Saturday, March 8, 2008

Girls night out

I'd forgotten just how much fun girls-night-out can be. Yesterday night was fun

A year ago, I think, when I was engaged and hence free of my parents' judicious inquiries about every minute spent outside the house after ten pm, Aisha, Nida, Rahma and I took upon a fateful, but the most crazily memorable night out together.

We had dinner, watched a soppy romantic comedy in what is Karachi only theatre friendly to four unmarried girls cruising the city on their own after hours, and around eleven pm headed out to get into Aisha's cultus and hurry home...

The cultus had a flat.

Now, most women in the world don't know how to change a tire. It's OKAY -it's fact of life. There almost always is an eager male passerby to help, teenagers driving by who would forget about where they were heading, park their car and come running to help you. I think it really brings out the best in men and it's just lovely. Unless, of course, you happen to be stranded in the middle of nowhere near the beach, without a jack that works on your particular brand of vehicle.

Of course the theatre guards came to help, random passerby came running too. But to no avail: the jack, and not just any Jack but the cultus jack, it seemed was going to be the only saviour for the haplesss four women.

Anyway, we made our calls for help. Parents weren't an option, didn't want to hear the told-you-nice-girls-don't-go-out-to-the-other-end-of-the-city-ontheirownatnight(yes, we were all in our twenties and had jobs. It's Pakistan.) Unfortunately though, this particular situation called for a Knight, and among the four of us, we have about two and a half male friends who could actually be relied upon to help. One of them doesn't even qualify as male half of the time. But I digress. Our most reliable(?) friend came promptly. However, I still don't know why he really did since he didn't have a jack in his own car (which also wasn't a cultus). He started to make his own calls.

Observation here: You have to love Pakistani men for their healthy, varied and very, very loyal circle of friends...especially so when they are being called to help a bunch of stranded girls.

One of his friends arrived. No cultus jack. Two hours later, it was nearly one that we finally left after one of our friends' friend's friend had dropped by, WITH a CULTUS JACK and saved us. We did our really-genuine-this-time giddy thankful girl routine, he had his reward. By then Nida's mom had threatened to disown her, I fail to remember what my parents' reaction was (thank God for engagements), the other mothers had once again reinstated their beliefs that their daughters were out of control.

The moral of the story is this: girls nights out are the best. Flat tires, cultus jacks and all.

Friday, March 7, 2008

the friendliest strangers in the country

there's a funny contrast among people in the street in this country's cities. A majority are the city stereotype who wouldn't turn around and look even if you stood naked on their way to work/metro/school/wherever else people go to at 8:30 am. And then there are the eager homeless who, it seems, look forward each day to be bumped into.

Yesterday afternoon I was stopped by a wild-haired guy in the street (crazy eyes and all) who said, 'I beg your do you do dear?', and waited for my reply. I wasn't sure how an American would respond to that. I was flustered. So I smiled, told him I was well and kept walking. Today, while walking to work, an apparently homeless guy at burger king where I go to get breakfast sometimes, profusely excused himself even though he wasn't really in my way (oh excuse me, sweetie, I'm so sorry...). I tried to say it's okay and for some reason ended up mouthing a hi (?)-- Still trying to develop the American quickness at the etiquette. He was delighted, replied with an enthusiastic hello, waited for perhaps a chat as I politely smiled and scuttered to the door.

On my first time in the metro, I decided to take pride in my absolute ineptness at directions, BE the ignorant fresh off the boat desi. I asked any and everyone for directions within and outside the station (almost everyone in the american public portfolio except the spanish). As it often happens at 12 pm, there was nobody but an old, homeless black guy in my train to wheaton. He was most helpful, avuncular even, and was so dedicated to my making it to Wheaton Mall that he accompanied me to the street in front of it. I was so grateful. I called Taimoor and told him about it.

And of course he told me to be careful that my friend wouldn't follow me home on my way back.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

You say goodbye I say hello

This song keeps going on and on in my mind…I wish I could sing it at the top of my voice and get it out of my system. But I'm at work.

the saga of...want

I've always thought this verse from Urdu poetry so rightly tells the story of our lives.

Hazaron khuwahishen aisee kay her khwahish pey dam niklay
Bohat niklay meray armaa'n, mager phir bhi kam niklay

Yeah I can't translate this without mutilating it. There's probably a translation online...someday I'll look and copy paste

Long or short, every life begins and ends with hopes and dreams which run in a really annoying, never-ending and highly reproductive cycle. Even the most cynical amongst us have a reason to become cynical: unfullfilment. Anyway, perfection and happiness are not only such relative terms but also very short-lived. That seems to be one of the first lessons of life, as soon as you start considering yourself old enough to learn. The wanting Never Stops, and Especially not with getting what you want.

Me, I want as much as the next woman from my life (and the next woman wants a Lot these days), although most of that seems to center rather savagely around my relationships and more mildly around my career. Very banal. But I actually get very tired sometimes of my banal but limitless ambitions. I think I wouldn't have been so tired of them if they had been truly grand. But they're not and in a perverse way they tire me out much more than a grand ambition would have tired a Razia Sultana or a Hillary Clinton.

And then I wonder if there really are any of those quite fictional characters in the world like the man in a story I once read, who left everything in his city life to go live in the country and happily survived on just onions – describing himself to the author as the most contented man on earth. I know there was some deep implication of the onions in the story – but I fail to remember it.