Monday, August 27, 2007

wake up and smell the coffeeeee

I have realized that we all need wake up moments in life—a moment that clichéd as it may sound life decides to take you by your shoulders and shake you out of your complacency. For some time I have been a victim, albeit a grudging victim, of the “everything is well” syndrome that has intoxicated most of my compatriots; that all is well with our nation sixty years in its existence, of the importance of optimism and turning a deaf ear to all the negative propaganda that is a mischievous conspiracy on the part of Pakistan’s enemies. This August 14th in Melbourne, at the stroke of 10am in the morning when many in Pakistan were asleep, I standing in the consulate of a Schengen state awoke to a redefinition of what a meaningful life and freedom means for a Pakistani abroad. “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. My sincerest apologies to the soul of Jawaharlal Nehru and his offspring for so liberally distorting his landmark speech to articulate my frame of mind that August morning. As the visa officer brought out a separate sheet of paper and asked me for an undertaking that I had never falsified my travel documents, undertaken terrorist training (as if!) and the piece de resistance my travel history to certain countries and regions in the past three years (transit not counting). And well pride of place (perhaps a cosmic present from the heavens for all we have subjected the world to in the past sixty years) in the list of sad, bad, countries was our beloved country Pakistan. Yes, it is not the ubiquitous Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the usual gang of terrors alone, there it was in black and white have I travelled in the past three years to Pakistan, tick please. Kashmir and Chechnya were listed as regions, probably not to embarrass their central governments. There was Philippines, which seemed like an afterthought, and the United Arab Emirates that should worry all the jockeys and horses the Emirates group sponsors courtesy their involvement with the Melbourne Cup ....

But my pet greeve for this week is not the duplicity in attitude towards the United Arab Emirates, it is the sorrow experienced on a particular day when I was in the mood to celebrate a day of political maturity (60 is a sobering year) and a moment of arrival for my country on the world scene. Well arrived our country has and with style and fanfare. Albeit it is in all the wrong pages and lists—to be topping the list of short stop-over or leg-overs while your flight prepares to visit the Axis of Evil is no good news.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Light bulb moment!

Being a Pakistani abroad brings upon you a set of responsibilities that you might never have volunteered for when you applied for that passport—at times you realise you have been reduced to performing the duties of a quasi-almanac of all things South Asian for the greater community. I have noticed that the frequency of queries posed to me have increased substantially in the past month—perhaps the flurry of announcements in the media for a season of programmes devoted to our 60th year anniversary is one reason everyone has “woken up” to our part of the world (or it could be that people do listen in to the US Presidential Debate after all and want to know more about us before we are bombed to kingdom come). However amongst all these queries—some quite irritating, there are the occasional “gems of wisdom” which make me examine my assumptions and come up to clichéd as it sounds some “light bulb” moments of my own regarding the state of affairs in Pakistan.
One such question was the ubiquitous query regarding the life of women, single women at that in Pakistan. The particular “pollster” was quite keen that I do not refer to women in Karachi, Lahore and the cosmopolitan centres but single women living in small town Pakistan and beyond, where the veneer of civilization fades and our tribal loyalties become paramount. Could women have functioning (as Pakistanis define it) lives on their own, he asked? Could they live independently? Would their community allow them to earn as they please and spend it on their selves? To sum it up how self-sufficient could they be? It is obvious that there could only be one response to that question—and how it would be interpreted in turn by the investigator and what he could derive about the state of affairs for the Pakistani woman in 2007. But then these questions did set me thinking and I had to rephrase my initial response. In Pakistan today—and the way our society functions who can survive as an individual? Do our communities allow for anyone to make it on their own? Is an individual’s opinion ever taken seriously and at the risk of repeating myself is personal initiative ever encouraged? Where is the respect for reason, where is the tolerance for someone who wants to march to their own drum, and where is the assurance that every individual can have an equal opportunity to excel? This is something that cuts across gender and therefore one has to realise that before evaluating the state of (women) affairs in our country.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

to which i should add 'mind of a married man'...have not been able to utter the words "happy endings" with a straight face ever since!

"Mad Men" starts soon before I kill that off.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kiss of Death

I seriously think I have the kiss of death where TV programs are concerned...I only have to warm up to one and they either decide not to renew the series...or Foxtel takes it sweet time screening new episodes....or Jennifer Aniston wants to make movies.
I guess its a sign of SERIOUS AGING (on my part)...if the voice over on my TV announces "coming next CLASSIC FRIENDS episodes"...when did it become the Golden Girls sitting around at Central Perk??
So far Ive said good bye to Frasier, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Friends, Will and Grace, Judging Amy....if Big Love gives up on me I am going to pull the plug.