Here We Were Taught the Golden Lesson...

 *How to sift out wrong from right.

Idly browsing through Facebook today, I came across several updates, all sharing the same link. St. Joseph's Convent turns 150 years old. Without hesitation, I clicked the link, without missing a beat, I 'shared' it too, and without a second thought, I proudly posted a rambling tribute, which ended with "What a great school we belonged to." 

Ah the very essence, of what our convent school was about. Greatness. Introduced to us, when we took our first tentative steps, into that massive structure, and from then on, drilled into us relentlessly over the years, by every faculty member worth her salt.

We were great! We were special! We were Josephians! It becomes almost second nature, to think like that.

*Honor and glory to our school. 

Screw the rest.

We were served an elitist mindset upon admission, and encouraged to like it.

As one reader graciously commented "Having studied at St. Joseph’s Convent, is like being part of the royal family! We can always hold our head up high and walk with everlasting pride." 

Reading that article, I see nothing has changed. Because, while celebrating 150 years of education, students produce plays poking fun at the "lesser" schools. Baconhouse, Amma Farsi, and Karachi Punctuation School. Are you fucking kidding me? 150 years, and this is how they're allowed to honor their school? 

*We are taught to fight the fight.

Ms. Kazi still stands front and center, to remind everyone how "lucky" they are, and apparently she still affects a fake British accent, while she over pronounces words.

What started out as a Christian mission of five nuns, starting a school of just ten pupils, turned into one of the leading educational institutions for girls in Karachi. No doubt.

But, they fail to talk of the blatant discrimination within that institution. They fail to mention how if you were good, privileged, or "pure bred" you were accepted. Dare I say Cambridge = Worthiness, while Matric equaled... um yeah right, stand over there and shut up. And, how if your parents scraped together every penny to pay for your education, you had better be grateful to the school, for accepting you. I was lucky I came from "an aristocrat, Brahmin, Catholic family" and luckier my sister before me was a star pupil. That I dashed their hopes of carrying on her tradition did not go over well. I was forgiven however, and probably prayed for a lot.

I think the praying took place, when I got thrown out of religion class (several times a month) for daring to question the Bible.

*God's blessings shower down on all
Who through it's portals dear
Leave well-equipped to meet the call
Of life, each passing year

I was told at the age of nine that I had "disgusting" handwriting, and an inability to string together a coherent sentence. But, that was tame compared to what was said, to the poor Urdu speaking girl who sat beside me. I watched fellow Christian students berated for being "Anglos" by self-righteous Goan teachers, and slammed repeatedly if they came from "broken" families. I watched fellow classmates, learn at an early age not to cry, when called an idiot by an adult. The same teachers instructed the "pure breds" to not associate too much with those "beneath" us. The same teachers complained to our parents, when we broke that rule. Students who didn't do well in a subject, were forced to sit at the back of the class, if you struggled in a subject you were labeled "lazy," and heaven forbid you should ever question authority. 

*Kind guiding hands, keep us from harm.
And, make our hardships light.

My school, taught me to loathe bullies with a passion, I didn't know I possessed.

My school, helped me to understand the privilege of class, and status. 

The friends I made there, I will always remember fondly. The fun and good times, remain memories carved in stone. And, some teachers admired, and loved dearly, always. Cannot end without a tribute to the two canteen owners, who fed us crap worth it's weight in gold..

*We'll always have a special thought
For our dear convent home.

*Lyrics from the official school song


Stuff and Nonsense

Spur of the moment plans, to meet up for coffee is something I rarely do. But, meeting this one particular friend was important, well, because I don't see her enough. She's a fellow mom of twins, almost always short on time and energy, so our plans to "meet up" rarely progress further than text messages promising it'll happen "soon," while we attempt to juggle kids, work schedules, kid activities, nonsense and more nonsense.

So, there I was, sometime last week (I've forgotten which day... Like I said, too much nonsense) at *drum roll* Butlers Chocolate Cafe, waiting for my friend to arrive. I put in the drum roll, because in Karachi, one must always do that, before one mentions places such as Butlers, where all the "cool" people hang out.

When I entered, I immediately felt the waiter was trying to usher me out, He sort of gestured to the door behind me, his eyes signaling something to the cashier. Then, having realized I hadn't stumbled upon the cafe by mistake, attempted to guide me to a table in the far back. I pretended he didn't exist, and grabbed the nearest table much to his annoyance. He mumbled something about "being more comfortable" and I snapped. So, I froze him with my best don't fuck with me, because I'm a bigger bitch than your mother look, because hey, I didn't work in a swanky hotel for nearly ten years without learning crap like that.

He held my chair for me, then dutifully brought me a menu, and discreetly looked down my top. 

I ordered a coffee, which had some sophisticated name, with the word 'cappuccino' attached to it.  Extremely comfortable in my old, old jeans, some type of kurti I grabbed out of the closet an hour before, hair freshly washed, but not blow dried, and my  favorite worn out flat sandals, smoking my cigarette (nasty habit I know)... I began texting with my brother-in-law, about how Butlers is just a regular roadside cafe everywhere else, but in Karachi the waiters will treat you like shit, if your clothes are not designer labeled. 

Two "ladies" seated at the next table, kept shooting me looks of disgust, one kept wrinkling her nose everytime I exhaled smoke, (she was also wrinkling her nose before I lit up, and I promise I showered that morning). She pointedly asked the waiter to remove the ashtray from her table, then went back to pretending the cafe did not have a 'non-smoking section' on the other side, so she could remain seated at the corner window booth, with a clear view of the entrance. Must not miss the chance to see if fellow hair-sprayed to death acquaintances, put in an appearance, so we can wave french manicured fingers at each other, and air kiss over everyone's heads.

I visit such places for blog fodder as well.

And, yes in Pakistan, we still have smoking sections in our restaurants.

Then, there was this woman sitting with her friends, directly across from me, just staring. I rubbed my nose. She stared some more. I lit up another cigarette, and felt a hiss behind me. Turning slightly, all ready to suggest the non-smoking section, I caught them both glaring at me. I glared right back, while trying hard not to imagine, what one of those faces would look like minus the botox, and obvious eye lifts. It didn't work, so I smirked, and could swear I heard the words "low class" muttered as I turned back to see the waiter standing near me, asking yet again if I would be dining alone.

It's a sin to dine alone at Butlers.

If you're not armed with an iPad.

My friend finally arrived, looking very much the mom who stayed up all night with a sick kid, struggled through fusses at breakfast, wrestled three kids into a car, drove them to their schools, and finally stopped for a break, before heading off into an over-scheduled day. 

She had definitely not changed her clothes, there were visible 'sick child' signs on her t-shirt, tired lines around her eyes, and an exhausted smile on her face. The waiter stared at her in disbelief, and later kept shooting her looks, which told of the unimaginable physical pain she caused him, with her audacity of showing up "un-polished."

I was tempted to rip the silver, tribal design earring, right off his left lobe.

And, feed it to botox lips behind us.

The food was good, the coffee was great. This post is really just (yet another) pointless one... Because, I'm in a kind of pointless mood.


Tired of being a Pakistani

After recent events in Pakistan, where yet another life is taken, yet another voice is silenced, we realize we're not so much back at square one, but that we never moved from there at all. 

I'm tired of the blame games, the finger pointing, the defense of dogma, the useless rants of liberals, the silence of moderates, and the fanaticism running rampant in this nation. The bloodshed. The despair. I am tired of people jumping up to defend their religion, after every tragedy. As if that makes all the difference. It does not. 

I'm tired of the dependency on scripture and Holy Books, as if they are the only source of moral codes for what is right and wrong. They are not.

I am tired of searching for hope in all the madness, tired of those who have stopped searching for it, and so tired of those who hold on to it, preach about it, offer prayers for it, then sit back and live in it with comfort, and a solid dose of denial.

I am tired of shielding my children from the news, tired of attempting to explain to them why it's not safe to go here, or there. So very tired of words like "terrorists" "assassination" "serfs" "elite" "fatwa" "minorities." "Shia, Sunni, Ahmedi, Christian, Hindu, religion, rights, law, repeal...  Blasphemy."

I'm tired of news channels, and their panels of 'experts' engaging in so called discourse, with some borderline hard core extremist, hell bent on defending bloodshed. I am tired of people taking to the streets, and burning flags of nations they could not find on a map, setting ablaze vehicles of hardworking individuals, destroying public property, as if it is their duty to stand up for themselves in such a barbaric manner.

I am tired of no longer reacting in shock, when I hear of tragedies.

I am tired of watching news clips of bomb sites, in all their gruesome glory, and only feeling grateful it wasn't me, or my loved ones who perished.

I'm tired of the poverty, and the power hungry who prey on the poor. I am tired of those who can do something about it, but do not. I'm tired of people telling me to 'get out' if I don't like it, and just as tired of people telling me to 'stay and fight' so we can have peace. 

I'm tired of constantly being confronted with the fact, that the only way to achieve peace is to fight for it.

I am very, very tired of being a Pakistani.

But, I cannot be anything else.