The programme suddenly stopped, the host was interrupted and while we waited in the auditorium, confused by what was happening, a huge man (this was years before Game of Thrones) strode down the aisle, pointing at me. This was my unforgettable first meeting with George Fulton.
Let me rewind to 2002. My uncle was working with Telebiz and they were recording programmes for the BBC series, Question Time Pakistan. I was interested so I went to some of the shows at the Royal Rodale. During one show my question came up – as it turned out it left half the crowd clapping and the other half glaring. A few weeks later, I was again attending the recording – and this time, when I made my comment, the show stopped. George, who was part of the production crew, recognised me from the previous show. He strode over to me and asked whether I had made a comment in a previous show. Startled, I said yes. He informed me that the same person was not allowed to comment in multiple shows.
The show resumed. Later, when it ended I caught up with George and had a chat with him. Although he towered over me, he was anything but hostile. He was friendly and told me, to my delight, that he was from Yorkshire, one of my favourite places in the world. After a short talk, we parted ways. The experience had been unusual but left me admiring his work ethic.
The next time I saw George was when the whole nation discovered George ka Pakistan on Geo – and it would not be far from the truth to say that George wasn’t the only one who was learning about life in Pakistan. As the audience, we too visited places in our great country that we had not been aware of before George truly embraced the experience and the nation warmed to him.
I remember writing an email to the producers of the show in a vain attempt to have George visit my home. That dream did not materialise, but we all cheered when George became a Pakistani. However, unlike most of us, George and his wife Kiran decided to make a difference. They started a morning show, called the Kiran Aur George on Aaj TV. Some may remember it for George’s efforts to speak Urdu but for me, the show was a breath of fresh air. It was interesting and informative – perhaps something we need even more now. I will never forget sitting at home on August 14, watching their programme “14th August 14 Heroes.” If marketers really cared about the quality of the content their ads feature in, then Kiran Aur George would have been one of the programmes with the highest ad revenue.
As the years rolled by, I enjoyed a few chance meetings with George; on a hot sunny day in Muhammad Ali Cooperative Housing Society (MACHS), and a few years later at Espresso. He always was pleasant and friendly. Later, he and Shaniera Akram, again helped Pakistanis to learn more about our culture and country through their hilarious and informative videos, often speaking in Urdu.
George’s decision to leave Pakistan has saddened millions of Pakistanis. He was a very important part of our psyche and helped us to value things we took for granted or even disliked. I’m sure wherever he goes he will continue to love Pakistan and be an amazing brand ambassador for the country. As we wish him farewell, we need to ask ourselves, when we will learn to see our multifaceted nation through eyes like his?
Tyrone Tellis is Senior Manager, Corporate Sales and PR, Bogo. email@example.com