English Literature Reviews

Meri Yadon Mein Berlin By Dr Ishrat Naheed (Urdu Travelogue) Review by Mohammad Ahsan

Written by GNK
Mohammad Ahsan

Meri Yadon Mein Berlin मेरी यादों में बर्लिन


Review by Mohammad Ahsan

Dr. Ishrat Naheed is Asstt. Professor in the Lucknow campus of Maulana Azad Urdu University , Hyderabad , and is actively engaged in teaching , research and critical appraisal . Her extensive research on the literary writings of Hayatullah Ansari earned her a PhD about a decade back. She is a fiction writer of mark. Her anthology of short stories Manzil e BenishaN is a bunch of about two dozen short stories beautifully written with a feminist mind that ushers curtain from a ghastly social scenario hitherto little known to general reader or often deliberately ignored by those that represent the conscience of society.

‘Meri Yadon Mein Berlin’ is her travelogue, and so far the only one.
In June 2017 she gets an invitation from Urdu Anjuman , Berlin, to participate in bi- centenary celebration of Sir Syed Ahmad in Berlin, and read a paper. She sets aside this invitation with a pinch of pessimism knowing it is impossible for her to take up this journey. Firstly, by way of circumstances , her life has been more indoors than outdoors; she has never ever travelled alone in her life, always been accompanied by some family member.

Secondly, the travel would require not only passport and visa but permission from the University. All this would not only take time but lots of running around which she would not be able to handle all alone. Thirdly, who would look after her young son and daughter in that a week’s time when she would be in Berlin! With these nagging thoughts she had almost given up the idea of this travel when a few friends and relatives came forward, encouraged her to take up this travel, and helped her in some of her running around.
Getting permission from the University and visa from German embassy involved too many hurdles and red tape. She is nervous at every step, yet hopeful. Successively these hurdles are cleared and finally one past-midnight she is on a Lufthansa flight for Frankfurt, a seven hours flight. She is still nervous, skeptical and doubtful of so many things. But again finally she lands at Frankfurt, all safe and sound. Another flight away is Berlin , her final destination. With a mobile phone that cannot connect to anyone in this world without its Whatsapp connected to some WiFi network she passes through another round of nervousness. This round too passes off , and finally she is at Berlin airport where she is being received by her hosts and given a warm welcome.

Dr. Ishrat not only successfully reads her paper in the event but also leaves her indelible imprints on Anjuman’s literary cum cultural canvas. And then in next five days she embarks upon sightseeing excursions in Berlin.
There is too much to be visited in Berlin – the TV Tower, the Kaiser Memorial Church, the city of Potsdam , the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Humboldt University; in fact too many historical buildings , churches, the markets, the malls and restraints. She visits them all, her keen eye looking beyond the physical features of the things, her sharp mind observing the things deeply and registering impressions on the slate of her subconscious. Gradually every object, every building, every tourist, every Berliner assumes a cultural, social, historical and technological dimension which she later transform into a body of words – her travelogue. She is great observer of the things, and based on those observations she makes her own original view about the things.

Her style of writing has a unique fluency and is embedded sometimes with elements of drama and punch. Her poetic quotes from Iqbal or Mir or Ghalib or others blend so well with her narrative. By and large the book makes an interesting read.
The book is 164 pages thick. You can discount about 25 introductory pages written by her and others. That way book is slim 140 pages plus about a score of interesting photographs.

A keen reader can finish the book in a sitting or two.
Ishrat Naheed

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