Name: Jehan Ara
Blog: In the Line of Wire
Claim to Fame: President of P@sha
Jehan Ara is not only the President of P@sha, but a commended entrepreneur and a very popular blogger both in the national and international blogoshpere. She started her career as a journalist that quite explains the command she has on a range of subjects she chooses for her blog.
“In the Line of Wire” is basically her personal blog, so reading about her personal experiences helps one get an idea about what it takes to play a positive part of the community. The friendly manner in which Jehan interact with the visitors of her blog helps many especially the Pakistani youth overcome the feeling of alienation that they otherwise get in the presence of big names and hence gives them the confidence to share what they feel about different IT related things, more openly.
When the Teabreak team decided to initiate the “Featured Blogger” section there was no second choice, and she took some out of her busy life and gave us this interview.
- Tell us something about yourself and your blog?
What can I tell you about myself? I was born in Karachi but I spent most of my growing up years in Hong Kong, a city that is vital and full of energy. From the Chinese I learnt the value of hard work and punctuality. From my parents I learnt that integrity and compassion should be kept uppermost in everything one does in life. That is why whatever I do, is done with honesty. I started my working career as a journalist and a communicator and it was only about 14 years ago that I moved into the area of multimedia and new media development.
I was always a very active member of P@SHA and had the privilege of serving as elected President for 3 years while running my own New Media company. As of 1st January 2008 I took over as full time President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA).
For a long time I had wanted to start a blog because I have always found it easier to express myself in writing. However, for some reason, I kept stalling. Laziness I guess. Finally, I decided enough was enough and I set up my blog “In the Line of Wire” about a year ago. The contents vary. It serves as a travelogue; I share news and experiences and sometimes I just use it as a sounding board.
2. You started your career as a journalist; blogging is quite similar to opinion based journalism. How different is the experience?
Well, for one thing I don’t have to fear the ruthless editors who would ruthlessly cut my submissions in such a way a way that I didn’t recognise them when they were published. Secondly you are not commissioned to write a piece so you write when you want to and what you want to write about. That freedom to choose your own topic and write whenever you are in a mood to, makes it a very different experience.
3. You lead a busy life, how do you keep a balance between your professional and personal life?
I don’t know how I do it but somehow I seem to manage. I guess it depends on my commitment to both your professional and personal obligations. When I was 10 I managed to balance my education alongwith helping Ammi with the housework and playing with friends. As I grew up and started working, I was always told that I was a workaholic but I found time to cook for as many as 100 people (my father loves having dinner parties), to take care of my ailing mother and to maintain old friendships and make new ones. I suppose if you enjoy everything you do, you somehow find the time.
4. If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?
Success is defined differently by different people. Economic success is not what has driven me although it is always good to have sufficient money to buy gadgets like the iPhone etc, to travel and pick up gifts for friends and family and to have a nice meal from time to time. I think if I had to choose one characteristic, it would be ‘Passion’ – the drive to do everything to the best of my ability.
5. What positive role Pakistani bloggers can play to improve the image of the country?
I think Pakistani bloggers are already playing a very important and positive role – discussions and a proliferation of the different images, thoughts, feelings, arts and culture, poetry, music, news and politics of Pakistan are available through the blogosphere. There are also quite a few technology blogs that have shown the outside world the kind of talent, passion and entrepreneurial spirit that exists here. Each day I come across a new blog from Pakistan that blows me away. I hope this trend continues.
6. Do bloggers help in creating awareness in our society?
In a limited way yes. Remember much of our society is not connected to the Internet and even amongst the ones who are, not all of them are in tune with the blogs. However, having said that, there are an increasing number of people who are getting a lot of information and pleasure from the blogs that are put up by a variety of individuals from different segments of society. Some of the blogs highlight political issues and issues to do with policy and the law. A lot more discourse has been taking place where people have found a voice and that I believe is the most amazing part of the blogosphere.
7. Your favorite blogs and why?
Oh that is really a very tough one because I am very much a blog-junkie. I love many of the tech blogs like Engadget, Techcrunch and the Cult of Mac and then of course there’s Guy Kawasaki’s blog and the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs that I read quite regularly. And there are local ones like Windmills and Desi Back from Desh. But there are so many more and my preference changes according to my moods and interests.
8. Unlike other bloggers your opinion matters more, does that stops you from giving an ingenuous opinion about a particular matter or event?
I don’t think that is necessarily true. Everyone’s opinion matters just as much. However, I guess I know what you mean. I feel a certain responsibiity when I am putting up my blog posts. I know a lot of colleagues and friends from outside Pakistan read my blog as do a lot of young people within Pakistan. That keeps me sometimes from putting up a post that might be written in anger or irriation or that expresses an opinion that could be detrimental to the image of Pakistan. I do not want my personal opinion to reflect negativly on the task I have set myself as President of P@SHA. That doesn’t mean I am dishonest about the opinions I express. I just refrain from talking about certain things.
9. Your message to Pakistani youth and especially those who are professionally related to Information Technology?
I believe there is immense talent in Pakistan. I see it around me every day. My message to the young people of Pakistan is to never lose the passion and excitement they feel about everything they do. They must take pride in everything they create and must be honest to themselves. It is the young people of this country – in the technology sector and those involved in every other field – who are going to change the face and image of Pakistan. I have great faith that this country will become known as a place where innovation flourishes and where each person will be able to express his/her opinion without fear and live his/her life the way one wants. The young people of this nation will truly liberate this nation and its people.
10. Your opinion about Tebreak.pk?
Well I personally wish it was called Cofeebreak.pk since I am not a tea drinker but I think it is a nice name nonetheless, and the mission is a good one. I wish you luck in your endeavour and hope that your network expands and provides a place for the ever-growing young blogging community. Thank you for the privilege of an interview with Teabreak.pk. I am honoured.