Condemning the Poor - A Sense of Privilege

Over the course of the last week, two incidents occurred on Facebook. Simple status updates, and sharing of links relating to the poor, and working class of this nation, led to comments by some people, which nearly drove me up the wall. According to some (who incidentally belong to the upper class society) 90% of our nation's people are lazy, blood sucking, stab-you-in-the-back individuals, looking for a free meal, and a free life."

These comments were directed at the class of people who for the most part:

1. Work for below minimum wage
2. Are laborers, maids, sweepers, factory workers, cooks, drivers, tailors etc.
3. Are uneducated
4. Are dirt poor
5. Receive little or no benefits from their employers
6. Cannot afford healthcare
7. Cannot afford to educate their children
8. Often cannot afford to feed their children
9. Have almost no rights in the workplace
10. Are treated as inferior beings

Because, they are prisoners of birth.

So, let me tell you how much some of the other 10% contribute to this country.

1. They own their own businesses
2. They employ laborers, maids, sweepers, factory workers, cooks, drivers, tailors etc.
3. They are educated
4. They are rich
5. They will never be poor, as long as they have the poor working for them
6. They can afford healthcare, and anything else they desire
7. Can afford to send their kids to private schools, where most remain average or below average students
8. Can afford to let their kids waste an entire McDonald's meal after eating one french fry.... Daily.
9. Have every right anywhere they go, because they abide by no law except their own
10. Demand respect and often to be treated as royalty

But, let's not leave it at just 10...

11. They don't care that their private businesses do not follow labor laws, and that their staff is paid below minimum wage.
12. Their maids, cooks and drivers can usually be found working 14-15 straight days with a day off after said days are complete. These same maids and drivers, are on call 24/7 and often go without a day off for months at a time, because things would fall apart if they left.
13. They are incapable of opening a car door themselves, but think nothing of their 7 year old servant boy mopping their 14 room houses.
14. They consider a cheap cotton jora gift to their staff, and or 200 rupees for Eid as "taking care of them as if they were our own family."
15 They're not opposed to loaning their staff money, for their medical needs, but will deduct it from their pittance of a salary "to teach them some responsibility."
16. After they do that, they'll spend the day shopping for that perfect outfit which costs 20,000 rupees.
17. They will lie if they have to, to protect their businesses, and gain credibility.
19. They expect and demand a life time of gratitude for their "generosity" in granting the poor employment.
20. And, they will constantly moan about how those same people are so lazy, and always ready to stab them in the back.

It is difficult to not be outraged.
It is difficult to not want to bitch slap them from here to hell.
It is very difficult to fight them while exercising respect and calm.

I admire the people who do it. They have the patience of saints. 


Friendship, Social Barriers, & All That Crap!

In the last few weeks, I've had some interesting conversations with various people, regarding friendship. Not one to give it too much thought, since I've always applied the theory "either someone is your friend, or they're not" when it comes to all the friendships I've ever had or continue to have. Now, I can't help but ponder about it, as my kids have both reached the age where they've begun to choose their own friends, without my encouragement.  I've always chosen my friends wisely, or rather chosen them with what I consider some wisdom after a few nasty experiences in my youth. 

Some people can be strange about friendship, and the views I received recently left me a bit disconcerted. Class, standard, religion and money seem so important. I watched my husband get ignored and treated like less than nothing in the company of "friends" I was reunited with after five or six years. A lot of them probably deemed him unworthy of their time, and respect because.... He's a teacher by profession? And, chooses to work and support his family, instead of jumping from one business venture to the next with lightning speed, and no purpose? Yet, they fawned over me, like I was the prodigal daughter returning home. 

I don't take offense to that, because people are what they are. But, there will be no more reunions.

And, I can't stand "in your face" friends. With their constant need for interaction, get-togethers, fun, fun, and more fun. It simply bores me. I was once firmly fixed into those types of friendships, and I found them shallow. Then, there are the one sided friendships, I for some reason have mainly had with women... I look back on those with quite a bit of disgust, because my goodness, did they waste a ton of my time, incessantly talking about themselves, their problems (of which they had plenty each day), and never giving the slightest heed to the advice they begged me for. I was honored with a few seconds of their interest in me, and my life, before being completely dismissed as unimportant. It amused me, and built in me an aversion to women who never seem to have a grip on their lives. 

Last night, I found I have much in common regarding friendship with someone, who from our first meeting over a year ago, I clicked with almost effortlessly. It didn't matter that we met up after months of planning to meet up, even though the distance between our homes is probably not more than 11/2 mile. It didn't matter that her two kids were running in circles around us, while we enjoyed a long awaited Margarita night, husbands and all, because it wouldn't occur to us to exclude them, and opt for "Coffee at Espresso" instead. 

I stopped after only two (but pretty strong) ritas, because I felt a happy buzz I haven't felt in years. The buzz which comes when you are your most relaxed self. I ate like a pig, and I eat like a bird in public otherwise. 

A few hours before that, I sat on the floor of the home of a person, who doesn't own a couch, or any other furniture besides two metal cupboards. They served us food which they could ill afford... I couldn't stand to see the gratitude in their eyes, that we felt they were worthy of a visit from us. I don't see why my children shouldn't visit and play with their kids out in the compound, with sticks and an old rubber ball. 

They're not ready for me to withhold encouragement, and my opinion on their choice of friends, which at present is nothing more than what is acceptable in the little society they're a part of in school. 

They will not be encouraged to only have "Christian friends" because "that's what they come from." It was how I watched people raise their kids in the small community I belonged to. I found it ridiculous from the start, and hypocritical that they still boasted about having friends "from all walks of life" while never having the slightest bit of respect for them on the inside.

I don't refer to my Muslim friends as "Mozzies." Neither do I "keep them at a distance." Diwali is not celebrated by "a bunch of people who are crazy enough to worship thousands of gods." Neither are Parsis' "weird about their burials." Or, Urdu speaking Christians "not acceptable to attend Christmas midnight mass with us English speaking folk."

Yes, fuck the barriers, is what I intend to teach my kids. 

Quote, Unquote!

Part of the conversations I've had with people I've then wanted to bitchslap!

"Let's say I donate towards some flood relief organization, I will have no clue as to whether my donation is actually being used, or lining someone's pockets. So, I'm donating nothing."

"I'm confirming my order, and will send my driver to pick it up. I will send the payment in an envelop, but please don't count the money in front of him, as it's more than triple his monthly salary, and I don't want him to think I can afford to pay him more than I already am. Or that I'm being wasteful while most of the country is suffering."

"You're right, this flood business is such a tragedy, we really should do more... But, I'm so tied up with Eid, and then after that I have a few shaadis in the family. Tsk, I really don't know how I'll find the time to do anything else." 

"My heart is broken watching the news, I feel so bad for those poor people, so this year we did not celebrate Eid like we usually do. I only made six joras, and sent just two each to my sisters in law, in America."

"I donated some of my children's old clothes to the church, what else can I do? Donate money? Not to those crooks!"

"What will happen is, the flood victims will pour into Karachi, and end up begging on the streets, and who's money will they receive on the streets? Ours! So what's the point in donating?"

"We just returned from Dubai where we spent Eid, so we're a little low on cash, I'll probably donate something next month, since I have both my kids' birthday parties to host in September, and you know how much those cost!"

You can't make this shit up folks!



In Pakistan, one need not wait too long to hear some update or the other, regarding the massive humanitarian crisis which has gripped our nation, and practically sunk it. It's all over the local print media, on the news channels, blogs, and other popular social networks. Almost every street corner has a stall or two where one can make a donation, drop off supplies and/or offer to help. Have we taken a stand and offered help to our fellow citizens? Yes, countless have, and in whichever way they can.

The devastation is pitiful, the suffering - unimaginable. Some have done a remarkable job of voicing the true extent of our people's need. Others, have given up family, work and their regular activities to spend time there, attempting to help, while feeling lost and helpless at the same time. They send in regular updates, and leave the rest of us feeling numb, and unable to grasp even a fraction of what they're looking at. 

I cannot get those tragic pictures out of my mind, I cannot stop thinking about children just like mine dying out there, of women giving birth in filthy conditions, and no one to attend to their needs. I've watched people galvanized into action, pulling in donations, sending out truckloads of supplies, coming together, swearing at the government, raging at the international community for not doing enough, embarrassing people into giving more, and with the best of intentions, putting their hard earned money into the hands of corrupt folk, in order to do their part. 

Not to be outdone, the RCC in Pakistan has taken up it's own "Relief Efforts" after encouragement from the Pope himself. I don't know how the entire archdiocese is handling this situation, but the church closest to me, finally spread the word enough for us to hear about it. And, as much as I tell myself they can't do much more to shock me, I'm wrong every.single.time.

There are countless relief efforts taking place in Karachi, from large to small organizations doing their bit. NGOs and the bigger outfits like Edhi leading a large portion of relief work. And, every single one of the smaller trusts which I've come across have special bank accounts set up for incoming funds for flood relief vicitims. But, not the RCC just down my street. If you wish to donate towards their flood relief campaign, then you must deposit the money into the church account.

So, let's talk accountability.

Charitable efforts are never questioned in the RCC of Pakistan... I mean, they're questioned, but never beyond living rooms, and dinner parties. And, we all know how massive your regular official church account would be. Daily offerings, Sunday offerings, monthly tithing, occasional donations, and/or possible misc incoming funds.

And, now donations for flood victims.

With nothing to show for it later (not that anyone would dare ask), except what I feel would be some random figure amounting to hundreds of thousands flung at the media, with the complimentary caption of "The Catholic church in Pakistan assists it's brothers and sisters in their time of need."

We're pathetic if we cannot stand up, and demand a more streamlined and transparent form of charity work, and very specially for this present crisis, where every penny counts. We don't care enough if we're just happy to go dump a couple of bundles of old clothes at the nearest church compound. We're deliberately blinding ourselves if we don't insist on holding them accountable for what we work hard to earn and give. And, we're a sorry lot if we remain silent because we fear ridicule from the community/church leaders.. Specially, when we're doing it at the expense of millions who need us to be stronger.

On a side note... It's time for the Catholic youth to place less focus on their smart phones, and get more involved. Are they out there lending a hand? Or is it still the same small, handpicked group of the religious elite running around looking important? Where are the mini-melas? The fundraising "Talent Show" events? The food fairs? Aside from one tiny Pakistan Day event, I've heard nothing about fundraising from the community youth. I'd love to be proved wrong, and I hope I am.


Never Turn 30 - In Just 7 Days!

Recently, my Facebook notifications page has been flooded with requests from friends, asking me to join the new Ponds, Never Turn 30 fan page. Out of complete curiosity, and not once thinking that maybe Ponds invented a new face cream which can turn back the clock for the past 30 crowd, I clicked on the link. Over 20,000 fans, (and I'm betting so many of them are over 30, including most of my friends who sent me the request to join in the first place.) What's wrong with this picture?

Absolutely nothing! Because, in this good old land of the pure, we expect (see: demand) that 1) Our women look eternally youthful. 2) Maintain a "fair" complexion. And, most recently 3) Never turn 30.

I can't say this any other way, but how it always sounds in my head... Are you fucking kidding me? From the whole wide world of advertising slogans to create for their anti-ageing skin cream (which btw they promise works in just 7 days), they go with "Never Turn 30." So, dear Ponds, WTF?

With Fair & Lovely continuing to do a booming business in Pakistan, brides to be going bat shit crazy trying to lighten their skin for their new husbands (and, mother hen-laws), the Sunday Dawn newspaper's "Matrimonial" section requesting "pretty", "fair", or "light complexion" girls for their "Smart, handsome, tall, U.S. Green Card holder" sons (another rant, another blog post) and numerous concoctions of "fairness" inducing creams, either homemade or available at salons across the country, there is my friends something very, very wrong with our society. 

And, much as I love him, Shahrukh Khan is an ass for promoting "Fair and Handsome" for men.

I want a fair daughter-in-law.
Her kids are so cute because she married a gora.
The younger sister is so much prettier (because her skin is several shades lighter than the other one).
Did you go to the beach? OMG you've become so black.
What does he see in her? She's so dark!

Common phrases heard around town.

And, while we're at it, let's not turn 30. I mean, I can't do that since I'm over 30 anyway, but if I were a 20 something, I'd want to not turn 30 so bad, I'd apply the new  Ponds anti-ageing face cream, dress my wrists in crystal bracelets, and dance naked around burning mint leaves, for seven straight days, praying to the gods to strike me dead when I hit 29.

We are a fickle bunch of women if this is the kind of BS we depend on to define ourselves. We are setting a horrible example for our daughters, if we insist that youthful skin is paramount to our success, be it in securing a job or a husband (I almost vomited while typing that, because I'm allergic to the "securing husband" business as well). 

The feminist in me is spitting tacks over this 30 = Over the hill nonsense, and so is the spa loving, high heel shoes adoring, herbal facials (for purely relaxation purposes) obsessed woman in me.

I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.  ~Author Unknown


Taking Time Out to Tag!

Over the last month I've drafted all of three blog posts, and published none. Well, don't I sound all writerish when I use that word? Published. Perhaps, one day... When I scan through all those old journals, and actually make some sense of all my ramblings, when I was at my rebellious best. 

So, no posts for about a month, because while I'm not lacking in rants topics to post, I just did not have the energy. But, today I see I have no choice but to post something, because I was trapped into it by my good friend Mr. Millions of Atoms, who posted some questions on his blog, and then tagged me. 

If he were standing right in front of me, I'd swat him with a rolled up newspaper.


If he didn't provide me with those awesome belly laughs, I'd kick his ass. (I mean it, seriously, the guy is hilarious... Check out his blog).

And, on to the questions, I must answer. And, yeah, I'm going to post my own questions and tag five other bloggers too... That's how this works. 

1. How many M&Ms could you eat in one sitting? Round up.

Six hundred, I swear to Zues my demand could go higher than their supply.

2. Do you own an iPhone, and why/why not?

I own a Berry, and no I will not join the war on which one is "the better phone." Although, I really should, because it's fun to rouse the rabbles and watch them get all uppity about their toys.

3. Describe the first time you were aware that you had feelings for me that went beyond the "Criminal suspect" feelings that the Police have for me.

I'm picturing a certain friend of mine right now (your wife), one of my best friends actually, dressed as a female version of Rambo.... Storming over continents, and heading straight to my house. So yeah, I have NO feelings for you, besides that of sisterly love. (Pssst... Let's set up some secret email accounts and discuss this further).

4. Describe the one t-shirt that you should have thrown away five years ago, but you still inexplicably find in your t-shirt drawer.

Remind me to describe in detail the impact OCD has had on my closet. 

5. Why did the new Twilight movie make 30 million dollars in 3 hours?

I personally believe... that the producers of Twilight are able to do so... because... Uh... some people out there in your nation don't have books... And... uh... I believe that your movie industry, like such as in South Africa and... uh... the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as... And I believe that they should... Your Twilight movie over there in the U.S. should help the U.S... uh...Or, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries... So you will be able to build up your movies... for your children.

And my five questions for my blogger friends are.

1. Why do you think homophobic people always feel that gay sex is just a stepping stone away from sex with goats?

2. How many friends do you have on your Facebook friends list?

3. How many of them are your real friends?

4. Your first teacher crush was? Describe him/her in detail.

5. Why in the world would young female teens, and middle aged mothers find a sparkly virgin vampire hot?



Gather Christians!

Do I really want to go down this path?

Oh yes I do!

And, why?

No reason, just sitting here on a Saturday afternoon while my brood, well OK two cannot be a brood, but saying 'my pair' could cause those twisted minds to think I'm referring to my..... feet. So, while my twins (do I hear applause from fellow "blessed because we're special" twin mamas?) are probably enjoying their last afternoon with electricity at their grandma's place. After Phet hits us tonight, we know there won't be power, we know KESC will take it all very personally and probably not restore power for a week, we know Karachi will be flooded beyond belief, and we know the poor and homeless will be dying out there, while we sit and lament about no electricity and internet. Our phones will die and OMG it'll be like experiencing another Facebook ban! How will we survive?

Who cares? This post is about Christianity.

Oh no it isn't.

Oh yes, it bloody well is.

Well, to be fair it's about Catholics in Karachi.

So, if all denominations would like to join in and read, please take your places as if in heaven, and pretend you're the only ones with the True Word. And, Catholics please don't scramble for the front row seats... I know you have the basilica and all that expensive art, but there's no need to be snotty about it.

Are you getting your children ready to receive their First Holy Communion in a few years? Is the question I've been getting asked by a lot of people lately.

No, we're Satan worshipers!

Kidding fundies, please don't burn me at the stake.

Well, I really haven't thought about it. OK I have. Once. I mean which Christian raised (in Karachi) woman in her right mind would not think of her child's FHC? Where shall we have the reception? Will the guest list exceed 500 people? Who will design and make my daughter's first time virginal white dress? Will my family in the U.S/Canada/London/UAE offer to send us the flowers and candles? Must rush off to Khori Garden to check for just the right ceramic figurines for the giveaways. Who's the best cake maker? And speaking of cakes, there simply must be a centerpiece above it waiting to rain down confetti, when the cake is cut and champagne is popped, while drum rolls and cymbal songs crash out of the over sized speakers set up in strategic locations around the Sheraton's Darbar ballroom. Open bar? But, of course! That's a tradition we can never forgo on.... Our grandfathers would haunt us from their graves if we did.

Just in case you're wondering, I really am discussing First Holy Communions in the Catholic community of Karachi, not weddings. Note, I said 'Not weddings."

The season is nearly upon us now as a few hundred parents around Karachi are busy spending all of their summer, preparing for the FHCs in the fall. I've ordered my daughter's dress from ETC Collections, one over zealous mother informed me smugly a couple of weeks ago. The dresses are expensive this year, starting at around Rs. 15,000 and reaching nearly 25,000 or more.

Insert classic jaw-drops-to-the-floor moment, or in my world the typical OMGWTF-is-she-talking-about? moment.

Oh Trevor! (as in the Trevor Castellino, creator, designer, and overall head honcho of ETC Collections). How far you've come!

But, where are we going?

And, when I say 'we', I really mean they (as in them). Because, no way in all the raging fires of Satan's lair would I pay that much for a dress for my daughter's FHC, a time might I add, when she's supposed to be receiving the... ahem body of Christ for the first time.

Ballrooms? Really? To celebrate a spiritual sacrament of the church by a child who barely understands what is going on?

*Roars of disapproval from the front row Catholics.*

Of course they understand!!!!! They're all of nine years old! They understand what it means to accept Christ into their hearts, through a wafer on the tongue. They get it and you're a cynical bitch!

You bet your ass I am.

But, it doesn't take away from the fact that little Melissa has no frickin clue what she's doing. None, nada. Because, what she really cares about (and you Khi Catholics know I'm right) is that she'll be all pretty in gauzy white that day, with a wreath of flowers on her head, and low heeled, white patent leather dancing shoes on her feet. She's also counting the gift money btw, and will inwardly curse at Aunty Josephine and others like her, who gift pretty pink rosaries and prayer books. Although not as much as her mother does about her shocking pink banarasi sari and six inch high golden slippers, for the mass... For the reception it'll be form fitting, red silk, with courtesy plunging neckline and stilettos

Where's daddy?
On the phone with the booze supplier.

Where will daddy be on that day?
Looking uncomfortable in a three piece suit at the church, and sweating profusely. And, later at the reception, simultaneously guarding and guzzling the booze.

Our Father, who art in heaven
What kind of a father have you given me here on earth?

Where was I going with this?

Right! Am I getting my children ready for this? I guess the answer for me at the moment is, a resounding no.

No, I am not getting my kids ready to receive their FHC, no I do not want to join this particular herd of "must have confetti" and "My daughter's dress is more expensive than yours neener neener" bullshit crowd. I'm naturally competitive yes, but never at the expense of my kids.

I still have a few years to decide, and my decision will be based on whether I consider it the right time for my kids spiritually or not. Not silk and fluff.

Break the bullshit tradition... That's what I do.

So Catholics.... Lay off!


Posing for Facebook!

A few days ago, a good friend of mine posted something on her Facebook status, which gave me a laugh. It's been working it's way into a blog post ever since, and finally today after successfully putting aside all the stresses of daily life, I feel ready to write about it.

Her status:

I have been wondering about this for a while now. I thought I'd ask:-) You guys who go to bars and parties and all that...Is there ever any actual fun being had (i.e. dancing, drinking, laughing)? Or is just a bunch of people packed in a space taking hundreds of posed pictures of themselves to post on FB? Anyone?

Hmm, the Facebook generation strikes again. And, apparently they've been at it for quite a while, because this is not the first time I've encountered someone mentioning people at parties, obsessed with taking pictures for Facebook. I was at a get-together a while back, when I laughingly said we all hadn't yet taken a fb group picture. Big mistake! The cell phones appeared out of pockets and handbags almost magically, and everyone scrambled to group together as if drawn by a call for prayer.

I will never make such an asinine joke again.

Teenagers, I don't mind so much, and not even 20 somethings to be honest. Many of them are still living in denial of growing up. But 30 somethings? Really? You make plans to meet up with friends, get dressed to the nines, pour out the drinks, turn on the music, and spend the remainder of your time posing for pictures? For Facebook? I came across an album of 304 pictures taken by one person, at one party. And, said person was also tagged in several other albums, all containing not less than 200-300 pictures... At the same party.

If the Huz were around, I'd get him to do the math, because I suck at stuff like this.

OK, granted I come from a generation where cell phones were a luxury, and digital cameras probably didn't exist. Or if they did, we had no clue till our rich friends showed them off, while their parents weren't around. So, we made out OK with our stone age cameras, and waited patiently for our films to get developed at the Kodak shop, over a two or three day period. Later, we lucked out with "One Hour Only" developing, which really meant waiting two hours or more in the shop for it.

No, I'm not in my 50s.

Anyway, so with limited resources, we got around to taking maybe two or three pictures at parties. And, now should I come across any of those pictures (which my generation loves to scan and upload on Facebook, as if to say "Here you go you young constant picture taking suckers, we had fun too, so THERE!") I'm amazed to find that I can remember so many details of those events. Who hosted the party, who wore the most hideous outfit, who passed out from too much drinking (or other indulgences), the couple who never got off the dance floor, how the host's father got sloshed, and insisted on dancing with all the pretty, young girls, sometimes OK most times holding them in a death grip, while he attempted to jive on rap music.

My mind took snap shots.

And, now what have you but a generation who prefer to group together, all with extended right arms, the hands of which are firmly clutching the latest in Smart Phones, while they strike pose after pose after damn Facebook pose. Well, looky here folks, this is us entering the party, this is us saying hello to each other, this is us opening the beer bottles, this is us drinking the opened beer, see it's branded stuff, this is what we're wearing, this is the side view of our slutty outfits, now the back view, and these are our shoes. This is us in a 'couples only group,' and another group shot, and wait! Another group shot. Now this is us attempting to dance, and yes, the latest dance steps all require us to keep our right hands extended, while we move like robots so as not to blur the picture... And, here are another 50 group shots... Just the boys, just the girls, just the girls with one boy, just the boys showing off their middle fingers.

How do they not die from so much fun and happiness?

Why does Facebook not explode from the weight of all these albums?

*Sigh* I guess I sound all old and demented, but in my defense this is not what some of us consider fun. Good times don't revolve around how many pictures you get to take at your party or club night. I've been there, done it all (and probably much, much more because I didn't waste my time holding up a camera). I vividly remember laughing till my eyes smarted while I watched my friend S play out a charade, in a game which was not Charades, just a few months ago. He was hilarious! And, there were Smart Phones on the coffee table people! But, we were too busy having a good time to notice. I'm guessing a ton of us who are young enough to remember, yet old enough to know that this zillion picture taking nonsense is nothing but a waste of time, which would be better spent having a blast say WTF? to it all.

But, to each their own I guess.


Is it Wrong?

That every time my kids talk about stuff they're going to do when they grow up, like get married (their newest favorite thing to talk about) or become three or more of the six hundred things they want to be when they're older, or back talk adults because now they're kids and have to be "prespectful" (respectful) and "all that stuff grown ups think is how kids should be" ***insert gagging noises*** I remind them that it can happen only if they go to college first?

B was talking to the neighbor the other day, and she asked that typical adult to child question. "So what do you want to be when you grow up?" His standard response this month has been "A ROCK STAR." Up till last month, he wanted to be a red sports car, and the month before, a red dragon. This kid is obsessed with the color red, and I swear his TV time is limited. So, she's just about to alter the look of amusement on her face, (what would she have thought, had he told her her wanted to be a computer game and live in a monitor?) when he follows with "But, I have to go to Rock College first." She: Do you mean music school? He: No, Rock College is where rockers go to learn all about becoming Rock Stars.... You can't do anything in life if you don't go to college you know............ My mom says so."

He sounded like a parrot. His eyes took on a glassy look. How often do I say those words to my five year olds? How much am I brainwashing my kids? And, do they know when I say college, I really mean therapy?

Because, that's what J and I are saving for.


Fears of No Substance

I don't remember the last time we encountered a full weekend. And, by that I mean having some place to go, something different to do from Friday night, to Sunday evening.... Without a break. This weekend was somewhat like that... OK exactly like that, and I found I couldn't wake up on Monday morning, because my body ached, my head was the testing ground for atomic bombs, and my eyes itched.

It wasn't a hangover.

And, then I did something stupid. I got into an argument with an ultra Catholic boy scout type, who with every ounce of loyalty he possessed, every Bible verse he could Google, and every argument for "forgiveness" he could invent, defended the RCC for sheltering priests who were accused of child molestation.

I lost my cool in a way I haven't since the time I was a teenager, and full of self righteous rebellion against authority. It wasn't pretty, and it made the atomic bombs go off faster and with more power than Iran claims to have. So, I ranted to the huz who prefers to take the more laid back approach. "Don't argue with idiots."

But he isn't an idiot. He's a sanctimonious prick.

And, I probably need to stop speaking out against these types of things, or so people say. I don't see it happening anytime soon. I am incapable of allowing injustices to be swept under the rug once I've spotted them. It keeps my popularity ratings low (another nugget of information from folks around me), but I wasn't aware I even needed to have a rating, or was given one. I wasn't aware that I am by some silent, unofficial law not allowed to voice my opinion and disgust against an institution I was born and raised in. Although, sometimes vague memories of instructions on how to wear the blinders flit through my brain. It was part and parcel for belonging to the club. I refused to conform then, and I won't do it now. Besides, the punishment of ex-communication does not intimidate me. Never has, never will.

It's strange that today I feel a certain sense of gratitude towards the sanctimonious prick I argued with yesterday. He reminded me how dangerous it is to cave in to fear. Fear of an institution who can, and does wield it's power over the masses. Fear of not being accepted into what has become an elitist club for many, where leadership is faltering, and no one wants to do a damn thing about it. The fear of taking a stand and saying wrong is wrong, no matter what the cost to your social status, or promise for fulfillment in an afterlife.

Fears of no substance.


Dear "Elite" Mom

I've been growing increasingly irritated with you the last month or so, because I feel I'm being practically dragged into your sisterhood of mothers, with kids who just happen to attend the same school as mine do, yet have almost nothing in common with me. Nearly every week, I encounter one or three of you "elite" moms, and it's gotten to the point where I feel Karachi is loaded with ridiculous women. I mean thank you for inviting my kids to your child's birthday party, which resembles a circus, but it wouldn't be wise for us to meet up for coffee, or "do" lunch during the week. For one thing, I "do" lunch with my kids everyday.


But yes, sadly (in your opinion) this is the life I chose when I decided to stay home and raise my kids. And no, I do not have a nanny who cares for them while I attend mid week lunches, or spend hours at the salon. Sue me.

And, second of all I think it's both pathetic and hilarious that you arrive at the school gate, allow your driver to hold up traffic while he jumps out of the car, and opens your door, and you instruct one of your maids to sit still, while your two year old screams bloody murder in her lap, and then proceed to yell at the other maid to hurry up and get out of the car because you don't want to be late.

I slip my phone out of my pocket, and yeah, I don't carry my handbag to school because I have two hands to hold, two backpacks to juggle, two water bottles to prevent from being dragged on the road, and crazy traffic to fight my way through, while listening to a couple of excited voices telling me about their day. And, no I don't carry designer bags everywhere I go. But, moving on... I'm going to pretend now you don't exist, because I know you'll grab my attention in one way or another.

You don't disappoint.

I'm about to start pretending, when you march right up to the closed gate and loudly ask what time the bell rings. The guard gives you a look which says "You don't know what time your child gets off from school?" and then mumbles that you need to wait five more minutes. So, you huff and haw, till you realize there are people around you. Also waiting. Your eyes quickly pass over the two hijab clad women with whom you avoid making eye contact, as if they're contagious. You step away from the males, stare at a few maids, wrinkle your nose at another woman's shoes, and then glance down at your pretty slippers and smile.

And, then you spot me.

I pretend I'm busy texting someone on my phone.

I feel your eyes raking over my jeans and kurti, my barely combed hair, twisted into a knot and held with a clip, my phone which wild horses couldn't drag my eyes away from at that moment. You move closer... It is a Blackberry!

And, you've found a friend.

"Does your child go to school here?" You ask.

I groan inwardly, and look up at your face half hidden by massive Jackie O shades (which look ridiculous on your face btw). "Yes they do" Because you know, otherwise I would be just another psycho woman who hangs around outside school gates in the burning sun.

And, so begins the conversation

You: Which class?
Me: Kindergarten
You: Oh, my daughter is in Kindergarten.
Me: That's nice.
You: I don't usually pick her up, but the teacher wanted to see me today. She sent a note yesterday... Such short notice... I have a lunch appointment at 1:30, so this is really inconvenient.
Me: I can imagine.

Then I start my slow turn away, but it's not meant to be.

"And, my maid took the day off today, so it's been chaos since morning!"

I cannot.ever. and I mean EVER, resist this kind of stuff. I'm such a sucker for punishment, and a complete blog fodder instigator.

Me: How many maids do you have?
You: I have three... Well, two are nannies, and one does all the cleaning etc. I have a man who cooks.

And when you say "man," you do not mean "husband." I know that much.

Me: And, how many children do you have?
You (confused): Just two... That's why I have two nannies.
Me: That makes sense.
You: You know how difficult it is to manage kids, and my maid knows exactly the kind of day I would have if she doesn't show up, so she takes advantage and all these days off, and then my other maid has to neglect my daughter so she can do all the housework.

School Bell!

I smile sympathetically, but it's really a "STFU" grimace, and start walking. But, you match me step for step, rambling on about your maid problems, and the stress you endure daily at the hands of your three shrews. Then suddenly, all that's forgotten and I feel you pressing something into my hand, while you beam at me and say "Let's get together for coffee or lunch one day, it was SO nice meeting you... How about Thursday morning? Is 11:30 good? I'll ask a few friends to join us.... But, I have to be done by 1:00 because I have to be somewhere else by then."

So, while the tune for The Twilight Zone fills my head, I look down at a pretty cream color business card, with a golden motif and lettering. Your name and cell phone number printed neatly in the middle. And, nothing else. I mumble something about my kids waiting and practically run off.

Much later, once the kids have eaten lunch, and settled into boisterous play at home, I remove your embossed card from my pocket, place it on the table, pull my note book and pen toward me, and start to write.

Things to Do Before Calling and Confirming Meet-Up with School Gate Mom

Get your hair cut and styled.
Reserve a table three days a week for club coffee mornings.
Go to the gym everyday and work out.
Eat a 1500 calorie meal at some swanky place right after that.
Apply for 9-5 job, or insist J get rich enough, and then join at least two charity committees.
Employ someone to drive the car, or alternatively employ someone who will sit quietly in the back seat while you drive yourself everywhere.
Name him "Driver."
Import maids and nannies from remote villages across the country.
The younger the better.
Pretend you shop in Dubai and Europe only, but sneak into Zainab Market and buy all the export reject clothes you can.
Tut Tut and snicker at anyone who buys shoes from a Zamzama shop.
Insist J leave his job and start up some "business" so you can talk about it vaguely to your new friends.
Learn to complain incessantly about maid problems.
Find male, Bengali cook.

I rip your card to shreds and throw it in the trash.