If you go to bed in Rohri one night and are transported in your sleep to the barren expanse of western Texas by some auto magical way, upon waking up, I assure you, you will not for a moment feel that you are not in Sindh. The few miles stretch on the National Highway, which bypasses the town of Rohri and connects Mando Dero to Babarloi near Sukkur in Sindh, is small but exact replica of what a traveller finds on the interstate highway I-10, between El Paso, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona and beyond. Driving 1,400 miles from Austin, Texas, to Los Angles in California, on I-10, I felt very much at home, especially when I crossed into New Mexico and Arizona from Texas. The desert landscape with short bare hills running alongside the road, the remote and brief patches of greenery, even the trees, small in size and looking similar to what one sees in Sindh, small adobe houses, here and there, looking like the ones back home and blowing dust were a feast to the nostalgic eyes. We stopped for a gas refill for a few minutes in El Paso and let me tell you how it felt. I have lived the summers of Sindh. This was no different from the worst of them. It felt as if the air was blowing directly from an oven. I wondered how people lived in El Paso. But then I remembered people lived in Rohri, too And, the heat. We stopped for a gas refill for a few minutes in El Paso and let me tell you how it felt. I have lived the summers of Sindh. This was no different from the worst of them. It felt as if the air was blowing directly from an oven. I wondered how people lived in El Paso. But then I remembered people lived in Rohri, too. I lived my youth there but it never felt that bad then. Living in Michigan and now in the air-conditioned atmosphere of Austin, have spoiled my habits. We were on our way to attend the 33rd annual convention of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) in Los Angeles. Kids’ vacations had already started. Having enjoyed the long driving tour of the East Coast of the US and Canada, last year, they wanted to do it again. It was a two-day drive each way but we knew that we would enjoy it. Ever since 1984 when SANA was founded, hundreds of Sindhis travel from far and wide to convene in a different city of North America to attend the largest gathering of Sindhis outside Sindh, each year. For the last few years, the number of participants from outside North America is also growing. The theme of the three-day convention this year was ‘Educate a girl, empower a nation’. In order to keep the focus on the theme, instead of a politician or a bureaucrat, an educator from the underprivileged area of Thar, Aasoo Bai Kolhi was flown in as the main guest of SANA. SANA recognised Aasoo Bai as well as four other women educators, namely, Humaira Bachal, Haseena Marri, Sadiqa Salahuddin and Sughra Solangi, for their contribution in the field of girl education in the backward and financially-challenged areas of Sindh. SANA had guests from Europe and Africa, alongside a number of participants from Pakistan this year. At least six print/electronic media journalists, two diplomats, two vice chancellors of universities in Sindh, a number of bureaucrats and artists attended the convention alongside hundreds of participants from North America. The high point of this year’s convention was the generous donation pledges made to SANA by its members. Having been promised more than twice the amount SANA received last year from its members as donation, the organisation, which runs a number of social, educational and cultural projects in Sindh, is considering to increase the number of scholarships, awarded through its Feroze Ahmed Memorial Education fund, from 80 to 100 this year. To reiterate the importance of girl education, a major chunk of donated money was to be earmarked for women literacy in Sindh. Executive Council of SANA met with the VCs of Sindhi universities during the convention and discussed with them ways to increase collaboration in the educational field. One of the highlights of the convention was the live broadcast of its events, especially, picnic, on the social media, which attracted a large audience in Sindh. The real-time comments from Sindh enlivened the atmosphere with participants’ families back home feeling like actually being a part of the event and participants waving hands at camera, and sometimes dancing, knowing that their families were watching them. SANA EC adopted 14 resolutions at the convention, demanding that Sindhi language be granted the status of national language and implementation of the promises made in the 1940 resolution at Lahore. The EC in the resolutions, condemned religious extremism anywhere in the world. On the way back, we decide to take a detour to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. Which made the trip a little longer but worth every extra second I spend driving. I found Las Vegas and Grand Canyon worse than their respective reputation. While Grand Canyon is highly overrated, Las Vegas isn’t called the Sin City for nothing. Word of advice: don’t take the kids with you to Las Vegas at nighttime. The writer is an independent commentator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 21st, 2017.