Browsing "sarcasm"

The amazing escapades of a “dreadful human being”

Marketed as “a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being”, Worst.Person.Ever. is actually not that unworthy. Written by Douglas Coupland, a very prolific Canadian writer and visual artist, this is a book that is written in the Biji style; a genre of classical Chinese literature that reads like a notebook of a person recording incidents of the believe-it-or-not variety.

Raymond Gunt, our protagonist (who, for the most part, acts like an antagonist) has enough incidents of the believe-it-or-not kind around him. He is an unemployed, middle-aged, B-unit cameraman who is about to be kicked out of his apartment when he is offered a job; to shoot a Survivor-styled reality show in Kiribati. Not only is he offered a job, he is given the option to bring in his own minions. As none of his acquaintances would have agreed to play his minions, he chooses a homeless person with whom he was in an altercation a few days earlier. Here enters Neal, a homeless man who lives in a Samsung cardboard — he is impressed with the quality of Samsung TV boxes and considers them the best form of shelter for homeless — on the streets outside a Russian massage parlour. He always carries a valid passport, though, for a chance like this. Despite being dirty and homeless, Neal is a bit of a ladies’ man and a diehard The Clash fan. Together, they board the flight from London to L.A. and then on to Honolulu and Kiribati for a journey filled with one spectacular misadventure after another.

Gunt is quite horrid; he kills a man — albeit accidently — by calling him fat multiple times and offering him his share of food, causing his blood pressure to hike during a flight. He is also the only literate man on the planet who misspells Harry Potter’s name and writes it with an ‘e’. He is not too big on tipping waitresses either. Though he does not seem like a godly creature, he writes letters to “The Gods” in his head, often complaining about the things that are happening to him.

It is evident from the very first chapter that in addition to being the “worst person ever” Gunt is also the most politically incorrect person and mocks everything from Duran Duran to reality TV to Billy Elliot to vitamin supplements and airline food. In addition, he hates hybrid cutlery and would rather stay hungry than use a sporf (sporf = spoon + fork + knife), a knork (knorf = knife + fork) or a spork (spork = spoon + fork ).

cutlery

yups, the book came with illustrations and captions

For a presumably polite Canadian, Coupland has written Raymond Gunt, a potty-mouthed Brit with enough mastery. Critics may say that this brand of irreverence is not new; after all we are living in the age of Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy and The Hangover’s many child-like men. I find this book and its characters a lot more endearing, however. Despite being a jerk, Raymond Gunt suffers from healthy doses of self-doubt, which make him more real and relatable. Neal has absolutely nothing but his confidence makes him almost fantastical.

The novel comes with neat little boxes throughout the text, explaining people, things, countries and music bands to the uninitiated, in a mix of Wikipedia-style language with a touch of sarcasm. There is really not much to the plot. The novel is more about the narrative, the dialogue and Raymond and Neal’s escapades along the way. Those who liked the British film Withnail & I and would understand this kind of storytelling, though it is a lot more lewd than Withnail & I.

Though the book is a fun read, it is a little too packed. There is so much happening at such an alarming speed that if you put the book away for a couple of days, going back to it and recalling everything that has happened before would be a tad difficult for some readers. Perhaps I am easily entertained or partial to typically profane British witticisms (I have spent far too much time admiring Malcolm Tucker and his inventive insults in TV serial Thick of It and the film In the Loop), but I find this book funny. I believe most readers will find it funny if they can disregard the gratuitously vulgar language. Funnily, I am not the type who normally overlooks linguistic vulgarity but everything that Raymond and Neal said did sound funny enough to ignore the expletive-laden language. In any case, flawed characters with their own sets of peculiarities — though Gunt has more peculiarities than Sachin Tendulkar has centuries — are a lot of fun to read.

Most of us, though familiar with our idiosyncrasies and nasty habits, make excuses for ourselves and think that we’re not all that bad. We always blame our road rage on other incompetent drivers. We blame laxity at work on bad bosses or unimaginative work (surely one must not seek creativity in a profession like accounting; creative accounting can land one in jail) and justify reciprocating with cheap gifts because that particular aunt was stingy when she bought our wedding gift 15 years ago. Raymond Gunt, the protagonist of Worst.Person.Ever, is genuinely unaware of any such flaws and firmly believes that he is a nice person. A massively flawed person so honestly unaware of those flaws is actually quite refreshing.

You will either love it or hate it; a middle ground is unlikely here. The book will probably not win any awards, but it will make you laugh out loud if dark comedy is your thing. As a pop culture enthusiast with an appreciation for English absurdity, I loved this book. The text is hilarious, wicked and oh-so-terribly English. What else can you ask from an unworthy book?worst-person

PS: If you wanted something more, there is a nuclear explosion in the mix to get rid of a Pacific Trash Vortex in the middle of that ocean. Yes, that is the American way of dealing with garbage.

PPS: When the book came out last year, someone (probably or a marketing staff minion) came up with a twitter handle of Raymond Gunt but it died an early death when they forgot about its existence after 16 measly tweets.

PPPS: Pacific Trash Vortex is actually a thing. It exists. It is about the size of Texas and some of the plastics in the trash vortex are so sturdy, they will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw that trash.

First published in Sunday Guardian

Mar 9, 2010 - rant, sarcasm    39 Comments

Twitter, Imran Khan and Aafia

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Twitter is amazing, not only it brings together people from all across the world, but any two or three people can randomly jump in to a conversation and can have a whale of a time together. If you are lucky, you can annoy other people to hell and have fun at their expense (some may call it trolling, but if you do not tag them, I would not call it that). It all gets funnier if the people you make fun of are Z list celebrities who probably google their names every 15 minutes (or more often).

Another friend on twitter and I have had doubts about a Jemima Khan profile on twitter (that was way before she got the blue tick) and we were not sure if it was a genuine account or not. So in a conversation last night we wondered if it was a fake Jemima Khan account or a genuine one. Apparently she saw that, got pissed and in order to prove that she is the real McCoy she scanned her passport with all the details and put it up on twitter! I mean I know she is a blonde and not particularly bright (she married Imran Khan for heaven’s sake) but who puts up their passport on a public twitter account which is open for all?

As if that was not enough drama, some desi men with fantasies of skinny blonde British women falling for them jumped in acting like knights in shining armor advising Jemima to remove her passport details. She then put up another photo of her passport – minus the details – on twitter (she has later removed them both but a pal from across the border saved that passport photo & emailed it to me). I mean what were those gentlemen thinking, she has had her fill of Desi men, she is not gonna fall for another one. One desi dude in one lifetime was enough, dontcha think?

Anyways, that got me started along with two other tweeters, Naheed and Mirza on all things Jemima and her erstwhile husband. Mirza shared that in another century, Liz Hurley and Imran Khan had dated. The made me recall that in the same century, Liz Hurley and Hugh grant also dated and then Imran Khan got married to Jemima and then Jemima dated Hugh Grant and now perhaps Imran Khan is dating the whole Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan which makes it kinda really kinky circle. Mirza then suggested that maybe it’s time Imran Khan and Hugh Grant should get up close and personal. In any case, Jemima has beaten Mr. Khan when it comes to getting intimate with famous people of the same sex – remember the lip lock between Kate Moss and Jemima (it generates 183,000 links if you google it – in case anyone wanted to know that).

By that time, Jemima Khan got really angry and gave me two names; twalker (that’s twitter stalker) and tweak (twitter freak). Now I am all game for name calling but they have to be smart and inventive. If only Ms Goldsmith had actually spent some time in college in her younger days instead of playing house with an aging Lothario, she would have known that tweak is actually a proper English word found in all major English language dictionaries. Her exact tweet was something like this: “What a relief to discover you can block the tweaks (twitter freaks). I’m banishing dissidents like a despot.” Even the statement was kind of a let down. After writing ‘expert’ articles on democracy in Pakistan in esteemed publications like Vogue and Harper’s, I never expected such naked despotic glee from Ms Goldsmith.

We decided to let go of Ms Goldsmith and stick to her former and far juicier half. Naheed asked us if Imran Khan has remarried and then started listing the names of all the women Imran Khan has ever been with but I suggested that we need to leave that alone. After all, if one starts listing all of Imran Khan’s conquests, 140 characters wouldn’t be able to do him any justice. That man has been very very busy for most of his adult life and he is in now in his late 50s.

As far as Imran’s second round at nuptials is concerned, I have a feeling he will do a complete turnaround. In the past, much to chagrin of all the aunties (who were not really aunties back then) he had almost exclusively dated foreigners. Now, in his new Maseeha-e-Islam avatar, he will only take the plunge when ‘Qaum ki Beti’ Aafia Siddiqui returns. Imagine a wedding invite that says ‘Imran Khan weds Aafia Siddiqui’, would it not be a Jamat-e-Islami and Talibaan wet dream? If Ms Siddiqui agrees to marry Imran Khan, then nothing can stop him from becoming the most powerful man in Pakistan.

Naheed disagreed with me. She believes that Aafia Siddiqui will sell Imran Khan at the juma bazaar for a bucketful of ammonium nitrate, which got me thinking. Ms. Siddiqui is a paak baaz Muslim woman, she will probably not agree to a union with a former play boy who has been with MTV VJs (tauba tauba haram). In any case, if the choice of her last husband, Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and ten years her junior, is any indication of her taste, she is into young Jihadist boy toys, not old Romeos like Imran Khan.

PS: I still have Jemima’s passport shot with me but I chose not to publish it, for obvious reasons.

Polygamy for the greater good

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There is an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Whenever I read it, I always think that it must have been coined keeping Pakistan or Pakistan like situation in mind.
Last year with repeated shoe throwing incidents at Ghulam Arbab Rahim, former Chief Minister of Sind, I gave the verdict that Sind Assembly is the lamest legislation house in Pakistan where people indulge in brawling at no provocation. The image took a further nosedive when MQM MPAs in the assembly expressed grief by commemorating a moment of silence at the death of Michael Jackson. I mean we all loved good ol’ MJ and I am sure Mr. Faisal Sabzwari must have grooved to ‘Thriller’ in his younger days, but I was kinda lost and failed to make the connection between Sind Assembly and MJ. But of late, Punjab Assembly has dethroned Sind Assembly as the legislative body where all the moronic, dense and dim witted good for nothing publicity whores gather and talk nonsense at the tax payers’ expense.
A few weeks back, a PML – Q MPA, Ms. Samina Khawer Hayat has decided to straighten the youth of Pakistan by proposing a bill on putting a ban on all the late night cell phone packages across Punjab. According to her, the young boys and girls are wasting their time chatting and texting with each other which is not only bad for their academic grades but is also deemed un-Islamic. She blamed the cell phone companies for the moral degradation of youth by keeping the phone charges so affordable. The best way to deal with the issue was to keep the cell phone charges out of purchasing power of the younger Pakistanis. Needless to say, Ms. Hayat got prime time coverage and was interviewed by many news channels with nothing better on their agendas. A day before the bill was proposed, no one apart from Ms. Hayat’s three children knew or cared about her and all of a sudden, she became the woman who would affect not only millions of young and not so young Pakistanis who call their friends and family late at night, but also the profit margins of perhaps the only successful and commercially viable sector in Pakistan.
Now, Ms. Hayat had tasted blood and she was like this vampire who needed a constant fix to feed into her yearning for more fame, prime time TV spots and front page newspaper headlines. The next thing we knew, she totally hijacked the bill proposed by her colleague Sheikh Allauddin, when she came out and said that men can and should marry a second, a third and a fourth time without the consent of their first wife. While presenting her precious views in favour of polygamy, Ms. Hayat said:

“If there is no bar on them marrying again, all of men’s frustrations would be reduced, while women would be able to salvage their honour and lead secure lives.”

Now call me extremely thick , but if all these men are already married to super women like Ms. Hayat herself, then why in the God’s name are they still so bloody frustrated? Secondly, if there are so many single unmarried women around, why are they not frustrated? Is sexual frustration a male domain only? Are all unmarried women without honour which they can only salvage or reclaim after becoming someone’s second, third or fourth wife? What kind of society have we become where the only course of security for a single woman is to become someone‘s second, third or fourth wife. I guess in Ms. Hayat’s esteemed opinion, the state that has repeatedly failed to provide security to its female population can only go forward by promoting some seriously misogynist legislation.
Like I mentioned earlier, Punjab Assembly has managed to congregate all the idiots par excellence so most treasury members endorsed Hayat’s demand and appreciated her ‘bold’ stance on the issue. Sheikh Allaudin and Maulana Ilyas Chinnioti and Amina Buttar termed her suggestion “ideal”. I was not present there but I am sure that Maulana Chinioti must have been salivating when he said that Hayat had ‘voiced the wishes of Muslim women’.
While there are people who are hoping that Samina Khawar Hayat’s husband marry three more women without her permission ASAP and some are envious of her husband as she has so generously bestowed her husband with the permission to seek wife number 2, 3 & 4, I will only share her contact details.
Those of you who either want to praise Ms. Samina Khawar Hayat or call her names can do so by texting or calling at her cell number 0300-8030786. This is my public service of the day.


I don’t know about the others, but we are seriously living the Chinese curse.

Jan 12, 2010 - sarcasm    15 Comments

Mr. Dasti, eat your heart out !

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Earlier today, I saw something that made me very very happy.

There is a road in Karachi that is named after our former hockey player (the one who was recently fined by one Mr Dasti) Shahid Ali Khan. I don’t know if the road was named way before the hockey player was fined for hugging a lady or maybe the City District Government Karachi decided to demonstrate solidarity with our former national hockey player and basically showed Mr Dasti of Standing Committee on Sports a BIG FAT MIDDLE FINGER.

Dasti, eat your heart out. No matter how many sportsmen you fine, you will never have a road named after you. For that, you need to show talent and greatness or die a political shaheed; you are not capable of either.


PS: I believe Mr Shahid Ali Khan never had as loyal a fan during his heydays as he recently found one in me; only because he indulged in things that are ‘alien’ to Pakistani KULTURE

Oct 19, 2009 - sarcasm    27 Comments

Reading ‘The News’ is more painful than a visit to the dentist…

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Reading newspapers in today’s Pakistan is an ordeal. All you get to read is news about bombings, acts of terrorism and gang rapes which is traumatic at best. But what gets you even more nauseous is reporting done in bad taste and almost non existing editing. The News International was never a great newspaper to begin with, but of late, their standards have reached a new low.

Apart from printing bat shit crazy assed & and downright offensive opinion pieces by Dr A. Q. Khan, they have previously published news about Singer Humaira Arshad’s visit to Punjab’s CM House and how a political party will hold a meeting on September 33 – yes you read it right – September 33. The funny thing is that this news item was published back in September but no one bothered to correct it.

Today’s ‘The News’ was no exception. A report published about the launch of Namal Knowledge City by PTI Chief Imran Khan described his house as a citadel (I think it was the new word that particular reporter recently learned). Among other things, reporter was at pains to point out that Imran Khan did not use the word former while talking about his ex wife and how people gossiped about it.

“Imran Khan revealed that his wife had declined to send his children to the function for security reasons. The guests whispered when he did not use the word ‘former’ while referring to his wife.”

While the whole world, his wife and his assorted animals know that the total amount of aid that would come to Pakistan through the now infamous Kerry Lugar Bill is $7.5 billion, The news editors got a bit carried away and decided to replace the decimal between 7 & 5 with a zero making the amount a whopping $705 billion. I just hope that American tax payers are willing to shell out that kind of money.

The bat shit crazy assed QUOTE OF THE DAY came from former CM of NWFP Mohammed Akram Durrani who says that with assistance in form of Kerry Lugar Bill – or KLB as it is affectionately termed by the local media – the United States is trying to start a civil war in Pakistan by the year 2010. What the fuck does he mean by 2010? What are we doing right now? I thought we are already in a war like situation where 30,000 troops are carrying a massive operation in the North West Border region

Following it closely is the other super crazy quote came from former information minister Muhammed Ali Durrani who believes that “the tabling of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in parliament was a vicious attempt to divert the attention of the nation from the ‘anti-Pakistan’ Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB) and this attempt would be foiled by the vigilant media and political parties.” I just hope to God that he was not referring to his own party – PML Q – as one of those vigilant parties.

PS: I actually read the newspaper while waiting at the dentist’s. So miffed I was with The News that after I came back, I tracked all the news that I remembered and linked it to this post. Reading it was definitely more painful than scaling, really.

PPS: If possible, the epaper header has even more atrocious English.

Oct 18, 2009 - sarcasm    10 Comments

Happily ever after … in 140 characters

Love is when you tweet your feelings … in 140 characters …
Pakistanis and those who are living in Pakistan – even those who are here for a few short months – treat twitter like MIRC of the bygone era. They may not ask you A/S/L but they do use it as a place to practice romance and/or pick up prospective partners.

I have been witnessing an exchange between two people who, for the lack of better word, seem quite interested in each other on twitter. She regularly tweets to him about what’s on the telly, the food she cooked, her yoga classes and her writing progress. He tweets about his work, life and the booty his bootlegger has brought for him in Islamabad (In case you are wondering, we do not live in prohibition era USA but in Pakistan, you cant just go to a pub and order a pint of lager or hop over to you the off license near you and get that six pack of Heineken, alcohol is illegal and you gotta get it through a bootlegger).

I am not sure how this love story is gonna wok out but here is to sincerely hoping that they live happily ever after … in 140 characters.

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Sep 8, 2009 - sarcasm    43 Comments

…and the halalness saga continues …

Honestly, I never thought that my blog posts would be taken seriously by anyone, let alone makers of a halal search engine.
A few weeks back, PTI reviewed one of my previous posts about a halal browser and commented that although the post was in good humour, it was taken very seriously by the more pious readers. That report was carried by Pune Mirror, Yahoo India and The American Conservative to name a few.

A Dutch company came up with a halal search engine (If there exists a Halal browser, please enlighten me about it) with help of which Muslims will be able to surf the internet without the fear of accidentally encountering sinful material. The site is called www.iamhalal.com and comes with the tagline; I search halal, I am halal (wonder what does that make a bonafide google worshiper like me).

Now, I am not a narcissist nutcase who believes that the whole world is copying her but these guys totally stole my idea of three levels of halalness – or rather haramness.

If you type a word that is deemed inappropriate by the search engine, you will be warned in 3 levels of haram.
A query for the term “Suicide bombings” is considered level 1 haram and came with this warning.
Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 1 out of 3. This means that the results fetched by ImHalal.com could be haram!


The word “Sex” was deemed level 2 Haram. The warning for it goes something like this:

Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 2 out of 3. This means that the results fetched by ImHalal.com could be haram!


Searching a word like “Fornication” would put the search engine on red alert (literally) and the warning would come in red letters.

Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 3 out of 3! I would like to advise you to change your search terms and try again

Honestly, this search engine is in a bad taste. Words like love, kissing and Nazi are level 1 haram and words like gay, lesbian and sexy are level 3 haram but words like fascism, nigger, molester, murder and torture are totally halal.

What kind of weird world we live in where adult Muslims would actively seek an internet nanny to filter stuff for them!

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