Of Legends, Maestros, Drunks and Idiots...

The Express Tribune blogs have been filling up a number of free and lazy moments for me during this endless summer. Most of the blogs written don't do much for me, some make me laugh, some are hard hitting, and some are plain old rubbish. But, far be it from me to insist (as some do) that some of those bloggers stop blogging. Writing is after all, writing, and dialogue is important. The ET blogs provide a good enough platform. As always though, I draw the line at nonsense.

You knew that was coming didn't you?

Blog dated June 12, by a member of Karachi's Catholic community, paying tribute to one of 'Pakistan's Portuguese wonders', Ralph D'Aranjo. The blogger begins by mentioning the Portuguese people's contribution to the early music industry??? in Pakistan.

OK, first of all, what is up with the overuse of the word Portuguese? We have always been known as Goans, and yes some of us are of Portuguese descent, many are not, so let's not get carried away shall we? Besides, plenty of the Anglo-Indians in Pakistan also contributed to the music scene in this country. And, so did the Punjabi Christians, such as the famous Benjamin Sisters.

The comments which followed the post were both interesting, annoying, severely mooching, and one or two downright nasty, as one male decided to create a ruckus about the blogger's relationship with the 'honored' one's daughter, and let fly with a rant reaching epic proportions. I mean come ON... If you mention Misquita Blocks, then I don't know what to say to you. And, there were mostly all Christians commenting, with a couple of courtesy comments from non-Christians, which to be honest was like being blasted into those days of yore, when we all attended a Christmas dance at the Karachi Goan Association, and took a couple of our Muslim friends along, even though the tickets clearly stated "For members and their Christian guests only' - Um and you thought minorities were not capable of discrimination? Ha!

OK, back to all these musicians with magical fingers. The 'maestros', the 'legends', the 'chosen ones.' I remember the stories well, from my parents, neighbors, etc. Of how the night life in Karachi was so great back in the day. Of course, I grew up in happy, happy Zia-ul-Haq time, so our night life was mostly a 'Get indoors before 9 O'clock curfew.' But, the Christian musicians were around still. They were at every freakin wedding, dance and hotel lobby in the city. Some were great musicians, truly remarkable. They played, they taught music, they  entertained, and then many of them left the country, and now all those great, not so great, and the downright idiotic, reminisce about their glory days on Facebook pages dedicated to them. OK, maybe one Facebook page, which calls them all legends or some such nonsense.

But, a good number of them? Drunks!

And, I worked long enough in the hotel industry to know that first hand. Hell, I grew up in the Christian community, and was no stranger to weddings since my early childhood, and enough dances in my teenage and beyond, to know that a lot of these so called 'masteros' were nothing more than slobbering drunks, who played and sang off key (mostly because they were drunk) to crowds within their own community, who were 1. Little kids who didn't know more than 'drums are for banging' 2. Teenagers, who just wanted to fucking dance to anything that sounded like Boy George or Dire Straits and 3. Middle aged to senior people who were also mostly very drunk (hey Dad! ;)), and happy to jive to oldies music. Not that a lot of them needed the music. If there was a dance floor, they'd make their own music. Yes, a lot of them were just that good... Credit to many of them who remain so. As were some of those greats from bands like The Black Jacks, The Key Notes, The Visions, etc. (Can you tell I grew up in the 80's?).

But, the bullshit of that whole blog got to me. It really did. Not so much because it was about one man, who to his credit is the last of the old musical dinosaurs, but that it implied something about people from a community, who were for the most part anything but great. One other person in the comments section really got my attention. At the end of his comment he said these guys are better off playing in some restaurant hotel, living quietly because that is all they can afford to do while their social and family life falls apart. 

Why do the honest voices remain a minority in everything?

And, I wanted to respond with 'That's what most of them do now.' In fact, many of them never left those hotel lobbies. Sure, a few went on to do good things, but if you walk into one of those hotels tonight, you'll see them there still. Old men, ragged by the booze, and desperately trying to hold on to either a mic or a guitar. 

A people of considerable talent, but many of them lacking in ambition, and drive.

It is nice to sometimes hear of the days gone by, but it is equally important to look at the here and now. I see young and upcoming musicians, both within the Christian community, and outside it, and these same 'greats' pay them no heed. And yet, we have idiots glorifying the old fuddies, and the old fuddies lapping up the adoration without more than a passing thought to the younger generation. These poor young souls will excitedly post links and info to their next 'big' performance at BRC's Open Mic Night, and what not, but will anyone care? 

No, they won't. 

And, they're good! Some could be great. The have talent, they have drive, and they want to be something.

No, but let's just keep walking ass backwards down memory lane, and making stuff up as we go along. Let's glorify idiots who held a bottle of QDL in one hand, and a mic in the other. Let's not give a crap for the next generation. Let's not cheer them on, hold them up as examples, promote them, maybe even glorify a few of the deserving ones. No, instead, let's work really hard to embellish a history, and keep it on record. 



The Only Good That Comes Out of Pakistan, is Slims

I have a childhood friend, who lives in the U.S. who is one of the most pro-Pakistani people I know. Having left Karachi in her teens, she and her family made it to the states, and settled down in Florida. Now, a working mother of two gorgeous children, she is a self-made, strong and independent woman. And, she never forgets where she comes from, and what she really is. A Pakistani. Born, raised and proud of her roots.

It's getting more and more rare to spot these kinds of people. Not that I blame many who prefer to distance themselves from Pakistan, what with our current state of affairs, and hogwash. Not to mention former Pakistanis in the west, looking to avoid hate crimes, just because of who they are. But, bullshit? That comes out in the form of some Pakistani Americans, ranting and hurling abuse against a nation they were born in.

This same friend, proudly posted a link on her Facebook page, about Mir Zafar Ali, a local kid, who is now an Oscar winning, Visual Effects Specialist in the U.S. - She was immediately assaulted by a former Pakistani who commented with "One out of what billion? The only good that comes out of Pakistan is Slims."

How quickly can you say 'douchebag'? 

This idiot claims to not be proud of being Pakistani. I feel he should address the fact that he is a pessimist, and seek out therapy. There is a LOT of crap going on in Pakistan, tons of it. And, those of us living here know it better than anyone else. But, let's set a few things straight shall we?

  • The nation as a whole did not hide OBL in their neighborhoods.
  • Many, many Pakistanis have never even been to Abbotabad
  • And, while we're at it, it's Abbot-ah-baadh, not Abbot-abid
  • No, we are not heading to the beach everyday, to see if we can spot OBL's remains. And, not because some American has already beat us to it.
  • There is no shrine to OBL near our seafront. I promise.

Now, back to the idiot (although, I'm really calling him 'dickhead' in my mind).

As my friend pointed out to him, he is probably wearing clothing with 'Made in Pakistan' tags on. Or, he could be wearing 'Made in USA' tags, which were really just printed here in good old Pakiland. And, I'm betting he uses a good slathering of Fair & Lovely everyday, just so he can maybe turn white at some point, and feel he is truly American. He chooses to remain ignorant to the fact, that many Pakistani Americans are successful in their chosen fields, be it medicine, politics, engineering and yes, even crime.

Not forgetting to mention how he ends up labeling himself, and his entire family as "nothing good" because you know, they have literally come out of Pakistan.

So, the question is, how are we any different from anyone else?

We're not. Except that maybe we're currently bleeding a lot more than most people.

Pakistanis abroad, and Western Pakistanis here. I have a message for you (not all of you, just the douche bags amongst you).

For the ones who left, and can't stop bitching. Read that again... You left. You tried here, and you failed, or maybe you didn't try at all, so you ended up trying somewhere else. And, maybe that minimum wage job is giving your ego a little boost right now, but not enough to make you feel more special than the Oscar winning dude.  However, you should know, that no matter where you go in that vast land of the free, you are, and always will remain just another Pakistani, to those who you probably grovel before. 

For the ones who came back here. If you're not trying to make a difference, not making the sacrifices (and I don't mean a 'I-just-took-one-vacation-this-year'  or "I-only-have-two-power-generators-not-four-so-I-am-making-the-ultimate-sacrifice" sacrifice.), get off your high horse, STFU with your bitching about this country, and grow up. There are people far, far worse off than you are. And, really... If you are going to insist on calling us "third world" you leave me no choice but to call you 'third class.'

This country may not be perfect, in fact, it's crazy right now. But, there are people who live here, work here, raise their families here. And, they're not all bad people. So, please, enough with the bullshit.

P.S. While writing this, I decided I should maybe one day write about Pakistanis in the west, who every day set an example of what the 'good Pakistani' is all about. The ones who hold fast to their culture, their traditions, their homeland. I'm sure there are numerous stories out there, that should be told.