theres something about mary(am)

01Sep09

as a rule i keep my friends and family separate.

this is not because i don’t like my family or because i like my friends too much but because if you’re a desi the way you categorise relatives is already very complicated without throwing in the friend card. let me explain. there are different names for all varieties of uncles and aunts and qualifying factors for cousins based on whose kids they are. there are different names for all the different conceivable types of sister in law for example (sali for wife’s sister, nand for husband’s sister, bhabi for brother’s wife, devarani/jethani for husband’s younger/elder brother’s wife, salhaj for wife’s brother’s wife and so on). don’t get me started on the varieties of mother in law (yes, there’s more’n one type). this is all over and above the reality that we have huge families whom we actually keep in touch with – and this is a contentious issue because according to some people we keep perhaps too much in touch with them, with marriages between first cousins being as common among desis as beards are among the taliban. so you might have a case where your mom and dad are the progeny of two sets of brother and sister who were cousins themselves – making you your own first, second and third cousin.

and then you have friends. think that’s easy? not so. parents’ friends are normally “uncle” and “aunty” but if you’re from a more urdufied family they become specific uncles and aunties like xyz chacha if the dude’s your dad’s friend and abc khala if the chick’s your mom’s friend. all your elder sister’s and elder brother’s friends become bajis and bhais respectively. if you’re a nice desi boy partying with friends in some nightclub you might suddenly be embarassed by a hot nineteen year old coming up and ruining the whole effect by recognizing you and calling you bhai and claiming to be the younger sister of the guy who partnered you in the three legged race back in third grade.  this is how it works and this is why being desi is being desi even if you get rid of the oiled back hair and the sweaters your grandmother knitted for you.

so yeah. as a rule i keep my friends and family separate.

however, all rules have exceptions. which is why, i rather confusingly to most people, have a friend who is a few months my junior who is technically my neice. the issue is further complicated by the fact that for some obscure reason i have never hesitated to introduce her to anyone we might run into when we’re hanging out at a sheesha place or restaurant, as exactly that – my neice. in any case, she claims i look old enough to be her uncle which is, at some level, quite insulting but this is more or less mitigated by the fact that she claims she’s overweight despite being in roughly the same weight class as gandhi.

[iceman’s 798th law on women: if they’re fat they’ll pretend they’re slim, if they’re slim they’ll pretend they’re fat, if they’re of average tonnage they’ll ask you if they look fat and get irritated at however you respond to that question]

anyways, if you know me, you’ll be familiar with the poultry farm model.  so there are good eggs. there are bad eggs. there are eggs which do not tend to either extreme. and these characteristics are all relative. i imagine an ostrich would not be too pleased with a chicken sized egg in its nest. a sparrow would be delighted. and so it is that this neice of mine would not win a popularity contest in my family. this is not because there is inherently wrong with the egg. no, the shell is wellshelled, the yolk is decidedly yolky and there is many a nest in which the egg would be more than welcome to mama bird, not to mention papa bird, grandma bird and the retarded second cousin bird. however, in our dynasty, a female egg of her variety fits in as well as an african-american adapts himself to the working environment of the ku klux klan. but this is besides the point. in a nutshell, you would be hard put to adopt the fact that we are related as an article of faith.

anyway, as it happens, having concluded a meetup at batuta’s son’s place where she had thoroughly out-sheeshaed and out-cigaretted me by a factor of 87 to 1, we realised that she had left her keys in her car and since i was being picked up by a friend at any rate it was decided that we’d drop her to her place and that she’d ride back with her husband to pick up her car or whatever.

he came. we boarded. she navigated. he drove. we arrived. she offloaded.

silence.

[pause]

more silence.

i’m not sure if you’ve had the experience of watching what is supposed to be a soap opera on that disgrace to televsion history, star plus, but if you have, you will be familiar with the use of the dramatic pause to convince the audience that there is perhaps a deeper meaning hidden in the crap being enacted on screen. it is at times like that the audience shifts uneasily in its seats waiting for the bombshell to come from the hero’s dying father’s doctor only to have him announce its only a seasonal flu and that the old dude will be on his feet by the end of the second commercial break. this was similar to the feeling that i had while i waited for him to digest whatever it was he was digesting.

 

him: bhai, yeh kya tha? (bro, what was this?)
self: kya kya tha? (what was what?)
him: matlab, yeh kaun thi? (i mean, who was she?)
self: meri bhaanji. (my niece)

this prompted another pause. meanwhile imran khan requested someone to dance for him on the speakers. i gathered he had one of those typical desi dishes which take a while to digest.

him: nahin. yeh tumhari bhanji nahin thi (no. she wasn’t your niece)

he went on to give me his thesis on how it was impossible for this lady to be my neice because based on his assessment of my family if she had really been related to me, (a) the girl would not have entered his car in my presence with a couple of packs of marlboros in her hand, (b) the girl would not have entered his car and (c) the girl would not have been in my presence. given the way the royal family is supposed to operate (and indeed comes close to operating) this assessment was not way off mark and in fact almost impossible to challenge. however, few people, if any, have ever challenged my ability to respond convincingly to any argument other than the one that pakistanis have to be insane to have tolerated sultan rahi in one movie, let alone 804. so i started explaining that she wasn’t a very close neice, just one of the many neices a man gathers over the course of a lifetime when he interrupted and informed me that i could blabber all i want but nobody so “english” could possibly be related to me.

[curtain drop]

i am not by nature any way “english“. i am not even english in that i normally speak in english – i don’t. i prefer urdu. i admit that most people who know me would probably laugh and tell you that there is obviously some misunderstanding, you must be talking about another iceman, if you told them you have been reading my blog in english for four years now (i wouldn’t believe it either. no reader has survived my entire archives). i do not act english, eat english or look english. yet it makes no sense that someone who has known me for seven years would have formed such strong ideas on what type of people can or cannot be related to me – despite knowing that i have relatives on the pulpit and in the pop music industry.

and so i have decided i am getting a makeover (after eid of course. there’s no way i’m showing up as iceman v2.0 in karachi). this makeover will involve purple hair with streaks of blue, a sculpted five o’clock shadow, remodelled eyebrows and a decidedly fake american accent.

i’m thinking pink teeshirts but that would need a lobotomy not a makeover. also that would probably make me the first person to aspire for the throne of delhi while clad in hues of pink since razia sultana around 730 years ago. and that would be a no-no.

the things one does for a throne (and also to come across as slightly more english).

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16 Responses to “theres something about mary(am)”

  1. vaaat!!! engleeeeeeeeeeesh?!
    oh mai gaat!
    im feelings so marvy memons…!

  2. 2 Saeed

    Marvy memons..? I want in on that joke – any explanations, plz?

    Oh yeah, tell me about nieces & nephews. I wouldn’t be able to give you a ball park figure of how many I have.

    You always allude to blue/purple hair/streaks but never follow it up with pix. Sigh, I miss having blue hair. Damn this age business, if I weren’t too old for it now, I’d have done it again. – Hey, is that really it – as in, do you really want them too, but worry that you’re too old for it now?

  3. LOL.. I cant stop imagining you in pink!!!… lol

  4. saeed: marvy memon is an MNA? i think… who twitters. and abbas follows her and her twitters.
    you can too, here http://twitter.com/marvi_memon

    she cracks me up. just because.

  5. woe betide anyone who implies that i am old – in african tortoise terms, i’m a mere toddler.

    and i only follow her tweets – not the woman herself.

  6. I want purple hair!
    I think I’ve been following your writings for a couple of years now, and if I were ever to meet you and you wouldn’t speak to me in English, I’d probably faint or somthing. Seriously. XD

  7. First off.. Very well written xil!
    Secondly i too am utterly sick of this bad desi syndrome (not ALL desi syndromes are bad) that guys and even some women seem to have- this syndrome that a girl with a pack of marlboros has come from some unknown planet totally unrelated to pakiland, or anyone who resides in pakiland. Some ppl are in such deep denial that they will go lengths to prove such women exist in some parallel universe and come out at wierd times of the day simply to go back into their warpzones or something! :p sometimes i just go in depression cuz of these trolls!

    as for the purple hair.. You r just messing with us arent u? You r not REALLY gettin purple hair then?

  8. @ chelsea: i’m assuming you’re the clinton. so don’t worry, the secret service ought to be on standby with an ambulance. 🙂 keep visiting!

    @ cyma: not purple purple. just a purply tinge to the black – kinda like a very very dark watchamacallit… that summer fruit… jaamun?

  9. 9 Saeed

    We want pictures – of the hairjob. Ones where that purply tinge is visible?

  10. Ummm

    Why cant a desi person have inglish rishtaydar … I mean why?

    And since when ciggies become Inglish, my maasi from Uch shareef has been smoking them since she was 11

  11. hahaaaa all the way. id love 2 c u don the pink shirt and jaamun hair…in addition, also the scowl/ eye-popping stances offered by ur kingdom. priceless!!

  12. ungrezi rishtaydaar na hon tou marry one…one can get all the ungrezi rishtaydaar one wants…

    ur lush man…lush tay push…

  13. and so i have decided i am getting a makeover (after eid of course. there’s no way i’m showing up as iceman v2.0 in karachi). this makeover will involve purple hair with streaks of blue, a sculpted five o’clock shadow, remodelled eyebrows and a decidedly fake american accent.

    Karachiites will be thrilled, I’m sure.

    On a much random note, you do realize age is just a number and girls of the Cosmo era are more than just obssessed with weight? You won’t ever solve those problems. And I mean, ever.

  14. @saeed: maybe later 🙂

    @tazeen: see that just proves the world is round. being uch shareefi is the farthest you can be from being inglish… and yet, you’re just the same. hence, the world is round. q.e.d.

    @xehr: don’t hold your breath 🙂 i’m not gravitating towards pink tees anytime soon.

    @utp: thats just another reason not to get married 🙂

    @minerva: yes. and i’m not trying to.


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