By: Shazia Yousuf
A major problem that the overseas Pakistanis face is the issue of passing on their cultural values to the next generation. Teaching Urdu to their children is the first step towards keeping the cultural heritage alive.
Bearing this in mind, a young adventurous Pakistani living in Fremont CA Mudassir Azeemi, along with his best friend Arjumand Azeemi (what a coincidence they have the same surname) started up their own venture which they named Qurtaba. It seeks inspiration from the city in Spain, rich in heritage from our forefathers, a hub of innovation, invention and research.
Mudassir is the founder and the driving force at Qurtaba who is inspired by a long list of heroes that this world has seen which includes Ibn-e-Haitam, Ibn-e-Firnas, Bu Ali Sina, Imam Jafar Sadiq, Bill Gates, Ruther Ford, Einstein, Tesla, Edison, Steve Jobs, Hakim Muhammad Saeed and the list goes on. He kindles the spark of innovation within the team and pushes them to do the unimaginable. Arjumand, the co founder looks after the marketing side.
Mudassir feels “…we are losing the grip of our (rich) culture, and more specifically (generally) Pakistanis living abroad are losing their values. To be very precise they are losing the love of their language.”
Did you know, Urdu is the official state language of five Indian States? Yes it is amazing, and according to the BBC Urdu Learning Center, there are 450 Million Urdu Speakers worldwide.
The basic motive at Qurtaba is to introduce Urdu Language in particular to Pakistani children living abroad, and to all those who love Urdu in general. The first software application was built to familiarize children with Urdu Alphabets using colourful animated representation. The second application introduced Urdu Nursery Rhymes in soft melodious tunes. The Urdu Alphabets Puzzle is another colorful application, which can keep children busy for hours and in turn familiarize them with Urdu alphabets. Qurtaba is yet to bring more apps to the market which will for sure bring back fond memories to the parents in general. They recently launched an Urdu Writer application, and made it free. It has the most advanced Urdu keyboard which is very easy to use. You can learn more about these apps at http://www.qurtaba.net/urdu/
These applications are at the moment available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. They are planning to move to Android soon. Their idea is to introduce Urdu to the hi-tech world of today. At Qurtaba, there is a small team of (according to Mudassir) "superb" iPhone Developers who are building these applications under the supervision and planning of the two partners.
These apps will boost the learning capability of children. It is a great step towards spreading the love for Urdu and making the language easier to teach to the young generation. This is just the first small step towards promoting Urdu among overseas Pakistanis. More work is yet to come. These efforts will not only help in keeping the cultural heritage alive among children living abroad through Urdu language, but they will also be able to relate to those back home in a better way.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela.