Pothole and coffee

I’m thinking of making myself some coffee but getting off the chair, walking up the stairs, taking out the milk, and whipping the coffee seems too much work. I wonder if I can ask Allah for telekinesis as an engagement present (I’m sure one of my friends will say “isn’t getting a ring enough?”- the correct reply to which is, of course, that there is no such thing as enough).

Sadly though, I am completely out of inspiration, and maybe, just maybe, coffee might kick start my cerebrum a bit.

After months of watching hyper-violent Tarantino flicks I’m trying half heartedly to watch “Four weddings and a funeral”. The film’s just begun and instead of paying attention to the television screen I’m focusing on the monitor since I haven’t, even after years of trying, learned how to type without looking at the keyboard. Yesterday I watched Never been Kissed with my sister, and before that I’ve been watching Ugly Betty. Thing is, I need to build some love-tolerance. I need to learn how to watch rom-coms without gagging, read romance novels without cringing and throwing the book to the side, and watch happily-commited people hang out without predicting when they’ll break up. I don’t want to change who I am, just be more accepting of the possibility that love might actually exist.

Love- tolerance?!…*gag gag snort* I can’t believe I even wrote that (goes and pukes in trashcan).

Today I had a very long discussion with my thesis advisor about the need to follow religion to become better people. Regardless of my own love for Islam, I do believe that having a state religion hampers a country’s progress and it’s an opinion that secretly I’m sure a lot of people share. Religion should be kept strictly on a personal level, because having a state religion is a sure-fire way of corrupting not just the state, but also the religion. Khaer, he disagreed, and being my thesis advisor obviously I let him win the argument.

But during the discussion which ran round and round in concentric circles, we hit a bit of a pothole. I’m just writing down the gist of the argument because unfortunately, I have a photographic memory, not audiographic.

T.A:  Ok, I agree. The problem is with Muslims. We haven’t read enough, we don’t follow the basic ethical tenets of Islam, we don’t try to prove ourselves to be good humans, much less good muslims, question is, how can that change?

Me: Well, when muslims move to Western countries, they follow a lot of their rules because…

T.A: un ke sar pe danda hota he. Woh tau theek he. Lekin that’s not how it should be. People in the west follow rules not just because they’re afraid of the law, but because they know it’s the right thing to do. We don’t. Why is that?

Me: They’ve been taught sir! Ever since they were children! They’ve been systematically brainwashed to be good people! Our people haven’t!

T.A: Don’t talk to me about brainwashing. You don’t need to be brainwashed to know basic things like ‘don’t throw trash outside’ and ‘don’t steal’. And how is it possible that a person can so easily be brainwashed into leaving his family and children and embarking on jihad in the middle of Afghanistan within a few months, and yet not be brainwashed into following traffic rules and being kind to his neighbors? All of which he’s been taught for decades?

Me: …………………….. (ok, he’s got me there)

Honestly, why don’t we get brainwashed into being good?

9 Responses to “Pothole and coffee”
  1. Leena S. says:

    totally agree with you…they are taught to be good citizens. here, wen the kids see their parents throwing the trash out of the window while driving, u cant expect them to look for a bin

  2. aarushi says:

    I do agree that in the American system and other western ones, there is a lot of emphasis on your moral, your character, they teach you the importance of honesty and integrity. If your caught lying it is very shameful , whereas in the desi system you might actually find that your teacher is lying or your parents, so basically your role models are fucked up.
    And people getting braiwashed into going for Jihad have been endoctrinated really well, I doubt we provide the same level of effort to teach the good.
    OK, now I have a question, is jihad considered good in Islam? I have a couple of very close muslim friends but we rarely talk about religion as it’s such a sensitive topic, and me being a hindu, they really think (they told me) that I’m incapable of an impartial comment/question

  3. Anas Imtiaz says:

    I think that its not entirely that people want to do good things in west. They even do wrong, but they fear punishment because they know that they cannot escape if they get caught. And there is a much higher probability of getting caught than otherwise. In our system, its so easy to get away without even being reprimanded. For example, if you know you won’t be fined for not throwing trash at appropriate place, why bother with the effort of doing so? This thinking is wrong but I feel there should be very harsh punishments for petty crimes to make examples out of it. Nice post btw.

  4. No system is ever perfect, I being an engineer know that better than some. There are always pro and cons to every system, and when things are ship-shape every system looks great and attracts people. but when things go bad, thats when it start to get interesting. Thats when you learn how well the system is built.

    Some 300 years ago this religion driven state system was the most successful thing. But thats besides the point, which is evolution, unless the system learns to adapt to the ever changing environment it cant and wont survive. Thats the so called survival of the fittest for you. Dont get me wrong here I m not promoting the concept of state religion here. My point is No system will work in our country until people start becoming smart, which is the only thing which makes the west different from us, in that they look at a slightly bigger picture than us. If we can get all of us to do just that, we can make this system or any other system work. Unfortunately that is all talk, “Bill’li ke gale main ghanti kon baande!”.

    And dont tell me you have started to listen to air supply!!! Man were those guys depressing! I remember my Phuppo play ‘Lost in love’ and ‘Out of nothing at all’ Playing over and over again and eating just strawberry ice cream when she was about to get married, I used to live with her then!

  5. Rashid says:

    safi: say salam to your phuppo jaan 🙂

  6. Sure man, I ll pass it along.

  7. Ali Hasan says:

    i think we need more trashcans. way way more. LUMS has a lot of them and its spotless.

    iske alawa its all about accountability. nobody wants to follow the law they follow it because they have to. hamari haan bhi danda parhsakta hai lekin kyunke log pese khatay hain isliye danda wooden nahin, foam ka banke rehgaya.

  8. the reason LUMS is spotless is because we used to have an army of janitors continuously picking up the shit we threw around.

    i used to think the reason we don’t follow traffic rules is because its a system that was imposed on us, so we don’t respect it at some innate level and choose to break it when we can.

    then i thought we threw trash because we didn’t feel we had ownership of our society, and thus didn’t care for it.

    i was reminded then of a neighbour who once said that while he was abroad he missed pakistan a lot because here you can throw trash out of the window and no one can do anything to you…

    which is why i’m currently on the theory that pakistanis are all haramis. you can read about it on my blog (shameless plug, i know)

    but plugs aside, i loved the logic your TA gave.

  9. Pradeep says:


    Stumbled on your blog while surfing. Was reading through a couple of your posts. Liked your style of writing.

    This particular post is thought-provoking. Especially the point you make “Why can’t we be brainwashed into being good people?” I think we need to put a lot more effort to inculcate good habits in our children.

    One thing I noticed. In the States, when a kid does something wrong (like say littering the place), you know how he or she is reprimanded? “No American does like this. It’s a shame.” I don’t think our parents ever said, “No Pakistani (or in my case, ‘an Indian’) throws litter like this. Pakistanis (Indians) should be better behaved.”

    We all say westerners are law abiding: are they abiding law bec of fear or bec they know it’s right. I think it is a combination of both. One can’t do the work of the other.

    I share your views about keeping religion private. Though India is not like Pakistan (meaning we have no state religion), religion has and is playing havoc here. A million times I have felt that religion and matters of faith are to be kept within the heart of one individual.

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