Nothing could better capture the whirlwind ride it has been than this photograph of the feverish dance (a weekly, Thursday evening ritual) at the famed Pappu Sain plays the dhol at the Baba Shah Jamal shrine in Lahore.
The very first post on ATP was on June 11, 2006 (1.18p): my video tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Pakistan, but the blog really ‘went public’ the next day on June 12. In the 35 days since then, we now have our hundredth post (including 12 ‘Guest Posts’), under 34 categories, and (till now) nearly 600 comments (the map below is a few days old, and will be replacced when new one is available).
ATP has now been in the top 100 sites amongst the over-200,000 listed on Worldpress.com since it first got their on June 28, and a number of ATP posts have regularly made the top 100 posts on WordPress.com. Most recently, these include Shirazi‘s ‘Guest Post’ on Kelash Culture, Picture of the Day on Mangoes and Pricess Di (although, I think that was for the wrong reasons), our report on what Imran Khan said recently in Chicago, and the original ATP Poll (on women’s rights and Pakistan’s image) and the Results of the ATP Poll. Posts that have had the most steady and regular visitation include my music video on Faiz and Pakistan, the old PIA ad under Imagining Pakistan, another picture post on The Other Side of Mr. Jinnah, the post on Bulleh Shah, and the post seeking nominations for the Best Pakistani Food Outside of Pakistan.
I love statistics (started my journalistic career as a cricket statistician way back), but I am not sure any of the above means much. The vital statistic for me are the 600 or so comments that have been left. What is most important is my continuing amazement and gratitude at the loyal and engaged readership that ATP has developed. My gut instinct is that this core group is not very large in size, but it is wonderful in quality and it is the comments and engagement from them that keeps ATP going.
Speaking of which, I am still not sure how it will keep going since I will clearly not be able to maintain the time I have been giving it. We do now have a string of regular ‘Guest Posters’ and I am trying to find a way that it can become a self-operating team-blog. All ideas are very welcome.
Anyhow, the purpose of this is just to thank all of you for all your support. It has meant a lot to me and has kept me going. Thank you!
P.S. [The picture this paragraph refers to has been replaced by a different one; the story in the paragraph, however, is still relevant]. By the way, the main photograph at the top was uploaded by yasirhussain on Flickr.com, but it was originally taken by AP photographer B.K. Bangash. That, itself, brings back memories. I remember Bangash from back in the 1980s when he was the head photographer at The Muslim (Islamabad), and I would occasionally write ‘City Diaries’ on his photographs. The daily ‘City Diary’ was the brainchild and ‘baby’ of the city editor, Ahmed Hasan saab, and it was really very much like writing this blog. I can honestly say that the way this blog looks and reads today is more a reflection of Ahmed Hasan’s training while writing ‘City Diaries’ at The Muslim. If Anwar Iqbal, now Dawn’s US correspondent and then a senior colleague and mentor, is reading; he would know what I am talking about. I should also thank (or, maybe, blame) iFaqeer, for getting me on this road to blogging. I just want to get that personal reminiscence and acknowledgement out.