Non perving 101

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The world is shrinking is often a phrase we hear from users and experts of social media as more and more social networks keep springing up daily to enable us all to “connect” in different ways. There is however very little talk of the ethics of all this connecting business and what is a no no in it.

Most of us seem to treat conversation and interaction online as a casual extension of  ourselves and that is where the stupidity starts. The issue online is that when a person meets you for the first time they have a whole slew of facts about you ( yes! from your maniacal filling of your profile) to judge you with before you even utter a word. In real life the judgment upon you is usually from an experience which doesn’t reveal all about you in the first meeting. Which from a man’s angle is probably why women bother to talk to most of us anyways upon first encounter in real life.

So here are some pointers to appearing  “normal” online, whatever that may be in your connotation. Obviously this will not enable you to pick up women online because that ultimately depends on the woman concerned but you get the idea by now.

A) When you meet a woman with a fabulous DP (display pic for the social media challenged) and lets be truthful here most of them have one as they clean up much better than us lot. The idea is not to go ga ga in your expression of interest and say things like OMG YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFULL and the like which instantly signal “loser, desperate, troll” in a womans mind. It should be more subtle and along the lines of “nice DP” or something vaguely interested but offhand so as to make the point without seeming like you just creamed your pants.

B) Women online are generally more empowered as they have a voice, an ability to use technology and are mostly if not always career oriented. Thus their opinion counts a great deal more to them then your cousin rukhsana who sits at home and awaits the arrival of her fair knight. Hence its always better to listen more than talk. You may add to the conversation if you have something intelligent to say but if you don’t, non committal move along’s like “yes that’s true” work perfectly as well. Lets face it they are a lot better than what you “really want to say” aren’t they?

C) This is the new age, this is not irc where cheesy things like ASL (age sex location) as a question worked for you. Thus the women of this age and medium are a lot more used to far more intelligent creatures and thus require a bit more pizaaz so kindly don’t drool on your keys and try to jump into every conversation they have. Kindly also “don’t” remember facts they casually drop like where they live and age by mistake sometimes so as not to appear like a raspy voiced stalker. Buttering up doesn’t work either unless you know how to do it subtly and that’s hardly an artform you have under control if you are reading this keenly.

D) Unless you have the gumption to, don’t say things you cannot back up or which are unverifiable as related to you online. So if you commit to phrases from rumi and don’t know who that is or think that women online do not have the ability to google just when you went to school and what all you have achieved till now you are in a big pile of doo doo. I say this because people often tend to take online as a separation from reality and start to develop this whole other persona on it…which usually fails when you meet her in real life pretty bad.

E) Do not DM or inbox like a coked out teenager, unless you are a coked out teenager. People often tend to forget that there are different levels of intimacy online as well, so when someone speaks or replies or comments on your status once it does not mean that is an invitation to dm or inbox them your whole life story.

F) Just like there are different levels of intimacy involved in a social network, there are also different etiquettes one must adher to as “per” social network. So while it is quite ok to follow anyone you wish to on twitter it is NOT OK to send friendship requests to who ever you meet for five seconds in real life through facebook. Even if you think that their casually or politely smiling at you is an open doorway to their heart.

 

If you have understood the above pointers and are practicing them you should now be halfway to being no more a perv. The other half off course will have to be filled with your personality which I may humbly suggest is not a feat which can be achieved in the space of 800 words.

 

 

 

 

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Enter the future

Things are changing very very rapidly in this world of ours. This week we all came to know that astrology is all wrong and that they  (astrologers) forgot to include some weird quadrant in subspace in their calculations and thus there is now a 13th astrological sign (ophiidunnowhathefuk) and somehow I am now a saggitarius after being born on january 1st and being a Capricorn for 36 years! What malarkey I say!! However its always good to be mentally prepared for any new shock life may throw at you  and that includes the imminent take over by the big bad and hairies here in Pakistan. Come on you seriously think we can win the war on terror? They’ve got stomachs full of biryani guys what do we have? Liberal dal chawal and the commie flag? ptooooie I say we get ready and for that we need a short and quick glossary of what everyday terms will mean under them folk so here goes.

Pre Hairy

Cricket : A sport enjoyed by millions here in Pakistan, rife with scandal and glamor, 11 men a ball white clothes a stadium you get the picture?

Post Hairy

Chopit : Sport still enjoyed by millions, rife with more and more people wanting a go, a blasphemer caught in a stadium, 11 men still with white clothes though turbaned no balls just swords…

Pre Hairy

Mixed mehfil ; A gathering of people, a dawat, food, men and women wearing brightly colored clothes sparkling lights, laughter of family and friends far in the night.

Post Hairy

Mixed Mehfil : A gathering of men, shaved and unshaved, wearing dull clothes, discussions of shariah and roasted bakras, laughter of the maniacal kind.

Pre Hairy

Talkshows on Tv : Analysts of all kinds and flavors, decorum and measure dictated by who has the loudest voice, discussion on everything.

Post Hairy

Talk shows on Tv : Analysts all looking the same, flavor always measured and strict, decorum and measure dictated by who has the longest beard or who is currently wearing a bomb, fatwas on everything.

Pre Hairy

Films : All manner of movies on screens across town, cineplex on seaview featuring the latest Indian and english fare in small box like theatres, the atrium catering to the 3d crowd, over priced popcorn, still great fun.

Post Hairy

Films : Docudramas on the great conspiracy against us Muslims, videos from the battle fields of iraq and Afghanistan. Cineplex playing messages from holy suicide bombers about to go kaboom, the atrium burnt to the ground as 3d is haraam

Pre Hairy

Police check point/talashi : Stop, greet check trunk, check under seats, ask for registration, grease a palm, go.

Post Hairy

Police check point/talashi : Stop hear azan given in ear, check trunk, check glove compartment, if holy book found smile to one another if any kind of music found lose a finger if dvd found lose your penis.

Pre Hairy

Eid ul Adha: Going to the market getting a variety of goats, sheep, camels, yaks and other exotic four legged species to sacrifice, hiring a butcher doing the necessary on eid day.

Post Hairy

Eid ul Adha : Going out on the roads trying to get someone from a minority for sacrifice, if found, announcing their time of judgement over loudspeakers to gather a crowd, if not found then going to the market and buying an idolater grudgingly, getting out favorite sword, doing the necessary on eid day, wearing the bloodied clothes for days, posting videos on youtube.

At this point I feel i should pause, as further depth on this subject could lead to the idea that all the above is not a piece of fiction and satire because it is…oh my dear sir it is….please waves white and green flag!! Pleaseeeeee not my writing hand!!!

Bakra Eid

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Fifa world cup, simplified

The Fifa World Cup is underway and like many other nations, Pakistanis are enthusiastically watching matches, cheering for their favourite teams and organising football get togethers (GTs in urban elite lingo). Although we have come some way in embracing this sport from mere viewers to actual participants, both at home via domestic tourneys (Pakistan Premiere League), local city leagues to regional international matches like the SAFF Cup (South Asian Football Federation), we still have a long way to go before we can qualify for the main event. Currently, we rank at thirty-fifth among the teams in South Asia. Even so, the spirit and passion for this sport is growing and why wouldn’t it? Football is a poor man’s game and requires not much other than a football which we are adept at producing in the millions in Sialkot.

There seems to be a dearth of understanding as to what the world cup teams and their characteristics are about in Pakistan and so, I thought it would be pertinent to introduce them in reference to our cricketing gods so we know what the commentators on TV are always screaming about.

1. Brazil
They are the Wasim Akram of the football world. This team has done it all and achieved it all. They have unmatched skill with the ball, they can dance well both, on and off the field and have fans all over the world, but they yet have to grace Indian reality shows.
They are the favourites each time they play and have a tendency to not being able to defend a lot of unexpected movement in the air, focusing only on attack.

2. England
Most similar to Shahid Afridi – they performed brilliantly in one world cup and were the champions back in 1966. Even though they have rabid fan base, acute media hype and coverage up the wazoo, they are unable to achieve much on the international stage. The team has also appeared in a number of endorsements in print and electronic media, much like Afridi.

3. North Korea
Like Shoaib Akhtar, the team is egotistical and is controlled by god knows whom. They are most secretive in holding closed practices and claim to have the ability to conjure miraculous feats while in actuality, achieving nothing. Not yet established in Bollywood but hoping to break into form at any given time for the last 10 years.

4. Spain
Closet Misbah Ul Haq behaviour – loaded with talent and skill having displayed it all throughout the league stages of any tournament but fail at the grandest stage. And yes Misbah, we still remember that paddle-scoop of disaster against India and we will make sure you do as well.

5. Argentina
Muhammad Asif personified. Oodle’s of skill, an almost mesmerising ability to entertain when on song but most of the time, trip or fall on obstacles conjured in their own minds. Drug issues, check. Ego, check. Ability to be gods or walk off a cliff, check!

6. Italy
Can be compared to Younis Khan. A history of success, great presence on the roster but very divisive to its fans, you either love Italy or hate them, there is nothing in between. Also, like Khan, the team displays the same mood swings, temper and flair both on and off the field.

7. USA
Umar Gul-like skill, but for them to be noticed on the world stage is the same – negligible. They try very hard, can cause plenty of upsets but whether they do or don’t, no one seems to give a damn.

8. Germany
Exactly like Imran Khan – strong team values, they attack as a unit, making a science out of the beautiful game, very strong mental attitude and dedication, almost clinical at times.  Their only flaw is too much confidence which has lead to their own downfall. that and the Germans suck at politics too, think hitler…merkel…err

The jury is still out on Miandad, so if anyone thinks he explains a team do let me know :p as I am still having trouble understanding him..

As published in “The Dawn Blog” 17/6/2010

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A reason to smile

In Pakistan, we often make the mistake of thinking that the phenomenon of women breaking stereotypes and conquering uncharted terrain is a recent one. However, a conversation with a path-breaking woman such as Nigar Nazar serves as a reminder that the current generation has only had the courage to step out of their comfort zones because of the courage demonstrated by women like her in the past.

Nigar is Pakistan’s first female cartoonist. She started her illustrious career with a bold decision – in 1967, she switched out of a pre-med degree to study fine arts. As a result, she was drawing comics when no teachers or coursework in this artistic format were available. The situation was so dire at the time that when Nigar came to work at the Karachi Arts Council, she found little to occupy her. It was then that Ali Imam, then director of the council, made her draw one cartoon a day to keep her busy. She has never looked back from that experience.

With a fondness in her voice, Nigar narrates how she got her first break, drawing cartoons for the Sun newspaper. Her character, Gogi, an urban Pakistani woman struggling with her frailties in the context of gender-discriminate social norms was such a hit that soon the Morning News, Dawn, The Mirror, and the Daily News began featuring her work.

After publishing countless cartoons for various publications and nine comic books and receiving many national and international accolades, Nigar still inspires many budding artists who feel limited by their choices in an environment that does not support creativity. For that reason, the Dawn Blog decided to catch up with Nigar to learn how she became a legend in the field of sequential art.

Q. Why did you take up cartoon drawing at a time when the practice was rare?

A. As a young child and teenager, I was an avid comic book reader and read imported comic books. I thought that it would be nice if we had comics in our own setting, and when that didn’t happen, I decided I would do it myself.

Q. Did you model Gogi on any person in particular?

A. Gogi is my brainchild, the voice of womenfolk in Pakistan (when it comes to women’s issues). She is the central character of my comics, and through her I depict the lighter side of everyday life. As my mouthpiece, I preferred to have my main character be a female. As for the name; Gogi just sounds like a cute name that rolls off the tongue.

Q. Given your diverse portfolio and experience, which do you think was your best and most well received effort?

A. Being in charge of the children/youth page at The Muslim was very gratifying. I had all the freedom to devise the page in the daily that use to come out of Islamabad. The editor decided I would have ample space, up to five columns, for the Gogi comics. Simultaneously, I started The Muslim Kids Club, which generated a large membership in a very short time.

Other than writing and drawing competitions, I mobilised club members to do welfare work for orphanages and young patients during their summer vacations. I even took five club members on a 10-day tour of Turkey when they won a certain essay competition. Today, the MKC members are brilliant professionals teaching at Harvard and UC Berkeley, making outstanding films and documentaries, and participating as thinking citizens. I believe that community activities, creative writing, and humour through cartoons produce well-rounded personalities.

Q. Do you feel that Pakistani arts flourished more in the 1970s?

A. In the case of comic art, yes. That said, the overall world position of comic art has soared to great heights with comics being turned into animated films, puppets, and muppets. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Pakistan.

Q. Are there many comic art students today?

A. I am not aware of students in this art genre. I teach at the Fatima Jinnah University, but this genre has to be taught separately from the course prescribed by the university.

Q. Any tips for a budding cartoonist?

A. My tip for any aspiring comic artist is to perfect your ability to draw the human figure. On that foundation you can exaggerate and draw cartoon characters. Draftsmanship is half the game; the other half is the humour which comes from within.

Q. You were recently in China for cartoon-related endeavours…

A. I am founding member of the Asian Youth Association for Animators and Cartoonists, and I was invited to be on the jury for an international cartoon competition for which professionals from all over the world came together in Quiyong last September. Interestingly, I was the only woman cartoonist there (which I hope dispels the popular misconceptions about Pakistani women). I felt proud to be the first foreign speaker on the inaugural day as I presented my work on a huge screen before an audience of senior government officials, art professionals, university students, and international diplomats and delegates.

This July, I have been invited to judge animated cartoons and to speak on the subject as well. Gogi Studios has created a successful animated CD for early learning called  the “Cartoon Qaida.” I intend to speak about the power of cartoons in learning.

Q. What is your latest project?

A. Gogi Studios created five comic books on life skills last year. We call them ‘awareness comics.’ Our sponsor wanted us to pursue a concept that encourages under-privileged children to avoid becoming school drop-outs and motivates more children to go to school.

Once the books were completed, we decided to hold outreach programs in which children are entertained with cartoons, animations, stories, and engaged in learning how to draw.

At the end of the show, the Gogi muppet appears and distributes schoolbags filled with the awareness comics, and three other fun books that I have authored. Stationery and an exercise book and a sketch pad are also included. Our first outreach program catered to 310 students from marginalised sections of society, and their response left me and my volunteers overwhelmed.

Q. What message would you like to give to your fans?

A. You make a living with what you get, you get a life with what you give.

Photo credit: Nigar Nazar provided the cartoon that illustrates this blog.

Previously published on the Dawn Blog 09/04/2010

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A midsummers tale

Not to be outdone with all that Pakistan’s cricket board has managed to provide to our nation in the last month or so, thrill wise our boyz are still at it making waves wherever they go. In fact I think its safe to say that no team in the world’s history can come up with the stuff our boyz manage every other day. From ball biting to cross border romances we have it all and in spades, so when I turned on Geo the other day and was taken aback with Maliks impending marriage to Indian tennis star Sania mirza, the surprise soon turned into thoughts of how the rest of the team would react and I came up with the following fictional but could be reactions considering the current situation in our countries favorite sport.

Muhammad Yousuf : Assalam walikum, all i want to say is that I have given my back, my clean shave and my love life for this team, I was a christian and I took up Islam, Alhamdulillah and all I have gotten back is insults. Shaoib Malik never liked me, he always tried to undermine my efforts. I shall soon reveal the truth about him and Bhabis sania’s haraam relations, I will never attend this wedding as I am announcing my retirement from all social functions very soon.

Inzimam : First of all Thanks to Almighty Allah for this great victory…..long pause…. None of this would have been possible without the boyz help and good efforts. I myself wanted to play a part in this engagement but that fitna dajjal umpire stopped me. Thanks to Allah though that he is now gone but so am I. (wild hand movements) I just miss Bob at this occasion if bob was here he would have done for sania bhabi what all the boyz have done for her before shoaib bhai is doing nikah with her. In the end I would like to say jonsa doolah bane ga islami tareeqe se bane because that is the best way. I urge Shoaib bhai to please keep a beard as Sania bhabi might like the way it tickles.

Younis Khan : I am a man with the heart of a lion, I respect and love every inch of my countries soil and mitti and even its flowers. I will never ever be a dummy best man, I know Shaoib wants me to be but that is not my way, that is not the way of the khan, I will never attend this wedding as I have a very important Tasmanian function to attend in the rural regions of Australia. I however wish Shoaib and Sania the best of luck but I wish to remind them of the time they made me wait outside their room, that is another reason I am not attending they made me the lion wait for 2 hrs. If they insist though I will join the wedding and beat up anyone who even smiles at me.

Shahid Afridi : Me khel ke maidan me deta hun 100% aur Sania bhabi is also giving herself to Shaoib 100% well maybe 80% because she likes Shahid Kapoor a bit also but that is not an issue. My focus is on victory and on Pakistan winning and thus as this is a big event for my brother Shoaib I will attend and hand out not only free head and shoulders kits but bite the bridesmaids one by one. I am off course always there to help as I am Afridi, Boom Boom Afridi.

Muhammad Asif : I cannot comment as this blog is in English and I do not know that language pretty much magar I would like to assure Malik bhai that if he invites me to the wedding I will not fly though dubai this time but bring the merchandise through the samjhota express.

Javed Miandad : Meeeiiin… Meeein tu siraf ye bolta hun ke shadi madi karne ke kiaa zaroorat pari hay, meeray tu itne taluqat heeein india me agar shooaib ne meeereein ko bola hota tu meeein tu saniaaa ko bus uthwa leta..aur kiyaaa aik phone ki tu mar hey javed bhai ke liye.

Sarfaraz Nawaz : I protest on this wedding, this is actually BCCI’s agenda to take over Pakistan cricket they are jealous of the way I swung the ball and that was in that match against England and then i passed on the art to Imran Khan who passed it on to.. khair I can prove Sania is a man and Shoaib is a woman and they are marrying each other for nothing, I shall prove it very very soon or Nawaz is not my name.

Shoaib Akther : Wellll all I can say is that Sania is not a new bird in the nest and she will remember the Rawalpindi express on her wedding because I am so fast if they invite me I will be gone and come back to party like its saturday night without anyone even noticing I was there..haha Im so fast..haha.

Imran Khan : I am not interested in the affairs of cricket these days as I am on a mission, a mission to save this country from the destruction the brown sahabs are bringing to it. aap mujhe ye batayen ke ham kahan ja rahe hain? A pakistani cricketer is marrying an Indian tennis star? Why? Is this not why the Taliban are angry with us, I think we should cancel this wedding and a local jirga be called to determine who shoaib should marry, if it is a chieftains daughter it would be better as only through dialogue can we move forward. We must not allow the corrupt ruling tennis elite of India to fraternize and marry our downtrodden masses such as Malik. I am telling you he does not know any better, he does not have food or electricity. We must launch a revolutionary march for this purpose, we must save our masses from the sanias of this world.

Misbah : Pal bhar ke liye koiyeee hame pyaaar kar leee jhoota hi sahiii

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All views and opinions expressed in the above piece are completely fictional and the work of this writers slightly deranged mind. He is indeed ecstatic at this union and just wishes to now see Kamran Akmal catching Katrina Kaif as he cannot catch anything else, well perhaps rabies would do also.

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Of goats and men

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Flying qurbani by Raja Islam

The second eid or Eid Ul Azha is almost upon us, tis the season to be bloody as they say in muslim households all across the world. Mine is no different and I have readied my apparatus for buying 4 goats for my family. Obviously this apparatus has been carefully chosen to maximize my buying potential for the least amount of rupees over the years, yes I am the designated goat poacher err purchaser of the clan.

Every 50 years a goat purchaser is chosen from my clan for his finest bargaining skills, for his silver tongued charm, for his dexterity with animals. Actually it all boils down to who wants to hang out with the smelly things for a day or two in reality. The apparatus discussed above involves an old shalwar kamiz (one must never wear decent or upscale clothing) at the animal mandi, prices are based upon first impressions thus a middle class one must be made. The second prop one must use is a namaz ki topi or skull cap. This gives a very pious and honest impression, making the seller trust you and engage you as these pious men are those who make the biggest and the most solid purchases. A prayer bead in the right hand whose fingers are moving at random while discussion cannot do any harm either.

Obviously by now you are wondering as to why all this is necessary to go and purchase a few goats. Well dear reader little do you know what is in store for you when you reach that market. Every year more and more con men arrive armed with investors at their backs and tricks a court magician would be proud off to try to sell us their overfed animals at 4 times the going rate. This is how a goat whose market price is somewhere between 4000 to 5000 Rs is sold for 20,000 Rs to the buyer on this eid. Thus this is a battle and there are several rules of engagement involved, let me outline some of them.

3091296561_14fa3aed67_m1)      The first and foremost thing to do when approaching an animal market is to avoid the fluffers, these are people standing just before the market offering you good looking animals for a decent price at your convenience, obviously they are all fakes and will steal your animals after delivering them to your house that very night, Avoid and ignore totally and dive into the madness.

2)      Never ever approach from the front. Meaning the direct walk to the animal in the market and enquiring straight up on its price is a big huge no no! Learn to loiter. One must spot a good animal and then hover around it, as the other buyers stupidly engage in conversation one must eye the animal as they would eat it raw right there, this gains the respect of the seller and shows the others that you are a serious buyer.

3)      When finally the seller is stealing sideway glances at you, by your now suspicious loitering you must step up and start petting the animal, caress the forehead, scratch it behind its ears, ruffle the hair but never ever start the conversation with the seller even when he storms off  You just stand there touching and cooing. This gets the seller worked up and he will finally ask you whether you like the animal to which you give a haiku like reply “All animals are nice in the eyes of god”

4)      He will then either give you a gali or a price, you take both with your eyes on the animal slightly nodding as if you might have heard it but never giving a counteroffer.  The seller will be very frustrated at this point and might pull the animal away from you thinking you are some sort of freak or he might ask you what do you think to which you must say something which assures him that you have no money.

5)      When the seller realizes that you are indeed some kind of moron he will start discussing with other customers in pure desperation which will give you some sort of idea of what his bottom price is while worked up, while they will not buy because a weird man is caressing the sellers animal with a grin, namely you.

6)      Next fish out exactly and this must be in exact change an amount 10 % less than the sellers bottom price and hand it to him saying you like the animal so much that you have borrowed it from your, chacha mama, old friend, new acquaintance whatever. You then take the goats rope and you walk and not look back. Even if you hear the seller screaming at you do not turn around because then you will just have to pay more, all you have to do is walk to the gate where the transport wallas are standing and leave with an air of resignation which will ensure you get a good rate on the transport as well.

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Decked for slaughter by Raja Islam

Obviously the whole routine takes some getting used to and must be executed perfectly to ensure the best buying price and quality. Care must also be maintained to make sure that the goat in question has two teeth, no visible damage and should preferably be castrated because then the meat will be quite tender( all puns intended) how you will check for that quality can neither be outlined here nor printed, use your imagination. These are the common traits every sacrificer wants in their animal. The next step is to display it right outside your house at a prominent vantage point, if you can afford to you must put a shamiana and lights around it as well as keep someone as a handler who will quote triple your purchasing price to any onlooker, photo opportunist or family which happens to enquire. This is mandatory as then you will form the proper aura and impression of the holy sacrifice about to take place.

Eid day will finally arrive and then the holy sacrificer (by this point holier than thou) should put on as much ittar as possible and after prayer in the wee hours of fajar come home and use the biggest knife the rented butcher/carpenter/gardener (at eid they all work) have in their possession to let loose on the poor beast. Some people prefer to wear small masks as to not let the flying blood enter their nostrils and remind me of Hannibal Lecter. Actually I have tried whispering “hello clarice” to the goats but by the time they see the knife the poor dears are busy defecating their feelings all over the front porch to understand. Oh!! also of most importance is the fact that the goats head must be pointed towards mecca and that it must endure no pain as you cut its throat open. How the no pain part is achieved is still beyond me but usually the bleating stops after about a minute or two and the cutting/slicing for the evening bbqs can begin.

At the end of it all one must make sure to not have the blood and the offals cleaned up from their porch for at least a couple of hours so that everyone knows that you have achieved the nirvana of a holy sacrifice. If you ask me the holiness finishes when the animals are castrated at a tender age to appeal to us buyers but hey, what do I know?

Eid mubarak!!

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As published in “The Friday Times” on 4th Dec 2009

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The dictators wife returns!

Dictator's Wife Poster 2A play by Mohammed Hanif

Devised and performed by Nimra Bucha

Arts Council, Karachi. 10/11 December. 8pm.

Tickets available at Espresso, Liberty Books and at the venue on the night.

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what people are saying…
“Bucha comes across as a crazy mix of Eva Peron and Imelda Marcos… energetic, vivid, and compelling” (The Friday Times)
“a riveting act.” (THE NEWS)
“A modern day lady Macbeth with an eclectic mix of Desperate Housewife.
An evening of pure mischief and delectable humour” (INSTEP)
“Nimra Bucha’s performance has impressive range. She is coquettish and shrewish, romantic and arrogant, bored and impatient…The punch lines are brimming with sarcasm” (DAWN)
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Parathas for Peace

For the last 2 years Pakistan has been in a deep barrel of something smelly. I’m not saying this lightly, because as a resident of this great abyss of morality called Pakiland I have personally experienced a change in my life from a carefree one to one where even the drive path home has to be changed due to traffic, or bombs, or protests, or bombs are you following me so far?

funny-muslim-protestors001-1Not just that but due to the war we are fighting with these militants, bearded or otherwise we have become news junkies, we are scared of doing the simplest things that get a person pleasure without looking over our shoulders and we have lost sight of what our goals were on a person to person basis. Basically we are all operating in a circle of fear and mistrust of everything and anything around us.

All this while our media operates like the corner shop sweet meat stall and tries to sell us everything under the guise of “free and fair reporting” well we all know how free and fair it is when talk show hosts drive seven series BMW’s in a country where 90% of the people still do not have a car. Where everyone from political leaders to so called social media evangelists and political activists are called to give their coiffured views on the subject of the hour but the common man is never in the picture.

Still there is a sure fire way to win this grand war of all wars and it’s been staring us in the face for a long time. It’s not about more guns or bombs or strategy, it’s about strategy but of a different kind. We simply need to stop the supply of Parathas and chutney from Pakistan. Wait don’t call the men in the white coats yet!! Hear me out good people!!

Pakistan and specifically the pakthun part of it are adept at producing the fluffiest layered parathas In existence today. Proof of this can be found at your neighboring dhaba at any hour of the day or night; one takes a bite of these parathas and is addicted for life!! Heroin is child’s play in front of this monstrosity specially when had first up in the morning with a piping hot cuppa. Now someone explain to me how the Guerrillas are fighting the war against our huge army so well? It’s because they have all had about 4 of these parathas for breakfast dammit while our hoity toity army is lumbering about swat on eggs and toast!!! You cannot win a war on toast, just ask the English they’ve all bloody switched to curry from marmalade in the morning because they have finally realized what the 1857 war for independence was all about. The sepoys were well fed on home made curry and naan and they kicked English arse all the way back to Birmingham!!

dibba roti 033This fact was even confirmed by one of my dear friends in the queen’s country, who reported that even their office xmas party had curry and naan instead of the usual Christian fare. Hah!! I say we have finally managed to conquer them all with our cuisine Why wouldn’t we anyway?? How exciting is stuffed turkey and roast quail in comparison to a piping hot plate of nihari or a steaming biryani from hades. In fact I think Biryani is the moral equivalent of a tart, who knows what she is doing with her man.

Not just this but do we realize the power at our disposal through these newly found super weapons? Forget Dr whatshisname khan and co, we have a great new way of ensuring aid without sucking up to all them MP’s. Instead of telling them we need money to fight your war we should tell them if you want our chutney with them poppadoms you better pay up now or the supply stops!! You got that right we can control the world through chutney, parathas and biryani!! Never mind those Indians who will claim that these are all their dishes, they don’t know a pau bhaji from a idli sambar anyways, boring vegetarian crybabies.

Just think, the world is at our feet but we instead of manipulating them from our tawas and tandoors we decide to bow our heads and say sirrrr sirrrr why I ask? Why? Can anyone in the U.S produce a better plate of pakoras then us?? No sir we make pakoras that melt in your mouth not in your hand and just for that we deserve to have the world financing our ill begotten wealth, our lazy lifestyles our blundering state dinosaurs and groveling at our feet for more.

So the next time someone from abroad asks you how we are going to win a war that has suicide bombers exploding in our faces and our army hunting rabbits in the mountains you just go ahead and put that plate of parathas in front of them, lets see if they can say anything after about 3 bites except mmmm.

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As published in “Ink” Peace issue Nov 09

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Khuda ki basti

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In my travels around this world, I have come across some cities with really funny names for areas, and even themselves and their towns. For example I have had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing a town called, Shamrock in Texas because of the single structure in it, the diamond shamrock gas station. However Karachi or Kolachi as it was known when Mai kolachi and her fishermen clan settled to lay roots to this metropolis some 200 years ago, takes the cake on out of the world names. Yes a woman laid the foundation of this place, still wondering why it is so temperamental?

There are two khadda markets in this city, one is in the posh area of defense near Ghizri while the other is in Lyari. The Defence Housing Authority (D.H.A) one is probably named after the low lying area while the Lyari one for all accounts and purposes must be for the standard of living it provides. Just like markets this city has bazaars with names that sometimes make sense and sometimes nonsense. Take “Kapra market”, or “botul gali” seem innocuous enough as they reflect the goods traded there, although boozers should not head to “botul gali” as it sells them empty. Do tell me though what is the point of a place called “chaanti lane” when it stocks and sells the bulk of this city’s cosmetics and perfumery instead of items that can be sorted like the bargain basement vibe its name gives out. You think it would be stocked with old or used items and you arrive to find Max Mara and Elle boxes littering the dingy alley.

On to areas and perhaps the funniest I have come across is “Lallu khait” because there isn’t a “lalu” or “khait/field” in sight for miles. It is a cut throat semi slum drawl of a development where hundreds of thousands live instead of the simple minded farm its name suggests. Misleading a tourist is so easy in this city because of such names that sometimes I think its cabby’s which invented it all rather than municipal bodies. Then Karachi wallas are often prone to name things for their utility then sentiments anyways, prime examples of which would be “teen hatti” which started out as three shops and a road or “Nagan Chowrangi” who’s traffic problem has been sorted with the new flyover constructed over it, but was named thus for the amount of accidents that take place there. More of the same searching would lead to “Bewah colony” set up by a philanthropist to sadder town where areas such as Bohri Bazaar, Joota Gali (shoe street), Bartan Gali (utensil street) and many more can be found standing witness to practicality rather than philosophy.

The new areas being developed however have taken the trend of narcissm in their stride and thus usually reflect the name of a famous person of the area or a social worker or even a political personality, although with the political personality the names of their centers of power keep changing with each successive government which makes it a point to emblazon its name everywhere including signs. Perhaps the citizens of this city can also make a “lota chowk” somewhere to lay claim to the changing fortunes of the halls of power?

Not to be outdone by nouns and pronouns and names, Karachi’s different localities and the civic structures in them have also been witnessed by this scribe in various forms of verbal distress. Take “Touch me” chowrangi (which is not the gay meeting spot of this city) or Kaala pul (which is anything but black) or U.P moare (which is a roundabout not a turn) or Dau minute chorangi (which takes 40 minutes to go across) and you have an experience that is as unique as this city and the denizens that live and thrive in it.

Quite frankly if you ask me the whole trend was started by our old Masters the British who were famous for naming their conquered areas with oddities like “soldier bazaar” a market for British soldiers or “Khara dar” or “Meetha dar” names given to salt and sweet water entrances to the city. We just carried on this trend and took it to extremes even Michelangelo would not have dreamt of.

Some people and civic planners included think that the city government should rectify these anomalies. However even if the city government or its municipal bodies try changing names on signboards they could never change it from people’s minds and hearts, so I think they gave up on that idea a long time ago. I sometimes wonder what kind of a headache we have provided for the manufacturers of Google maps who have on line maps of this city and these areas. Do you dear reader think there is someone somewhere in the world who thinks that these are not even real names and some elaborate joke we Karachi wallas have played on this high tech squeaky clean, aptly branded and named world?

In any case one thing is for bloody certain, with the blandness of a “sea view” this city also has its “Khuda ki basti” and this just goes to show once again that there really is no place in the world like the City by the Sea. No area without uniqueness in it, no quarter spared of the culture, art and vibe this urban monolith throbs with. This place creation/mutation wise cannot and probably never will be outdone. The people of Lahore can have their history and wax lyrical about it; we will take our oddball humor any day.

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As published in The Friday Times, 16/10/2009

Pics credit : Raja Islam

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