian origin, ‘Aurat Durbar: The Court of Women’ (Toronto 1995). In Pakistan, Fauzia worked as a journalist and screenwriter. She is the coordinator of Surrey Muse, an art and literature presentation group. At Tellers of Short Tales, Fauzia will present short fiction from her published work. More is here:
gandholi.wordpress.com

Royal City Literary Arts Society (RCLAS)
A New Westminster arts organization offers Tellers of Short Tales, a program of monthly readings designed to engage fans of the short story genre with emerging and published short story writers. Also, an open microphone will be available for writers who would like to share their stories. The program is free for fans.

Facebook Event Page
facebook.com/events/1404442066242062

Organized by
Royal City Literary Arts Society (RCLAS)

Contact Nasreen Pejvack:
nasreenpejvack@rclas.com
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Memory Wall on the Strip: a Mirror for the Officials of the City of Surrey

memorywall-daveFriends We Remember, Lives We Celebrate

There is a place in Surrey where a ‘Celebration Of Life’ event begins and ends with memorializing the ongoing presence of death.

In the icy evening of Saturday 17 December, a few people were gathered on 135A, Surrey’s homeless Strip, to honor and remember those who had died here. The Strip is one of the few streets in Surrey that has no trees. Sparse one-level structures of a couple of auto parts shops, Front Room (drop in center, shelter and a food outlet serving the homeless), a couple more commercial units, and a small church across the street. In front of the closed auto shops, a group of 8-10 wonderful people, who said they were individuals ‘unalligned with any church or other group’, had laid out food on two long tables with boxes of pizza, cookies, juice and pop. On the sidewalk across the street, between a tent and a food table, a white board with some color markers and candles was propped up against the fence of the church.

Already, it had a few names.

I came to know of the Celebration of Life event in early December from a Surrey activist of Alliance Against Displacement (AAD), an organization helping the Residents of the Strip against homelessness. Scheduled for December 10, the event was moved to December 17th to avoid the snow storm; and, during that storm nine homeless people died on the streets of Vancouver, 13 in BC, in one single night.

The almost empty white board began to fill with names as people walked by, stopped to read, some came up and added names of their friends and relatives, some asked for other names to be added. A woman wanted ‘Jessy’ to be written as ‘Jessie’ because she said Jessie would turn in his grave if he saw it written like that; and, more than one person wanted to make sure that ‘Old Man Dave’ was indeed there along with ‘Dave’. A young woman touched a name on the board, cried and said, ‘My one best friend’.

The above photo and the two below were taken the next day, December 18, when a woman named CeeCee, who had the previous night added the name of her late partner to the Memory Wall, herself died in her tent.

memorywall-dave1Native / CeeCee / Dec 18, 2016

Tears are irrelevant in this place. The question is how many more people have to die before the prosperous City of Surrey yields a solution to the increased poverty and homelessness on its streets?

It is obvious to everyone except perhaps the high officials of the City of Surrey and its mouthpiece publications and organizations that these deaths are not ‘fentanyl’ ‘ODed’ deaths but deaths caused by homelessness and poverty. I say it because the ‘famed’ plan that the City was working on without consulting the Residents of the Strip, came out to be a plan totally off the mark- it’s as if people were dying because of hunger, and the City assigned more ambulances for a solution. The irony is, it’s not ‘as if’, this is exactly what has happened and is happening. The City’s new ‘plan’ for the Strip is to scare away it’s residents with increased surveillance and intimidation, but the problem is that there’s no place else to go from here.

There is a letter that a group of academics put together with regards to homelessness in Victoria, I find, it’s relevant here too. And so, Surrey! THIS WINTER – HOUSING FIRST!

The City of Surrey must provide the following to the residents of the Strip:
– Comfortable housing to the homeless people living on the Strip.
– Full assurance that until their housing needs are met, the people living on the Strip will not be required to unpitch their tents and leave each morning.
– A Memorial where the Memory Wall now stands.

memorywall-dave2Behind the Memory Wall

Uddari is grateful to Alliance Against Displacement (AAD) for supporting the Residents of the Strip in their demand for safety and housing, for organizing the Celebration of Life event, and for providing the photos for this post.

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Dhahan Prize 2016 Awards Gala – Vancouver – October 29/16

uddari-dhahan-2016

Join us in celebrating excellence in Punjabi literature.

DATE AND TIME
Sat, October 29, 2016
6:30 PM – 10:00 PM PDT
LOCATION
Museum of Anthropology
6393 Northwest Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2

In 2014, the Dhahan Prize took flight, and in 2016 we return to recognize the achievements of Punjabi writers at our 3rd annual event with keynote speaker, Giller Prize winner, M G Vassanji.
For work in the Punjabi scripts of Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi, this prize recognizes one outstanding writer with a $25,000 award, as well as two finalists with awards of $5,000. Forging meaningful relationships with writers, community organizations and educational institutions in Pakistan, India and the diaspora, the Dhahan Prize is the world’s signature prize for Punjabi literary works.

This year’s winning book, Kaale Varke (Dark Pages), is a collection of short stories about the lived experience of immigrant Punjabis in North America by Jarnail Singh. The title story of the book probes the links between the colonization of India, and the suffering of abuse and violence of the Canadian indigenous communities via the residential school system. Through a dialogue between an Indo Canadian counsellor and an indigenous man, who is a residential school survivor, the deep impacts of their experiences are explored.

Co-finalist, Tassi Dharti (Thirsty Land) by Zahid Hassan, is a gripping representation of existential concerns of the valiant people of the undivided Punjab, known as Bar, and their hardy struggles in the context of evolving social and political environment during the colonial period and beyond.

Our other finalist, Us Pal (That Moment) by Simran Dhaliwal, is a collection of short stories that deal with the rapidly fraying social and cultural fabric of contemporary Punjab. These short narratives provide fresh insight into the complexity of moral struggles and emotional relations of the common people.

Please join us for an evening of celebration in a glorious venue; enjoy the pre & post ceremony reception and also a stroll through the Museum’s multitude of exhibits.

We hope you can make and look forward to seeing you.

dhahanprize.com
eventbrite.com
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Surrey Steals from the Homeless! RALLY AND MARCH – Oct 3/16

homeless-march-poster

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When: 3:00 pm, Monday Oct 3
Where: 135A Street (near 106th Ave), Surrey

Every day the RCMP, Surrey bylaw officers and city workers come to “The Strip” (135A Street) in order to force homeless residents to take down their tents, pack up their belongings and make everything moveable. And every day they confiscate somebody’s possessions because they consider them unattended or just garbage.

But homeless residents of “The Strip” are fighting back. We will be marching to Surrey City Hall to protest the city’s orchestrated and relentless theft of our belongings. We demand that the City of Surrey stop stealing our stuff.

FOOD
Food will be provided at the end of the event, around 5pm on the 135A strip

TRANSPORTATION
We will be organizing transportation to this march so other displaced and evicted communities can support the Surrey homeless in their struggle. To get a ride from Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, or elsewhere, and to travel together by transit from Vancouver, contact AAD: organize@stopdisplacement.ca or (778) 708-5006

Organized by
Residents of The Strip
&
Alliance Against Displacement

From: https://www.facebook.com/events/1937640533130081/
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Back to the Moment of Promise – ‘Azadi’ (freedom) Series of Art Work by Shahid Mirza

Artist Shahid Mirza’s Azadi Series is a set of seven mix media paintings illustrating different aspects of our ‘freedom’ from British rule in the 1947 partition of India. From the direct, explicit and in-your-face bloody history of our colonization to the fading shades of secularism in Pakistan, these paintings invite us to contemplate on ourselves post-partition.

Choice of mix media creates the eerie feeling of contemporality within the historicity of the past. With each of these paintings, the Artist tries to bring us back to that moment of promise when freedom from colonization and sectarian bigotry seemed possible; when millions of lives were lost to achieve it.

By bringing us back to that moment of promise, the Artist encourages us to confront our own concepts and constructs of ‘freedom’ before we go on and congratulate ourselves on the continuation of the hollow and shallow facade of celebrating August 14.

azadi-1a-shahidmirzaAzadi 1
Blood-letting of the powerless.

azadi-2a-shahidmirzaAzadi 2
Destruction of life by agents of the state.

azadi-3-shahidmirzaAzadi 3
Changing positions of (Muslim and Hindu) power-brokers.

azadi-4-shahidmirzaAzadi 4
The deadly religio-spiritual antagonist.

azadi-5-shahidmirzaAzadi 5
Sectarian violence.

azadi-6-shahidmirzaAzadi 6
Early faces of hope.

azadi-7-shahidmirzaAzadi 7
Freedom for who?

Created after the formation of Bangladesh, Bhutto’s assassination, Zia’s Islamicization, and Pakistan’s Talibanization, Azadi Series displays the history of partition in the context of today, and, in bringing the past into the present where we continue to suffer from the same but intensified problems of inequality, these paintings insist that the moment of promise is now.

View Shahid Mirza’s profile
Contact Shahid Mirza
Visit his Facebook page

Azadi Series by Shahid Mirza first Published at Uddari Art, Punjab 1947 & After
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Quetta August 8/16

quetta-august8

PCSF on Balochistan Tragedy
Press Release
Lahore: Monday, August 8, 2016.

The Pakistan Civil Society Forum (PCSF) strongly condemns the target killing of President Balochistan Bar Association coupled with a suicidal attack at a hospital that has taken dozens of human lives. The PCSF consider this incident as a serious security failure of the government and all of its agencies.

The PCSF which is representative body of more 50 national level human rights and development organizations from across Pakistan, in a statement issued here on Monday stated that the innocent people are soft targets of the terrorists, and the security apparatus has failed to protect their lives, and these incidents are a serious security lapse from the side of all concerned.

The statement said that the entire civil society of Pakistan including the human rights and development organizations are angered and shocked at this brutal incident, and they console with the aggrieved families. The statement added that this particular incident that took place in a city where the security agencies are said to be always vigilant is a sad surprise for the entire nation and that has raised many questions on the performance of our agencies and implementation of so called National Action Plan, and about the short term and long term measures to eliminate terrorism, radicalization, militancy and target killings in the country.

Perhaps it is the right time to demand a clear and strong action against all sanctuaries of terrorists and their breeding ground. The statement said that now once again is the time to reformulate a clear stance to counter extremism in the country by expediting the role of law enforcement and security agencies. This is again the time for the government and security establishment to wake up and crush extremism and all those who harbor, support and promote such elements. The statement further said that the responsible should be brought to justice and those have lost their lives in this incident should be compensated in terms of ensuring security of the people of Pakistan. The PCSF also demanded:

• The government and security establishment must inform the nation about the real gains of it’s Counter-terrorism policies and hurdles

• Make public the details of enquiry report over this incident and all actions taken against those involved. Beef up security in all public places so that such incidents can be prevented in future.

Mohammad Tahseen
Convener PCSF

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The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program – Vancouver March 16-17

The-Harjit-Kaur-Sidhu-Memorial-Program-2016‘Lumber being air dried’ (1910), Vancouver Public Library Acc. No. 14264.

The Eighth Annual
Celebration of Punjabi
The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program 2016
Presented by the Department of Asian Studies, UBC
UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall

March 16, 7-9 PM, UBC Asian Centre Auditorium
Reception with snacks at 6:30
Talk on the Ghadar movement by Sunit Singh (University of Chicago)
Award presentation to student winners in a Punjabi-language essay contest
Honour BC-based Punjabi-language author Jarnail Singh Sekha with a life-time achievement award
View performances in Punjabi by students in Punjabi 200 and films by students from ASIA 475, ‘Documenting Punjabi Canada’.

March 17, 4 PM, Room 604, UBC Asian Centre
Talk by Sunit Singh ‘Western Clarion: Canadian Socialists and Indian Migration to British Columbia’, exploring the connections between members of the Punjabi Canadian community and the Canadian Left.

For more information
asia.ubc.ca under “events”
blogs.ubc.ca/punjabisikhstudies under ‘annual event’

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PUNJABI LANGUAGE CELEBRATION – 13th Annual – Delta Feb 27/16

plea-banner-copy

PUNJABI LANGUAGE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION’S (PLEA)
13th Annual
International Mother Language Day
Saturday Feb. 27, 2016
Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
North Delta Rec. Centre 11415 – 84 Ave., Delta
❉ Discussions: efforts to have Punjabi language education in
local educational institutions. Mr. Garry Thind from the Surrey
school board will be present.
❉ It is a matter of great pride for all of us that a large number
of Punjabis are part of Canada’s federal government. Is this
going to have any effect on the development and preservation
of Punjabi language in Canada? Surrey Centre MP Randip Sarai
will be present to discuss this.
❉ Young Punjabi learners will share poetry, songs and ideas.
❉ PLEA cordially invites everyone to come and be part of the
annual celebration of Punjabi language.
❉ Free Event. Refreshments.

For more information Please contact
Balwant Sanghera – 604-836-8976
Sadhu Binning – 604-437-9014
Parvinder Dhariwal – 778-838-1121
Paul Binning – 778-889-8255
ਪ ੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੈਂਗੂਏਜ ਐਜੂਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਅਸੋਸੀਏਸ਼ਨ (ਪਲੀ)

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Book Launch – ‘A Journey With The Endless Eye’ – Ajmer Rode & Jarnail Singh

Uddari congratulates Ajmer Rode, Jarnail Singh Artist, NAAD Foundation and Ekstasis Editions for creating this book of images and words on the historic incident of Komagata Maru.

Naad Foundation
Proudly invites you
ajmerrode-booklaunch

to the launch of
A JOURNEY WITH THE ENDLESS EYE
(stories of Komagata Maru incident)
21 February 2016, 2:00 pm
Crossroads United Church, 7655, 120 St, Delta, BC
Free Event, Refreshments

Featuring
Tabla by Amarjit Singh
Songs by Gagandeep Singh
Flute by Dr. Bruce Harding
A Play by Gurdip Arts Academy
Painting exhibition by Jarnail Singh

Written by
Ajmer Rode and Jarnail Singh Artist
Published by
Richard Olafson of Ekstasis Editions

More information
naadfoundation.ca – 778-565-4005
Ajmer Rode – 604-526-2342
Jarnail Singh Artist – 604-825-4659

Supported by: TMG Logistics, Basant Motors, Komagatamaru Foundation, RED FM, MY FM, Jassal Signs, Gurdeep Arts Academy, Jarnail Arts, Crossroads United Church.

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‘Bits and Pieces: Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ by Fauzia Rafique

Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium
Sponsored by Geist magazine and Surrey Libraries
Presented by Surrey Art Gallery, SFU English, South of Fraser Inter-Arts Collective (SOFIA/c)

Most of ‘Bits and Pieces’ was presented on the second day of Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium ‘Voicing the City In/verse: Reading Surrey and the Super Suburb’. The event was organized by a team of amazing volunteers and staff, and it was beautifully convened by Phinder Dulai (SOFIA/c) and Jordan Strom (Surrey Art Gallery). The first panel ‘Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ had myself, Cecily Nicholson, Joseph A. Dandurand and Heidi Greco. The second panel ‘Kinetic City /City in Motion’ had Sadhu Binning, Taryn Hubbard, Kevin Spenst and Tom Konyves.

The second day began with the Traditional Kwantlen Welcome and Drum Song offered by Kwantlen Nation Elder Kevin Kelly with Michael Gabriel and Joseph A. Dundrand. After, M.G. Vassanji gave an insightful keynote on the marginalization of spaces, artists and art. It was great to have Vassanji and Noorjehan visit from Toronto where the two have been working for the last thirty or so years to develop literary communities through organizing, writing, editing (Toronto South Asian Review) and publishing (TSAR Publications). At the symposium, Vassanji provided us with a larger framework for the subject, and with the depth that had been created, it was easy for me to bring it right back to Surrey.

Bits and Pieces

Writing and reading Surrey is challenging because Surrey in Vancouver Lower Mainland is somewhat like Muslims in North America, we have to begin by saying what we aren’t and what it isn’t. So, yes, Surrey is not boonies, not rife with violent Punjabi gangs, not a hotbed of crime, no, it’s not in the third world. It’s right here on the south bank of Fraser River, the city of parks, of future, of the desis; the city of prosperity and abundance, of poverty and violence; it’s an edge city of exile and refuge. Sounds like any of all cities to me, and yet so unique. In the next twelve minutes, i’ll present a few bits and pieces that i have carefully collected to contribute to this discussion.

The first item is a paragraph from the fourth and the last section of my novel Skeena that takes place in Surrey where Skeena, a 37-year old Pakistani Punjabi Canadian woman, arrives after having lived the last thirty years in Toronto, Lahore, and a Punjabi village.

‘This building is sitting on a ravine on one side, and Scott Road on the other. Brenda came for a visit last year, and she asked me why I bought a condo here when better residential areas were also available in Surrey. I could not find an answer for her then. Now, as I look at the ravine, it appears to be a cluster of trees in my village, and away from my view, there also is the continuous hum of a busy Ferozepur Road in Lahore.’

Skeena, Libros Libertad 2011
novelskeens.wordpress.com

Next we have excerpts from a blog post on hijab, titled ‘Purdah Manifestations’, a contemplation on different forms of purdah and how it’s implemented in different places by different social segments of Pakistani Muslims, it touches my experiences in about six different cities in Pakistan before getting to Surrey.

‘In 2004, i saw a bearded male lead a burqa-clad and hijab-thrown woman at 72nd and 124th in Surrey British Columbia. For some reason, i got transfixed on the couple, and stood watching them till they walked out of my sight. First i tried to be the man to figure out why he would want his wife to be in hijab in a country where most women were showing their faces. What does he think is unique about the face and body of his wife that they must be so hidden. Then i tried to be the woman to see why i would accept an existence where when walking i can barely see the two-and-a-half-feet long road that culminates at the heels of my husband. My imagination was injured by imagining both roles…’

‘In 2009, burqa/hijab/purdah hit the Western news stands with intensity because of the controversy generated by the legislated ‘ab-use’ of it by the French government.’

‘Most recently, and as late as this last winter, i was confronted by a black member of the Muslim brotherhood at Scott Road Station in line for a bus to Newton Exchange. In love with his own voice, the Preacher went on and on about the absolute necessity for women to observe purdah and the unforgiveability of not observing it. As an illustration of his preferences, and of an exemplary state of a Muslim woman, he pointed out to me a burqa-wearing woman who was also in the same line. The ‘discussion’ became an argument; the woman in burqa did not participate…’

‘Last month, i spotted a woman in burqa at Broadway skytrain station who later chose to sit beside me while coming to Surrey. She caught my eye because though in burqa, she was standing straight without covering her face. From the fair color of her skin, i assumed she was Iranian or Lebanese. On the skytrain, she made patronizing attempts to converse with me that made me feel suspicious of her intentions. It seemed, she was hoping to convert a chadar-wearing brown woman to stricter disciplines. And then, it came out that she was an Anglo Saxon convert to Islam. I offered her my poetry chapbook that had just come out. She skimmed through it, stopping at ‘My Shariah-Compliant Bra’ and ‘My Drone-Dead Lover’, and then she shut it close producing a sharp noise; ‘I don’t read poetry’, she thrust it back at me. This is one of the rare instances when i was happy to be rejected as a poet. I consider it a compliment to be rejected by an Anglo-Saxon-woman-convert-to-Islam who was using the burqa to gain high moral ground so that she can preach purdah to wayward and ignorant brown Muslim women.’

A blog post on purdah:
Purdah Manifestations

The next item is a song by Mariam Zohra, a founding member and the Creative Director of Surrey Muse. The song is about East Vancouver’s Tent City that came up a few years back as a protest against urban poverty and homelessness. Tent City had activists camp out in a park during the summer. This is an excerpt, and the link to the song is at the end of it.

get your ensemble
oh teacher
wanna talk about
tent city
so,
what are people
doin in Oppenheimer Park?
Teacher
what are people doing
parking tents, tents at the park,

teacher
get up get up
oh
I don’t know you gotta find out for yourself
we can talk about
tent city

Lyrics/Vocals: Mariam Zohra D. Music: Michael Louw. Song Composition: Michael Louw & Mariam Zohra D. 
Tent-City Song

Next is a spoken word item that has become written text now, so i’ll just read it to you.

‘It was a beautiful, warm and golden summer day. I was visiting a home in East Vancouver, and while the host made tea, I stood by the window and enjoyed being part of a quite residential street lined with thick old trees. Narrower than most streets in Surrey, it had a small park on one side and prosperous and old single family homes on the other. As I took in the view, a man appeared from one end of my vision of the road, in the way he walked he seemed to be a part of the street, the trees, of leaves, and the breeze rustling through them. It was as if he was gliding, smiling for sure. Then he passed right in front of me, dancing on tiptoes, twirling something in his other hand. Just watching him was a privilege. Seeing his back, I noticed that he was wearing a white sleeveless tank top, arms full of black, blue and red tattoos, with white cotton shorts over tattooed legs. It was a tall white guy with brown hair. And just then, I heard sirens, shattering the peace on the street with shocking accuracy. A police car came out of nowhere, zoomed past me, and hit hard breaks inches from the guy. By the time, the police car stopped and a cop jumped out, two other police cars were already there blocking the road on the other side, and a couple of cops were making their way toward him from the park.
The next moment, the guy was pinned to the road, and cops were holding him down while another stood ready with a tazer aimed at him. They mauled him, searched him, and then came away. They had ‘recovered’ a long white feather.
‘Sorry, Sir, we received a call from a property owner on the street who thought you were wielding a dangerous weapon, like a long knife ‘with glittering white blade’, they said.’
And then after deliberating among each other, they returned the feather to the guy, and left while the guy stood bewildered amidst shattered shards of a peaceful sunny afternoon.
The white guy was on a rare summer vacation from Newfoundland.’

Unpublished item.
It was presented in readings at Surrey and New Westminster.

Now, we have Jamie Reid’s poem PRAYER that I first heard from Vancouver’s wonderful slam poet RC Weslowski at the September gathering of Surrey Muse, just after Reid moved on. Last night, Heidi Greco was kind enough to lend me the anthology with the poem in it. I’ll just present what occurs most often in the poem, the refrain. As well, not just the refrain but the whole poem is in capitals- a form of protest, shouting or both, i guess.

PRAYER
By Jamie Reid

LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE AT LEAST
AT LEAST LET THE SKY ESCAPE PLEASE AT LEAST
LET THE SKY ESCAPE

Pages 74-76.
‘Revolving City’, eds. Compton & Saklikar, Anvil Press 2015

So far:
In the first item, the migrant character Skeena sees the new place as a continuity instead of a break, an important distinction. Purdah Manifestations shows how specific issues are faced by each of us in all our different social locations, ‘us’ includes everyone, colored/white migrants and indigenous peoples. The Tent City song points to poverty as integral to the cityscape, an issue that seeks resolutions. In the so-called spoken word item, the white man with a white feather brings out class as an entrenched form of othering, and Jamie Reid’s poem touches the heartache where the city destroys the land and the landscape. And this brings us to our last two items: an image and a slogan.

The image is of a new city park in Seattle.

fromthehungsrsiteFrom the Hungersite.

Seattle’s new city park reminds us of Havana where in the decade after the sanctions were placed on Cuba the average Cuban adult lost 20 lbs. But by the end of that same decade…

The average Cuban was getting ‘2600 calories and more than 68 grams of protein, an amount considered “sufficient” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. By 2006 average caloric intake was up to 3356 calories. A lot of this food was produced not in the countryside (requiring transport to the cities) but in urban gardens, where food was grown and consumed in the same neighborhood. By 2002, 35,000 acres of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city’s fresh produce came from local urban farms and gardens, all organic. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans were employed in urban agriculture. In 2003, Cuba had reduced its use of Diesel fuel by more than 50%, synthetic fertilizers by 90%, and chemical insecticides by 83%.’

Surrey, the City of Parks and of Future, is best-placed to turn some of its manicured parkland to nutritious food forests in anticipation of a delightful urban future.
the-worlds-most-sustainable-country-what-cuba

And now, the slogan. We have about three renditions of it, and i think we’ll be able to choose one easily.
The first:
A Tree For A Tree
The second:
A Tree For Every Tree
And the third:
A Tree For Every Profit-Damned Earth-Loving Brown Ass Tree

All in favor of the third one, raise hands.
On second thoughts, in the interest of brevity and simplicity, we better choose the first.

To view the context of slogans, check this poem presented the previous night at the Literary Cabaret.
‘Good news…’

Thank you, it was a great pleasure to be with you today and to participate in this 2-day event.
Fauzia
frafique@gmail.com
gandholi.wordpress.com
.
.

‘The Lustre Of Dollars On The Sarbat Khalsa’ by Daljit Ami

daljitami-punjab-protest

The North American Sikh Summit took place at Yuba City, California, on October 31 this year. The summit organisers claimed that, in their deliberations on the current Sikh crises in Punjab, they had the support of a hundred Gurdwaras and Sikh organizations. The summit passed three resolutions. On the same date, in England, the Federation of Sikh Organizations conducted the World Sikh Summit at Birmingham and claimed that Sikhs from over twenty nations had participated and passed eight resolutions. The two summits might not be directly related to each other but the resolutions they both passed form a complex relationship. The current crises in Punjab – the general pardon of the Dera Sacha Sauda Head and its revocation, the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, the matter of the Five Chosen Ones, and the Behbal Kalan police firing in which two young men died – are being presented as the express reason for the two summits but reports in the media reveal that these are mere immediate provocations.

Though the two resolutions have by-passed a few contentious terms, the intent of the resolutions is clear – they are linked to the Gurdwara management and the religious activities of the Sikhs. By including points on Akal Takht’s decorum as sanctioned by the Sikh Gurus, the behaviour of the leaders – Jathedars – as per their status, and the plenary religious congregation – Sarbat Khalsa, the North American and Europe Sikhs make a strong pitch for their own greater participation in the religious affairs of the Sikh community. Given how the chief players in Punjab have wrecked havoc with the institutions there is no doubt that the Sikh politics, Shiromani Akali Dal – Badal and even others, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee need to be reformed. This article attempts to analyze how much say the diaspora voice should have in the matters and what are the consequences of surrendering control to only these voices.

The Yuba City resolution seeks to re-establish the Akal Takht to its pristine Sikh Guru sanctioned status beyond the interference of political and ruling party machinations. It seeks to listen to the voice of thirty million Sikhs by ushering in transparency and accountability to the selection and function of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht. Alongside, it seeks to restore the status of the Five Chosen Ones – Panj Piyare. The second point is on supporting the Khalsa plenary – Sarbat Khalsa – on November 10. The resolution states that it represents the North American Sikhs and gives the community the right to finalize the Jathedar of the Akal Takht by Baisakhi 2016. It calls for the next Sarbat Khalsa before April 2016 and requests all factions, irrespective of ideological and other differences, to participate on the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. The third point exhorts the Sikhs of North America to strengthen their voice and calls for nominating two persons per Gurdwara or organization to the committee to attend the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. It seeks representation of local views, without discriminations and with equality, into shaping its agenda by April 2016.

The Birmingham resolution seeks a free and prosperous Sikh rule. The second point calls for a revocation of Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal honorific title Pride of the Nation to Traitor of the Nation and removal of the name Singh from the names of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Avtar Singh Makkad, the current head of the SGPC. It is symbolic of them they no longer being Sikhs for they have betrayed the Sikh community. The third point calls for a social boycott of the leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the SGPC and calls for their resignations and sacking of the heads of the five Takhts. The fourth point calls for the Sikhs to unite and create their own parliament and bank. The fifth point calls for consensus candidates from the Sikh community to be elected the Jathedars of the five Takhts. The point contests the hegemony of the SGPC and their being considered the representatives of the Sikh Gurdwaras. It states that SGPC’s jurisdiction is confined to historial Gurudwaras of Punjab and a few other states of India so diaspora Sikhs are not under it.The sixth point strongly emphasises that the Sarbat Khalsa be called for in Punjab with the express consent of all Sikh organizations and leaders. The seventh point is for action against police personnel who fired on the peaceful demonstrators protesting the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. The last point is a call for the 30th anniversary of the Sarbat Khalsa conducted on April 29, 1986 in which the Sikh Self-Rule was announced.

Even if we ignore the internal contradictions between these resolutions, we need to ask whether these North America and England resolutions are to be implemented in Punjab. The two resolutions force the Sikh political leaders in Punjab to disclose if they are beholden to these the political aspirations of the Sikhs in North America and Europe or sovereignity has a meaning for them? These two summits seem to represent the political beliefs and understanding of the affluent Sikhs in those parts of the world. That makes it incumbent upon us to ask if these resolutions reflect the arrogant shine the dollars.Have we now come to such an impasse that Punjab’s issues can only be resolved by expatriate communities or does our own humble effort mean something?

When everything in today’s politics is evaluated with reference of intelligence agencies then why should the dollar politics not be subjected to such scrutiny? Who can study the behaviour of migrant communities and their political aspirations? Isn’t it ironical that most migration studies are conducted themselves by the migrant communities – a south Indian in America or a south Asian or European scholar? Most of these studies are about the emotional aspect of migration. It is only when we study how potential migrants – to America, Europe and Australia – compromise their ethical, religious, social and humanistic values that we shall understand the layers of hatred concealed by the pride that such communities project outwards. Also note that the American and European nation’s government has allowed their citizens to speak against their native lands and that draws the migrants to these countries. These migrants support their foreign policies, actively. The Sikh diaspora communities settled in NATO countries has supported the NATO attacks on different countries.The powerful North American Sikh community tries hard to showcase itself as the ideal of American values. If this community seeks to create a separate identity for itself from the Muslims, it also participates in the anti-Islam discourse of its adopted country.

The migrant Sikhs keep their contacts with Punjab’s organisations and religious-political wheeler-dealers but their own loyalties lie with their adopted countries. On the Canadian-American border, a religious person was caught smuggling drugs inside the Holy Book. When the sacrilege issues from Punjab reaches the expatriate Sikhs they burst out in anger.Why didn’t they feel a similar anger when the Guru Granth Sahib is insulted in their adopted countries? Has there been any protest about that in North America? On top of that, the tone in which they sermonise Punjab imitates the way their adopted nations instruct the world through armed invasions and dole out lessons on tackling corruption and install dictatorial regimes. It might help us to remember that before invading Afghanistan the United States had rained leaflets filled with messages of the Holy Quran.

No doubt the Punjabi expatriates feel about Punjab but that does not mean they become automatically the well wishers of Punjab. Even if they don the garb of Punjab’s issues, we need to ask how their arrogance can improve Punjab. No doubt it is difficult to ask these questions to our friends and relatives, the questions can even cause us momentary pain, but Punjab will have to ask these tough questions. Not that these questions reduce the culpability of the Punjab politicians and organizations, in fact they enhance the responsibility of Punjab’s betterment on its inhabitants. After all, if Punjab has to walk straight it has to bear the brunt of its autumnal sun on its back; it has to drink the water of its own hand pumps. Will the shower of dollars on the martyrs of Behbal Kalan allow the Sikhs to re-connect with their own Gurus? Can the dream of self reliant sovereign Punjab as expressed in folklore with reference of Dulla Bhatti – ‘first demolish Delhi’s seat of power’ and ‘then Lahore’s throne’ – be realised in the lustre of dollars?It is a matter of autonomy and not hiding in the shadow of the diaspora. For, finally the answers to Punjab’s crises will have to come from Punjab’s land.

Translated from Punjabi by Amandeep Sandhu

Reprinted with thanks from: Countercurrents.org
07 November, 2015

Daljit Ami
daljit-ami
Daljit is an independent filmmaker from Punjab who has made over a dozen documentary films on different issues. He worked as freelance journalist with Punjabi Tribune, Day and Night News and BBC Hindi. His most recent work is translation of Amandeep Sandhu’s novel ‘Roll of Honour’ from English to Punjabi as ‘Gwah De Fanah Hon Toh Pehilan’.

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Poet Irfan Malik in Town

irfan-malik
Boston-based South Asian American poet and the organizer of South Asian American Theatre (SAATH) at Harvard University, Irfan Malik is visiting Vancouver from September 12 to 26 with his new collection of Punjabi poetry ‘Dooji Aurat’.

He will be presenting and participating in various events around town including the following, where his participation is made possible by some wonderful people such as our very own Ajmer Rode, Harinder Dhahan, Chin Mukherjee, Sukhwant Hundal, Anne Murphy, Carol Shillibeer, Barj Dhahan, Dr. Saif Khalid, Mohan Gill and Manpreet Dhillon.

Sept 13, 1-4pm
Punjabi Lekhak Manch
Newton Library, 13795 70 Avenue at King George Blvd, Surrey

Sept 14, 6-8pm
Hogan’s Alley Reading Series
Hogan’s Alley Cafe, 789 Gore Avenue, Vancouver

Sept 15, 6:30pm
Punjabi Poetry Evening
George Mackie Library, 112 St/84 Avenue, Delta

Sept 17, 1-3pm
Punjabi Seniors’ Group
Sunset Community Centre, Main/52, Vancouver

Sept 20, 


2pm
SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum
‘Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest’
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Sept 21, 3:30-5pm
UBC Punjabi Class
UBC Campus, Vancouver (non-public)

Sept 21, 6-8pm
Poetry Wars
100 Braid Street Studios, New Westminster

Sept 25, 5:30-8:30
Surrey Muse
Room 418, City Centre Library, Surrey

To contact Irfan while he’s here, send him an email at
malikirf@gmail.com

Surrey Muse event details
SM-9-25-2015

Irfan Malik is the Featured Poet at this gathering. He will be presenting with Author Maureen Butler, Poet/Performer RC Weslowsky and Author Katherine Wagner. The event is hosted by poet/Performer Mariam Zohra.

Event is sponsored by
Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature
Dhahan Logo in all scriptsand
Surrey Muse & Uddari Weblog

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