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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Ever since my TV spiel on the spectacular Ubud Writers Festival, I've been asked several questions, though the best one has been - What challenged you the most? That's an easy one. Listening to Ziauddin Sardar did it for me.

A broadcaster, critic and prolific writer - he has over 40 books to his credit, has sold over a million books and knows how to play impossibly hard to get. He only agreed to share the workings of his mind on the last day of the festival, though what an thought-provoking journey that turned out to be. Provoking is what Zia does best. I only managed to attend his session impressively moderated by Eric Campbell and enjoyed the journey that took us through real life stories of 'Why People Hate America' and 'Desperately Seeking Paradise.'

He generated the laughs while taking us on a journey through Islam. He spoke of engagement, though how it would all start was something he didn't quite address. I didn't quite get my answer on General Musharraf, but then that is what the world has become. No blacks or whites - only shades of grey.

As Zia pointed out light heartedly when asked how much his world had changed post 9/11. He replied "I made xx dollars, now its xxxx."

In another session that Bala attended he was asked about women in Islam. He began by pointing that the only one oppressed at his home was the head of the family himself. He was one of those authors you could laugh along with, he could stir a debate and still be game enough to end the debate over a steaming cup of coffee.

In a world desperately seeking answers, Zia might not have them all, but he sets you on a path towards paradise. Read more about his work here

Zia's thoughts on engagement will be on air soon, so keep watching Off The Shelf.