Tales of Two Storytellers25th February 2016
Ian Stephen is a novelist, poet & storyteller. We brought him to Lahore to work with a Pakistani storyteller to share tales and create new ones. Here’s his First Impressions:
Carrots are red but
Much the same brown
The east coast illustrator (myself) and west coast yarner (Kate Leiper) met on the flight. We came through the red petal welcomes of families re -uniting. Here was our driver, carrying his blue card as arranged. We were on the move into a strangely calm procession of motor bikes, three-wheelers, donkey carts and cars. The bikes were shuttles in ravelling cloth. There was an issue with the route. Armed men in uniforms took our passports till we completed our u turn. Somehow we turned against the run of the warp. Our maroon documents with newly stamped visas were returned. – These guys are military. It’s not like the police. If they say we turn back. That is what we do.
This is a country which is open for business beyond its borders . Tonight a delegation from Turkey will arrive. A deal with metro-bus provision is in place. Now another for radio-cabs will be clinched. Everywhere there are banners promoting this trade – our hearts beat together. But security is even tighter than usual. We are here to meet our collaborators who will trade images and tales for our event at Lahore Literary Festival.
We might not be able to offer anything as tangible as motor transport. But I think that Daniel and Ryan of Highlight Arts have picked us and the team of Scottish poets who will come for another event because we all believe that the trade in imagery or narrative or ringing syllables or breath through whistle is also necessary for any state’s survival.
Mujahid Eshai has helped me move between the literary and the spoken worlds. In the same way our dialogue of several days has taken us through histories and contrasting terrain. We now have a correspondence which has fed into the land and sea scape which will be projected to our audience tomorrow. We will not read the literatures we have made nor that we have discussed.
Lahore – February, 2016