Episode 107: Manahil and Nimra Bandukwala

Recorded on Thursday, July 27, 2023

I speak to Manahil and Nimra Bandukwala about their project, Reth aur Reghistan to share the folklore of Pakistan through art, poetry and storytelling.

Manahil Bandukwala https://www.manahilbandukwala.com/

Nimra Bandukwala https://www.nimrabandukwala.com/

Reth aur Reghistan https://sculpturalstorytelling.com/

Women Wide Awake https://sculpturalstorytelling.com/women-wide-awake/

forthcoming from Mawenzi House https://sculpturalstorytelling.com/women-wide-awake/

Another episode in the extra-lit or off-page thread.

Border Poem by Manahil Bandukwala and Sanna Wani, published in Briar Patch Magazine:


From Nimra, we learn of the various activities associated with Reth aur Reghistan, including workshops and a chorus. Manahil talks about the contents of Women Wide Awake, which focus on the stories of women.

Encouter published by Rahila’s Ghost Press

They talk about their trip to Pakistan and the research they did there and here in the Pakistani community. Manahil talks about the multi-disciplinary aspects of Pakistani folklore, which is present in the project as well. Nimra discusses their background living in Karachi, and how they found the people to talk to about the project, with examples of some of the things they discovered.

We talk about the art that is in the sculptures and the book, found and foraged materials in particular.

We discuss why they were interested in Pakistani folklore. Nimra talks about the history of Pakistan and specifically Karachi.

I ask them how they find working with one another.

We talk about the role of metaphor in folktales and in the stories, art and poetry that Manahil and Nimra create.

Nimra talks about past and future exhibits in Toronto and Guelph. I ask about the importance of sharing stories and the different ways they’ve done so. They talk about the response of people.

I ask about including notes on the timeline in Women Wide Awake. Manahil talks about the importance of having a living folklore. Nimra talks about the importance of the land which is tied to the folktales.

We talk about the process for the creation of the stories, poems and sculptures.

I ask about the reception for the project.

Nimra talks about the heavy flooding that happened in 2022 and the yearly flooding that takes place. Chances are that there will be heavy floods this year and many haven’t recovered from the floods of last year.

Where to Donate – Pakistan Floods in 2022 and their aftermath

Edhi Foundation: https://edhi.org/donate-us/

Canadian Red Cross: https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/international-programs/international-development/asia/pakistan

Humanitarian Coalition: https://www.humanitariancoalition.ca/pakistan-floods-crisis

World Food Program, Pakistan Emergency Appeal: https://tinyurl.com/4crnemks

IDRF: https://idrf.ca/project/pakistan-flood-relief/

Obama Foundation: https://www.obama.org/discover/stories/help-pakistan/

Note of Praise

The work of Nimra and Manahil Bandukwala to share the folklore of Pakistan is all-encompassing and offers many different ways of approaching the stories from colourful gorgeous art that uses elements of nature from Pakistan and Canada, to the stories and the poems that give us both overviews and first-person perspectives of the stories. Folklore is the expression of cultures, and such expression is often lost over time, and often this loss is due to imperialism and colonialism. I am grateful that Manahil and Nimra decided to share these stories with the world. They are empowering works of delight, heartbreak and beauty.

Thanks to Nimra and Manahil for being on the show, to Charles Earl for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for intro and outro assistance, and to all of you for listening and sharing the episodes. Stay tuned for our next episode with designer and artist Barrie Tullett!