Published Us Magazine, The News International. June 25th, 2010.
The article presents a humorous account of some of the innate tendencies our society holds. No offence meant, as the writer is as much a part of this society as any one of you. Read, enjoy the satirical take and forgive; just don’t forget.
1) To gossip:
As A, B and C squandered some more minutes together, B had an urgency to leave. But he dared not, in case A and C start back-biting him if he left. In such times when every Tom, Dick and Harry is an expert on everything under the skies; and every Hillary, Hoolbrooke, and Chidumbaram are phDs on Pakistan; we, apparently can’t keep our mouths shut, not even for our dear lives. You might have come across that clever uncle who talks about the Taliban hide-outs as if they send him a weekly newsletter, or that oh-so-pessimistic-yet-realistic chap who very subtly tells you that according to his ‘inside sources’ there’s no hope for our country, or the very commonly available naggers who criticize everything, from your shoes to the Army. This is what we all do, all the time: talk inanely. If talking doesn’t cost, it doesn’t mean we should have our chatterboxes in full motion all the time. If we are so piqued by the scenario, getting off our bottom and actually doing something won’t do any harm. Keeping mum is your birth right, observe it sometimes.
2) To stereotype:
The fact may be that almost every dog under the sky comes to be called Tony somehow, mine included, but this doesn’t mean we should stereotype. Every topper isn’t a nerd, and every nerd isn’t that unbearable. For you see, guys like Steve Jobbs and Bill Gates who once were nerds are producing the coolest of all gadgets now. Appearances are often deceptive. The rich aren’t always filthy. The bearded aren’t always pious. Every guy doesn’t like Angelina Jolie. All teenagers aren’t depressed. And the fashion designers aren’t always bitchy. Indian media has a stereotypical image of ours as if the whole Lucknow migrated to Pakistan in 1947: we are hard-core conservatives, amusingly prim and hopelessly outdated. With 18.5 million internet users, we are the third largest growing internet users of the world, but hey, that contrasts with the doctored image of ours, so the CNN doesn’t tell you that. I, for once, am not going to believe CNN ever again.
3) To be cool:
The last time I was traveling out of town, there was a certain man-come-uncle thing seated opposite me. All was well, until the sound system blurted with one ferocious ‘Marjaani’. The dude mounted his seat, and started moving and shaking as if there was no tomorrow; all his moves and grooves on public display. That one journey ended, thankfully, but the horror didn’t. This ‘cool’ syndrome has already spread to sickening degrees. I know a guy who wears his pants so low that one wonders why he doesn’t just do without them in the first place. And a self-claimed hunk who lingers before girls as if they die to get a sight. And worse, a fellow with such a high level of attitude that comparison with Mt. Everest’s height won’t be undue. Such cool kats and kitties can tell you, agonizingly, about all the in’s, the out’s and the yo’s! Using the f words and driving a Mercedes doesn’t really elevate your position on the standards of humanity, does it? Anyway, one free advice on the cool people: stay far away!
4) To follow celebrities:
Sachin Tendulkar recently joined the tweeting community, amidst his country’s media backing him to outdo Ashton Kutcher’s followers, which number about five million (Spears has even more). And in case you are gasping over this grand figure, you better not. Because the majority of people don’t have any real work anyway; it’s a good to have them reading other’s tweets. From Britney Spears telling about her massage to Karan Johar tweeting about his flight; from Mallika Sherawat hissing about her flick to Atif Aslam exclaiming about Pakistan Cricket team’s bad performance, every tweet is followed, no matter how lame it is. It would have been understandable if the followers were paid, but celebrity worship doesn’t see to that. On the other hands, these celebrities have never proved their worth to be followed. Shahid Afridi’s fan-bashing, Muhammad Asif’s positive dopes, Iman Ali – Shan awards showdown, Atif Aslam’s singing profanities, Shoaib Malik’s phone nikah, Aishwariya Rai’s becoming Mrs. Banana tree, Shahrukh Khan’s dancing-in-the-nude comments and so on, our celebrities’ public following hasn’t made them responsible or better, even by an inch, or a centimeter to be precise. Even so, Sachin Tendulkar is sure to take over Ashton soon, because the idiots have to be kept busy somewhere.
5) To have riches:
Let’s start this the very fairy-tale way because it sounds like one in any case. Once upon a time, there used to be a social setup in which morals and ethics counted. Money was not worshipped, nor was it the way of judging one’s social standing. Character of a person wasn’t judged by the model of his car, or the size of his farm-house. But now honey, it’s all about money! Many of those people who are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them are the apples of the eyes of the public, because of their bulging pockets. Agreed, money is necessity and luxury both. But it’s crazy to see people sell themselves (both literally and philosophically) to earn some bucks. As the yardstick for measuring one’s status has shifted from one’s education and honesty, the whole social setup crumbles. And that’s precisely what we are witnessing now. Money actually is making all the mares, and the stallions, go and bow! It’s no more a fairy-tale, after all.
6) To be Indianised:
Indira Gandhi once vowed to destroy Pakistan through media. Now, here’s a million dollar question: What on earth is Katrina Kaif doing flashing on our television screens and hanging on our billboards selling soap, shampoo and tea? Are our own models dead? We watch Indian movies, we follow their reality-shows, we religiously eye their completely, absolutely inhuman soaps (we cry on the character’s 422nd death and 423rd reincarnation), we sing and play all those nauseatic Bollywood numbers, we imitate their actors’ hairstyles and copy their actresses’ couture, our own channels keep on telecasting their B-grade movies and C-grade award shows. What the hell were our Pakistan Studies books trying to do anyway; when making us cram the three-page long two-nation theory? Because what we see now is an insult to our very establishment. It’s disgusting to see our news channels feeding us about one desperate Shilpa Shetty’s wedding. And our newspapers printing stuff about people the likes of Dino Morea’s workout, Udita Goswami’s plans, and Aishwariya Rai Bachchan’s ailment. Have we really fallen this low? If we really did have a different outlook on life and of life, as the Quaid said, we wouldn’t be wagging our tail before our very neighbour which has iron-handedly stopped the infiltration of any kind of Pakistani media.
7) To molest languages:
Poetic license is one thing; homicide of language under its shed is distinctly another. The other day I saw a trailer of some serial called ‘Dil-e-Abaad’, and sighed. The producers apparently couldn’t figure out that this tarqeeb was senseless. Our newscasters, very confidently, seldom blurt “iss iqdaam se awam ko kya faida ho ga?” Sigh again. The plural of jazba, out of blue, has become ‘jazbaaton’, that of ehsaas has become ‘ehsaasaaton’. The international language is treated no better. On a social networking site, the post with the highest responses was, “Is Imran Khan will be a great leader, say yes or no?” Ever heard of tenses? Grammar might not be a very bad option to start your linguistic skills with. Swearing and abuses, an enormous turn off, have substituted every language’s actual essence. On one side, we see the conservatives ditching English for being very pro-western, on the other hand the snobs proudly exclaim not to be familiar with Urdu (No way dude, hamain tou even alifh bhay bhi yaad nahen hai). What do we converse in then, sign language?
8) To ‘secure’:
Since our country took on its dictated role as a frontline state in the war against terrorism, things have taken a steep turn. With bombs frequently going off, the citizens had to be secured. And the security steps taken have been completely futile. In three different incidents in Lahore, twice on entering a shopping mall and once on a cinema, I passed through the metal detectors and walk through gates; only to realize later the presence of keys and cellphones in my pockets. But I wasn’t barred from entering. One: I look too innocently virtuous to be harm. Two: The machines didn’t work. Three: The security staff didn’t care. I vote for the third one. All these security measurements are a farce; a big fat lie. In my city, Abbottabad, which once presented lush vistas to the visitors, is now infested with concrete. Check-posts have been set up. All the Army areas and Government buildings have been walled. This doesn’t secure. This alienates; widening the chasm between the institutions and people. Security isn’t the main problem, it is corruption. When all the tax-payers’ money is transferred to foreign bank accounts, the people lose confidence in the establishment. And if they don’t stop at your next ‘security’ checkpost and accelerate off the car, you can’t blame them.
9) To overprotect:
This one is exclusively for parents. Days ago, a friend of mine wretchedly complained about his parents’ over-protective behaviour; apparently, his parents are the sort who called at every turn to know if he was OK even while he drove to the next block. Now, don’t hate me for saying it, but parents can be wrong at times. Children should be given some leeway. Times are long gone when sons couldn’t talk in front of their fathers; the old fashioned fathers should appreciate that this tactic is obsolete. You have to be friends with your children, for the relation to sail smoothly. Parents worry, justifiably, because of the world not being a safe place to live in. But smell the coffee, your children, in any case will have to live through these tumultuous times, train them for it. Children never get spoiled when their parents trust them and they know they can confide in their folks. I hope the parents of that friend read this. And I really hope mine don’t, because there are no points on guessing that they’ll go berserk on discovering that their boy is up for counseling the elder generation.
10) To compare:
Trying my level best not to sound like a spurious Paulo Coelho, here’s my advice: Never compare your self or life to another’s; it depresses, demoralizes and little else. Accept the fact that someone is always better, and you might have days when almost everyone else seems better, but don’t lose heart. If God created you in your present form, he must have a plan for you. And in case you’re complaining, the creator never needs its creations’ advice. Instigate a self-war; where you are both: the battleground and the soldier. When you take on the road to improvement and betterment, no one can offer better competition than your own self. What others think about you is absolutely none of your business. If someone poses his nose in your life, he probably doesn’t have one of his own. Tell him to get a life. And no matter how desperately I try or what amount of conscious effort I put in, I end up sounding much like a bogus version of Coelho.