Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Khan used to sing Sullivan Street in 10th grade. I heard it today after a while. March isn't too far from today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Popping Bubbles

So I had assigned the following question to my Pakistan Studies class: imagine you are the ruler of Pakistan with unlimited authority. What three reforms would you implement to improve the socio-economic conditions in Pakistan, (focusing on specific problems which you aim to overcome through those reforms)? Well, something to that effect, the exact wording I can’t recall at this hour. Even though, ironically, I just got up after checking the last few of the first 1/3rd batch (out of a total of 108), in the emergency lamplight. Yeah, someone forgot to turn the generator switch on and since everyone in my household falls asleep at 9:45pm sharp, I was left to my own devices. Cell-phone light to reach the emergency light switch. I didn’t bother venturing out to the backyard.

And while I was reading accounts of how Pakistan will see better days, will be more literate, prosperous and healthy, in a mini euphoria of sorts, my phone lit up. Assuming it was a usual Facebook update or Shah calling me a goat, this time was an email from the Vice Chancellor, at this hour: stating that the university would be shut for an entire week starting tomorrow, following the terrorist attack at the Islamic University in Islamabad today. My heart sank. Ironic too though, because it seems like now the urban bubble is finally popping. And it is more saddening that the few who do have the resources and opportunity to pursue an education are also being denied that right.

Wallowing in these myriad thoughts, I snapped back into reality (or should I say make-believe; sometimes the distinction is blurry) as electric currents buzzed back into empty light bulbs. Trudging my way to the lonesome second storey, carrying the all-too-familiar blue books, I dug my hand into my comfort food bag and downed 2 packs of Doritos without a second thought.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Olives

Today I was scared.

For the first time, it wasn’t a told-you-so-shrug, or ‘of course this was bound to happen’, explanation. I was sitting in the car outside Shezan while Jay-Z went in to get orange juice for mother’s flu, that I heard a cacophony of voices and then one booming distinctively through a loudspeaker. As nervous drivers and motorcyclists meandered to the sidelines of the road, 8 army jeeps, heavily loaded, teeming with armored soldiers, sped past us in an olive green haze, towards the direction of Badian road. My heart leapt and my brows furrowed, as they are now while I recall today’s incident, albeit from the comfort of my bedroom. I frowned all the way home, thinking when I had left to go to work on the Mall today, past 7 odd ambulances and one fire-engine, and ironically mentioned to E about renovating his Temple Road house only a night before, a storm was already in tow. And even though I have a contradictory mix of scaredy-cat Kashmiri and fearless Pathan genes which usually tend to play out at the right times, I felt vulnerable.

If that wasn’t enough to the start of an uncomfortable evening, another calamity happened. B.A’s regular night maid was on leave so the replacement was due to fill in for tonight. Ma, who usually improvises for the maid’s absences, was sick in bed and Abbu…well, he was watching Geo. I was exiting ammi’s room with a bottle of honey and roasted garlic (desi totka for the cold), and multi-planning Saturday’s final exam, Friday’s office work and a bunch of other things in my head, when B.A fell.
Now since she’s old and hasn’t been entirely active, or rather mobile (self inflicted) for the past few years, she has been prone to falling from the atrophying muscles in her limbs. But this time, there was no one to help. Not only did I have to help haul up my 80 year old grandmother from the bathroom floor, help her sit on the stool to regain her composure before she was able to make her way back to the room, but talk her into doing so like a child. Come on, left foot, now right. Shabaash. I don’t know why it was such an upsetting experience: The fact that I had never really helped a vulnerable older person before, or the fact that my parents are also getting older. Or that I couldn’t look at my grandmother while I was helping her and coaxing her like a 5 year old. And that I was holding my breath the whole time. With a sprained right thumb and wet slippers (from the bathroom floor), I quietly left the room. I suppose it’s easy to take old people for granted, or treat their illness as a part of life.

So, I ate an apple to cheer myself up. Then I went upstairs and decided against my initial plan to chase army vans from the roof. I wasn’t in the mood. Then the landline phone rang. Twice. On the third bell, I picked up only to be greeted by three separate hellos.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alphabet Soup II

Guilt
Now that Esteban has made his exit, after a long companionship lasting 4 years, if not more, I have to find a solution to Sanchez’s DVD tray which keeps popping open at the most inopportune moments. I suppose since transitions are on the charts nowadays, my hypocrisy is also making a public face: yes, I have become one of ‘them’ smartphone toting women. I know it is criminal to have a phone which probably values the same as a staff member’s 6 month salary. But I never splurge, otherwise. Honestly.

Identity
So I’m a little late in doing the whole ‘finding meaning in the simple and obscure things of life’ primarily because I’ve always been boxed in the other compartment. Amongst siblings, roles are reserved or ascribed, fixed almost. So if I want to start writing, I’m deviating from what I’m supposed to be good at, painting. No wonder it has taken this long to find a voice.

Anger
Speaking of which, I have realized I hate confrontations. I’d rather ignore, overlook, or move on (convincing myself along the way that it wasn’t worth it to begin with) than face the issue at hand, even if I am the one being wronged. Also my anger is so short lived that the time taken from the parking lot to the office of the HR manager who screwed up my pay-slip (for instance) is enough to cool me down and revert to my usual uber polite social self all over again: “Jee, yeh please kar dain; Shukriya”. What is up with that? I can recall life changing moments when all I said was something to the effect of it aint over till the fat lady sings, where I should’ve probably punched the person on the face, or at least stomped on their polished shoes. This could be a personality flaw.

Lust
Wisdom often comes from unexpected sources and people, especially if they are 9 years your junior. And they say things like “apa, you need to fall in love, too” when you refuse to believe their fellow 14 year old friends are in love with their pubescent, underage drivers with too much pocket-money boyfriends. I can’t decide which is worse: admonitions from younger siblings, or retired uncles lusting over Diya Mirza at eid dinners.

Vulnerability
Newsflash: Boys love vulnerable girls. I read an article in my freshman year on the “Lean and Hungry” look, which the author used to describe twiggies and skinny people in general, and how they almost by virtue (vice) of being so lean and hungry and emaciated, were suspect. As opposed to the well-fed and wholesome look which was much more trusting. A certain someone I know is always the object of every man’s affection. Now, I know of them shallow sorts who only look at faces, but now I’ve realized what the charm is. She epitomizes the “vulnerable”,“I need a savior” look(not the same as damsel in distress, mind you – needs further explanation). And you boys love that, don’t you?