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Travelogues by Altaf Shaikh Travelogues by Altaf Shaikh / Resources / Home  
 
Altaf Ahmed Shaikh (Sindhi: الطاف شيخ) is a famous Sindhi scholar from Pakistan . Altaf Shaikh is a travel writer and well known traveler. He was born in the house of Gul Muhammad Shaikh on November 14, 1944 in New Hala District, Hyderabad (now Matiari District).


Altaf Shaikh got his early education from Hala, then from Cadet College Petaro. He studied marine engineering at Marine Academy Chittagong, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh ) and did post graduation from World Maritime
 
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University , Malmo , Sweden . He was qualified as a ship engineer and after sailing as Chief Engineer on various types of ships for some 12 years he served Malaysian Naval Academy and Pakistan Marine Academy as Head of Marine Engineering Dept. for 8 and 12 years respectively.

Altaf Shaikh started writing regularly at the age of 18, when he was in Chittagong . His first story book was Anamika (the Bengali word for "unknown") was published in 1966.

He can speak Bengali, Japanese and Malay fluently.

His first book on travel was Munhnjo Saagar Munhnjo Sahil, which was published in 1971, and won the Pakistan Writers Guild Award. Mr. Shaikh has written over 67 books, mostly travelogues.
 
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Article By Altaf Shaikh.   |    يورپ ۽ اسانجي ملڪن ۾ فرق    |    Article By Altaf Shaikh (Click Here)
 
Sharing the twists and turns of the deep blue sea
Saturday, January 26, 2008
By Jan Khaskheli, Karachi

Altaf Shaikh, a renowned travelogue writer, has recorded all the experiences that he has had while visiting port cities, seashores and islands during his vocation as a marine engineer.

“Sailing on a ship as a chief engineer (marine) and teaching subjects like Ship Construction and Naval Architect in Karachi, Malaysia and Singapore Marine Academies were my professional activities but writing always remained my hobby,” he told The News.

Born in Hala New, the town of architects and a community of artisans and poets, on November 14, 1944, Shaikh got a degree in Marine Engineering from Dhaka. He said he could not give more time to writing while on board as being a sailor it was his responsibility to watch out for the engine of ship and be in charge for the ship’s safety when it was facing a possibility of sea storms during the course of journey. There was always a tension about rough weather and ups and downs in the sea on a ship. But now after retirement, he said, “I have found the freedom to complete my task. I do not care anymore for facing any rough weather, sea storms and maintaining the engine of my ship.”

During his teaching career in Marine academies of the world, he taught students hailing from different countries how to run and build ships. “I was waiting anxiously for my retirement so that I could complete my unfinished travelogues.”

Altaf is the author of 68 books in Sindhi, Urdu and English, many of them are like guidelines for students of marine academies. “I got more material from the students about their countries during my teaching in the foreign marine institutions. Not only this, I have been in different countries while studying there and have learnt a lot as well. I got marine engineering degree from Chittagong, Bangladesh and Post Graduation from World Maritime University Malmo, Sweden.” He has also received academic degrees and diploma certificates from different world institutes.

“In the beginning I tried to write short stories, which were published in magazines and newspapers of different countries. But when I started my career on ships I got more experience and tried to share the same with readers in the shape of travelogues,” he said.

He later joined Pakistan National Shipping Corporation as a Junior Engineer in 1968. He performed his duty on different ships as an engineer and chief engineer and visited coasts all over the world.

“When the days of my retirement came there was nothing in my mind to write about. But now when I recall the days I have spent on ships and the port towns and cities I feel that many ideas are driving into my mind. I instantly start writing. Some of them are highly interesting, informative and educative, which I want to share with readers and hope they will enjoy the same.”

“Writing is my pastime and I want to keep myself occupied with it. I have many ideas and am always happy to put my thoughts on paper,” he said.

Currently, Shaikh is working on two travelogues of America and Iran simultaneously. “I stayed in America from 1968 to 1972 and spent more time on the seaports of the USA while our ships sailed there.”

It is interesting that after 35 years, Shaikh revisited the port cities where he lived earlier, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Huston, etc. However, now he is travelling to the same places via flights, trains and buses and written 1,800 pages, out of which he has published two books, comprising 600 pages each while other books are in the process. These two books include From New Hala to New York and From Bakhshu Village to Baltimore. Moreover, he is writing another book on America, comparing its past with the present.

The other book that he is writing is about Iran, where Shaikh during his period on ship never stayed at Bunder (Port) Abbas and Bunder Khumeni. “Our ships went through Bermuda, the Bahamas and Lass Palmas islands but the ships never anchored at the Iranian ports. So, recently I visited Iran and stayed there for a week. I met with my Iranian ex-students, who were studying at the World Maritime University, Malmo, where I was a teacher.”

On a question about writing a novel, Shaikh replied, “I have gone through several memoirs and autobiographies, which have inspired me. But I feel that I am not fit for writing a novel. Instead, I mix up stories while writing travelogues. I always try to share my experiences of port cities abroad and portrayed the life style, interesting things, food, culture, art of these nations with my readers.”

Originally, he belongs to a small grower family but Shaikh loves Karachi. Though he is very social, he now prefers solitude and write more.
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