Tagged with " Humour"
Sep 25, 2008 - travel    27 Comments

Things I learned about myself and Pakistan in the summer school


Traveling not only opens the world for you, it also let you discover things about yourself and the part of the world you are from. I have always been fascinated by the kinds of responses I get from people (mostly Westerners) when I tell them that I am from Pakistan. The responses can be as varied as ‘oh, but you look Indian’ to ‘for a Pakistani girl, you are very smart’ to questions as intelligent as ‘Will you let your parents select your life partner (arranged marriage)’ to my personal favourite ‘are you allowed to vote in Pakistan?’

During my latest trip to Italy to attend the summer school, I met people from over 40 countries and their questions made me realise that apart from the requisite questions and assumptions about rights of (or lack of) women, people have some really fascinating questions and ideas about Pakistan. For instance, when I told them I am a Pakistani, a lot of people at the summer school reacted with, “Oh you have the bomb.” Initially I thought people were pulling my leg about something I said, but when I heard the same line for the third time, I realized that they were referring to Pakistan being a state with capability to make nuclear bombs. A Spanish guy asked me about how being part of the nuclear club has impacted my life. My response was, “Wait till I become the President, I wont feel the power unless I hold my finger on that all important button.” Who would’ve thought that there are real people out there who think being part of the nuclear club could have any impact on an ordinary citizen’s day to day life. Bizarre, isn’t it? 

Another question that I have been asked is how can my eyes be so black. Random Italian women have stopped me on the streets and when they found out I am Pakistani, they have asked me to send them the special kohl (kajal) from the homeland. I have accumulated 7 chits with different addresses and will be sending them kajals from Pakistan soon.

Hashmi Kajal manufacturers do not know how big a market they are missing. They should start supplying to Italy, pronto (that’s one of the Italian words I have abused to death in the past weeks). They think all Pakistani women have dark mysterious (their words not mine) eyes after seeing my eyes and believe Hashmi kajal is responsible for that (and I thought it was genes from my mother’s side of family).

Another fact that I discovered was that some of the men think that all Pakistani girls are trained by ISI to be awesome. Imagine ISI training Pakistani girls to go sexy on random men, now that would be a laugh. 

I have learned that there is an Arabic meaning of my name, apart from the Turkish, Persian and urban dictionary versions, which is quite different from the rest.

I have been told that I am the girl with the ability to out swear most; actually I am quite proud of that. Hell yeah! It is not the men’s domain only; we do it with far more style and look way better when we do it.

The question that was asked most was, “Are all Pakistani girls as funny as I am?” Frankly, I have been told that I am funny so many times in the past two weeks that I don’t really know how to take it. I don’t even know if it is necessarily a good thing to be this funny, some people make me sound like a court jester which I am so not. Witty, I can take, I know I am, but funny! Should it be taken as a compliment? What say?

Sep 24, 2008 - travel    35 Comments

The harems of Gorizia

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The summer school I attended sucked on lots of counts but it sucked most for gender imbalance. There were so many smart, beautiful and really talented girls and so very few men. The pictures say it all; every man had a whole harem to himself.

It indeed is a man’s world.

Rado’s Harem

Joseph is very happy with his group of girls, the girls seem happy too. Every one is showing their pearlies.

Alex too has a very steady fan following

Alejandro’s girls (although Cheryl does not seem too pleased)

Rares and his bunch of girls

Daniel perhaps was the most popular guy at the summer school. Half the girls had a crush on him (You know who you are girls).

Abdul is not the babe magnet that Daniel is but he can pulls girls as well. After all, he is an Arab (they invented harems) he is rich and related to the slain president of a small country. No mean feat I tell ya.

Last, but definitely not the least, Emir with his small but dedicated harem of two.

PS: The last picture was mailed by Alejandro, the rest are taken by yours truly.

Sep 20, 2008 - Uncategorized    45 Comments

The art and science of sleep

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Ah, the summer school in Italy has ended and we all got our certificates of attendance. Here is the documentary evidence that we worked really hard and were present in classes all the time, no matter what.

Sleeping like a baby.

Alejandro and Joseph, sleeping it off.

Alejandro and Joseph, sleeping it off some more.

Micheal sleeps in style and with accessories.

Adrian with some much needed shut eye.

This is what you call alert nap; Constantin can wake up any minute and deny falling asleep.

George of the jungle was not comfortable in the class.

Alejandro again, I guess he had better things to do than the rest of us.

Another one caught sleeping….

Emir, the man who just could not be bothered with pretending otherwise.

Lyubov decided that she has had enough of the lectures; honestly, I can’t blame her.

Micheal again, this time with glasses on for a different look.

Alejandro again with the Macedonian girl (Bojana, I think); giving the term “Sleeping together” a whole new dimension.

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Sep 9, 2008 - travel    30 Comments

And thats how my journey ended !


When
I decide to travel, something does get shaken up; at least it seems like it. I had to leave home to attend a two weeks course, if it had been anybody else, things would have been smooth for them, in my case, my boss sat on my leave application for ten days before granting me leave. After that I applied for visa and that too run into a couple of snags but that’s another story altogether and requires a full post. I got a flight that leaves at 5:45 am which means I leave home at 3.00 am. As they say here in Italy, perfecto.

But as it was me, things got more interesting. When I got to the boarding counter, it was closed and I was told that the flight was one hour late. After a while someone actually came and we got our boarding passes and proceeded to the lounge and lo and behold, I see a reincarnated version of Madonna from eighties, complete with platinum blond hair with dark eye brows and conical bra which she wore under a shirt that belonged to her when she was two sizes slimmer, and yes, she did make quite a picture.

Surprisingly, the first end of my journey was quite uneventful. I boarded the plane and was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me; I stretched my legs, closed my eyes and woke up when we landed in Dubai.

Dubai was as mad as it can ever be and more. I decided to kill sometime at the bookshop and was horrified to find out that none of the paperbacks was sold for less than 90 dirhams, and that’s a lot of money for a poor person like me.

As luck would have it, I got off at one end of the airport and took the connecting flight at gate 149 which is at the very end of the airport, you then have to climb down the ramp, get on a bus and ride to the plane (why do they make us do that, I don’t know. If they can build so many tunnels, they could have made three more.

At the lounge waiting for my connecting flight to Venice, I noticed that there were hardly any Italians travelling to the city of canals. Along with the customary Japanese tourists and a few American families, the flight was half packed with Tamils and Bengalis of both varieties (Indian Bengalis and Bangladeshis). One woman who was travelling from Dhaka wore enough gold to rival Mr T from A team (you have not lived if you have not grown up on the old reruns of MASH and A team which was as farcical a show as it gets, but I digress. It looked more like a flight bound to Tamil Nadu than Venice, but that’s globalization.

Anyways, I boarded the plane and for the first time in my life, I got to sit next to a seriously gorgeous man. I couldn’t believe my luck when he came and pointed that I have my book on his seat. He looked at me and smiled and I looked back and smiled some more. If it had been a Hindi film, we would have started singing our first song before the plane took off, but in real life we stuck to sideway glances and occasional smiles. After a while, he introduced himself as Paulo and what followed was rapid fire round of Italian. Yes, he couldn’t speak a sentence in English and as my Italian is limited to uno cappuccino per favore (One cappuccino please), Grazie (Thank You) Prego (Don’t mention it) and mi chiamo Tazeen (My name is Tazeen) all I could do was actually introduce myself. With my luck in general and with men in particular, it had to be something like this. I could not have a man sitting next to me who was good looking, interested and able to converse in either of the two languages I know.

Marcopolo airport at Venice is another game altogether. All, and I mean all immigration officers had shaved heads, if they did not had darker Mediterranean skin, they looked members of some skin head supremacist cult, but I digress again. The immigration took no time, the immigration officer spent a total of 21 seconds (yes, I was counting) on my passport and viola I was free to go.

I took a bus that took me to the central train station from where I bought a ticket to Gorizia, which is one the last towns at Italian border, my final destination. After waiting for two hours at the platform in sweltering heat of Venice, I boarded the train and guess, what? You gotta run fast to grab hold of a seat because they always oversell the tickets. There I was, after 14 hours of journey, holding on to my suitcase in a train which was like an oven (they neither had air-conditioning nor, windows that can be opened. After reaching Gorizia, I hired a cabbie to take me to the destination and guess what he did? He took me around the city 5 times ( I have walked around the city since then and I know how tiny it is), told me he cannot find the address and dumped me in front of a hotel (their biggest and most expensive). After 20 hours of journey, I was in no condition to stand on my two feet so I went in, rented a room, and slept round the clock. By the way, did I tell you that I came out 120 euro poorer after this little adventure?

This is Tazeen, signing off from Gorizia.

Ciao, ciao.

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Aug 11, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    No Comments

Actually, judiciously, basically, certainly, definitely

Actually, judiciously, basically, certainly, definitely and finally, Thank you.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sahab has been mocked by this comedy site called 23/6 to no end. This comedy video condenses CNN’s show The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer into one minute. In this one minute episode, apnay Gilani sahab managed to get a few seconds and brought smile to many lips in his usual articulate manner.

Aug 8, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Blogging and PM sahib

Though there is no love lost between me and the prime minister, but I must admit that he is the person responsible to bringing most traffic to my blog, seriously.

The post that is a few months old and still gets most hits is the one I wrote, soon after Gilani sahib took oath as the PM, about his boob groping ways in public. Now every online voyeur who googles ‘boobie groping’ or ‘groping in public’ or ‘boobie groping in public’ or ‘groping video’ lands on that post of mine. The other post that generated over two thousand hits in 48 hours (a gigantic number by my standards as I only have five loyal readers who are generally bullied into reading my blog)was the one where he was trying, in fact trying very hard, to be coherent in English. What is strange that most of the people searching boobie groping online happen to be from either India or Nordic countries! I mean it makes sense that Indians want to see something like that given they are about as repressed as we are, but why would anyone be interested in something like this in say, Sweden or Denmark, I mean why?

Another hit generating question that diverts lots of traffic to my blog is “Is Nadia Khan Pregnant?” Apart from bored housewives in Pakistan and Middle East, I get hits from Belgium and Germany about the suspected bun in Nadia Khan’s oven. In my honest opinion, Nadia Khan has become Pakistan’s answer to Angelina Jolie whose womb is probably more closely scrutinized than the nuclear assets of a major country.

Another hit generating word is Taliban, most of the people searching Taliban are from US who land here on my blog. Instead of finding about the exact location of good ol’ Osama Bin Laden, all they get to see is my letter to Talib brothers and the story of them capturing marble mines in FATA.

Search for Sherry Rehman also landed a lot of people on the groping Prime minister’s post. People have googled questions as varied as ‘who is her hair stylist?’ to the fact ‘if she is married to Rehman Malik’ (Anyone who has seen her husband Nadeem Hussien would know that any one who has ever been married to Nadeem Hussian cannot even look at Malik sahib with affection, let alone marry him).

Shahid Masood is another hit generating person. People have googled everything, from his weight to his salary at PTV to his relations with Zardari and what not.

Here is my advice to fellow bloggers, if you want to increase the number of hits on your blog, just blog about Gilani sahib and a few of his cabinet members (Read Sherry and Malik) and viola, you are popular.

PS: My nephew thinks the most popular term these days in Pakistan is ‘Muakhza’

Jul 30, 2008 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

All about Askari

I have received a few comments and some really weird emails about this post of mine.

The first one was if it was an original chat session or did I make it up. 

People, it is part of an original conversation that I had with a friend. I do have a lot of spare time (I blog after all) but I have not gone coo coo in the head as yet.

The second one was if there actually is a guy called Askari or a figment of my imagination.

Yes, there is a guy called Askari, if it was an imaginary conversation and I had to come up with a name, I would have chosen a more filmy name like Sameer or Sheheryar, not Askari, not after 9 years of Askari government (those who are not familiar with either Arabic or Urdu should know that Askari means military and yes we do name our boys Askari). Secondly, Askari’s Abba would have been miffed if he found out that his master piece was called figment of my imagination.

The third one was, if there is a guy called Askari then why is he not here (people wanted to know why is he all quite and not blasting me on this blog)?

That I am afraid I don’t know, but I have been told (and I have it on good authority) that he is cursing me to hell for making him a celebrity on my blog but I know that he secretly loves it as well.

Jul 27, 2008 - published work    No Comments

Trivial Pursuit

Something of mine that was published in Dawn, an updated and more detailed version of an old blog entry of mine.

Among the benefits of knowing trivia is that one gets to know the true potential of seemingly innocuous things.

Have you ever wondered why Graham Bell chose to invent telephone of all possible things he could have invented?

If your answer is no, then you belong to the sane majority of people who generally don’t spend much time wondering about things that have no relevance whatsoever with their everyday life. If your answer is yes, then it probably is very important for you to know that Graham Bell probably (and it’s an intelligent guess) invented telephones because he wanted to speak to people. As both his wife and mother were deaf, the need to speak with other human beings, besides the quest of scientific discovery, urged him to create the telephone.

I have been fascinated with trivia and general facts since I was a little girl. I always wanted to know things like the exact duration of a blink, which by the way, approximately lasts 0.3 seconds. I would try to read volumes of encyclopedia, much to my mother’s chagrin, who wanted me to spend every waking moment with my text books. My mother actually thought that cramming my brain with useless (in her opinion) information would not leave much room for trigonometry and English literature. What she did not know that knowing that a chameleon’s tongue is twice as long as its body or that milk of a hippopotamus is bright pink or the fact that it is impossible to lick your elbow would make it so much easier for me to understand the Pythagoras theorems and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Such seemingly useless factoids also explain some things that you would not understand otherwise. For instance, an ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain; it is probably why they bury their heads so that no one will notice how disproportionate their eyes are with the rest of their heads and we humans think that they are shying away from their problems. No, they are not; it’s just that they are a little more aware of their eyes than the rest of the animal kingdom. Talking about eyes, human beings cannot keep their eyes open when they sneeze. If they do it by force during a sneeze, the eyes may pop out. It is body’s defence mechanism that we always close our eyes shut while sneezing.

When one once asked me what my favourite animal is, I said shark. No, I am not a carnivorous freak with a ‘Jaws’ fixation. It is just that sharks are immune to all known disease and who cannot be awed by such an infallible creature? Another interesting thing about sharks is that their skeleton is made of cartilage only, it has no bones. It is probably why the saying goes that ‘he is as smooth as a shark’.

People think that multitasking is a term coined in twentieth century and gained true currency in twenty-first century; little did they know that it was truly mastered in 16th century. For instance, Leonardo Da Vinci could write with one hand while drawing with the other. Who can multi task like that in this century? The best we do is drive, yell at the kids, talk on cell phones simultaneously and get fined for that.

Another benefit about knowing trivia is that one gets to know the true potential of seemingly innocuous things. Peanuts are considered fairly healthy food but do you know that it is one of the main ingredients of dynamite, yes the same dynamite that is used in blowing things up. Similarly, beautiful grapes can be lethal when you put them in a microwave; they explode!

According to trivia, cows produce more milk when they listen to music, I wonder if this stands true about the all music or does the quality of music matter. If the quality of music influences milk production patterns, cows will produces finest quality milk while listening to The Who or Abida Perveen but will go on strike if they listen to Naseebo Lal’s songs with many a double entendre.

Some interesting facts about food are that French fries are originally from Belgium and not France. Table salt is the only commodity the price of which has not dramatically risen in the past 150 years (probably because no government anywhere in the world thought about either privatising it or levying new taxes on it). Bananas are the new chocolate; it is discovered that they contain a natural chemical that makes a person happy. The same chemical is found in prozac, so if prozac is not readily available, have a banana instead to feel happy!

There is a phrase in English language about selling ice to Eskimos. Well, they may not buy ice, but they sure do buy refrigerators. In Alaska, the Eskimos use refrigerators to keep their food from freezing solid. In Taiwan a third of all funeral processions feature a stripper — and we thought it was the decadent West that brought the trend to this part of the world. If BBC radio is to be believed, 57 per cent of British school kids think that Germany is the most boring country in Europe, however, BBC radio did not elaborate why do British kids think that way. Desi restaurants in United Kingdom employ more people than steel making, mining and shipbuilding industries put together in that country. No wonder John Major declared ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ to be the national British dish. Another important tradition started by marketing forces is Santa Claus’ red coat. It is only about 80 years back when coca cola started this Red Santa campaign. Before 1930s, Santa used to wear green coats.

It is said that a human being spends, on an average, two weeks of their entire lives waiting for traffic lights to change. Obviously if that person happens to live in Karachi, he or she would spend an average of about two years waiting for traffic signals to change.

Needless to say, I have proven beyond doubt that I’m a trivia junkie; if you want to know the lurid details of Nelson Mandela’s divorce (for a price of course) you know who to contact.

Jul 25, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Conquering another language !

I soooo want to learn a new language.

There is merit in learning languages other than your first language and English which frankly everyone speaks these days. I don’t even want to learn a new language because it will look cool on my college application – been there, done that – without ever knowing a third language. In fact, I already have three degrees and if I even think about going back to school (which I secretly do), my sisters will commit me to a mental institution. The doctors at the mental institution will have to coin a new term for my disease which would sound something like ‘addicted to being a student so that she can do weird stuff and stay unemployed while pretend pursuit of academic excellence’, but I digress.

I don’t want to learn a new language because I want to be known as that ‘crackpot who can speak Ukrainian’; there are enough reasons already for me to be classified a whack job. I don’t even want to be called a well rounded person because I am a well rounded person. As a matter of fact, I need to turn some of that roundedness into lean muscle, but I digress again.

My problem is, every time I decide to learn a language, something turns me off that language. Anyone who knows me knows my love for Ghalib. According to Abba (not the Mama Mia fame 80s pop act – I call my father Abba), one cannot appreciate Ghalib unless one knows Persian language, so I was always a little biased towards Persian and wanted to learn it to understand Ghalib better. My 45 day trip to Iran stripped all the love and affection I had for the language. All I can now remember is how the Irani actor who was working on my play complained about being sexually attacked by a Pakistani actor and how I placated him and requested him not to register a complaint (Homosexual advances are a non bail able offence in Iran).

As a child, I also wanted to learn Arabic because I quite naively thought knowing Arabic would guarantee a palace in heaven. Dealing with a Saudi stalker in university who refused to register the fact that no amount of petro dollars will make him popular with quirky girls, took care of my childish fascination with Arabic. The fact that I can still fool my European friends at Dubai airport into believing that I know Arabic by reading flight schedule in Arabic also contributed to it (why learn a language when people think that you know the language already?).

Another language that I toyed with a bit is French. I hate snooty waiters at French restaurants who always correct my pronunciations. I dream of going to a French café and ordering Soupe au pistou, Boeuf Bourguignon and Salade Niçoise without fumbling once. I tried speaking French with my friend Laurent but every time I said voulez vous, he cracked up and dashed my hopes of holding my head high in a French restaurant.

I think I should concentrate on Spanish instead. For one, I know all the swear words in Spanish after attending football matches in Spain. They say that if you know how to swear in a language, it is half the battle won. For another, I have always wanted to sing along Ricky Martin’s Spanish songs.

Jul 14, 2008 - published work    No Comments

Work is a four letter word

Something that was published in Dawn, they gave it a different title but I liked mine better so here it is. It is actually a longer version of a previous blog.

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The recent idleness in my life, the unintended vacation I was on, made my days long and nights extended and I started pining for — yes, of all things — workplace insanity.

I longed for the days when I was surrounded by colleagues who felt no compunction in stealing my lunch from the office refrigerator, the inveterate gossip-monger who would say something to me and then go to the other person with the same statement using my name. The insecure boss who hides his incompetence by putting down my degree as inconsequential (if you have a foreign degree and your boss does not, you would get as much of an opportunity of growth as a one-legged man would in a kicking competition). In short, I was so bored with staying at home that I missed all the things I used to detest about my workplace.

Workplace dysfunction is definitely funny when you’re watching The Office, but it is serious business when you’re trying to cope with it every day. The biggest irritant at the workplace is the fact that the most degrading workplace tasks are the ones that are always put forward as being special.

Another sign of workplace dysfunction is getting labelled. If one is working in the corporate sector, one is either a YAWN (young wealthy but normal — the term reserved for people who despite earning insane amount of money live normally) or one half of Dinks (double income no kids — this is the kind that go for expensive vacations and usually have a 72-inch plasma TV). There are yuppies (young urban professionals) who wear sharp suits and drive fuel-guzzling vehicles; and last but not least, Bobo (Bohemian bourgeoisie) which include people like most of us who, although gainfully employed, have no sharp suits, no plasma TV and definitely no extra money lying around for expensive vacations.

Everyone has their fair share of weird co-workers; I just happen to get twice as lucky as most people on this planet. The amazing variety of people I have had the chance to work with is astounding. Who else can boast to have worked with just about every clichéd office character under the sun, ranging from the narcissistic-jerk-of-a-boss to the regular run-of-the-mill slacker, the office stud, the office tart, the gossip, the manipulator, the eater, the people-pleaser, butt-kisser, whiner, over-committed-company-man to… my personal favourite, the sarcastic un-committed slug.

We all have at least one ‘70-hour a week guy’. He lives, eats and probably sleeps at work. He’ll be in when you arrive and working still when you go home. He’s often in on the weekend and before you can say the word ‘bingo’, the management starts encouraging you to follow his example and sacrifice your personal life, provided you had one to begin with. The management would probably throw in the incentive of paying for every third angioplasty, if caused by workplace stress.

I have had the (dis)pleasure of working with this man who had a British-public-school-boy attitude, an illegal amount of (over) confidence and insane profundity in corporate speak. He would always rant about things like ‘high accuracy assessment’ and I would want to scream, “what the hell is that?” Does anyone really care if the assessment is highly accurate or just accurate? The terms I loathe most are ‘thinking outside the box,’ ‘paradigm shift,’ ‘synergy’ and ‘brainstorming,’ especially brainstorming. What do you think people do when they brainstorm? Nothing gets shaken up, no one sees the light. All people do is consume loads of tea and coffee and bitch about people who are not part of that particular brainstorming session.

I once had this co-worker who epitomised Protestant work ethics of 19th-century Americans (even the Americans have slackened down a bit since then). It was impossible to indulge in a bit of harmless normal workplace slacking such as surfing the internet, making a few personal phone calls or reading some newspaper in her presence. She would look at you, berating you for doing the sinful act of reading the newspaper at the workplace. If her workload is low, she would sit in her chair and do nothing — like staring at empty spaces or at her computer screen. I mean I am all for meaninglessness in life, I think it is very important, but staring at empty spaces does not match up when you can actually read about Britney Spears’s life online and feel good about yourself.

In most offices, people aspire to become managers (if they already aren’t). A manager’s designation is not high enough to be out of reach for most people, nor is it lowly enough to indicate lack of ambition. I became a manager two years into my professional life — soon after I abandoned my efforts at eking out a living with journalism — and was quite happy being the team leader. For those who don’t know how misleading this title is, let me tell you that my title as the team leader means that I report on the workload to higher-ups at meetings and make sure that my staff does not steal too much stationary, do not take too many tea breaks and report back to work after the long lunch and prayer breaks on Fridays.

Another very interesting part of working in a corporate setup is personal appraisals. As a team leader, I sat through the appraisals of my team. I had to be politically correct and come up with inventive ways to get my point across without stepping on any toes. When one had to come up with lines like ‘works well under constant supervision’ at times when all one wants to write ‘needs a rap on the knuckles every five minutes’ every year for over a dozen people, any delusions of creativity fly out of the window. At times, I have been tempted to blurt “I quit!”, pack my desk and be carried to the elevators by my admiring colleagues, but a scene of such dramatic bravado and career hara kiri is best left for Hollywood movies like Jerry Maguire (1996). I usually take leave of my employers with a resignation sent via email. I console myself with the fact that for most of us, work is just a four letter word.

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