Disclaimer: I apologize for being absent for such a long time. I bought a pet crocodile and it ate my hands off. And also any remaining energy to write sensibly. On anything of significant value.
Let’s get back on track with the first thing on my mind: Ramzan.
It’s around the corner. Instead of doing the obligatory explanation of what Ramzan means to Muslims, I’ve decided to take a sarcastic tone on the whole topic. As a Muslim, I’ve seen and experienced hilarious and often hypocritical behavior during the month by people around me and, in some cases, by my very own self. It’s often amusing when you get to witness an alteration in social etiquette and interaction simply because one month has massive precedence over the eleven others according to a faith. I enjoy that as a believer and, in that time, I find the funniest people who I fancy doodling later on. (Secretly.) (Because I don’t want to get killed.) (Humor can be fatal.) (These brackets are nice.)
So I decided to ask people what they love about Ramzan the most and here’s what I received as input. Feel free to share your funny anecdotes in the comments section.
Soaring Market Prices:
This lady loves it all. So does the man next to her, crippling under the collapsing economy while offering her her daily groceries. Bless them.
Is Your Moon the Same as the One in My Damn Backyard?
Because that will determine the day I get to celebrate Eid, dude.
Convenient Reasoning for Asinine Behavior:
Use your religious ritual as an excuse to annoy other people. It works!
Religious Education via TV VS Religious Education via Self Exploring:
Believe me, you won’t find God on TV. I tried. It doesn’t work. You will, however, find maniacs ready to kill anyone who disagrees.
Time Well Spent (Swearing Others Off):
Hey, if you’re whispering-backbiting about how utterly pathetic he/she is, you’re still backbiting. Thought I’d let you know.
Psychopaths on Pause:
Dangerous. Very dangerous. Run while you can.
Your Boss Doesn’t Care:
You can stop using your fast as an excuse now.
Redundant Diet is Redundant:
This isn’t a bad trait per se. It’s just annoying.
I’m glad you think she’s pretty but you can stop staring now. Also for the next eleven months. Thank you. No, really. Thank you.
So there you go. Don’t do these pestering acts this month, okay? Trust me, you have plenty of time to be a pain in the rear end once Ramzan’s over.
Oh, one thing you shouldn’t do (that often well-to-do Muslims end up saying anyway) is abruptly and loudly invite someone to accept Islam as the way of life. It’s not exactly the best way to change someone’s faith. Like, for instance, one time a friend of mine invited her atheist friend over for iftaari (breaking fast) and her friend really, really enjoyed the damn samosa my friend’s mother made. Something like this happened:
Don’t do that. Islam doesn’t work like that. You could do this though:
That’s really cool and really Islamic. 100% halal. Or you could win someone’s heart by practicing your faith in subtle, harmless fashion. I do that. It feels nice like marshmallows.
This Ramzan, make sure you don’t do double acts on the whole deal. He’s watching anyway so you might as well say what you mean and mean what you say the halal way.
Happy Ramzan, everyone!
P.S. Now you can comment from your very Facebook account. How rad is that? Almost as rad as not pissing someone off this Ramzan. Exponentially rad.
When I was little, I began noticing the difference between my Pakistani Punjabi mommy and the quintessential white American mother. Kyle’s mom was cool according to elementary-school standards: She’d sport her shades, stand by the SUV and wait for Kyle to leave the playground without showing much eagerness to see the kid. My mommy? Well, she was a different case. She would meet me after school as though I just returned from a warzone. She would be waiting by the glass door with a second serving of lunch for me in a bright shalwar kameez. By the time everyone asked me, “Hey, is that your mom?” I changed my ethnicity from Pakistani to Mexican to Eskimo.
Years flew by and I morphed into a haphazard mixture of contrasting cultures. I looked brown, I thought white. To me, the ebullience, warmth and instant bonding in the Punjabi culture was overwhelming. I found a certain comfort in the aloof environment of domestic white life. Mom, however, wouldn’t approve of such an approach. That was when I began feeling the strength and beauty that Pakistani mothers have. Today I am proud to tell everyone that not only am I a product of American values but I also follow and cherish the traditions of my forefathers. But that’s not the focal point of my post. Today we’ll be skimming through a few of the many habits our mothers display.
And we love them for it.
If you ever want to know how fast your mother can run, simply say, “Ammi, salan jal raha hai” and presto! Pakistani mothers win my admiration for the skillfulness they display during house chores. I almost thought there was a secret Olympic game for our moms where they race each other to the kitchen to save karahi gosht.
Polyglot Mommy and Her Colorful Scolding:
In our house, we sisters had understood the pattern of our mother’s anger. When we grew up, we realized that it is pretty much the same in other Pakistani households. The difference, however, may remain between the numbers of languages chosen. You must be confused by now. It’s simple. A Pakistani mother usually has escalating levels of anger and the intensity can be understood by the language she uses to snub you with. We understood that English was our mother’s colonial manner of teaching us a good lesson or two. By the time she reached Urdu, we knew her anger had increased to a higher level which meant that we were in semi-serious trouble. But when she chose Punjabi, we knew that hell had been unleashed on Earth.
(It could vary for every Pakistani though. Sindhi, Pakhto and Baloch mothers follow the same method.)
A Pakistani Mother’s Point Faible:
Hyperboles are accepted and practiced in our culture to hilarious extents. Deep down inside, every Pakistani child knows that once those golden words are uttered, he or she is effectively immune to all sorts of punishments, ear-pulling, duties and, most importantly, school. Those golden words are: “Mumma jee, mai beemaar houn.” As soon as a Pakistani mother hears that, her tough-love mechanism falls down to zero and her unconditional protection system wakes up. In addition to her unquestionable love and concern, there’s something else that is evoked as well: Exaggerating the ‘beemari’ to dangerous extents only because she loves her little one so. But by the time we were above 10, our smart mother no longer acknowledged our golden words and we were sent to school briskly.
Pakistani mothers know that Pakistani children have supernatural amounts of energy and zest for life. That’s adorable until it’s 2 ‘o clock in the morning and their story doesn’t help the kids drift off into slumber-land. What do they do? They chop up the fairy tale to one-third of it, spice it up with suspense and add the legendary warning: “Jinn baba agaya, aankhain band karo!” It works for the first six times but then we know what’s going on and thus, a cynic is born.
Jokes aside, Pakistani mothers are tremendously optimistic, beautiful and resilient women. Regardless of their ethnicity, education or creed, they remain a cogent constituent of our society because they bring us up in a country like Pakistan. I will always respect the mothers who choose to protect their children from the economic woes and political lunacy of this country. To raise a daughter in a patriarch’s heaven is indeed a painful task but our mothers do it efficiently. Many of them place their children as top priority whilst neglecting themselves. I dedicate this post and the laughter generated by it, to every Pakistani mother or mommy-to-be (you know you’re going to do the same things ammi did) and to their prosperity. Surprise-hug them today!
I’m not very skilled at carrying lengthy conversations in real life and so I expect whoever is talking to me, to keep it short and quick. But I can’t have things my way all the time and so whenever I call McDonald’s, I quite painstakingly agree to auditory hell. Today I suffered once more.
It is I, the bitter raconteur, before you. This is my soul shattering tale.
René Descartes often drops by at my hostel to share his thoughts on life and, in particular, food.
Did I mention Virginia Woolf is a good friend of mine as well? Too bad she always subtly suggested suicide.
And so I picked the phone up and dialed 042-111-BIG-MAC. I typed it out for you here because no way in hell will anyone ever have the courtesy to register McDonald’s number on the internet. Here it is. You can thank me later.
Like any angst-ridden teenager, leaving home for college was indeed liberating. With a glorious sense of being emancipated, I packed my bag with an XXL army jacket, a pair of skinny jeans, a toothbrush and a mammoth-sized collection of books. My mother forewarned me of the homesickness I would experience once I stepped into my dorm. I ignored her pragmatic wisdom and reached Lahore via Daewoo. Imagine the joy of an American Pakistani kid like me, fascinated by the abundance of goats and buffalos in rural Punjab, bursting with excitement about her academic future to a Daewoo hostess who was a little scared of my over-enthusiasm.
So I reached my hostel and met my warden. Now I may not acknowledge your observation yet but most Pakistani wardens usually expect their prospective residents to be promiscuous girls chewing bubblegum with their mouths open. Much to my warden’s surprise, not only did I show aversion to confectionery sweets but I also stood with my legs closed and did not flirt with the gatekeeper. After establishing an angelic impression, I was happily introduced to two other girls. One hailed from Sialkot while the other was an overtly-atavistic citizen of Gujrawala. I confused them with my American accent and coarse Punjabi simultaneously. I even managed to offend the Sialkoti with a few crude jokes my relatives told me.
Long story short, I learned that there are types of roommates in local hostels. Here they are as I am, yet again, categorizing another Pakistani assemblage.
Haleema Hijabi from Hafizabad:
She’ll inform you of the atonement that awaits you in the deepest pit of hell through direct and indirect modes of communication. She’ll make sure you realize how immoral you are for exchanging history notes with that geek in class. You’re naïve if you try befriending her because she doesn’t shake hands with Satanists. Oh and sorry but sickening misdemeanors related to Haqooq-ul-Ibaad are not sinful deeds when she’s busy doing them. Like backbiting, lying, stealing, etcetera.
Paindu Parveen from Pakpattan:
Four letters: K.I.S.S. But she refuses to listen. Now that she’s away from her conservative home, she can rock her neon colored shalwar kameezes and render me blind. I encourage her to enhance her English vocabulary and I appreciate her receptiveness but why does she have to exert her efforts in sending romantic English text messages to Ilyas who is busy chatting with Haleema Hijabi, who once told me that flirting is haraam? I demand answers.
Batooni Batool from Burrewala:
Talk is very, very, very cheap for Batool. Something she initiates at ungodly hours.
Nadeedi Nichoo from Narowal:
She’ll eat anything. From the scrumptious carrot pudding your amma made just for you to the bricks in the wall. At the end of the day, she’ll whine about being hungry and leave you speechless. Let’s call her panphage from now on. Pan = everything. Phage = eater.
Mehnati Mehwish from Mian Channu:
A diligent student has the passion to excel but nobody said you should rob your roommates of decent sleep, Mehwish. It’s 4AM, there are no midterms but she’s preoccupied with studying the distinction between pronouncing ch in chandelier and ch in charisma. Oh, look. The sun’s coming up.
Gulmina Khan Achakzai from FATA:
Don’t you just love diversity? Well, Gulmina doesn’t. Don’t even think of showing interest in her ancestry because she’s sick of your patronizing looks. Even if they aren’t condescending, she still believes they are. But she’d love to give you a hardcore lecture on how Pashtuns are so better than Punjabis. If nothing else, “we’re light skinned.”
And for male residents:
Tharki Tariq from Tonsa:
This guy is a proud owner of a huge porn collection in addition to some very crass text messages and he’s not the least bit ashamed about it unless the warden finds out. He might even start his very own production house but he has geography homework to do first.
Charsi Chaudhary from Chakwal:
Loaded with cash and political power due to his MNA daddy, Chaudhary sahib isn’t here to study. When he’s done with smoking up in the football field, he forces his royal presence on you with a golden chain around his neck, in a heavily-starched white shalwar kameez. He’s the Don of the hostel and the warden can do nothing about it.
Humble Hussain from Hunza:
Barely able to strike up a conversation in coherent Urdu, Hussain is a good looking, somewhat shy young man from Hunza. You wonder why he took sociology when all he can talk about is how amazingly delicious dried fruits are up in the Northern Areas.
Badbudar Boota from Bhalwal:
Buy him a bar of soap before the entire hostel dies.
Gradually I realized that living in solitude would be a saner option. This is not to label each and every hostel resident as deranged, unhygienic or homicidal; I speak of my experience alone. Today I live in a relatively small room with visually-agonizing pink drapes and enjoy some very interesting conversations with my astute coterie consisting of a door knob and four walls.
This post first appeared on Dawn’s Blog where I work as a good-looking janitor: http://bit.ly/hPS8Uo]
I started using Twitter a few months ago when several friends of mine couldn’t put a lid on gushing about how positively life-altering this social network is. They told me that it allows anyone to tweet about anything under the Sun. All you have to do is conjure up an attractive name with a medium-strong password like hairybelly123 and presto! You’re ready to dominate the world with your photoshopped avatar and somewhat witty status updates. For the first few weeks, I couldn’t believe that I was part of this revolutionary setup that consisted of people tweeting about their laundry and books they actually never read but wanted others to believe that they did. My life found a new purpose. God was happy with me.
Time passed by and I gained recognition for my pseudo-humor. People followed me and I followed a few of them. The ones that I did hit the green tab on were usually journalists, writers, bloggers or citizens who knew how to use grammar accurately. Then, one day, it dawned upon me: There were several easily-distinguishable types of users in the Pakistani-Twitter sphere. I also noticed how they followed each other almost obsessively and formed mini-clans on the desi world wide web. Gain better comprehension of the notion from this instance: Suppose Person A is on Twitter and wants to be famous among other desis. Person A can only secure such a status whence Minor Celebrity B and C decide to follow him. Otherwise he’s a loner.
However it isn’t just the minor celebrities, bloggers and politicians that the Pakistani Twitterati comprises of. There are passionate stalkers, haters and freaks that keep us entertained. I decided to categorize them so that you may know who you’re following (or unfollowing) on Twitter.
Bhatti the Bard:
Poetical and philosophical, constantly in search (online) for the answers to all of his questions, Bhatti the Bard is magical with his tweets. He quotes (and consequently ruins) the beauty of neoclassical and modern poetry in a constricting set of 140 characters. When life gives Bhatti a tough time, he signs into Twitter and quotes the first few verses of Hamlet’s Soliloquy and then adds a hash-tag of #Shakespeare to it so that the rest of the world may drown themselves into his tweet. Fifty to sixty people with extremely bad taste follow Bhatti and regard him as Pakistan’s version of Christopher Marlowe.
The Fairly Popular Writer:
With a master’s degree from a reputable university abroad, the Fairly Popular Writer tweets with panache. He doesn’t change his display picture much and shares his thoughts on world politics, literature and interesting videos in concise words. Despite having more than 1000 followers, the Fairly Popular Writer is modest and amiable. The female Fairly Popular Writer is a tad stingy compared to the nice dude. Rarely controversial though; no bashing them.
The Harrassed Political Lady:
It’s a love-hate relationship with this woman, you see. I love her because she’s out there unlike most hesitant Asian women, answering the usually-stupid and often-obscene questions posed by the public. I hate her because she tweets about her branded clutch, husband’s receding hairline, inflation and military budget in one go. Plus her display picture attracts the Horny Brethren of Mandi Bahauddin and you have no idea how creepy that lot is. No idea at all.
The Desi Dei:
When I was little, I was fascinated by cults and secret societies with their own logos and codes. That curiosity never evaded me even after I turned 20. So when I joined Twitter, there were three mysterious men with very symbolic avatars and I always tried to find out what they actually looked like. One was a 5 rupee coin, the other was a crow and the third was a tea cup. If these three men (no, I’m not a misogynist for cancelling the possibility of them being females; they talk about sports excessively) had been dumb or slipped a grammatical mistake here or there, I wouldn’t have been this eager to rip their masks off. Later on, a blue rickshaw joined them. They all discuss regional and international politics and sports. Plus they won’t follow you unless or until you sound worth it.
The Constant Whiner:
Twitter is not your shrink no matter how cathartic you deem tweeting is. We all are fighting battles and we all know what pain is but Twitter is not going to help you cure your psychological agony. The Constant Whiner floods his/her timeline with tweets about how unfair God rendered their lives. “Ma homewurk suxxx”, one entered. I unfollowed her instantly.
The Behemoth Tweeter:
This type, I am certain, can be found in any culture around the world. As long as you have a pair of hands and ADHD, you have the potential to give me a minor aneurysm. Exceeding 10,000 tweets, this kind wins an award for Extremely Confident Virtual Shouting. Hell, even I’m shy; I got a meager 2300 tweets or so. Just cut down on the speed or I’ll cry.
The Campaigning Pakistani Pain:
Proudly tweeting about their political party and its objectives in nauseatingly-patriotic tones, this campaigner is a pain in the you-know-what. Thousands and thousands of people follow him and his green and white avatar. I don’t. Why? Well, if you can’t bring a substantial change in my city, I doubt you’ll initiate a revolution online.
The Female Journalist:
This type wins massive appreciation from my side for three basic reasons: 1. They’re women. 2. They’re Pakistani. 3. They’re journalists. Combine these three characteristics and you’re in my list of approved human beings. It’s not very easy to tweet about regional conflicts involving women, sexuality or social equality among a male-dominated network. I’ve seen many male users harass these ladies for speaking their minds and I’ve also witnessed those men having their ass handed back to them gracefully. In simple words: Kudos to you, lovelies.
And a special mention-of-the-week for the sweet and intelligent Kalsoom Lakhani of CHUP. Check out that glitz, baby.
The Venomous Hater:
He isn’t very well-conversed in English but he has a strong opinion nonetheless. This opinion has less to do with your tweet, more to do with why on Earth haven’t you followed him yet. He’s insulted and he’s not going to forgive you so soon. Not unless you follow him and give a +1 to his 6 followers. Oh wait, sorry. 4.
The Semi-Corporate Disgruntled Woman:
Her life in the morning sucks, by noon it’s bearable, by evening she’s high and by night she basically wishes the world would give her a foot massage. That world does not contain me, thank you.
The Cool Elderly Dude:
He’s probably two decades older than you and me but he’s centuries way cooler. Far more progressive, friendlier and funnier, he wins hearts all over Twitter.
The Obnoxious Harridan:
I have nothing to say about this type. She does not resemble me. At all.
P.S. A big thank you to the kind Shazia Ameen for letting me hog her laptop and upload this post.