One would assume that a literary event would be populated by audiences that know how to respect a speaker, but then, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”.
Although the audiences were mostly appreciative and well mannered, there were enough bad apples to ruin the pie for everyone.
Ringing cell phones and people loudly greeting each other in the halls mid-session served as a constant reminder that Islamabadis fail to realise that if you have chosen to sit in a lecture, you have signed a social contract to shut up and listen.
One could always use the door to go out and hold those ostensibly important discussions, one of which was an urgent 6:30pm discussion on what’s for dinner, but then the door was being used by early diners, who would walk in with hot food, making parts of the halls smell like lunchrooms, before loudly walking out.
When The Express Tribune suggested that one person glued to his cell phone go outside to talk, he said there aren’t enough seats there. Clearly the comfort of his rear end scaled higher than the listening experience of a hundred people in the audience.
Gandhi was quoted as responding to a question on what he thought of British civilisation with, “I think it would be a good idea.”
Attending a literary session doesn’t make a person appreciative of literature. Quietly appreciating it does.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2015.
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