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Blogged in India, between covers in Pak

Mayank Austen Soofi has broken new ground on the blogosphere. The twenty-eight-year-old journalist-blogger could become the youngest Indian to be published in a Pakistani textbook. A report by Damini Purkayastha.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2008 00:19 IST
Damini Purkayastha

He has broken new ground on the blogosphere. Twenty-eight-year-old journalist-blogger Mayank Austen Soofi, 28, could become the youngest Indian to be published in a Pakistani textbook.

Soofi’s blog Pakistan Paindabad aims to shatter stereotyped Indian perceptions about its neighbour. “People treat Pakistan as a country of terrorist camps, but there are swanky cafes, pretty girls, galleries, writers… a very Khan Market crowd. I wanted people to see that it’s as normal as India,” he says.

Samuel Ray, editor, Oxford University Press, Pakistan, recently wrote to Soofi showing interest in using material from his blog for an English textbook for class XI students. “It’s great. Nothing’s finalised yet, but if I’m published it will be a slap to all those people who think Pakistani publishing is all about India haters,” says Soofi.

The excerpts being sought are from a series called ‘Five Best Things About Pakistan’, wherein Soofi got writers, activists and common people from Pakistan or of Pakistani origin to pick their top five.

On his first visit to Pakistan in 2006 for the World Social Forum, Soofi fell in love with the country. His travelogue on Heera Mandi, Lahore’s red light district, has garnered interested from Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “But he doesn’t want me to talk about it yet,” he shrugs.

The assistant editor with Hindustan Times has five blogs that he updates regularly. And if you are wondering how the nomenclature came about, he is officially Mayank Singh but his passion for Jane Austen and Sufism made him denounce a sectarian identity.