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Storytime Fails

May 26, 2013

Yesterday we went to the Islamabad Children’s Literary Festival.  We were quite excited.  Apparently there were to be puppet shows, mask-making, story telling and music events.  Harry was particularly thrilled. He does love his books.

We headed over to the Pak-China Friendship Centre – the things they call conference centres these days…and ironic, as I’m feeling less than chirpy towards the Chinese at the moment.  This week the Chinese Premier has been over saying ‘howdy’ to the new Pakistani government.  This occasioned a series of epic road closures which meant that I:

a) was unable to go to the dry cleaners;

b) was unable to go to a playdate; and (and they owe me for this)

c) spent nearly an hour in a traffic jam waiting for the noble gentleman to pass by in his car.

So, having given the boys an early lunch we headed off.  All was well until we pulled into the car park and Harry’s head started to roll to the side. By the time the car engine was off, he was asleep.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.   Harry can fall asleep on a wire.  We have, in the past, undressed him, washed him and even cleaned his teeth and he’s stayed fast asleep.  Undeterred, we hoiked the boys out of the car and with J gently snoring in the pushchair and Harry dribbling onto A’s shoulder, we headed in.

It was heaving.  There were teams of Pakistani school children in immaculate uniforms clutching badly painted masks thronging the entrance.  We consulted the guide and decided that the story-telling (most probably in Urdu) might not be quite the thing, but that the music workshop could be just the job for waking Harry up and forcing him to take part in the literary festival.

It was in the Harry Potter room.  That swung it for me.   I’ve lost count of the number of people who, when Harry says very formally “My name is Harry”, say “Like Harry Potter?”.  Harry, who has not yet heard of Harry Potter, can’t understand why people keep getting his name wrong and gives them one of his particularly hard stares.  I think he thinks that the world is just made up of idiots.  It makes me smile every time but I have to do that ‘head-on-one-side-sympathetic-ah-but-he’s-only-3’ type look to make them feel better.

Operation ‘Wake The Dead’ began.   We managed to get the pushchair through the throng [Harry snuggles in] and up the escalators, having had to ask an entire family group of 10 blocking the ‘up’ escalator to please budge [Harry exhales gently].  On the way to find the Harry Potter room we passed a group of schoolgirls who couldn’t have been any older than 7. They were telling stories in both Urdu and then translating them into beautiful English.  I was immensely impressed.  One girl was particularly good at voice projection [Harry’s dribble starts to soak A’s shirt]. Their equipment, however, was a bit dodgy and their beautiful cadences were repeatedly drowned out  by the screaming feedback from the amplifier [I get to play ‘floppy arm’ with Harry (you pick up his arm and drop it repeatedly, watching as it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to his being asleep)].  

We looked at each other.  If Little Miss Shouty, the microphone and the dodgy speaker hadn’t jolted H awake, we were on to a loser.  There was absolutely no way that the music workshop could be any noisier than that.  And so we left.    And that was the end of the Islamabad Children’s Literary Festival for our family.  Next year, perhaps an earlier start might be in order…

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From → Children, Pakistan

One Comment
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