Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Clifton Beach.

There is a man driving up and down the beach on a go-cart that's covered in cheap neon lights. I watch him zoom from one corner to another, and think to myself "Well, this is interesting.". Another attraction for the people of Karachi, apart from the camels and the semi-emaciated horses. There is a power cut, and none of the hundreds of painfully bright streetlamps that line Clifton Beach are switched on. Only the moon illuminates the white waves that crash calmly into the shore, and the fluorescent glow of tacky, 50 rupee (less if you can bargain) decoration pieces lends a strangely psychedelic glow to all the visitors. A tiny little girl in a sequined dress runs towards her mother, looking quite like a disco ball.
I sit in the car while my mother and sisters take a stroll down Clifton Beach, looking out into the vast, open space littered with people and things, all kinds of things. I suddenly think about how there could be a party here. Just like this, but perhaps with different people. It catches me by surprise, this distinction that I often make between 'us' and 'them'. But then it occurs to me: they are having a party here.
I'm just not invited.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Have I spoken about NYC? About the time I had my heart broken in the city? Or when I lost my passport? Or about being unbelievably happy while being simultaneously upset, because there's just something about that place?
I'll talk about it soon.

my life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mum: "Why do you know so many people? Stop this nonsense, I don't like it."

Y u no give me job?

Quick blurb: I really don't like the fact that potential employers will be able to utilize the magical powers of GOOGLE to find out everything (or most) things there might be to know about me on the internet. And by that I am in no way admitting to engaging in shady activities on the www, I am merely suggesting that at times....okay who am I kidding, my point is I am shamelessly, blatantly, quite proudly politically incorrect/culturally insensitive in about 75% of my interactions with people (most of which take place on Facebook).
Now social media is a lovely, lovey thing. God knows what I would do without Mr. Zuckerberg tricking me into believing that the internet is a wonderful place and it is good for me to have random third parties go through information I voluntarily post on Facebook under the impression that only my "friends", yes all 477 of them, are able to read it. It also doesn't help that unlike the really "cool" individuals who happen to be on Facebook because it's just convenient to be on it, and basically just use it to reply offhandedly (and that too on occasion)to something that may have been posted on their walls, I use Facebook religiously. I reply to everything. Everyone always knows what I'm doing. Or not doing, for that matter. No one gives a flying fuck about where I was/what I did/who I was with, but after I volunteer the information myself and invite people to start getting interested in my life, I sit and whine about how people are stalking me. People sometimes don't like my status updates because they don't want a barrage of notifications when I start talking to someone on my status updates. Because we're too lazy to "write" on each other's walls, you see.
And what about appearing offline on Facebook chat? Oh, forget about it. I tried it for a while, but I have no intention to be like the cool kids. Who will probably have jobs later on in life, unlike me, because my all in good fun wit will probably not go down well with a future employer who will spend about two seconds going through my Facebook profile before realizing that sanity is a facade I put on rather well. (Before you ask what makes me think I will be important enough for someone to go through my profile, I will answer that for you too. I'm not. But I've been told that employers like to be aware if they're hiring someone who might have even the slightest chances of being carted off to the loony bin at any point in the near future. For me that probability is, in all likelihood, rather high.)
The most I can hope for is to have really rich friends who will allow me to live in their house and be their manager/secretary/assistant/receptionist. Kind of like that girl who's Khloe Kardashian's assistant. Wait, my bad, she quit after whining about how she's not happy to be mooching off her insanely rich best friend and her insanely rich athlete husband. You know what I call people who do that? Ungrateful.She even had a WikiPage. How many of us have one of those? Despite the fact that I am splattered all over the internet for the most inane and obscure of reasons (I reiterate, this does not mean I am a sketchball. I am so unabashedly sketchy that I can't even be classified as shady anymore. What do you do with a person who is so openly weird?), I don't have a Wikipedia page. And that hurts. It really, really does.
"You know, before all of this I was just like you. I had the starry-eyed optimism of  change... I wanted to be that person. Hell, I even wrote my college essay on all those things we see everyday but choose to ignore. I wanted  to come back and save this place. So it's just ironic how something that was supposed to empower me did just that, but in a selfish, selfish way. That probably makes me a horrible person. I'm going to keep putting myself first, and I will keep making excuses for it. But at the end of the day, this is really for me. Of course I care...just more about myself though. I have an excuse for it. I have all kinds."
Another cancer stick lit, another story begun.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remind me

There's two of them on the mattress that she's moved on to the floor, four of us on the bed and one sitting in a corner on the couch, staring intently into the laptop screen. The two on the mattress are together, you can tell by the way they're comfortable with the angles of each other's bodies, moving slightly at the same time, a little here, a little there, till they're sitting just right.We're all playing Taboo and she cheats a little, helping him with a word although she isn't on his team. I suppose that's a form of adoration too, and rather sweet. I'm sitting here observing. If there's one thing I've learnt, it's the significance of just looking at things. Patterns are important, and paying attention you realize there are a lot of times when you will find yourself in the same settings, albeit with people and places that aren't the same.
It often makes me wonder if the comfort I derive from being around people comes from the presence of those particular people, or from a situation I find some part of my past in.
We've ordered pizza, and when it arrives, half the people in the room declare they have no money, but we eventually end up finding enough anyway. It makes me smile because it's so very typical and, later as I sit in my bed at home talking to mum, it reminds me of myself back in high school- perpetually broke, and always ready for a new adventure. She laughs in agreement and asks if I'm broke at college. I sense carefully hidden guilt behind her laugh, because she has mentioned before how she doesn't like being unable to help me more than paying for my tuition. It always leaves me wondering why she feels obligated to do more than she already is, because what she does now is something I will never be able to repay.
I shake my head carefully, it's a little more complicated than just being broke or not. I suppose I could be a little bit of both at college, but I never really think about these things until a lot later. Moments have always been very absolute for me, it's always a question of yes or no, but then later the lines get muddled up. So I try not to think too much, about anything.
Every fifteen minutes or so some of us will get up and go to the bathroom for a smoke. When it's time to go home I will spray myself with perfume and hope mama doesn't smell the smoke on me. I know she knows, but like many things, we don't talk about it.
All of them are going to college this fall and they'll be different when they come back to Karachi. But when they get together like this in someone's room, it will always be as the saying goes, just like the old times.
That's what I love about this place. Embedded memories.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's still the same in some respects, but things have definitely changed since when I was last here. It's not as.. alive(?) as it used to be. The traffic jams, the power cuts, the throngs of people at Clifton beach, rush hour traffic in Saddr, the inconvenience of roads broken to be rebuilt two years ago, more flyovers, the immense divides amongst the people that no bridges can cover, afternoon madness at Sunday Bazaar, all of that remains the same. But there is more suffering. This city had life pulsating in undercurrents, it fueled its residents' resolves to keep going on no matter what. But now there's an air of defeat. The people of Karachi are tired. They are tired of putting on brave faces everyday, and they are tired of hoping for the best. Where is this hope going? The silent question looms over this city, in the air around us. What are we running from, and to where?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh but you can have it all, they don't lie when they tell you that. It's the hows complicating things, yes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Every once in a while I come across something that makes me very glad that I had the choice and made the decision to study at a women's college. In South Hadley it can become difficult to see how choosing an institution can also be a statement of the politics you believe in. There are people who attend because they did not get accepted into their first choice colleges, there are those who become disillusioned with the somewhat militant versions of feminism (me being amongst them) that exist on campus, and then there's also the matter of becoming complacent about the bubble you find yourself in, and with the passage of time you inevitably start taking your environment for granted. It's easier to dumb yourself down at college more than anywhere else because you find yourself caught up in trying to maintain those grades you need to get into that graduate program you've wanted to be in for as long as you can remember now, because it will help you get that career you've always dreamed of. The things you were once passionate about either recede into a "temporary" insignificance because you promise yourself there will be time to attend to personal interests later, or they become part of your academics, and as much as you might love them there will be times when you feel sick of them because that's the difference between having to do something and wanting to do it.
My point is that these things never occurred to me while I was at Moho, and even if they did, it was easy to forget about them. Till I came back to Karachi. I've learnt again and again that distance gives you clarity.
Last night my friends and I were talking about a certain couple and their not-so-strange relationship. The boyfriend is an emotionally abusive, patriarchal, pig-headed and overly possessive waste of space, and the girlfriend is, accordingly, meek, obedient, afraid to death of him and acts as the fuel that feeds his already inflated ego. These kinds of relationships are fairly common, granted. However, what I fail to understand is that this girl is one of the few in a country like ours who have been given the opportunity to have a certain degree of autonomy over their lives, and yet here she is, willingly involved in an abusive relationship with someone who claims to love her but will refer to her as a whore if he catches her even saying hello to another man. While women all over Pakistan are involved in a struggle to be considered human beings and first class citizens who should be able to enjoy equal rights and liberties, should have access to fair justice and should be able to have a say in how they will live their lives, there is this girl who insults these struggles by allowing  a person to determine every aspect of her life, down to when/if she can breathe.
While I am in no way disregarding any emotional attachments that come as part of being in love with someone, my main problem here is the abuse of choice. There is something absurd about being with someone who insists that you cannot be friends with girls who are not in committed relationships or are not married, because women who are single are a corrupting influence. She has chosen to be with someone who abuses her emotionally and perhaps even physically, but there are women who have to suffer the same kinds of relationships everyday of their lives without being given the choice to put their foot down and say no, I will not take your nonsense, I will not let you take ownership of my person, I will not let you make the decisions I should be making for myself, and I will not let you make me so dependent that I have to rely on you for my survival. And perhaps some will argue that she should be left alone, and I suppose they would have a point, but it wouldn't be one I believe in. By choosing to stay in a relationship so poisonous, this girl belittles me, she belittles my mother's struggle as a single parent to three daughters in a country so deeply steeped in sexism, Mukhtaran Mai's fight for justice, the work of institutions like Aurat Foundation and the common struggle of thousands of women, for many of whom it takes the form of hope that perhaps their daughters will not suffer like they are suffering.
I could say it in one line, or I could say it in a long post, but dear girl, you have no right. Really.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Would I rather have fame acquired through a highly active social media presence, or the assurance of financial security through something that would not necessarily amount to fame?

or both?
And additionally, to Tumblr, or not to Tumblr?
There will be disagreements as there always have been. She sent me off and expected me to appreciate home more when I came back, and I disappointed her on that count. Our definitions of appreciation are different, and by that I mean polar opposites. Coming back feels good, this place is in my blood- I don't want to complain about breathing in the hot, polluted air, because at least it's familiar, nor about the constant power cuts. I don't know what I try to achieve when I take Karachi in, sights, sounds, smells and all. Perhaps it's an attempt to reclaim this place and make sense of it. I don't have words to describe what home is, but this is the closest I've come to feeling it. When I'm asked what Karachi is like, I say "You'd have to see it, it's wonderful.", but it occurs to me as an afterthought that someone else will not see what I do. But I digress.
We squabble everyday, her and I. I'm still learning how to dismiss these things as a minor, temporary inconvenience one must face when the person in question is one you owe your entire existence to, once you're not entirely dependent on them for survival.Perhaps it's that faraway itch in my head to be able to exist as I am, but I wish I could ask her to accept me just as. There is nothing more difficult than a situation where there is no one to blame, and my desire for approval is probably outlandish.
But Mother, this is not Western imperialism. This is just me.
Nevertheless, much love.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I thought posting on my old blogs was cheating  myself, so here this is.