After reading and hearing mostly negative news out of Pakistan, Aisha Chowdhry wanted to know what was really happening on the ground. She bought a camera and tripod, and traveled to Lahore, with Google as her only guide to shooting video.
Born in Pakistan and fluent in Urdu, she had an urge to tell man-on-the-street stories through a documentary film. Pakistan: Inside the Tinder Box, the end result of more than 100 interviews she made over four weeks in 2009, shows the “smiles and tears of ordinary folks—students, teachers, slum dwellers and musicians—struggling with terrorism.”
“I had wanted to be in journalism when I was younger,” Chowdhry said. “I would stand in front of the mirror and pretend like I was anchoring the news, but I knew nothing of what journalism really was.”
Her first foray into reporting launched her on an entirely new career path. Before the documentary, Chowdhry had worked in real estate marketing.
“I really did this as a learning experience. One, just to see how it went for me. And two, for educational purposes,” she said. “I wanted to inform people, because you probably won’t see a lot of this otherwise.”
After wrapping the film, Chowdhry decided that formal training was the next logical step and completed a master’s in journalism at American University. It wasn’t long before she was back in the field.
For a month, she was embedded with the U.S. army in Afghanistan as a freelance correspondent. It was her first time in a flak jacket and helmet.
Continue Reading …