This is the second time I was invited to a gala for Greg Mortenson. On November 13 ’10 the Central Asia Institute [founded by Mortenson] awarded me the 2010 Spirit Lifetime Achievement Award. This was at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. It was a surprise and I could scarcely contain my emotions. Greg Has been my hero ever since I read his personal story In Three Cups of Tea.
Greg has a phenomenal energy and I suspect it springs from his abiding faith in humanity. I was astonished by the number of schools and events he addressed in his flying visit to Houston a few months back. The CAI has established 145 schools and educated 64,000 students, including 52,000 girls in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Greg Mortenson and I share a bond with the Karakoram Mountains. My novel, The Pakistani Bride, is also set in the remote region at the roof of the world. And although decades separate my novel from Mortenson’s books the desolate lives of the tribal’s they depict are very similar
The guests were welcomed by Sadia Ashraf, Outreach Coordinator for CAI, who also gave a moving account of the devastation caused by the recent floods in Pakistan. She introduced me as Pakistan’s leading writer before inviting me to speak.
The rest of the program was kicked off by a special address from award-winning actress Geena Davis, followed by a talk by Danny Pudi (starring in NBC’s show Community). Greg Mortenson spoke at the very end. The event was compeered by TV and film actor Michael Rady
Every one of the 1000 guests received a copy of my novel Cracking India together with Mortenson’s book Stones into Schools. The evening ended with many in the audience asking me to sign their copies of Cracking India.