Let me introduce you to my diners.
Atiya Zaidi, a creative advertising guru in Pakistan who shares my love of fantastical places and stories. Neil Gaiman, my all-time favourite author who has taken me to enchanted lands I could not even begin to imagine. And finally, Martin Scorsese who tells stories in pictures, each more moving than the other.
And we will most certainly get along fabulously.
Why them you ask? We are all storytellers. We enjoy stretching the borders of our imagination and seeing what lies beyond. We don’t really like the ordinary world, so we create more exciting ones, worlds where anything is possible, where we control the ending, because it’s the only place where we can.
And now, the menu.
It is fusion and a salute to my roots. The love of cuisine and fantastic food runs strong on my mother’s side, as well as my father’s. I grew up eating some of the best food from around the world, made freshly in my kitchen – so it goes without saying that the menu will be both delicious and extensive. Perfect to draw the night out and let the conversations flow.
My first course: masala crab lollipops. A perfect blend of spices- hot, sweet and tangy that makes you say: Captain Salim who? Up next we have champignon farci or simply put - stuffed mushrooms. Although with the parmesan and the parsley, it kind of tastes more farci than stuffed.
Once we have tucked away the starters, we bring out the big guns. My grandfather’s famous coq-au- vin, served with baguettes as fresh as they come in Karachi. And the grand finale, my dad’s killer prawn masala, paired with - not naan - but mattar pulao.
It is safe to say, everyone is full, but a few bites of creamy chocolate mousse never hurt anybody.
A single dinner is not enough to cover the breadth of topics I would like to cover with each of my guests individually and together, but if I must limit it, we will talk about…
The absolute unfair ending Dany, my Khaleesi, received in the final season of Game of Thrones. After we are done venting and expressing our extreme disappointment, we rewrite her ending again and again until we find the perfect one. Perhaps we will unravel her madness slowly or make her both the fiercest and kindest female hero in cinematic history.
Once we have quenched the thirst of our imagination, we move on to a topic that challenges as well as terrifies us: are there any stories left to tell? Or are we left with just retelling the old ones? Here, we look to the master, Neil Gaiman – the man who has turned fallen stars into human beings and put old golds to war with new ones. He reassures us that we still have great stories to tell, we just need to begin.
You know what is the best part of coming up with a story? The ending. Simply because we can achieve the justice we see failing in the real world. The worst part? When you pop your head back into the real world and see that nothing has changed. Which brings me to our final topic of conversation.
We all have a moral responsibility in this world (it is a mess), so what can we do to save it in our own unique way? How will this story end? Who knows, maybe in a room full of imagination and creativity, we may just be able to find the answer.
Vanessa Nabia Muzaffar is Associate Creative Director, Ogilvy Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org