What are YOU doing, man?

If you are a Pakistani, specifically a Pakistani woman, and more specifically a Pakistani woman who has not spent all her life living under an algae-covered pond in Karachi, you are no stranger to sexual harassment. Unlike many other things in Pakistan which affect only particular classes and certain ages; like diarrhoea affects you only if you are a kid with stunted growth sustained on polluted water, while rich socialites get obesity; sexual harassment is a phenomenon that knows no boundaries. You may be asked to give certain ‘favours’ if you are a high-ranking official in a multi-national, you may be wolf-whistled at as you walk down a lane in Saddar, and you may be pinched and groped when you travel in the so-called ‘laydiss’ compartment in public transport. Also, you may be called ‘nachney wali aurtein’ by a certain Sheikh Alauddin if you happen to be a female member of the National Assembly. So widespread are these practises that they become a vital component of everyday life, of stepping out of home, and we learn to live with them.

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So widespread is this misogyny actually that it has become a part of the urban Pakistani culture. Poondi becomes a national sport, and in the same way that the victims of harassment are of all ages and classes, the perpetrators also transcend all confines of age and class. You get judged if you have covered yourself ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ by men you pass on the street. Young men, who may otherwise be liberal, jeans-wearing and BurgerKing-loving progressive males, or the paan-chewing moustachioed men in their 50s. If ever any discussion about the harassment takes place at homes or on TV, we are told in hushed whispers by our family, or in raucous tones by breathless morning show hosts, to ignore the perpetrators, that morally strong women do not let themselves be affected by these petty issues. Little is done to educate the men, to tell them to lower their gaze and treat the woman on street more as a person and less as a showpiece whose purpose is to adorn the roads with her presence.

Now this is where Kachee Goliyan steps in.

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If you are a Pakistani or Indian with even a minuscule presence on the internet, you will be aware of KG and its comics. Touted as Pakistan’s first mass-produced comics, they feature characters that are not stick figures or badly drawn silhouettes on MS Paint. The comics usually show JC and Sufi (with Sufi sporting infinitely cool cross tits) dealing with life in Pakistan. KG has cultivated its reputation as an entertaining, sarcastic and sharp-witted comic creating entity. However, its new campaign against sexual harassment shows that it is an entertaining, sarcastic and sharp-witted comic creating entity which is socially responsible and not afraid to take a stand.

The campaign is first of its kind, both in the fact that it is done as a 7 part graphic series, and also because the comics address men and seek to educate them about harassment and their part in it. The uniqueness of this series is expressed in the tagline that KG has used, ‘Wat’re U doing, MAN?’. The focus is on ‘U’, thus shifting the focus upon men and calling upon them to take responsibility of this abhorrence.

Two parts of the series have been posted online on KG’s Facebook page. The first one demonstrates to men that sexual harassment is very much of a reality, with the victims being their sisters, daughters and wives.

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Part 1 of the 7 part series

The second one deals with and discards the popular myth that when women cover themselves sufficiently, go out less, sexual harassment will cease. The caption reads,

”For every parent, guardian and someone responsible for a male, it’s your job to make sure he knows how to treat a woman well. We, as a society, spend so much time trying to protect females by scaring them of the consequences of them getting “impure”, that we not only miss the fact that males need as much scaring and discipling when it comes to sexual harassment, but also make way for the hell that a girl has to go through when she can’t speak about what’s being done wrong to her.

#WhatRUDoingMAN ”

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Part 2 of the 7 part series

KG Comics must be appreciated for their ballsy effort at bringing this issue into public debate. One can only hope that with the overwhelming support that KG has, it will be successful in educating the masses. What you as a reader can do is to go like their Facebook page (if you already haven’t) and show your support for the campaign by propagating it on Facebook, Twitter, your blogs or just talk about the campaign with your family and friends.

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Always within Never

Some paths should be walked upon

Some ruins should be visited,

Examined….

What caused the destruction?

How much damage was done?

And if possible,

Something must be salvaged

A half-burnt letter

The soft corner of someone’s heart

Because when nothing remains

When it was never meant to exist

Small remainders should be kept

Under the pillow

In the heart

To remind us of the beauty that once existed

Will always live

In the tears that now well up

In the pain that never could find shape

A piece of always within never

Note: The writing is inspired by the phrase in Muriel Barbary’s ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’, ‘always within never’, from whom the writing also derives its name. As Paloma Josse, one of the main characters, says, ‘…I have finally concluded, maybe that’s what life is about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. …. Yes, that’s it, an always within never.’

I may or may not have written the above in the same context. Also, go read ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’. It’s insightful and  quite engaging.

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How to be: A motivational speaker

Do you possess know-how of marketing theories? Are you a fan of Deepak Chopra, Umair Jallianwala? Is Paulo Coelho your favorite author? Can you make jokes as stale as a bag of Lays during conversation? Do you have moderately good communication skills? Do you get an orgasm every time you listen to Steve Jobs’s ‘inspirational’ speech at Stanford? Are you a talentless piece of shit? Are you STILL looking for jobs?

Well then, wait no moreee!!! We have found the perfect job for your non-existent talents. You can be

A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERRRR

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just like your distant aunt, embodies the spirit of Ansar Burney, and cannot wait to give advice to all and sundry. We now present 5 easy steps for becoming a motivational speaker, ready to take on the world.

Keywords: Your first lesson in becoming a speaker are keywords. Now these are words that you MUST use in every sentence that you speak, even if they are irrelevant to the topic you are speaking about . These words are

  • Instantly
  • Success
  • Creativity
  • Believe
  • Distinct
  • Steve Jobs

You are supposed to smear these words in your conversation, to create something as profound and meaningful as this:

“If you instantly want to attain success, you must believe in all that our Lord Steve Jobs has said, and create something distinctly creative.”

Commodify Creativity: Your ability to deliver a thoroughly useless motivational speech depends majorly on your ability to ‘manufacture’ creativity, wrap it in a shiny cover and market it. You must make people believe that creativity is a skill that can be acquired by following some simple steps everyday. The only way to be creative is not to create something beautiful, but to create something different, something that has never been tried before, like poop-flavoured gummy bears. You must use phrases like, ‘You are either distinct or extinct.’ You must hammer it into your audience that they must be superior to succeed, because life is all about success. To succeed, they must be creative, and to be creative, they must be different, because creativity is all about being different. This will totally explain why you are in the same field as a million other assholes, dishing out the same advice that all others of your kind give, to all types of people.

Commodify people: Now that you have successfully commodified creativity, you turn towards people. You tell them that they have been programmed as a product, and just like a product they have a brand name, they must promote themselves AT the right place and they have a price tag, too. (No, this is ridiculous as it is. I will not even comment).

Use motivational quotes you found on Google-or make your own!: Now this one is of supreme importance. You must realize that people come to attend your seminars because they want to hear trash like,’When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’. Because these people believe that the shitstorm that their life is will actually end up in something meaningful, and that they will ever see light at the end of the tunnel, and that one’s goal in life is the pursuit of happiness, and that motivational speeches induce the state of nirvana. So you feed them more of this bullshit. Actually, you take all your half-baked cakes of motivational bullshit, sprinkle them with some gems that you came across on the internet, and give it to the audience to gorge on.

Act wise when you speak: When you are doling out bullshit that has been doled out a million times before, you MUST sound intelligent. You must sound like the lama who has spent a million years meditating on the snowy mountains of Tibet, and has finally found the essence of life. You must smile benignly upon the audience, speak in a calm manner, and do not give away all your knowledge at once. Instead, you must lead your unknowing disciple towards the truth, one step at a time.

Engage the audience: To command people’s attention, there are a number of tried and tested (a million times) techniques that you can use. The most important of these is: Address the audience: Now YOU must talk directly to the audience. YOU must tell them of how the whole seminar was conducted by YOU so the audience could identify their talents, use them to full potential and reach the point of self-actualisation.

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Congratulations! Now you are ready to be a motivational speaker, conduct seminars on topics like ‘How to find your hidden potential?’ and prey on the gullible minds of this generation.

Good Luck!

 

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How teachers resemble the subjects they teach?

gggIf there is one thing I believe in more than the healing powers of a plate of nihari, it’s generalization. I, like many of my countrymen, like to observe people from a distance, deducing judgements about them by linking their behaviour, looks, attire with popular stereotypes about their religion, caste or gender.

The latest group of people to have fallen prey to my observational skills are teachers. Now, we have all encountered similarities between teachers who teach certain subjects, giving birth to the idea of teachers becoming the subject they teach. Below is a list of

Urdu: The easiest to recognize with their short height, stocky figure and floral-patterned clothing. Legend has it, if you stand outside any school in Pakistan and call out Salma, Khajista, Saima, it will be the Urdu teachers who come out shouting at you flinging their rolling pins or sewing paraphernalia, which they also bring to the school. Yes, they will come out shouting, they look for opportunities to do so.  This anger is actually spawned by an existential crisis, of why they are the only ones who have to teach Urdu. It seems that the misfortune that has befallen Urdu in this country has undermined their importance, too. These women, and Urdu teachers are always females, like to see English as the reason for Urdu’s fall. So they like to bitch about English, English teachers and their characters. They live their lives with a plethora of regrets and frustrations, most of them pertaining to the English teacher, which they voice at the top of their lungs. With a half-knit sweater or a plate of cholay always in their hands, these are the most domesticated breed of teachers.

English: Again very easy to recognize, with an air of bewilderment about them. Are better-dressed than Urdu teachers, but really don’t know how to handle that trailing dupatta or those unstrapped sandals. These teachers like to smile a lot, a meaningless, Cheshire cat-grin pasted on their lips meant to convey kindness and concern, but instead radiates absent-mindedness. These teachers like to seem involved in their students’ progress, using words like ‘sweetheart’ and ‘honey’ to address their students. This, in the words of Miss Shaista, the Urdu teacher, ‘is merely a show, to display their alignment with the ‘Western’ method of interactive teaching and display their utter contempt for the Urdu teacher’s teaching.’

Mathematics: The worst-dressed specie of teachers. They can be seen in dark corridors and lonely lanes sporting an over-sized shirts, awkward, faded pants and polished black shoes. The characteristics of these teachers change as the grades progress. Up till grade 8, these are confident people, occasionally cracking jokes and basking in the attention bestowed upon them by students. But as time passes, their confidence withers, their disillusionment with life grows and their wardrobe gets even shabbier. It may be due to the realization that with their qualifications, they are doomed to teach Mathematics to an ungrateful, stupid generation for the rest of their lives. When they teach, they seem to be talking to someone outside the classroom, the perfect student who does not give them any trouble. These teachers long for the Result Day, where they can rejoice over their students’ failure.

History: These teachers are generally a bit more interesting than a bag of stale chips. They talk exclusively to themselves, smile benignly upon the students and could not care less about the subject they teach. It is very rare to find a well-read, informed history teacher. Such teachers are the awesome one, with a grip on the subject they teach and a sharp sense of humour.

I have had amazing teachers and teachers and the ones that I hated, from the core of my heart. We had one in grade 7 who called us ‘ugly creatures’ and threw marker pens at us. But then again, teachers are fully-grown, educated beings condemned to spend 8 hours of their day with a rowdy, puberty-stricken crowd of brats. So I guess, every teacher responds to his/her job in different ways. And teachers of certain subjects tend to react in certain ways. The parallels drawn between teachers and their subjects may not be very accurate, and they are not meant to be. They just provide a glimpse, a biased one, of the teachers that we all have encountered in our lives.

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Amna for dummies

Now I have not been asked to introduce myself since the first day of Grade 5. (‘I am Amna, 10 years old. I like reading. I want to grow up to be a doctor. My favorite subject is English, and my favorite animal is the cat.’)

But I think I owe an introduction to all the 15 people from my friends’ list who have been forced into reading my blog, and the 3 people who googled ‘Sahir Lodhi’ and ended up here.

So hello, I am Amna Shoaib. I celebrated my 16th birthday this June. I believe that birthdays and numbers have nothing to do with a person’s intellect and maturity level. Growing up is a conscious decision that you take, and I refused to take the decision.

I still love reading. This passion has only grown with age. I have read almost all the Jane Austen novels, hated almost all the characters in them. I have since read Jung Chang, Albert Camus, Arundhati Roy, Mohammed Hanif, Faiz, Jalib and Reza Aslan to name a few. I am starting Rushdie and Manto and Kafka and Ayn Rand this year. All my favorite books have taught me one thing. It’s not the unnecessary plot twists or a thrilling plot that make a writing. It is the story telling, how the author chooses to engage with the reader, the type of immersion the author him/herself has with the characters, and the traces of his/her own thoughts that the writer has left on the pages. That is what has the power to make people laugh, weep, reflect.

Turns out, I will not grow up to be a doctor. I have no idea what put me off from my ‘life-long dream’. Perhaps it was that I grew aware of my increasing interest in subjects like globalization and economies. Or perhaps it was Grey’s Anatomy. Definitely Grey’s Anatomy.

I don’t know what I will grow up to be. I like to tell people that I am an aspiring writer. This makes me look like a person with an aim, a goal to work towards. Frankly, I don’t have any future plans. I plan to write books and direct movies and understand global economics and act and read and bungee-jump and travel and whatnot.

English continues to be my favorite subject, primarily because of my love for reading and writing. Also because English teachers are the kindest. Economics is also popular with me. I enjoy Math sometimes.

I never liked cats much. They never liked me much. If I pass a stray one on the street, I have no desire to take it home and cuddle it and take photos with it. No. We both will give each other dirty looks, and scoff. The cat will then move aside, accepting the superior position that this unfair world has accorded me with for being a human.

Oh, and I am a feminist. This is one word that I did not know back in Grade 5, along with a million other words like chauvinism, sexism and patriarchy. I think we need equal rights for men and women in our homes, workplaces and place of worship. Being aligned with this movement has made me feel liberated and empowered.

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On Hijabi lollipops

Remember that hijab and lollipop ad that once made rounds over facebook, and was hugely popular with photos being shared by all: from the partying, glitzy girls to the incredibly annoying flirts and the Zaid Hamid fanboys, everyone seemed visibly impressed with the idea of covering women up.

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Now, the ad is fairly simple, and delivers its message in a strong and clear manner. The ad creatively depicted women as lollipops, yes, lollipops with the flies portraying men. When that edible thing was left out in the open, it could be seen that a deluge of flies were attacking it. Lollipop, being a lollipop, without any powers to protest, speak or move, was just standing there, falling victim to the playful and hungry flies. Now flies, being flies, could not be stopped from getting close to the lollipop to a proximity that the lollipop may feel threatening. NO, they will move towards and  eat anything that remotely resembles a lollipop, without any self-control. This hunger, this lust was shown as part of their nature, and if I can be excused in saying so, their right. On the other hand, as the next panel shows, when the lollipop is fully wrapped up, without even a slit through the coating for breathing, all the flies have been warded away. The lollipop then stands alone, erect, dignified; although as still and quiet as the uncovered lollipop. The lollipop, will, in due time, has a male-lollipop selected by her parents and clan and neighbor, who MUST be of the same flavor, whom she can marry.

Now consider what Camille Pagila has to say about rape:

These girls say, “Well, I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy’s room without anything happening.” And I say, “Oh, really? And when you drive your car to New York City, do you leave your keys on the hood?” My point is that if your car is stolen after you do something like that, yes, the police should pursue the thief and he should be punished. But at the same time, the police— and I— have the right to say to you, “You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?”

For those who do not know, Camille Paglia is a ‘self-described dissident feminist’, to quote Wikipedia. And to quote Molly Ivins, “What an asshole.” Back in the day, she fangurled Madonna in her writings for being the epitome of sexuality and feminism. Recently, the ageing Paglia voiced her concern at Lady Gaga ‘so stripped of genuine eroticism’ getting idolized by the youth. Instead of applauding a female star whose popularity doesn’t depend on her sexual appeal, she bashed Gaga for not being ‘sexy enough.’ But I digress. The point is, if you read through the above paragraph, Ms. Paglia is evidently lecturing young women on safety. For this noble purpose, she likens women to cars. Just as cars cannot be left on their own for the risk of theft, women also cannot be alone with men without getting raped. And if anyone was forced upon them, it should never be considered the man’s fault. Of course, it was just his hormones acting up.

The similarity between the advert and Camille Paglia, is the explicit objectification of women. Both of them have equated women with commodities, personal objects that must be safeguarded to avoid any corruption in their purity. Men, on the other hand, are permitted to stare at, catcall, or rape any woman if they feel aroused. With this approach, both of them  not only reduce women to sex symbols who only serve to satiate the desires of men, but also degrade men to brutal beasts without any self-control.

This type of objectification is offensive not only to women, but also to men. It is offensive to those millions of girls who had to undergo the agony of rape and sexual abuse, without the fault being theirs. It is offensive to all those people who work tirelessly for women empowerment. And it is offensive to me, because I like to be viewed as a complete person with likes, dislikes, weaknesses, instead of a mere object.

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May you live in interesting times

After his ground-breaking invention of a water-run car that propelled him to cult status, Agha Waqar has announced another successful, yet astonishing invention, this time of a fart-run car.

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In July 2012, Agha Waqar claimed to have invented a water kit. The kit, consisting of a cylindrical jar holding water, electrodes, pakoray has a hose leading to the engine which by some miracle of nature, allows the engine to ignite and the car to run like a boss on broad Isloo roads.The mechanics of the car opened a new era in the field of science and technology, drastically changing the way the world was viewed and comprehended. It easily thwarted the law of thermodynamic and the law of conservation of energy. Scientists all over the world reportedly went into depression and are expected never to recover. As one professor form Munich University, Germany beautifully equated the water-run car with the tremendous impact it left on science.

[Scientific advancement since the time of Ptolemy

+ground realities+common sense+physical laws] X 0    = Workings of the water kit

The inventor, Agha Waqar, has reportedly returned with another apparatus which he claims will rock the world, throw it off its orbit and lead to its destruction. In this new car of his, farts, will be used exclusively as a fuel although other gases like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen and nullah ki badboo can be used.

Talking about this new invention of his. Mr. Agha Waqar went to lengths to prove its feasibility for a country like Pakistan. “You see, nowadays many people waste such copious amounts of money on fuels like petrol and CNG. This car will save Pakistanis of all the trouble of waiting in line for CNG, and wasting money on it. It will be run entirely on farts, a resource Pakistan has in abundance. Every Pakistani produces sufficient amounts of it, and it can even be made available on the local stores, in easy access to everyone.Also, the scientists of Pakistan, with a lack of anything to do, have become old and farty, they also can be put to good use through his. Our politicians don’t even need to use their posterior to generate any waste gases. All their empty promises and pretentious claims only amount to hot air, which can be easily used as fuel.

When asked about the working of his new innovation, he was more than happy to share. ”The water kit in my last car only worked to facilitate the engine. This new invention, however, has completely annihilated the role of engine in a car, and has replaced it with a pressure cooker. The gases will be filled inside the cooker and cooked on a high flame. They will then be used to turn a turbine. As the turbine moves, the generator works which then miraculously powers the car.

The researchers over at Karachi University have expressed concerns over the greenhouse effect of the emissions of such a car. But Agha Waqar retaliates, saying that the gases could always be refined into cleaner fuels. He has promised to clear all the misconceptions relating to his invention when he makes his first media appearance since his latest invention, on Capital Talk. Hamid Mir(the host of Capital Talk), was the first to give him media coverage. He himself drove the water-run car in Islamabad, and called Agha Waqar and asset of the country. This time too, he has shown his support by calling farts an indispensable source of alternative energy and himself promising to contribute towards the fuel of this car.

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Hamid Mir poses with the water-run car

For the time being, however, Agha Waqar, has sent several prototypes of his fart-run car to notable universities around the world. Many researchers have keeled over and died after examining the car, although no-one can determine whether it was due to the sheer stupidity of the car or the acidic quality of Pakistani farts.

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