One can write a book on the witty one liners and the poetry on the back of public buses and rickshaws in Pakistan. I thought I have seen it all, a truck painted with a roaring lion with Nawaz Sharif’s face (thats his election sign) to another one with “Lakh nakhray dikhao load uthana paray gay, chahay kuch bhi, mianwali tau jana paray ga” to a rickshaw that proudly claims, “Bara ho ke truck banoon ga.” However, this rickshaw is suffering from severe identity crisis and calls itself Prado (for the uninitiated, it is mid size four wheel drive from Toyota), and i thought it was just us, humans, who are frail enough to suffer from identity crisis. Looks like we are not the only ones. Somehow, it does not make me feel any better.
So along with a million and one Indians, Shobha De (yes, the one who write ultra trashy novels that get published and I cant find editors for my 1000 word articles) also jumped in to discuss the myth about Pakistani studs (for full story, see ). Ever since Britney Spears started hanging around that shady character (can’t dignify it by calling it dating) Indian newspapers went in a tizzy about Pakistani stud muffins and how they woo the fair ladies from the far far away lands. The earlier examples cited were Princess Diana and a very irritating Jemima Khan (cant make up my mind, who I find more irritating, Jemima or her ex).
First of all, I want to know what is wrong with Indians? What fascination they have about romance with Pakistanis, be it men or women (we have seen enough of Veer Zara type films to know that the fascination just does not end with any specific gender).
If you ask me, I would say that Pakistani men are NOT wonderful at all, perhaps with exception of a very tiny minority, the rest are worst than their counterparts in other parts if the world, India included. Jemima and Lady Di fell for them because they did not know any better. Diana (God rest her soul in peace), did not live to regret her decision – thank heaven for small mercies – and Jemima has wizened up after 9 long years and left our pathan bhai ji for an equally unimpressive Hugh Grant (some people just never learn).
Like other Britney affairs, including her two marriages, this too shall not last. Waisay bhi, we have enough problems of our own, we sure as hell, do not need another train wreck.
Ms. De goes a little further and says that the mem sahibs in question sought salvation of some kind, when they hooked up with Pakistani men. I beg to differ and think that they just were looking for something different; like an evening out to eat curry after eating Yorkshire pudding and fish and chips for sooo long.
She further went on and said that the next stud (!?!?!?!?!) to attract a foreigner is Asif Zardari. Even the most ardent admirers of Mr Z would find it unpalatable that he be called stud. STUD!!!!!! Some people have started using the words soooo liberally. I don’t think Mr. Z is in the market for a wife, mem sahib or otherwise, for the time being. Unless, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari comes back after finishing his degree and Mr. Z hands over the party reigns to his son, he will watch his steps very carefully and play the dutiful widower who will be sitting beside the picture of his more dynamic deceased wife.
In any case, you only get lucky once.
As for Pakistani studs, I am yet to see a genuine true blue one.
As a rule, anything written at the beginning of year is usually optimistic or it should be full of hope. This rant of mine is neither. It is a reaffirmation of the fact that we may speak fluent English and want democracy, we live in a feudal/tribal society where anything populist and democratic would stay a distant dream.
On December 30th, we saw the coronation of a 19 year old “prince” (Bilawal Bhutto) who was appointed successor of a political party (Pakistan People’s Party) that is supposed to hold “democracy” dearest. It was a macabre ceremony that humiliated democracy most; perhaps more than the military boots. It looked more like a “Gaddee nasheeni” ceremony than the “election” of the head of a national political party working for, what else but, democracy. It was the Gaddee Nasheeni of a new, albeit a very young, Pir.
A few weeks prior to that, retirement of an army general (Good ol’ Mush) and appointment of another(the new pervez, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani), also became a scene of royal coronation where the symbolic baton was handed over to the new general with much pomp and solemnity like a vanquished head of state submitting to a victorious general.
These people, the so called leaders, are a disgrace to the country!!
Considering the fact that I live in Pakistan get to see some really bizarre things, nothing should be shock me but then things happen which are so crazy that you left wondering what is the point of even trying to straighten things up.
Sundays are never dull and lazy for me and crazier than usual in Ramazan when everyone who comes looking for alms knows that Sunday is the day when I would be home. Most people would come with really inventive stories like this woman, who comes off and on for financial help and has just had her 9th heart attack and wanted me to pay her hospital bills. She must have the sturdiest heart in the whole goddamned world that is still working after so many attacks.
At time it irritates me that they think they can take you for a ride, but at times, I don’t question their dubious stories for the effort it must have taken them to come up with such amazing pieces of fiction. Anyways, this old woman, who comes every month, came yesterday. After receiving her monthly stipend, she lingered on and asked if I could help her with some extra money as she needs to get her two grandsons circumcised. From what I know of her family, I knew that she has two grandsons aged 10 and 8 and thought they were circumcised like all the other Pakistani Muslim boys. Turns out that they were not circumcised as newborns and now that she wants to get her grand sons admitted to a madrasah, it is one of the pre conditions of the admission in Madrassah that all boys must be circumcised. Not only they insist on giving admission to circumcised boys only, they physically check them to ensure that the parents are not lying about such vital information. What a novel way to discriminate! Why the hell would they be so interested in the private parts of their little students, what’s that got to do with the madrasah curriculum and student performance. The parents are either ignorant or too poor to raise voice against such practices which violate their little children. I know that circumcision is recommended in Islam but is it THAT important?
I advised the old lady against getting her grand sons admitted to that madrasah and promised to pay their tuition fee if she gets them enrolled in a regular school and she relented. I had such a bad day afterwards and conjured up all kinds of scary scenarios where young pre pubescent boys were being molested by their faculty in such institutions. I tried to save two boys but who will save those hundreds of thousands little boys who are either studying in such madrasahs or will be inducted there in near future.
Shobha De recently paid to tribute to Shahrukh Khan in an Indiatimes article where she said that he is the “man with an important agenda (to save Islam and restore its tarnished glory) and not just an actor but an influential agent for change.”
She believes that he is ready to enter into the second or dual phase of a public life and become a politician. She thinks that “Shah Rukh Khan is the Neo-Mussalman India has been waiting for. He wears his religion unabashedly on his sleeve and has referred to himself as ‘an ambassador for Allah’. She also noted that over the past few years, SRK-watchers have monitored his every ‘aadab’ and ‘salaam alaikum’ at high profile events and commented that he no longer greets fans or anybody else, with the more traditional ‘namastey’. He also makes it a point to acknowledge ‘Khudaa’s’ grace and blessings, each time he is complimented, besides vociferously articulating his feelings about the misrepresentation of Islam. These sentiments are heartfelt and undoubtedly sincere. They all add up to a whole when seen in a larger, political context.
If SRK does contest an election in, say, Uttar Pradesh, he’ll win it, hands down. That’s a given. But will he, unlike some of his other film industry colleagues, succeed as a neta? Be the leader India’s young are desperately in search of? We will not know it unless he decides to take the plunge but most of us do believe that SRK has what it takes to be a 21st century politician, in the international mould. He is young, wealthy, successful and sharp. Above all, he has a dream – at least Shobha De thinks so. He is a man on a very special mission.
At this point in time, we know less about Obama, his real test would start once the Democratic Party goes into the primaries, but the significance of his announcement is tremendous, especially at this point in time when the world stand divided along every imaginable divide. SRK, on the other hand, has been around for far longer and if the US political lingo is to be followed, is thoroughly vetted. SRK, in my opinion, hardly shoots from mouth and if he ever does, he stands by it (he does not whine about journalists misinterpreting his words). His recent film “Chak de” has done a lot more for the feminist cause than many other films that wear their feminism on every dialogue and poster, yet fail to get the message across. SRK has the charisma and can inspire the youth of India in the 21st century. I have seen and met young Indians who hangs onto everything he does, it is no mean feat in any ways but it is all the more amazing in a country as big as India.
As a Pakistani, the 64 million dollar question that comes to my mind: where do we find such a leader/role model in Pakistan. Someone who has grasp on the local and international scene, who is good in his chosen field, who not only commands popularity but immense respect across board, who firmly believes in ‘nation Pakistan’ and what it entails, someone who is neither apologetic about being a Pakistani nor defensive but at the same time does not resort to nonsensical nationalism for useless political point scoring and short term gains. Sadly, we have no such home grown figures who are not only larger than life but also scandal free. The closest thing we HAD to a young(ish?) and charismatic role model(yes, the use of past tense is deliberate) was a passionate Imran Khan who, much to my utter dismay, has turned into a sad caricature of his old self. His politics is divisive and obscurantist. His invisible ‘beard’ is far longer than that of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and a lot more dangerous.
If I am asked to vote for somebody like SRK, I most probably will. After all, he is assured and bring a sense of stability after being at the top of his game for over a decade) that political scene here is crying for. The question is, will I ever get the chance to vote for someone like SRK in Pakistan???
iRant. It’s not just me, we all whine, whimper and rant. I just do it a little more publicly than most and probably with a little more style, hence a friend suggested that I should call my rants, iRants like CNN’s iReport or an iPod or iGoogle.So what’s the latest in the iRantville (yes, I am adding new words in the language of the Queen)? Well, we have all heard about the brain drain in our country and how all educated and able bodied people are leaving the country in droves. The generally cited reasons for the brain drain are economic, political and security driven but there are other reasons beside. I think the system is driving people away for being educated, intelligent and able bodied because the system does not like people who are educated, intelligent and able bodied.
I could never manage to get time off during summers when one so want to get away from the sweltering heat of the city by the sea, I can take time off in, lets say, February or October but never in June and July. Once, I have had enough and decided to have a word with HR people and was told that summer vacations are reserved for married employees. “Excuse me,” my eyes popped out, but he very calmly told me that single employees are given low priority for summer vacations as they don’t have to arrange their schedules around children, they can take time off any time they want to. Its not as if they have to coordinate everything with school year. “But isn’t the purpose of having a vacation is that you take one when you need one to recharge your batteries and what if you need to recharge your batteries bang in the middle of June, what then? I was told that I should hold onto my batteries very carefully till September when I can get some time off.
This is not all, my colleague gets a longer lunch break every day because he has to pick his children from school and drops them home. Its takes him about 45 minutes and that is beside the designated one hour. If I say that I have to go away for an hour for a hair cut, I would be told stay put and do it over the weekend but not the people with children, they can get away with anything. There are times when I am tempted to put up a picture or two on my desk claiming them to be my children. I have enough nephews and nieces and can come up with at least three who look like me, if need be, I can even come up with a couple of step children if need be.
Recently, I went to a branch of State Bank to take care of my father’s investments and I was not being allowed to park my car in the reserved car park. Its not that it was a car park reserved for bank employees, they just did not have any rules. I stopped when I was told that I cannot park inside the premesis but when I saw three cars passing right beside I went and asked them. I found out that they are letting old people and women with children can park inside and people like me should go fend for ourselves. Those who live and drive in Karachi know what premium does a parking space hold. I would not have minded that it was a standard rule, but they made exceptions and there were no standard grounds for them as well. All it did was send the message across that people who are able bodied can go ^&*($ themselves. No one gives two hoots about them. If I ever leave the country, it would be not because I want to earn more or want to live in some godforsaken little village in Ireland or Canada (the two most popular destinations these days), it would be because I don’t want to be discriminated for being intelligent, educated and able bodied.
Pakistanis as a nation are quite obsessed with marriage. We are either attending them, planning them, setting them up, breaking them up or berating people for not committing to it. In short we sleep and breath marriages, but maulvis is Pakistan are even more obsessed about marriages than an average Pakistani. I recently read that Maulana Fazlullah (of Swat), who is also known as “Mullah Radio” because of his fiery Islamic sermons that he delivers on his illegal FM radio channel, urged his female followers to make sure that their husbands grow beard. He also warned them that their failure to do so would result in annulment to marriages with their beardless husbands (The Friday Times published the details of the fatwa).
This is a first I heard of annulment of marriage on the grounds of a clean shaven face. I have heard women complaining about the 4 day old stubble but women have no issues with clean shaven men, if they have then all the campaigns of shaving creams, razors and after shaves across the world who show a woman lovingly caressing the freshly shaved cheeks of her man are not “in” on the secret.
In any case, weird fatwas are nothing new for Mullah Radio. He earlier issued fatwas against female literacy, television, music and fiction writing. Yes, he has banned women’s digests in his area because he thinks they are propagating obscenity. On the contrary, they teach our little girls how to be docile little good wives who press their husbands feet at the end of the day. If only fatwa issuing maulana knew how to read and write, he would not issue this fatwa.
According to dawn reports, Mullah Radio could often be seen riding on a white horse to give the impression that he was the one who could revive the Khilafat. He had also designed special propaganda techniques to mould the opinion of Swati women, the least educated class, to his favour.
I know it is sad, some may even call it demented, but as soon as summers begin, my cravings for long exotic holidays start. Most of the time, I cannot give in to them for reasons ranging from penury to familial obligations (how do I wish that I was born in a bubble) to not getting time off (Pakistan is a horrendously marriage – heterosexual of course – friendly country and married people with young children are given preference for holidays in summer).
As I cannot travel during the summers, I do the next best thing. I check out all the travel websites from wikitravel to guardian and ny times to lonely planet and what not for the remotest places. Sometime back, I though I should look up Pakistani locations, after all it is the visit Pakistan year and poor Niilofar Bakhtiar braved a fatwa or two for luring people to Pakistan, the least I can do is take cyber interest in the touristy locations of Pakistan.
I stumbled upon this travelogue by an Indonesian student who posted some pictures of his time in Harrappa. If only ministry of tourism take note of those pictures paste them on the official tourism website, we can get a lot more visitors. After all where else can you see sexual intercourse on the streets? Yes, it happening on the streets of Harrappa, Lahore and even Karachi. The funny thing is, no one minds that, we are truly an enlightened and moderate nation. If you don’t believe me, see the picture yourself, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Hail enlightened moderation.
here is the link
I live in Karachi- what once was known as the city of lights (it now has the distinction of being called the city of candle lights).
Everyone has an idea or two about dealing with the bijli crisis in Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular, but the most novel idea came from my favourite maulanas of the week year. Yes, I am talking about Maulana Abdul Rasheed and Abdul Aziz (Lal Masjid again).
The controversial clerics came out with an odd solution for the current power crisis in the country. “The power shortage in the country will end if the ruling class, military and police stop ironing their clothes, ” Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, said in a statement in Islamabad. “If the rich and powerful adopt frugal habits and live simply wearing un-ironed clothes, the country can considerably conserve energy to reduce rigors of power shortages,” he siad. According to him, the elite sections of society were living a sinful life of opulence, lavish spending and indiscriminate use of national resources including power facilities that has pushed the country into a crisis-like situation of power outages and forced load-shedding of electricity”
Now that’s what I call an original idea. I can so understand why thousand follow them.
Ahhh I was waiting to hear news like that. The Lahore High Court (ordered the Interior Ministry to place the names of a same-sex couple of Faisalabad on the Exit Control List after they failed to appear before the court despite arrest warrants.
The court, on an application of Tariq Hussain, father of Shehzina, the alleged wife of Shamile Raj, ordered to place the couple on the ECL.The father, in his application, apprehended that the couple could flee the country. He said Shamile Raj and Shehzina were planning to flee the country with the help of some NGOs and they had completed their documents for the purpose. He told the court that a network was working in Faisalabad, which arranged same sex marriages, and Khalid Bhatti was its ringleader. ‘Many others, including a daughter of Khalid Bhatti and brother of Shamile Raj, are also involved in it,’ he alleged. He said he had registered a case against Bhatti and the couple while the police arrested Zahid, brother of Shamile Raj. The couple, Shamile Raj and Shehzina Tariq. had approached the LHC, seeking protection from the police and harassment from their families, masquerading as husband and wife. But the matter took a new turn when Tariq Hussain, the father of Shehzina, appeared in the court and submitted that both were girls. He disclosed that Shamile Raj was a girl and her original name was Nazia. Later, the court ordered the medical examination of Raj, the ‘husband’ which confirmed she was a woman.
Despite being an extremely homoerotic country (where else you find men holding hands in public, public display of wild passionate encounters on all chappar hotels along the GT Road with transvestites, hermaphrodites and young boys; women getting married to Quran who later take up concubines ) we now have the distinction of being homophobic and that too at judicial level. Yes, we are a confused nation and this further validates the confusion
Up until now, we have only been putting corrupt politicos and Al-Qaeda members wanted by good ol’ US on the exit control list but now this list has gotten diversified. I am all for diversity, it has what made US great and I am sure it will make us great too, of course in due course. Before this our exit control list was overwhelmingly male, now it has members from the fairer sex. Some of the detractors of women’s inclusion in the list will say that it just another ploy to get western asylum and once they will reach the western hemisphere, they will revert back to their straight ways.