Across the divide, Pakistan calling, by Sumera S Naqvi – the fact that the lines kept dropping at the telephonic conference between Indian and Pakistani children Monday afternoon did not dissuade the children and the audience.
Jay Krishan, a delegate from India, sang a song that saved the day – ‘Mein tum to wishwas doon, tum mujh to wishwas do.’ (I keep faith in you, you keep faith in me) – that helped them assuage the disappointment of a defective telephone connection and the sweltering heat. But then hey, who cares about such hitches when Indian and Muslim friends sit together and sing songs in a language understood and spoken in both countries?
An event organised by the People’s Development Foundation, which focuses work on bonded labour and destitute children, the phone conversations between Indian and Pakistani children were quite interesting though rudimentary. “What is your name, what is your favourite colour, what food do you like, what do you want to become when you grow up?” and then a volley of hellos from each side. It was however, nice to see Pakistani children begin the conversation with ‘Namaste, Jay Ramjee kee’ and Indian children with ‘Asalam alaikum’.
The telephone conference was arranged with Indian kids studying in Springdel School, New Delhi, Harikrishen Memorial School, Pathania School and Rohtak School, Haryana. Pakistani children came from the different government schools of 4 districts of Hyderabad.
Despite logistical problems, the excited Pakistani and Indian children (who had traveled from India to attend the WSF) sprawled on the dusty carpet on the floor and began singing and having fun. “We only found yesterday that the WSF organisers had forgotten to get us a telephone connection for the session,” said Aslam Khwaja, the programme convener and a member of the WSF organizing committee. “We had to make do with a wireless connection until the instrument ran out of battery.”
The mere presence of Indian peace activist Nirmala Deshpande and Kashmir’s Yasin Malik, to see children talk across borders, was quite appreciated by the audience. “It doesn’t matter if there are logistics problems,” said Bipin Kumar Rai, an Indian delegate and an environmentalist. “At least we have been able to connect.”
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