Archive for pakistan

Chaos

Day 10,212 – Saturday – 08 Bhadra 1930 – 26 Shaban 1429 – 30 August 2008

Yes, chaos. That is exactly what I experienced last night when I went out for food with my family. Coming from a middle class background and having lived on a civil servant’s salary we have all learnt to live sparingly. Food was something one ate at home. Except on very few occasions when one ate at a restaurant, with fresh napkins, and the forceful yet unrelenting resort to etiquette. I always used to think of restaurants as what heaven would be like. I have learnt that I was obviously wrong. Very wrong. Anyone who has been to Bar b que tonite will agree that if Heaven is anything similar to it then God is obviously having fun at our expense. I only hope that he is not. As usual, I have started to ramble, I shall return to the topic.

Due to these particular circumstances my family has no idea of how to behave in a restaurant. For starters there is not idea of how to give an order to the waiter. What you do is that once the waiter has arrived then anyone on the table who has not decided yet will ask the waiter to return in “five minutes”. If you are at any kind of a reasonable restaurant the waiter will come after five minutes; otherwise after much gesturing, shouting, poking, eye rolling and making obscene gestures you would be able to avail the services of a not-so-high-tip-getting-waiter. Once the waiter is at the table someone, anyone, anywhere, on the table will start to give his / her order. You will tell the waiter about your order for soup, main course, dessert and drinks along with any particulars for each item of food. Then you will become quiet. The ordering will go either clockwise or anticlockwise depending on who on the right or left of the first order starts to speak first, or louder. At the end of the order the person paying for the food, or the general leader of the group based on social situation or group structure will order appetizers. And that is it. Then the waiter will go.

There should be no excessive confusion on what to order. Unless there are dietary issues it does not matter if you have Mayo in your sandwich or not. There should be no interruption of other orders, the “Please make my steak medium well done” is not an adorable thing. Rather, when you say it, I want to poke my fork in your nose and see you bleed to death because I am giving my order now, and I will not be forced to live a life of miserable food because you could not make your brain work long or hard enough for it to churn out your choice of food from a menu which actually helped you select what you wanted to eat. That was incredibly vicious and virulent. I guess the old Jalal is coming back.

Thank God.

Actually, saying that this whole restaurant order thing if my family issue would be wrong. It is representative of Pakistanis’ lack of clarity of thought and ability to do simply tasks without adding a lot of confusion and excessive ignorance, interruptions and stupidity to the process. Something that I have grown to love. The social conduct of a Pakistani group is always an amazing experience. Usually from a distance.

So there it was. In other news, my cufflinks broke. They just clean broke off and I had to walk about my office with my sleeves all rolled up. Get so very turned on by guys who have their sleeves rolled up and their tie loosened. So hot!

Change

Day 10,205 – Saturday – 01 Bhadra 1930 – 19 Shaban 1429 – 23 August 2008

Fucking internet connection fuck up. This is the seventh post in the past month that has gotten fucked up because of my fucking internet. Long pause with a reasonable amount of stress release and anger at my internet connection. Back to normal. Again. I love the sudden explosions of anger at minute things that I just can not control. The sudden and complete abandon to my feelings is very liberating.

And as I sit here musing about my personal life, my country hurtles headlong into a tunnel with no conception of where it may lead. The 14th of August came and went, and there seems to be nothing outwardly exciting to celebrate. Musharraf resigned; albeit I support the concept of democracy but a strong President would have been a good influence; and we must remember that his legacy is not solely negative. The PPP has nominated Zardari for President, need anyone say any more. The NRO has absolved our politicians of all sins, disgusting. The PMLN is bent upon making governance absolutely impossible. The MQM has nominated Zardari as the Presidential candidate, always a politically astute party with a lot of integrity. The PMLQ has nominated it’s own Presidential candidate. The restoration of the Judiciary is a complete bone of contention that might rip the coalition apart. Violent suicide bombings by the Taliban in Pakistani cities have had a massive toll on citizen’s lives and their conceptions of safety. All I can say is that, more our of hope than experience, I still believe that somehow this will get resolved and good things will happen. Let the dust settle.

Election

Monday – 10 Safar 1429 – 29 Magha 1929 – 18 February 2008

Well, so, it has come. The day of the election. There is widespread fear of how it will turn out. Suicide bombings, party clashes, government-opposition violence, you name it, we are afraid of it. A nation that is absolutely insane, complete crazy and unequivocally confused about where to turn. And, I am this nation.

I had already decided that I will go and vote this time around. Even if I hate all the political parties I still think that I should ensure that the least worst candidate gets elected. So, with a patriotic beating heart I head out to cast my vote for the candidate who will cause the least amount of abject destruction to my country.

I divided my vote between two different parties. One for the national and one for the provincial seat.

The system of polling and casting of votes is so unbelievably archaic that one would rather ram a red hot poker into one’s shins and sit comfortably than go through the long lines, ill behaved and ill equipped staff, general lack of any possible electronic, technical or mechanical gadget that might ensure any faster processing of the voters. All in all, working in a Pakistani environment with our restrictions, not something people from outside the country can understand, but I can. And I forgive them. Mainly because of two reasons, one of the election officials was incredibly sexy and I stared at him to my heart’s content. And my political guide at the polling station was hitting on me blatantly, so I have his number and maybe political activities planned for later on.

I have done my part. Now, wait and see.

Touring

Sunday – 09 Safar 1429 – 28 Magha 1929 – 17 February 2008

Well, the recent writers block has been violently overturned due to personal, official and political developments.

After the sad demise of my extremely disfunctional and painful engagement, I have been free to partake of the bounties of the world. Despite the psychosis, depression, hyperexcitement, body image issues, obesity and of course the abject fear of meeting complete strangers who might end up killing or looting me I have managed to garner a reasonable love life for myself. Let us not jump any guns. I am not romantically inclined towards anyone right now. Though I have managed to get one or two dates a week for the past one month. And of course, that is quite exciting to start off with. So, I am back in the game.

Gentlemen – Send your applications at my email address. The ability to communicate in human languages, a good sense of humour and of course being sexually attractive will definitely be a plus.

Ladies – If you are of the homosexual inclination and want nothing more than to marry a man who will understand you and has been voted the best-husband-to-be by a group of seven women please send your applications at my email address. A good sense of humour, a proper education and of course the ability to bear offspring who will beat off all the other competitors and hunt the largest prey will be a plus.

On the official front, I was recently sent on a Pan Pakistan training, fact finding and team building tour. Hyderabad, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Islamabad and Peshawar. After four flights and seven bus rides over a period of two weeks I have ended up meeting about two hundred colleagues from across the length and breadth of the country. It went very well, I saw more of Pakistan in a two week period than I could ever have in such a short time span. The eve of elections, the sexually charged winters and the mad dash to the next station all added to the overall excitement of an endeavour as insane as I am as a person. After this sentence I can see my English teacher standing behind my shoulders with a cane in her hand. “Propositions, preposition!, PREPOSITION!!!, use them, and stop writing like a dawdly”. I have no idea what a “dawdly” is, but I do not want to be one. I digress, the trip went well. All work and no play.

But, alive to my reputation of having dirty eyes, I present to you a ranking of men from cities across Pakistan, using the following factors – masculinity, beauty, wit, humour, finesse, class and of course added weightage for the first two purely physical factors. Please keep this handy, you will never in your whole life come across a list as interesting as this. Or the previous one, where I counted how much traffic passes in front of the City Court in the evening by hour.

1 – Karachi
2 – Islamabad
3 – Peshawar
4 – Lahore
5 – Quetta
6 – Sialkot
7 – Faisalabad
8 – Hyderabad
9 – Multan

Or course visiting nearly the whole country right before the elections has made me fairly clear about how the election will turn out.

Madness

Wednesday – 22 Zilhaj 1428 – 13 Pausa 1929 – 02 January 2008

I do not refer to my unbelievably fickle nature with depression and sadness. Over the past couple of months I have been fighting very hard against my moods of depression. I would like to say that at any given time I am either a man of happiness and sunshine or of sadness and lamentation. And in that period of time I see only that particular taste of time till the end of time. Fickle I would agree. But, it adds tastes to life not expected by so many. And of course of the recently polled 149 friends, family, colleagues and acquantances 134 declared me absolutely insane and unpredictable, 10 said I wanted to seem different and hence overacted, and of course 5 wanted to go to the bathroom and said “To hell with your questions overly fat and irritating bitch, where the hell is the can???”. I rest my case.

The madness I refer to is what I see around me. My country, my society, my people, my land. I met with a very dear friend from Hyderabad. Yes, yes, I know, only people above fifty are allowed to use the word dear friend, but, fuck off, grow up, go kick yourselves in the nuts, I will do what I want to do. He was telling me about the absolutely insane violence that took place in his city. So did it happen in Karachi.

My cousins, who were in from the US forced me to take them out on the New Years Eve. I didnt want to go. I did. I saw everything. What had become of my city. The closed shops. The dark streets. The empty roads. I cried. I cried in the car. They asked me what it was. I stopped crying. They can not share in my pain. I needed someone who loved those streets as much as I did to be able to understand.

And here, I would like to share with you all something that went through my mind during a split second of the drive. I am walking across the India – Pakistan border.  When they try to stop me I run across it and declare “I demand political asylum because I am an Agnostic and the country behind me is a Taliban / Warlord hellhole”. The Indians do not say anything. They look at me with understanding eyes and let me walk on. I cross the guards. I look back. I look at the gate on the border with the Crescent and the Star. I know that my country descended into chaos. Another Afghanistan, another Baghdad. I saw it happen. And as I looked back across the border, I felt the pain of loss. Loss of each element of my existence. The sum of my being defined by a symbol that had restricted my world to what I ended up learning to love so strongly. Ghazal singers and Sufi Rock. Dawn newspaper and tv channel. As these images go through my mind I start walking back towards the Pakistani border. Something pulling me back. Towards destruction. Towards oblivion. But, the ability to think and process and decide rationally had left me. There was only one thing. Pleasure and pain, and the knowledge of eternal pleasure in the company of what I know and accept. And as I walk towards the border I am torn into two, one who wants to grasp at the last dying embers of what I love and cherish and hold above everything in the world, and the other who has the knowledge that seeing the destruction of a part of this whole would finish me. Yet again, as in my personal life, I am torn between two paths that both lead to oblivious destruction, I can not choose, and I can not decide, they are both right and they are both wrong. Am I only trying to run away from the questions by forcing so sudden a decision? As I walk towards the border, I fall down. I break down. I start to cry. A sound comes out of my throat like the primeval cry of an animal in pain. I dont know where it is coming from. Maybe it is coming from Pakistan. Maybe. And the images flash at me with increasing intensity. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing Pakistan Pakistan. The Azan of the Muazzin from my old home. I fall to the ground. Old late 80s PTV song / jingle that was played before the Khabarnama. I start to pull my body across the gravel towards the border. Jinnah Mausoleum along the MA Jinnah road covered in a soup of Rickshaw vomit. I know that I am going to die. Sunset from the Clifton beach on a winter afternoon. I know that I must cross the border before the inevitable. The large pothole on the road to my house due to which I had to drive on the wrong lane each and every day. I scrabble like a mad man on the gravel, making a lot of effort but little progress. The Kabab Fry from Burns Road. The Indian guards who had tried to stop me have just now let me be; they understand. Nayyara Noor singing Faiz Ahmed Faiz – خیر ہو تیری لیلائوں کی. I think my hand has hit the border; and now, I can finally die in peace. I turn over, on the border. Saadat Hasan Manto. Pakistan Paindabad. And all is peace forever.

 پاکستان پائندہ باد

Trajedy

Thursday – 16 Zilhaj 1428 – 07 Pausa 1929 – 27 December 2007

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, chirperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the mother of three children; Benazir Bhutto was assasinated in a suicide terrorist attack today in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh.

I was at work. Suddenly a very senior officer burst onto the floor, consulted with the two most senior officers on the floor and then started telling all staff to immediately pack up and leave the office. Took two minutes to sink in. Then there was nothing but fear and panic. People were on their phones but the networks of all cell phone companies were jammed. People rushed out of the building in a state of panic and confusion. I got in my car and headed for home.

The city was not right. Things were not as they are. There was too much traffic and there was an extremely palpable quantity of fear and panic. Chaos. Everyone in every car was worried, everyone had rushed out from work to head home, safety seemed elusive at the least, crazy traffic. And then I got home.

And then it sunk in. My country. My people. Me. What a loss. What a loss. I did not support Benazir but I think she was a great politician of Pakistan. What a loss.

Violence in Pakistan has gone out of hand. This is not us. We are not like this. This is not my Pakistan.

Emergency

Saturday – 21 Shawwal 1428 – 12 Kartika 1929 – 03 November 2007

State of Emergency has been declared in Pakistan on the orders of the Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf.

All news channels have been put offline throughout Pakistan. News is being disseminatd through state run PTV (Pakistan Television) news channels. Most probably to stop rumours from spreading by dissemination of news through multiple channels.

Chief of Army staff  has constituted a Provisional Constitutional Order – PTV.

All elected assemblies will continue to hold their offices – PTV. 

All current officials related to the service of Pakistan will continue to hold their offices – PTV.

Update 001 – This update is put into place just to state that CNN has done a horrible job of this news, first they put Martial law on their website and then they changed it. Horrible piece of journalism by CNN. Rumour mongering and not giving news. Idiots.