if you know anything about how banks generally operate, you’ll know that as the year ends they start offering better than usual rates of returns on deposits that will show on their books at 31st december. their management will tell you this has something to do with nice balance sheets and central bank requirements and bandy about terms like “minimum capital” and “basel II” and – depending on how impressed you are by jargon – throw in totally unrelated details about fixed-income instruments, securitized debt and the global all-time favourite, “derivatives”. but the fact is simply that the operations guys are pretending to be as busy as the accounting dudes.

but what“, i hear my reader shout, “does all that have to do with anything? i’m almost as broke as you are! invest, ha ha! invest, my foot! i’m dodging the collection guys from the credit card company! and you, you pompous ass, are probably lobbying for bankruptcy laws in the uae“. and the sentiment behind this outburst is not lost on me. indeed, if i ever laugh  within 30 minutes after hearing the word “bank” these days that means i’ve been told the one that goes “a cake of c4 and an envelope full of anthrax walk into a bank…”

but even that, as usual, is besides the point. the reason i bring this up is simply to state that apart from being that time of the year when you pretend to be sentimental about an occasion you do not celebrate or the time of the year you google jinnah quotes to use as facebook statuses after confirming from your coworker how “quaid” is spelt – this is also the time of the year when everyone you know is either attending a wedding or having one.

the poor sods.

but that is the kind of stuff you can live with. “their funeral” you say. or “their inhumation” if you’ve just filled out the daily crossword. what really bothers you is the insistence of every razia, zubeida and parveen that you too join the festivities and not just as an attendee but as the key participant. and even that might be tolerable if you knew razia, zubeida and/or parveen but if she’s just a lady sitting next to you on the plane with an irritating toddler hell bent on offering you his crayons every 7.3 seconds you realise that you’ve missed the issue in which Forbes listed you as the most eligible guy on the planet. i mean there are obviously no other 29 year old single guys left on the planet. meedonesti?

(i’m wondering if you noted the casual dropping of the farsi term in there. now is that cool, ya chi?)

i’ve heard tales of interrogations by our much maligned intelligence agencies which have left the poor captives so confused they didn’t know whether they’re being questioned or proposed to. we’ve all read about the instruments of torture used in the spanish inquisition. and everyone’s seen the followers of freud holding up rohrshach images and asking the clinically insane to make sense of them (which is probably because no sane person would pay their fees if they were put through the same crap). experience gives you perspective. i realise now that the faults were not so much of those questioned or even those questioning as it was of the questions that were asked. questions have to be direct, to the point and very damn personal, no i’m not really sorry. this way there’s no confusion. aya mi fehmi? you can’t give the wrong answer.

hence: what’s your name? so you must be a shia? married? what do you do? then why aren’t you married? so when –

halt. stop. sabar kuneed. if i answer the first four questions truthfully, how does the fifth follow naturally? i’m sure i know at least 11.2 unmarried auditors. and popular as i am, even i don’t know everybody. but that at any rate is what the rishta ladies think. now in a crowded plane full of pakistanis you cannot simply ask a woman to shut up. this is not the way things are done unless you want to join a different sort of mile high club – one in which you get beaten up by ever ready brothers looking for a fight. and you can’t always tell someone off politely. the trick, of course, is to lie with a smile and then exact revenge in very subtle ways.

this is probably why she ended up with my plumber’s phone number instead of my parents’ and why she realised midflight that her son was using her eyeliner pen on his colouring book. yes i can pick things poking out of purses.

hey, apnay saamaan ki khud hifaazat karein. basoorat-e-deegar intizaamiya zimaydaar nahin hogee

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wordpress tells me i made only one post during 2010 and that it generated enough of a readership to fill 14 boeing 747s. less impressive is that the top search item leading to this blog is “chirkeen” – but thats not what’s embarassed me into attempting to write. i lost a friend to cancer yesterday. we weren’t close any more but we scraped our shins in the same sixth grade playground, starred in the same seventh grade plays, competed for top scores on the same eighth grade projects. we were the same age and i’m too old for too many things but he was too young to die. rest in peace, old friend.

be grateful for every moment. because life, its fleeting. we can’t afford to wait.  meedonesti?


the problem is not so much a dearth of substance as a confusion of style. and no i’m not talking about pakistani fashion.

the problem with discussing problems is that you have to start at the beginning – and that is so not my style. nonetheless, one must persevere and strive at all times to attain perfection and this is a relatively easy concession to make along those lines. i stopped writing a few months ago. if centuries from today, in the journey towards civilisation, some publisher decides to compile the complete “works” of xill-e-ilahi, the readers will discover a gap from november 2009 to april 2010, admittedly the biggest break in his (un)prolific writing career. researchers will spend thousands of hours examining the changes in style before and after the gap. historians will spend lifetimes examining the reasons for the break. poets will make veiled references to that period in ballads of unrequited love. sci-fi movies will be made about it, alien abduction will be claimed and crop circles in the same period will be reported. mohammad yousuf will blame it for the horrible tour of australia, afridi will say it made him bite cricket balls and sania mirza will grudgingly concede that that was what drove her to the insanity of accepting shoaib malik. abu dhabi police will claim ignorance but admit that road fatalities went down during the period. raza rabbani will state that it was what actually enabled the passing of the 18th amendment. it will only be after intense research that some humble archivist from smolensk, russia will discover the truth – though he will be rubbished in the media the next day and spend the rest of his life in obscurity swigging vodka and filling out immigration applications to the united states – that i was confused about the style.

you see, fundamentally, i’m a comedian. which, while it may not draw in the girls in truckloads, is not such a bad thing. unfortunately, my subject is quite simply, a guy who’s given up. and it gets confusing. you don’t know if the protagonist is going to come across like eddie murphy in a dostoevsky masterpiece or raskolnikov hobnobbing with galahad threepwood at blandings castle. it’s not what you want to read in a blogpost by yours truly. as such, its more a matter of subjective focus – stressing not the outcome, but the incident. that’s where the smiles lie, and in the end, the ledger of life is simply a balance of smiles earned and smiles spent and everything else is irrelevant, the composite works of sylvia plath notwithstanding.

and that, ladies, gentlemen and guys who go to yoga sessions, is my roundabout way of bringing you to the subject at hand. around a year ago the iceman announced, in a style as filmi as it gets – and it gets very filmi here among us desis – that he had given up smoking and set out on the quest for physical perfection and eternal youth and whatnot and whatnot all for the sake of raised eyebrows which would have been even more appealing if lowered, and looks of disdain which, while they did little to mar the beauty of the face that carried them, might have been better off elsewhere and because the sun was shining, oh happy day; no more troubles and no skies were gray; ever since you said those words to me; oo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo etc, etc.; and he did.

and it cost him his job.

we-ell, not exactly. but he did have to change it, shortly afterwards.

it is pretty generally acknowledged, among those expected to know, that in these dark ages when dicaprio is considered a heart throb, shoaib malik finds brides left, right and centre and smoking is socially unacceptable in most countries – that for a newbie to a workplace, there are few better networking tools than a cigarette. it is also generally accepted that actions are to be judged by intentions and anyone can vouch that i have always had the best of intentions (or excuses, depending on which way you look at it) for whatever i have done. and to cut a long story short it didn’t last very long. now a true desi would have let his hair grow wild, taken to cheap liquor and expensive escorts and started wearing crappy muslin kurtis over dirty jeans, spouting one liners from urdu literature like “na khuda hee mila, na visaal-e-sanam” and listened all night to bollywood oldies by kishore and mukesh. and while i am desi to the hilt, more so in matters of the heart, there is only so much that propriety allows and my eardrums can take. so yes, i do inhale the odd whiff of smoke every now and again – less than i did by simply breathing in karachi. old jeans are fine but i wouldn’t wear muslin to save my life and i quote chirkeen with far more regularity than i do ghalib or faiz. in other words, while i am still mooning about lost love (as ridiculously corny as that may sound) i simply don’t have it in me to try to look like it any more than i normally do look like it.

so that should explain both the prolonged silence and the five o’clock shadow.

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speaking of prolonged silences – and i have to thank everything holy for the media driven irrelevance of sheikh rasheed – much has been made of the quality of my writings after i went silent. criticism qua criticism, i have no objection to. in my day i have been known to criticize and complain with the best of them. indeed, one observer once stated that i was the kind of person who, if you had a bag full of shit, would keep on complaining until you gave me half of it – a charge which i do not normally deem worthy of a response, but as the poet said, where there’s smoke there’s the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.

the problem with criticism though, is that its enjoyment depends almost completely on whether you’re the critic or the subject of critique.

now you have essentially two kinds of authors (further categories being mere subclasses), the ones who get something out of their authoring and merrily author away leaving their readers fuming at every new piece they write – take dawn’s kamran shafi for example with his irritating insistence on calling terrorists “yahoos” and apparent ignorance of the adage that once is funny, twice is stupid and any more is a kick in the pants – and then there’s the type who normally claims to write for “catharsis” or “self-expression” or “setting the personal record straight” or “the public’s entertainment” or “society’s greater good” when all thats on his or her mind is the appreciative update in his or her inbox from comment-reply@wordpress.com.

bloggers, of course, normally fall in the later category. so, for the record, its not nice to send them emails telling them that their anthology amounts to “little more than sheer verbal buffoonery with little resemblance to facts from a patently racist [expletive deleted] neecumpoop“. it is not nice not because it is offensively phrased or in any way inaccurate but because it reflects that the writer spent a night in a french hotel whispering endearments into roget’s ears begging him to come up with a structurally correct sentence to voice the writer’s feelings. not to put too fine a point on it, its supposed to be nincompoop not neecumpoop. and while i admit that its one of the harder words in english to pronounce, let alone spell, from one critic to another – a misspelt insult is no insult at all. also, the last time i heard the word was in 1986 when i was still in kindergarten and overheard two teachers discussing the headmistress, so thank you for refreshing my memory.

the rest of the charge is one i have never attempted to dispute (other than the deleted expletive) which pretty much takes away your thunder. i appreciate your calling a spade a spade, but whats the point when the spade has never claimed to be a trowel? it might be clever to call a hoe a ‘ho, if you follow my drift, but to a comic writer who specializes in mocking cultures? i’m missing the angle here.

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other earth shaking developments during the time i was away include 5 major earthquakes, a volcano and me buying a car which has made the guiness book of world records as the first passat to be christened foxy.

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i really think i should give this up permanently. if i can’t write, i can’t.


history, as we all know, is a nawaz sharif. as in it repeats itself.

i think 50/50 made this video back in the seventies or eighties, probably around the time pakistan went to new zealand on its first succesful overseas tour in ’72-73 – either that or, which is more likely, the tour in ’84-85 when we got whipped pretty bad. it lampoons zaheer abbas‘s ineptitude against the kiwis, who were probably the only team who ever really troubled him (he averaged less than eighteen against them as opposed to almost 45 overall). the video would be just as apt this year with our blundering team ridding itself of its captain days before the tour was to start. fortunately, the replacement captain kind of excels against new zealand, averaging over 64 against them as opposed to a more than respectable 54.86 overall.

but my post was not about cricket. it was about chhaalia. and the fact that mouth cancer be damned, it is now more or less approved by the religious authorities who’ve declared lay’s halal.

from now on i’m replacing my standard “oh mai gott!” which i use whenever someone becomes too inglish for me with “oh, tesko!“.


much has been said about shakespeare’s lost plays, love’s labour won and cardenio. it is all lies. apart from the one play called manji kithay dhawaan? that has all but disappeared from common knowledge due to the secret agendas of freemasons, salafis, vegans and clientele of the al jameel men’s spa and salon in new shahama, abu dhabi; shakespeare wrote little or nothing of worth. every desi knows where he stole his idea for romeo and juliet from and if anyone thinks i’m buying a historic story about a guy who was stabbed to death while stepping out in public in a bathrobe, he’s got another think coming. and yet he’s in the top three on history’s bestseller lists, surpassed only by the king james’ bible and, i suspect, hugh hefner.

the fact of the matter is that it is not the plot which sells stories but the characters. and no one conjures characters better than the All Conjuring Being upstairs. figments of our imagination have got nothing on half the idiots we pass by on the streets every day. shakespeare latched on to this pretty quickly and focussed most of his energies on historic plays and even the so-called works of fiction are actually biographical accounts where the names have been changed to protect the domestic staff. the taming of the shrew, for example, is about my neighbours back home.

but that is besides the point.

as usual, the title of the post is what a person schooled in english might call vague, a native speaker of the language might call ambiguous and a subuktagin might call tenebrous. i just call it characteristically off the mark (characteristic because for some reason my titles never make sense but usually get fixed in other people’s imaginations – people still ask me when i’m releasing lavender underwear’s – thats the band i was going to start seven years ago –  first album) you might call it uda walawwe mahim bandaralage chanaka asanga welegedara for all i care. its a free world. what it is, is actually a line from a le carre novel that for some reason unbeknownst to me has stuck in my mind. and yet its not all that off the mark. because the novel was about intelligence agencies and undercover cops and stuff and that is what this post is supposed to be about.

the scene took place on – you guessed it – another balmy night on the corniche on abu dhabi. let me tell you something about this place. to the uninitiated, a corniche in the gulf is usually a beach and virtually every coastal city will boast of a place called the corniche as if it were in fact a small beachside resort in the south of france. usually these corniches are strips of reclaimed land in a place which already has more land than you would figure they need to survive till the barrels of crude buried under it dry out. the corniche in abu dhabi meets that description but it is different too. picture a 5-6 km stretch of open beach where turquoise waves lap on to your ankles in an almost unnervingly docile manner. picture then a strip of nice, neatly aligned highrises overlooking this beach. then separate these highrises from the beach by a long green patch liberally annointed with fountains, sculpted hedges, open air coffeeshops and the like and you get a good idea of the lovely setting in which lies the city’s longest and most popular jogging track. it is this green patch that is blessed by my presence most nights when i go out for walks and where i get so many of these bloggable events for your consumption.

law enforcement thrillers are not exactly what you expect when the scene takes place in the serene surroundings of the uae. the violent crime rate here is so low that abu dhabi makes the dalai lama’s drawing room look like a hotbed of violence where no man in saffron robes and a bald head may safely venture. but the message is always there. in dropped tones and with the air of someone who’s pretending to know more than he does, every other guy in the uae will tell you about how the c.i.d. is always watching. it has lead to instances of melodramatic indians with severe colonial symptoms beginning impassioned speeches with “as the lord and c.i.d. are my witnesses”. however, regardless of whether or not they have indeed commissioned angels from heaven – and at times you’d feel they can certainly afford them – they definitely do exist, and, at times, make their presence felt.

you would assume, from the preceding 769 words that the scene which i am about to relate takes place on the corniche on a night of the aforementioned type, and you would be right. the only blot on the otherwise picturesque setting was the preponderance of malayalam speaking types around which did much to ruin the acoustics. a word or two about malayalis. you will have seen, over the course of your natural life, hairy upper lips belonging to members of various species, from thomas lipton’s english horror show to sultan rahi’s punjabi monster to merv hughes’ walrus thingamajig to the hughesian adornment of the pacific walrus. however, few races have passed by with as uniformly hairy upper lips as the keralite one. this is of course their privelige, and while the u.n.’s charter of human rights does not specifically include the right to a mustache, it is not one of the greivances that led to the second world war; even though hitler ought to have been declared a war criminal for that alone. however, i wouldn’t be the first to suggest that a mustache, on its own, does much to vandalize what might otherwise not be considered unsuitable viewing for children under thirteen.

anyways, you have a picturesque corniche and a bunch of people milling around who do not really speak much of the standard of male beauty, and any one whose watched a well directed movie will tell you that it is at this juncture that the filmmaker does something to raise the average. this is my cue to enter on set. the camera now shifts from wide angle focus to a much smaller subject and the screen is now filled with images of me as i stroll along the jogging track looking the picture of a man with nothing on his mind except his hair (yes, yes, the remnants of the hair) when all of a sudden the hedge on my right parted and spewed forth two seedy looking men in a manner that would have made the job of many a mother easier had it happened when their child had asked “where do people come from, mommy?” and they could just have pointed and said “from the bushes, honey”. but alas there were no such children or mothers present at hand and the malayalis had also seemingly melted away. now most men, if they were strolling on the corniche and suddenly find themselves surrounded by men who have been spewed forth by bushes will get slightly alarmed at this turn of events. i am such a man. and while i am no criminal, i am also afflicted by the same nervous feeling that hits every schoolboy when the headmaster strolls purposefully in the classroom; when i am told by a seedy looking man that he is from the c.i.d.

what happened next… [access to this informtion is currently blocked. the information falls under the prohibited content categories of the uae’s internet access management policy] …and that, as they say, is that.

anyways, a few days later i was on another of these nocturnal walks of mine when i realised that the incident had blessed me with a superpower. i could now spot c.i.d. people. i identified two likely suspects and started tailing them on their walk around the corniche. and sure enough, 27 minutes later they stopped a guy walking alone and checked his i.d. and stuff. this should have been enough but i decided to continue tailing them when i got the unnerving feeling that i was also being tailed. i stopped to tie my shoe laces and checked around and spotted my original c.i.d. guys some 100 metres behind me. various schemes of daredevilry flashed through my head. i could run up to the pair i was tailing and tell them i was being tailed. i could run up to the guys tailing me and tell them i was tailing two suspicious looking guys. i could call the police and tell them i was surrounded by two pairs of suspicious men. i could pretend to have a heart attack and yell at them all to call for an ambulance.

i did none of the above. i headed straight to the guys who had questioned me the week before, greeted them, borrowed a light for my cigarette, congratulated them on egypt’s win over algeria and hopped off without so much as having to produce id.

i am currently accepting job offers from counter-espionage services the world over except israel, india and, because i can, guinea bissau.


admittedly i have been somewhat lax in our online reminiscences of the life of my royal majesty, leaving you to pine for updates but everything worth having is worth delaying so that the demand supply ratio works in the favour of the supplier. i’m sure warren buffet would approve of my market strategy.

when you think about it, or rather, when i think about it, there aren’t many people in the world who come up with original names for places of worship. this is probably because creativity in matters of faith is often considered a no-no of the highest proportions; hence while you will see the world bearded index crossing one billion in your lifetime, you will be hard put to find the mosque of blackbeard anytime soon. or, for that matter, the basilica of the celibate priest. and i have no problems with this. because once it starts, there’s no telling where it ends. i’m not sure i want to worship in a motorsport themed mosque sponsored by ferrari – even though most of my worship revolves around a common theme involving a ferrari 599, a supermodel, good relations with the aforementioned, etc, – essentially your standard achhi see eik garee ho, larki us mein pyari ho concept.

however, i have digressed from the subject at hand. not that there’s anything you can do about it – but still. to get back to where i was coming from, my point was that all indications to the assumption notwithstanding, the title of this post has as much to do with the blessed saint of breast cancer preventation as it does with my liking for orange teeshirts. no indeed. this is about the curious preference certain arab ladies display for pink nissan patrols. to put this in perspective, this is something like an armani leopard print bulletproof vest or snakeskin stiletto construction boots. and yet, such a vehicle is not uncommon enough to stand out in a car park in abu dhabi – and if it does, it’ll only be because its owner managed to find a parking spot, which was, for the record, one of the undocumented tasks of hercules (the only one he flunked out on, by the way).

life in abu dhabi has innoculated me against many things. i no longer register surprise at the sight of a guy with an eighteen inch long beard walking with two abaya-clad females into a cinema to watch a teen dance movie at 12 am for example. i give only a passing glance at ludicrous displays of daredevilry on the roads involving 8 pre-teen kids and a landcruiser coasting on its side on two wheels. i will probably not go into cardiac arrest if i see a nokia phone with a skin made by de beers or tiffany’s. and so on so forth. so leaning against a pink nissan patrol in one of the parking lots on the corniche to take a break during my midnight biped sojourn is not exactly akin to hitchhiking my way to helsinki, even if it isn’t the posture you picture when you think of my majesty.

what is unusual though is to find out that the owner of the said pink nissan patrol is in fact a member of the male species. let me put this in perspective. the arab race is very, well, arab. especially if they are from what i call the persian gulf (at my own risk – they call it the arabian gulf). it would be hard for you to find eighteen adult khaleeji males who do not sport at least a stubble on their chins. it would be harder to find eighteen who do not enjoy a good football game. it would be impossible to find eighteen who do not walk (regardless of their frame) as if they were either strutting around for a mr. olympia contest or as if they were wearing extremely uncomfortable underwear. in short, they are from a world where men look like men and rohrshach images look like ink blots and cucumbers look like cucumbers because that is what they are.

so a guy in a pink nissan patrol in red skin tight jeans and pink form-fitting teeshirt with a hairstyle that looks like a bird of paradise’s tail was, to put it mildly, unexpected. unexpected, but not inexplicable. after all, every man has an inner rainbow –  it just shines more brightly in some (especially if they’re from makran) – and his was just one of those tragic cases. except that you do not expect a guy like that to be able to snare a flaming hot french chick who pops out of the other side of the patrol making the nissan patrol look like a jack-in-the-box designed by yves saint laurent. but we all know what makes the world goes round….

ladies, follow the money if you will but, for the sake of everything holy, follow it to the kind of guy who looks like hes trying to get you not trying to be you! i mean, red jeans? red jeans??!!

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in other news sure to shake you to your very core, i have started the mission to obtain a driving license. someday this will form the basis for a whole series of very funny posts (if you find my brand of humour funny, that is) but right now its just too painful to write about.

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i have no clue why i started this post. let me know if you do.


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).


apart from the few iranians who claim that friday is named after this persian chick named farideh (and i want to place on record that i have nothing against iranians – as long as they’re female), most people agree that the etymology of the word has to do more with venus than any other woman. of course, me being me, my fridays don’t work out that way. normally i just spend them sleeping off a red bull induced sugar crash or getting a further tan (yes, its possible) on my biped sojourns of the land of gazelles. however, instead of worshipping the goddess of love, beauty and fertility like any proper roman (not that there’s anything roman about me if you ignore the fact that i’m a roman polanski fan) would do a few thousand years ago i spent the last friday – well frinight – falling in love with a whole bunch of goddesses of the persian variety and since i can’t comment on love and fertility, lets  just concede that the female of the persian species is superhot – even if she wastes her life in blissful ignorance of my existence.

but this post wasn’t meant to be about what i did or didn’t do on friday. as anyone with any knowledge about the goings on in the life of icemen would know, its the mondays that count. and adhering to this policy, the incident of the week took place on a warm monday evening.

in case you  aren’t aware of the way things work in the icemaniverse, the rule of thumb is that if there is a malluesque gent peaceably putting away fried drumsticks like theres no tomorrow in the food court of some mall while checking out the be-denimed rear of some decidedly non-malluesque female, its usually his majesty himself. this is not because i am some sort of sociopath who choses victims based on whether or not their chopped up remains would fit in the trunk of my car – i don’t possess a car (not even a driving licence) – and if i did it would probably be a hatchback, thereby eliminating all of womankind with the possible exception of little bo peep – its because i’m your average hormonal young man and that’s what we do. and also, i like drumsticks.

in normal cases, supermodel lebanese types don’t join me on my table and ask me if they could perhaps buy me a drink. and, true to form, this did not happen this time either despite all my attempts at telepathic thought suggestion. however, i think its now more an issue of aim than effectiveness as the telepathic thought suggestion did work – only not on the desired target. as it transpired, i was joined at my table by the man who had been created with the post of light-bulb-changer-at-the-sistine-chapel in mind. he looked like alam channa would have looked if alam channa had not stunted his growth by smoking charas at shahbaz qalandar’s shrine as a boy. indeed my first thought at seeing him was that here, finally, is the man who keeps rochester’s big & tall in business.

it is bad enough to be joined by a man at your table who blocks your view. it is worse when he is around nine and a half feet taller than you. it is even worse when he is joined by a lady who looks like she gave megan fox the tightest contest for the part in transformers since miandad hit that last ball for six in sharjah in the days when women for me for foggy concepts and normally irritating beings liable to pinch my cheeks and shriek “mashallah he’s grown so big!” as if i could possibly have been expected to grow smaller. it is a fact that a certain type of person ends up ruining the image of an entire race. for instance, no one really likes lawyers from quetta because of ali ahmed kurd. rawalpindi has not been what it was thought to be since sheikh rasheed started getting elected from there. and it is in a similar fashion that the reputation of good looking women has been blighted by those of their members who have wasted it by getting married – more specifically by those who have wasted it by getting married to people other than me. and it is into this latter category that mrs. channa fell.

if you are a woman living in modern times you will have a vague idea that the modern day preference among men – apart from patrons of pashto cinema – is a woman who, while she has curves, is more akin to a winding mountain trail than a roundabout. and this is why there is such a thing called the atkins diet. however, i’ll let you in on a secret. while we appreciate the effects of your voluntary starvation and self torture in the form of decreased female surface area – there is on occasion nothing more delightful than the sight of a gorgeous woman digging into a plateful of fried wings the way that platefuls of fried wings are supposed to be dug into; eating, of course, being a spiritual activity in the same class as transcedental meditation, dervish-style-dancing and apple juice consumption. such a situation wherein two like minded souls could have been fused into one over an act of unwavering faith in the right of tastebuds to satisfaction was rather dampened by the presence of said lady’s husband who was towering over me with the same sort of menace that nanga parbat exudes to those watch it from the fairy meadows in northern pakistan.

it is hard enough to avoid laughing when a guy of the large economy size has a voice like a canary and uses it to drone unceasingly about the high temperature and humidity but it is virtually impossible to do so when his wife looks at you and rolls her eyes to indicate that this is not a special performance but regular programming. and it is not a good practice to laugh when the guy you are laughing at is seated a foot and a half away from you. however, if the long line of icemen from which i am descended is not known for one thing it is a lack of presence of mind and when the guy started turning a fine shade of plum at my mirth i said, “my friend if you think this is hot, you have obviously never been to multan” which calmed him down somewhat. but the problem was that his wife (i’m assuming they were married ‘coz she had a ring on the appropriate finger and i dont see why a dainty thing like her would be dating a behemoth like him) continued her policy of silently guzzling the chicken wings and rolling her eyes every time the big guy said something ridiculous – and the guy subscribed to the sheikh rasheed school of oratory so you can imagine my predicament. because the next thing he did was bitch about the crowded environs. and i said, “my friend if you think this is crowded, you have obviously never been to multan“. then he started on the traffic in the city and i said “my friend if you think the traffic here is bad, you have obviously never been to multan“. to the casual reader this might suggest a certain lacking in the art of conversation but i laugh loud and i laugh long when i do laugh and the steroids had obviously snapped a few circuits in this dude’s head. in any case, it worked.

when i left i shook the dude’s hand, invited him to multan, rolled my eyes at his wife and stole the napkins provided to them by the establishment. he looked decidedly confused and this time the wife was the one who burst out laughing and i hightailed it out of there leaving her to provide an explanation – like maybe “if you think he stole your napkins, you’ve obviously never been to multan“. but i didn’t stay to hear what she said.

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i need to practice my farsi. man bayad farsi ro bishtar tamrin konam.