Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cemendtaur's Latest Travelogue "Ulat Dunya Kee Sair" Launched at Urdu Academy in Silicon Valley

"Ulat Dunya Kee Sair", my friend Ali Hasan Cemendtaur's latest travelogue written in Urdu, was launched on January 15, 2017 at an event organized by Urdu Academy of North America, a Silicon Valley-based group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Urdu language in the United States and Canada. The travelogue tells the story the author's travels to the world Down Under (appropriately translated by the author in Urdu as "Ulat Dunya), specifically three southern hemisphere nations of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It is available on Amazon.com.

Riaz Haq Speaking at the Event


The event was chaired by Khwaja Ashraf sahab, a published Urdu writer in his own right, and attended by many local Urdu lovers hailing originally from South Asia. It was emceed by Arshad Rashid sahab who, along with Tashee Zaheer sahab, runs Urdu Academy.  Other presenters included Kausar Syed sahiba, Mariam Turab sahiba and Riaz Haq.   The program concluded with Ali Hasan Cemendtaur's hilarious and self-deprecating roast of his own writing that he called "Apni Gheebat".  Please follow the embedded links or search Youtube for the individual names to find and watch the presentations.

Ulat Dunya Kee Sair Book Cover


In his presentation, Riaz Haq said "the history is often referred to as "His Story", a description acknowledging the fact that the history writer's worldview influences his or her work. This reality applies to travelogues as well".

Kausar Syed Reading Excepts of Ulat Dunya Kee Sair


We are used to reading world travel accounts written by western travelers; Ali Hasan Cemendtaur's travelogues, written in English or Urdu, are rare exceptions as they get the reader to see the world through the eyes of a Pakistani traveler.

Marian Turab's Commenting on Ulat Dunya Kee Sair


"The Green Ibn Battuta",  the title of Cemendtaur's last travelogue launched last year is a tribute to Ibn Battuta, the 14th century Muslim traveler from North Africa who wrote extensively about his travels of much of the known world at the time. Ali's Ibn Battuta covers his travels starting in 1990s. The fact that Cemendtaur's access to modern transportation enabled him to to see a lot more of the world in a relatively short time than Ibn Battuta did would make the 14th century traveler green with envy; hence the title "Green Ibn Battuta".

Ali Hasan Cemendtaur's Self Roast


Ali's Pakistani-ness drove his curiosity to visit Multan Karavansarai in Baku, Azerbaijan., where he discovered old trade ties between the Pakistani city of Multan and the Central Asia region dating back to the 15th century.



Cemendtaur's Pakistani origin compelled his interest in The Caucasus (Koh Qaaf), the mountainous region 1,000 by 600 kms in size that lies between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, where Azerbaijan is located. Koh Qaaf (Caucasus mountain) is associated with many fairytales that Pakistani children have grown up with. Dastaan e Amir Hamza is an Urdu collection of fairytales from Koh Qaf that continues to fascinate Pakistanis to this day. The Caucasian label, the US official race classification for American whites, traces the origin of all white Europeans to the Caucasus region. Harvard genetic studies have confirmed that the ancestors of many Ancestral North Indians and Pakistanis came from this region.

In "Ulat Dunya Kee Sair", Cemendtaur's interest in South Asian language shows through in his impressions of the spoken in Fiji by people of South Asian origin who speak a variant of Hindi but switch to "Bollywood Hindi" when conversing with Urdu or Hindi speaking visitors.




Cemendtaur writes about dealing with what he thought was "gutter smell" in Rotorua, New Zealand, and expresses his shock that a developed nation like New Zealand could have the kind of stink more common in developing nations of South Asia n areas with open sewers.  He soon finds out that it was the smell of hydrogen sulfide emanating from sulfur-laden water from hot springs in the area.

 The author also notices that, unlike Australia where most immigrants are Chinese, the immigrants from South Asia are more visible in New Zealand.  Apparently, there are many Punjabi farmers in dairy business who have been living there since the days of the British Raj.

Cemendtaur finds a Hazara town in Sydney with many Hazara Shias from Pakistan who have fled sectarian conflict to find safety in Australia.  Upon research, he finds that human smugglers provide this service for a substantial fee by flying Hazaras to Sri Lanka,  then arranging visas to Indonesia from where they are put on boats to Australia.

Riaz Haq concluded his presentation by recommending "Ulat Dunya Kee Sair" as a well-written Urdu travelogue "filled with entertaining anecdotes and insightful observations about many exotic places and interesting cultures. It is written in an easy to read and highly engaging style that will keep you absorbed and make you finish it in one sitting once you start reading it."

The event concluded with a very self-deprecating and humorous monologue by Ali Hasan Cemendtaur that reminded the audience of Zia Mohyeddin's reading of Mushtaq Yusufi's work.

Here are a couple of video clips of the event:

https://youtu.be/PQDyq3Q6rKc





https://youtu.be/d7nylUVYad0





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

My Footloose Friend Ali Cemendtaur

Silicon Valley NEDians

Silicon Valley Pakistanis

Silicon Valley Launch of Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb

Explosion of Art and Culture in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


3 comments:

Wasim said...

how I can have it ?

Riaz Haq said...

Wasim: "how I can have it ?"

It's available on Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Ulat-Dunya-Ke...f=sr_1_fkmr0_1

Riaz Haq said...

Google adds voice support on web for #Urdu, 29 other languages spoken in #Africa, #India, #Pakistan | TechCrunch

Google today is expanding its speech recognition capabilities to support dozens of new languages, particularly those in emerging markets in India and Africa, the company announced this morning. That means more people around the world will gain the ability to search the web by voice as well as type via voice using Google’s keyboard app, Gboard.

The company says with the update, it’s adding 30 languages and locales around the world, bringing the total supported to 119. The update includes 8 more Indian languages, as well as Swahili and Amharic, two of Africa’s largest languages.

The new speech recognition will be initially supported in Gboard for Android and Voice Search. U.S. English speakers, meanwhile, can now use voice dictation to express themselves using emojis, too. (e.g. you can just say “winky face emoji” instead of hunting for it.)

The new languages are also available today in the Cloud Speech API, which already supported 89 languages, and is used in a number of third-party voice and video applications, like transcription services, speech analytics applications, IVR applications, and more.

In time, the new languages will be added to other Google products, including the Google Translate app.

However, the more critical part of this news is what this means for those in emerging markets – regions that are often ignored when it comes to being among the first to gain access to new technology advances from tech giants.

But with mobile, that’s changed. Tech companies are now aiming to establish footholds in these regions, as the next large swath of internet users come online.

In India, especially, Google’s move to expand speech recognition tech could have a significant impact. The country is estimated to have some 420 million mobile internet users as of this June, making India one of the biggest markets in the world for companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to address.

Google’s expansion with voice technology also comes shortly after a piece in The Wall Street Journal detailed how tech companies are rethinking their products for the developing world – in particular, how the next billion mobile users will heavily take advantage of technologies like video and voice. Google, for example, told The WSJ, that it’s been seeing “a new kind of internet user” – a group that’s “very different from the first billion” in terms of how they access the web.

To develop speech recognition capabilities for these new languages, Google combined human labor with its machine learning technology.

The company says that it works with native speakers to collect speech samples by asking them to read common phrases. This, in turn, helped to train Google’s machine learning models to better understand the sounds and words of the new languages to improve their accuracy when they were exposed to more examples over time.

The full list of new languages includes the following:

Amharic (Ethiopia)
Armenian (Armenia)
Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani)
Bengali (Bangladesh, India)
English (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania)
Georgian (Georgia)
Gujarati (India)
Javanese (Indonesia)
Kannada (India)
Khmer (Cambodian)
Lao (Laos)
Latvian (Latvia)
Malayalam (India)
Marathi (India)
Nepali (Nepal)
Sinhala (Sri Lanka)
Sundanese (Indonesia)
Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya)
Tamil (India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia)
Telugu (India)
Urdu (Pakistan, India)