Life would be so much easier if there were no such things as courtesy or manners. This stupid concept of ‘murrawwat’ will get me killed someday. Some crazy, ghairat-zada person will be waiting in the shadows for a false step because I accidentally, out of sheer frustration at his/her constant yapping about a subject I couldn’t give a shit about, told him/her to fuck off. It’s all I can do to keep from yawning at the conversation most people at gatherings have to offer, it’s too much to expect me to give a decent reply. But since I live in a society where people easily cut queues and bypass other people during traffic Jams, but will insist on hypocritical politeness at social events, I have learned that the easiest and simplest way to keep your sanity is by pretending a whole lot. I’m the world’s greatest actress. My fake smiles exude such sincere happiness that it’s scary.
Now basically I’ve wondered at the many contradictions Pakistani society has to offer. Here, the only laws that work are the laws of physics (Thank God, at least they do). No social, or economic rule seems to fit. In the rest of the world, when the price of something goes up, people tend to find alternatives. In Pakistan if the price of something increases people tend to think “Wow! It’s worth more. I should stock up.” In other countries people try to live within their means. In Pakistan people try to live one class above themselves hoping God will solve their budget issues. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. If people in this country were perfect we’d have nothing to complain about and Pakistanis would lose their national past time. We’d have to find other things to do then, like work. Where’d we all be then?
But as usual, I digress.
Now this was where I was supposed to be before my stream of consciousness meandered into the local naala: Ever since I’ve learned how to drive I’ve realized that the average person cares little about the greater good (that is, smooth traffic flow). He/ she’ll cringe and crawl and head butt and gaali galoch his way to the front of the line. If he has to step on a few toes, push away a few crippled, wheel chair bound gentlemen, and bribe the rest of the lot, he will, just to get what he needs. In an ordinary everyday scenario like standing in line, or waiting during a jam, or shopping at Imtiaz or Naheeds; Pakistanis show next to no courtesy. Manners do not exist in our vocabulary.
And yet we’re the most bamurrawwat people in the world.
We’ll sit patiently til 2:00 am at weddings for the food to be served. We find it necessary to invite anyone with even a drop of the same family blood to all our functions, and they find it imperative to show up regardless of whether their kids know who you are…aunties will force feed guests with blackmail (“aur le lo na, tum ne tau kuch nai liya! humaari qasam, bus ek aur samosa!”) out of love, and uncles will go crazy making sure that everyone has had enough to eat, a way to get back home and a place to stay in case their house was taken over by aliens. And he’ll do it with a real smile- not a perfectly practiced fake one like mine. Everybody at a party is so frickn’ nice. You won’t see any of them snatching my cotton candy (long story- maybe some other day) or trying to overtake me from the left while I’m turning, or breaking the line to get in front.
We’re such amazing hosts and such wonderful guests…so what happens when the party’s over?