By Sonya Rehman
While popular Facebook pages such as ‘Humans of New York’ (and other similar pages) enjoy their fair share of popularity on the internet, a humble educationist in Lahore decided to honour inspiring Pakistanis via his very own, and relatively new, Facebook page – ‘My Awesome Journey.’
High-spirited and chirpy, Usman Aziz’s energy is infectious – it’s almost like he’s glugged down ten cans of Red Bull and is ready to take the world head-on. Having done three Masters (one locally and two from the US), Aziz states that he launched his Facebook page with the sole aim of bringing to light inspiring stories of Pakistanis.
In an interview with Paperazzi, Aziz speaks about his project, the most inspiring interview he recently conducted and his future plans.
What inspired you to launch ‘My Awesome Journey?’
I wanted to meet new and amazing people in the city to talk about their sorrows, joys, and life lessons, etc. We have some extremely interesting people in our community doing awesome stuff you know! I had thought about doing this about 8 years ago but it never really panned out.
Only recently did I think about going ahead with it after I had to face an unfortunate incident in my life. It was then that I realized that I wanted to see how people sustain themselves in their life journeys, when they see their world collapsing right infront of them. Hence ‘My Awesome Journey’ was launched in late January, this year. I think life teaches you great lessons and what better way to learn about these lessons than from those around you. It really helps. This led me to start the project. In addition, I also wanted to project a softer image of Pakistan, unlike the nonsense the media puts out.
Who was the first person you interviewed?
The same day that I launched my page, I interviewed Haroon Khalid (the Author of ‘The White Trail’) and Omair Rana (the Actor/Director). Haroon Khalid spoke openly about his drug addiction and the battle he had to fight to overcome it. It was amazing because he was open and honest about it. Omair Rana believed in my project from the beginning. He was kind enough to invite me to his place talk about his life. It was an enriching experience.
What has the response been like so far?
AMAZING. I am meeting people I never thought I’d meet! I am appreciated and I love that. I am making tons of new friends and having the time of my life. It is very time consuming and keeps me super busy, but I love it. I think everyone has a great story that must be shared.
You have over 4,000 ‘likes’ so far, do you have any plans for your page in the near future?
I started the page with zero expectations and remain having no expectations. I hope great things for it though, however I take each day as it comes. I want to enjoy the present as I have dwelled too much in the past and worried too much of the future at times. I refuse to do that anymore.
Who is the one person you’d LOVE to interview for ‘My Awesome Journey?’
While I want to interview as many people as I can, two people I’d love to meet and interview are Mrs. Nasreen Kasuri, the COO of the Beaconhouse School System, and Mr. Kasim Kasuri (the CEO of the same school). Because I am an educationist, I think we could learn a lot from both of them regarding their lives, their careers and education in Pakistan.
Have you had any interesting experiences while interviewing your subjects?
Every interview has been such a unique experience for me – it’s amazing how people open up and have such profound knowledge. It is really beautiful to be honest. I’ve had many interesting experiences with my subjects – however the one which truly stands out was when I recently interviewed Muhammad Sabir – I was crying throughout the interview (and kept apologizing) – but his story made me realize that we take our easy life for granted. Do check out my Facebook page for Sabir’s interview if you’d like to be moved and inspired by an incredible Pakistani.
What’s the one thing you’ve learned while interviewing Pakistani’s for ‘My Awesome Journey?’
That Pakistani’s are empathetic human beings. The ones I have met choose to keep bravely moving forward. In addition, I’ve also learnt that Pakistani’s are extremely supportive and go out of their way to help you.
Paperazzi, Pakistan Today