May 9, 2007 - quirky    3 Comments

A conversation about pens

Someone I know has this line as his personal message “Do you like Clicky Top Pens or those with a Twisty Bottom?” I asked what is it all about and this is how our conversation went …

Tazeen says:
What has clicky tops and twisted bottoms got to do with anything of significance in life?
SJ says:
Tazeen says:
And how is that?
SJ says:
you can actually judge the personality of a person
Tazeen says:
ok … so what kinda person likes clicky top?
SJ says:
hmmm thats an interesting question
Tazeen says:
batao batao
SJ says:
Tazeen says:
Oh, come on …. stop bull shitting around
SJ says:
Well, the clicky top people are normally straight forward peeps
SJ says:
and they like to push themselves through life
Tazeen says:
Wah … what profound revelation !!!!
SJ says:
and the others do otherwise
Tazeen says:
Chalo … yeh tau theek hai but what about those like dhakkan wala pen?
SJ says:
SJ says:
Hmmm, I think they normally loose their dhakkans !!!

May 8, 2007 - quirky    4 Comments

Whats in a name?

and they say, what’s is a name???

I was told that this restaurant is somewhere in Canada ….
those of you who are in the vicinity, please do go and check this place out.

May 7, 2007 - published work, romance, travel    9 Comments

Finding romance at the airports

During my late night channel surfing last night, I came across a teleplay called Pyar Kahani on one of the local channels. It was a 25 minute long love story with minimal dialogues and a lot of background music.  

It all started at John F. Kennedy International Airport where a shalwar kameez clad Pakistani dosheeza (played by a Bangladeshi actor) with no English language skills was wandering around the JFK, looking all harassed (just like the razia jo ke ghundon main phans gayee ho, although no ghundas were in sight). She was keenly watched by a cute guy (we later found out that he was a Brazilian) with a manual camera slung from his neck (giving him the arty hipster look). They starting talking or rather gesticulating as much as they could have, given the girl’s almost nonexistent and the guy’s barely there English. They both then discovered that they had to kill ten long hours at JFK, so they decided to play tourist and hailed a cab to take them to, where else but Manhattan. The cabbie was a desi who gave our heroine killing looks that vary from “humaree larki sharam-o-haya se na waqif hai aur goray ke sath akaylay ghoom rahee hai” to “aur agar ghoomna hi that au hum mar gaye thay kiya.” They were later shown roaming around Times Square, Broadway, streets of Manhattan and of course Central Park where they paid tribute to John Lennon.

After a long day of taking in sights and sounds of New York and of each other, they boarded another cab to go back to the airport. They were quiet on their way back, stealing surreptitious glances at each, pondering about the impending end of the cab ride. Thankfully it was gora cabbie who minded his own business and dropped them off at JFK. They said their goodbyes and parted ways, she sat amongst the desi crowd in the lounge for the Pakistan bound flight while he roamed a different corner of the airport. Just when our heroine was about to board the flight, the Latino hottie realized that he is in love with our desi damsel and ran after her. In true rom-com tradition, the lift was not available and the escalator was not working and our Brazilian hero (who looked fit enough to out run many sprinters) had to run a couple of flights of stairs and vast corridors at JFK to find his dusky maiden. In the end, they meet and confessed their love … and I am sure they lived happily ever after.

The story was ok – a little too sweet for my taste though – and I have nothing against it, but it was a fantasy; a rather childish one at that. In real life, you see sunburned aged Nordic lotharios at Bangkok airport, yuppies yammering into their cell phones at Singapore, cabbies fighting for customers at Islamabad, men of all ages and nationalities staring at women’s breasts in Cairo (I think it is the national time pass activity of men aged 14 – infinity) and just about every human ear attached to an ipod on any of British airports. I have traveled a lot and most of the time I traveled by myself and have never come across a cute and smitten Brazilian man, or any cute guy for that matter. Most of the time, I end up directing aunties from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the nearby toilets, drinking water taps or their respective gates.

All the four times that I have been to India, I filled an average of 17 ‘entry in India’ forms per visit. Not only did I fill those blasted forms for myself or the odd old aunty traveling alone from Pakistan to see dying relatives in India, I filled up the forms of so many Indians who cannot read and write in English. The Indian government, by some stroke of genius, prints all those entry forms in English alone. May be they want the world to think that literacy is universal in India or maybe they just want the English speaking cool people to come back into the country,  but I digress.

If I am not helping old aunties, I end up answering stupid question asked by young and old alike. Once on my way to Germany, I had a four hour long transit (where else but in DO-BUY-EE). I settled in a chair with a book (of course it happened after a facilitation session where I helped two young women from Lahore on their way to Jo’burg to reunite with their respective husbands in finding the usual toilet, tap and gate). They decided that instead to finding a place near their gate, they should hang out with me. Our conversation went something like this:

Lady1: So you are married?
I: No, I am not.
Lady 2: But why are you not married, umar tau ho gaye hai shadi ki.
I: bas ji aisay hi naheen ki.
Lady 2: haw, yeh kya baat hue. Chalo koi naheen, hum karwa dain gay, zaat kiya hai tumharee.
I: (totally taken aback) ji zaat?????
Lady 1: haan zaat, hor kiya?
I: ji who tau naheen pata.
Lady1 &2: (in unison) haw hai … zaat ka naheen pata … tum Karachi walay shadee waghera kaisay kartay ho.
I: bas ji aisay hi kar laitay hain … bagher zaat ke.
Lady1: bas rehnay do … isi liye shade naheen hue tumharee ke zaat paat ka pata naheen.

I picked up my bag and said, “oh my flight is about to leave,” and the spent the next two hours, cooped up in special people’s toilet (my heartfelt apologies to anyone who wanted to use the facility) alternately blistering and reading my book.

Another time, I was mobbed by three sardarnis at Heathrow, screaming Pallaviiiiiiiiii!!!!! and asking for my autograph. Pallavi??? I asked them who is this Pallavi and why do they think she is autograph worthy, but they refused to listen and I actually ended up signing their autograph books with “regards, Pallavi.” I later found out that it was a character in one of the saas bahu Indian telly soap and the sardarniyan thought I was her (my very personal brush to fame).

Other incidents include an Indian guy asking for 5 dollars to buy coffee at Pearson International, Toronto. Once I was glancing through the Indian edition of cosmopolitan featuring Sushmita Sen in flimsy chiffon dress at the airport in Delhi and a Pakistani uncle, who was sitting next to me, craned his neck to the level of disfigurement to catch a glimpse of lovely Sushmita. When I was done with the magazine, he asked if he can borrow the magazine. Annoyed that I was, I said no, you cannot borrow it. He was persistent and asked why? I held up the magazine and said, “The cover says that it is the magazine for today’s women. You certainly do not belong to the present generation and are most definitely not a woman.”

So far, my finest hour has been the conversation with a Chinese man at Schiphol airport who taught me the choice swear words in Chinese. I may not be able to swear in English and Urdu with such profundity, but I am sure I can shame any hoodlum in the streets of shanghai after that tutorial ….
Shanghai, here I come ….

The published version of the article can be accessed here

May 7, 2007 - rant    1 Comment

the new slang …

I am feeling particularly old of late, and I was wondering why? Do I look different than I did 5 years ago, if I don’t count the extra 10 pounds I packed in that period, not really. Do I make more money that I used to, of course, but that’s a good thing … right? So what is it and then it dawn on me …

I am so not familiar with the new slang that I feel like a fish out of water amongst college going kids. I was just recently admonished for not checking my vitals regularly and I laughed and asked if I look old enough to get my vitals checked regularly (In layman terms, getting your vitals checked means getting your sugar level, pulse, blood pressure level and temperature checked). I was given “The Look” which basically says, ‘oh you are sooooooooo last century.” I was later told that checking you vitals meant checking your email, myspace, facebook, orkut, blog, and/or any daily essential websites. I obviously was not cool enough to know it …

Apr 27, 2007 - Society, women    6 Comments

Only in the "Land of Pure"

I don’t usually pick up the newspaper first thing in the morning and never Jang at that, but earlier today, I did just that – picked up Jang. On the front page, above the fold, I happen to come across this picture where a UC Town (baldia Town) Nazim Salman Baloach is hitting a woman councilor with his leather belt while the union council was in session.

I have no words, such is the state of affairs in this country that the Women Protection Bill fails to protect even the elected members at different levels of legislature from murder (Late Provincial Minister Zill-e-Huma), scorn, (Federal Minister Niilofar Bakhtiar for hugging her French paragliding instructor) and this unnamed councilor in Baldia Town Karachi for getting hit by the belt in front of her colleagues for sins unmentioned. I shudder to think how will we, the ordinary women of Pakistan, be protected under a law that cannot save its elected members.

I am sad.

I am sad that I am a woman.

I am sad that I am a Pakistani woman.

I am sad that I am a Pakistani woman who is fighting a battle that will not be won, at least not in my life time, may be never.
Apr 23, 2007 - Society    10 Comments

In the republic of mediocrity, intelligence is dangerous

The most insidious influence on the young is not violence, drugs, tobacco, drink or sexual perversion, but our pursuit of the trivial and our tolerance of the third rate. –
Eric Anderson

Is it just me or are there other people who get completely pissed at the lack of passion, conviction, time and quality that seems to go into creating everything around us, be it consumer products, pieces of art or literature. Is it just me who wants to break the maddening and never ending cycle (or so it seems) of mediocrity where everything inventive is shunned because it either requires effort and time or you actually are required to get off the oft trodden path which is unacceptable to so many of us because it is “The Known.”
When I accept a job, I generally assume that people have hired me because I am good at what I do and people who hire me claim to need me so that I can enhance the existing quality of work. Recently, I signed on to rewrite the web contents of a technological firm. The original website had too many typos so I sat down and rewrote some parts and edited and proof read the rest. I finished my task in the stipulated time but only a few pages at the website were upgraded. When I asked them why have they not changed the rest of the pages, they said that they don’t need to change them as those pages don’t get hit often. I was flabbergasted. I mean I have already done the work, and if you can upload 6 pages, why not upload 11 more pages? How hard can that be? They had already paid me the full sum of money promised, but they opted not to use my services to the max. when I argued more, they terminated my 6 months contract after just three months of services. Needless to say, I’m really not proud of the site and have not included it in my CV. I don’t want people to know that I am responsible for a site where major typos exist. What the world has come to? As a person, I offered my best to the world, but I was ridiculed and insulted and I still cannot believe that I was punished for not my worst effort but for striving for the best.
Ask anyone, they bemoan the fact that they cannot hire smart and talented individuals who can independently carry out tasks. I used to believe all such individuals till I encountered “The Wall.” I wanted to change my job and started looking around. I applied to a few places and some other people called me as well when they heard that I was available (in the job market, that is). I went for all the interviews, all the interviews went great, my CV is quite impressive (yes, I know, I am not modest) I am articulate, confident and has proven my ability to deliver the good innumerable times, but I was never appointed although I got great vibes in all my interviews.
Now, the question that I ask myself is, how do I, and other three and half people like me, control this celebration of everything mediocre and mundane, how do we put an end to this ongoing festival of the sub-par? Do we die trying or try dying? If you’re like me who can’t stifle the passion that goes into your work, you will probably die trying.

Apr 20, 2007 - quirky    15 Comments

What makes one complex/weird/unusual?

Is it having contrasting opinions, being a non conformist, being unmarried is an overwhelmingly married country like Pakistan or someone who suffer from superiority/inferiority complex? I actually fulfill the criteria on all counts (yes I alternate between superiority and inferiority complex) and I have been called all that and some more.

I know I am complex, at times; I have been told that I have multiple personality disorder. People say that for various reasons. For instance, I use words like iconoclastic, angst, catapult, bludgeon, puerile, myriad, grotesque, conjure, cringe, deplore, abhor, lament, loathe and awry, which I am told that most normal people do not use. Normal people use words like cool, awesome, chill and whatnot. Its not that I use these words just to show my prowess of English language (which I invariably end up doing), it’s just that I abhor, deplore, loathe and cringe at a lot of things/people/incidents. Another thing that makes me weird is the fact that I think it is ok to stalk your crush. Come on! What’s the use of having a crush if you cannot stalk them; ask them all silly questions that should betray your true feelings and basically just annoy the shit out of them. That’s why one has a crush in the first place. Secondly, I think it is very important to have an object of affection, even if you do change that object periodically.

I have perfected the art of rolling eyes … I can roll them heaven wards, downwards, leftwards, rightwards and afterwards, I now fear that my vision is ruined for life. Such a unique accomplishment also makes me an oddball.

I find most things overrated. That includes almost everything except friendships.

I excel at the art of stating the obvious; for instance, I have been brushing my teeth, twice-a-day-every-day all my life, and I still have them; so I would like to state (quite obvious) that you cannot brush your teeth away.

I have also been brushing my hair for the same amount of time and have gotten rid of most of them; so it is a proven fact (another obvious) that unlike your teeth, you can actually brush your hair away.

The list is pretty long, anyone who reads it (all you two and half people), feel free to add your own weird quotient…