Karachi’s own Berlin

Samia Saleem June 16, 2010

KARACHI: Albert Einstein, Schiller, hollandaise sauce and the Grimm brothers-people in Karachi do not have to spend thousands of rupees and travel thousands of miles to become acquainted with all that Germany has to offer. They have their very own Goethe Institut, which is a looking glass into the East European country.

The institute held an open house on Wednesday to introduce its library, which has thousands of books, CDs and other media.

Colourful throngs of students, teachers and other visitors attended the event at the German cultural centre. The open house was an introduction to the library and its resources along with what the institute as a whole offers.

According to Tehmina Farooq, the head of the library, many of the young people who use the library’s facilities are either those that take German language classes at the institute or are applying for higher studies in the European country. However, the library is open to the general public as well and anyone who is curious about the culture and history of the country can use the library and the accompanying computer laboratory.

Tehmina told The Express Tribune that the small but capacious library has a collection of about 4,500 media.  This collection includes books on diverse topics ranging from philosophy to comics to children’s literature. They also have multimedia such as audiotapes, DVDs and video cassettes. “We have a collection of German music too that includes German rock, metal, jazz, reggae, blues and trance as well as German classic chamber albums,” she said. “We all know how famous Schiller is here too,” she added lightly.

One of the visitors at the event, Dr Nadia Hasan, said that she was schooled in Luxembourg and comes to the library frequently to hone her German. She said that the library has all the material required for both people who are just starting to learn the language and those who have already mastered the basics.

“They even have the main newspapers of Germany,” she said. She particularly likes the contemporary magazines in the library that keep her up to date with the changing norms of the country.

Shamim Manzar, the head of the German Language Department, said that the library has a really good collection, especially in philosophy.

He said that German philosophy is particularly important for us because after World War II, the Germans went through an identity crises that created a philosophy of identity similar to the one written in Pakistan after the separation of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. “At that time the Germans were looking for a new identity, so their philosophy is very meaningful and similar to the philosophy written after 1947 in Pakistan,” he said. Manzar added that this library is the only one in the country that helps those students who are aiming at higher studies in a state university of Germany.

Every first Monday of the month, the library holds a discussion where students and speakers get a chance to communicate their ideas in German. Rabia Hasan, a member who regularly attends these sessions, said, “I like it because you get a chance to sit with German speakers and new learners and express your ideas in your own way.”

Published in the Express Tribune, June 17th, 2010.


Waqar | 12 years ago | Reply Germany is not a "East European Country", but rather a Mid-Western European country.
David | 12 years ago | Reply Very fine effort, wished I could have attended the event!
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