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March 19-24, 2006:  The Road to Karachi

We were in Sarnath (near Varanasi) in January this year and spent a few days with a small community based there called Vidya Ashram (www.vidyaashram.org).  Led by well known Gandhian scholar Sunil Sahasrabudhey, Vidya Ashram is involved in a wide range of activities ranging from epistemic inquiry to working in the local community at various levels. 


Vidya Ashram had, in 2004, presented a seminar at the World Social Forum in Mumbai which was well attended and well received entitled "Dialogues on Knowledge in Society".  Loosely translated, this was a set of papers and a discussion on, what Sahasrabudhey and others have termed, "Lokvidya".


At the time we visited them, Vidya Ashram was planning to present a follow up seminar at WSF Karachi 2006 on "Knowledge and Virtuality".  Having recently been introduced to Sahasrabudhey's book "Gandhi's Challenge to Modern Science" we were quite engaged by the arguments presented as well as by the whole

project of looking at the structure of knowledge from this (and, for us, new) perspective. 


Some conversations later, and enthused by the prospect of visiting Pakistan for the first time, we got ourselves added on to a list of Vidya Ashram delegates for the seminar and the conference.  Tenzin Rigzin, part of the Vidya Ashram community, offered to keep us informed about developments on the road to Karachi.



India-Pakistan travel is never a straightforward business, we had heard, and invariably ends up being a mad rush at the last moment.  This is exactly how it turned out in our case.  Midnight dash to Delhi, submission of paperwork and passports for visas at the Pakistan High Commission just days before the event was to start, uncertainty about whether the "Karachi-only" visas we got would be valid for entry through Attari-Wagah, finally an anti-climactic border crossing, followed by a long train journey (which was nevertheless, very interesting and revelatory) - and we found ourselves in Karachi on the evening of the 24th of  March - just as the opening programmes got under way at the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) Sports Complex in mid-town Karachi.


Read our next entry:  Entering Pakistan