Cartography or creating maps is truly a rare profession. A. Assam Altaf takes the credit for creating a series of maps exclusively for his motherland Pakistan. From detailing first traditional food map of Pakistan to its tourist attractions map; this young lad is contributing to the nation’s progress.
Obviously, Pakistan’s stunning landscape needs more visitors, travelers should be awe-struck by seeing Mohenjo-daro, Fairy tale Kaghan Valley calls for dreamy day trippers, red-stripped fox awaits a chance to be photographed along with the picturesque backdrop of Hunza valley and authentic Pashtun Cuisine demand more praise from food lovers. This is all Assam dream for; more tourists to Pakistan.
So, here is another interesting conversation with a map maker, an avid traveler and a multiple interest person. Happy Reading.
How did it all start, your extraordinary journey as a Multiple Passion Person?
Deep within, I have always felt that I am a little different from others. One of the odd thoughts I always had is the futility of sleeping. I often think, sleeping reduces life by 30% and I want to use this saved up time to do more productive tasks.
As I am a Multiple Passion Person, I need more energy, time and skills to manage and complete various chores; this is why I don’t want to sleep at all. It is a quite fascinating concept, right?
Tell us more about yourself, the meaning of your name, the school you studied, and the village you were born. Well, everything that brings back beautiful memories.
My name is Assam and I am sure, it is a shocking surprise to everyone in India. Assam is an Indian state’s name, but that’s how my parents named me. In Arabic, the word means ‘sharp sword’ or ‘self-made’.
I am born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan.
After finishing schooling from ‘Cantonment Public School’, I went on to pursue B. Com from ‘The Superior University’ in Pakistan and then, I moved to the US to do masters in Mass Communication.
That’s not all; I have done courses in Graphic Design and Photography, Digital Photography, etc from the prestigious organizations such as ‘National College of Arts’ and ‘Lahore University of Management Sciences’ back in my home country.
Like my personality, I have an interest in subjects that have no relationship with each other. Well, I love exploring new subjects and gain knowledge from multiple fields.
Why do you love creating maps and how do you go about it?
All of my mapping work can be traced back to my passion for travelling. For travelling, one needs to have maps and geographical knowledge.
Out of all the apps available on mobile phones and computer; it is the Map that I fall in love with. With the advent of more advanced location services such as Google Maps, it is now a lot easier for everyone to find places and for a travel enthusiast, its bliss.
Whenever, I go travelling in new countries, the first thing that I would search is for an attraction map.
However, my own country never had such maps and that’s what motivated me to create one for Pakistan. It is not an easy task and demands for hours of learning and research.
Pakistan or Dubai; which is your favorite?
**Assam is currently working in Dubai
I spent 25 years of my life in Pakistan and 8 years in Dubai. Both places are close to my heart, as it both gave me opportunities in shaping my interests, career and future.
Indeed, Dubai is more career friendly, but Pakistan gives warmth and sense of belongingness. I love and respect both the places.
Has the government started recognizing your efforts and talent?
All of my work is conducted on project basis or out of personal interest. I haven’t yet officially engaged with any authorized teams.
However, ministries and government of various countries appreciate my efforts and extend their help as far as possible.
Recently, Saudi Tourism officials had contacted me appreciating my efforts. These genuine gestures give extra enthusiasm to do more.
What do you try to achieve in creating maps of various types?
Basically, my intention is to project the beauty of Pakistan in one single frame. Consider a video; in multiple frames one can convey the information.
But I want to showcase all I intend in 1 single frame. This is what I am doing now, giving a picturesque view of Pakistan in one shot through my maps.
These days, people don’t have time to read or to watch lengthy videos, so maps are any day convenient in understanding the culture and society.
Like any other country, I want people to come and explore the beauty of Pakistan.
How do you calculate the accuracy of the maps?
All of the maps created are based on research, right information gained through books & blogs and my visits to the places to validate the existence and authenticity.
What are your other passions?
I love photography, writing and designing.
Do you earn through selling your creations? If so, how do you find the market opportunity?
No, I don’t earn through designing tourist maps. I have made it for my own country with total passion. Someday, I wish to gift my artwork to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Inshallah.
However, I take up projects, for which I am paid for. I am all happy contributing for advertising, designing, marketing, wedding and other creative projects.
Share with us your future plans and goals
My future plan is to promote Pakistan as much as I can through my designs, photography and ideas. I have introduced https://pakistanatlas.com/ and I dedicatedly work for this.
What is your first memory of creating a map?
One day, I was upset with my job, and wanted to do something different from my regular routine.
So, after the work hours, I stayed back creating ideas, skeleton structure and life to my very first tourist map of Pakistan.
A message to the readers
Always do whatever you feel like without the notion of failure or success.
Never quit your dreams and on the way, you will gather strength and knowledge to move forward despite challenges.
Let me take you to your own twitter post dated 20th Feb, 2020; “I believe my proposed designs have power to change the identity of Pakistan.”
Well, your belief is true; your creations are giving wings to those dreams of people like me yearning to visit your homeland.
Thank you so much for the interaction. I am inspired.