I grew up in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan and belong to a Kashmiri-Punjabi family whose members migrated from Amritsar in 1947 to settle in Lahore. The renowned Urdu author A. Hameed (1928-2011 اے۔ حمید ) is my maternal uncle who was not only an Urdu short story writer ( منزل منزل) and novelist (ڈربے، بارش میں جدائی، برف باری کی رات ) but also a columnist (امرتسر کی یادیں ) and children’s author (عینک والا جن ) .
The successful modern Urdu poet Ahmed Mushtaq ( کلیات ِ احمد مشتاق، اوراق ِ خزانی) is the elder brother of my Phoophaa Jaan Ahmed Ashfaq. Other relatives include Capt. (Retd.) Mumtaz Malik who was a Staff Reporter for the Daily Nawai Waqt, Anvaar Ghalib who was also a Lahore-based journalist and wrote a book on Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as well as Khawaja Iftikhar Ahmad who wrote “Jub Amritsar Jal Raha Tha” (جب امرتسر جل رہا تھا ). Khawaja Iftikhar Ahmad and his sister Begum Shaista Kirmani were cousins of my father Khawaja Mohammad Shafi (1927-2016). Since Begum Shaista Kirmani married Pakistan Ambassador Ahmad Saeed Kirmani, hence Senator Dr. Asif Kirmani (PML Nawaz) and his sister Mahrukh Kirmani are my cousins. Through my wife, Nabila Talat, I am also the brother-in-law of famous Urdu poet Saifuddin Saif’s nephew. Renowned modern Punjabi poet Ahmed Rahi was talked about in my home as a family member since he was a close friend of A. Hameed maamoon. All these blood ties arose because both my maternal and paternal grandparents were Amritsari Kashmiris who chose to migrate to Pakistan in August, 1947 and had strong blood ties with other Amritsari Kashmiris who settled in Lahore at the time of Partition. One of my maternal uncles, Professor Irshad Ghalib was a friend of another Kashmiri man of letters namely renowned leftist thinker and poet Yousuf Hassan who is based in Rawalpindi.
I graduated in 1974 from Cathedral High School, Mall Road, Lahore with a High School Certificate issued by Cambridge University Overseas Examinations Division (commonly called a Senior Cambridge Certificate). I completed my B.Sc. (Botany, Zoology, Chemistry) in 1978 from Forman Christian College (now a Chartered University run by Presbyterian Church, USA), Lahore. I topped in my M.Sc. Biological Sciences class in 1981 at the Quaid e Azam University, Islamabad.
I taught in various High Schools as a Biology Teacher from 1982 to 1985 notably Islamabad College for Boys (Sector F-6/1), Beacon House Public School (Main Branch, Gulberg, Lahore) and Aitchison College, Lahore. I then spent six months as a PhD Trainee Fellow at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commissions’ Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (Faisalabad, Pakistan). I was selected in the first batch of 100 Pakistani students for the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) Overseas PhD Scholarship Program and spent the next 6 years (1986 to 1992) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA to complete my PhD in Molecular Biology. I was part of the 30% PhDs (from the 1,000 Pakistanis selected for the MoST PhD Program over 10 years) who returned to Pakistan and served out the legal requirement of service within Pakistan that was a condition of the PhD Scholarship (most Trainees never bothered to return to Pakistan). I spent 5 years (1992-1997) at the Center of Excellence in Molecular Biology, Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore as an Assistant Professor.
I emigrated to Canada because of the poor work conditions at my Pakistani research institute in November 1997. I have been working for the last 20 years in an academic research lab at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. I have published 4 first author original research papers and 12 research papers in all. The abstracts and complete text of my published scientific/research articles in the field of molecular biology can be read at the American National Library of Medicine’s public web site PubMed by typing “Afroze T [au]” in the search bar and clicking the search button and that link is embedded here.
I run a web site dedicated to modern Urdu and Punjabi literature, especially modern Urdu Poetry (http://www.dareechah.com) which has a mobile friendly version as well (http://m.dareechah.com). My YouTube channel Goonj (https://www.youtube.com/user/TalatAfrozeToronto), my Google blogspot (http://naee-manzil-naee-raahein.blogspot.ca/ ), my Vimeo channel (https://vimeo.com/user47225306) and my Twitter handle (https://twitter.com/DareechahDotCom) are some of my other efforts to promote modern Urdu literature. Since my literary web site is named Dareechah, I have named my Facebook page “Talat Dareechah-Waalaa” (https://www.facebook.com/talat.dareechahwaalaa ).
I published my first collection of Urdu poems, Urdu songs and Punjabi poems entitled “Ojhal Cheezain” (اوجھل چیزیں ) in 2013 from Toronto, Canada.
I am currently working on an eBook version of Ojhal Cheezain.
My other ongoing projects include:
a screenplay based on the life story of the pioneering modern Urdu poet Majeed Amjad (1914-1974; Jhang and Sahiwal, Pakistan) as deduced from his poems
an Urdu novel incorporating some events in my life
a campaign to familiarize Pakistani students with typing Urdu/Punjabi on a computer and preparing and publishing Urdu or Punjabi eBooks via short web-based tutorials/training. The complete instructions for preparing and publishing an Urdu eBook (http://dareechah.com/diy_type__publish_your_urdu_ebook) and setting up a web site of your own (http://dareechah.com/diy_build_your_urdu_web_site) are given on my web site Dareechah.