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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Before marriage, she was a fun-read novel. Now, she’s a text book!


.....And After!

This blog is inspired by a quotation of my eldest aunt, Khala Jaan (may Allah grant her a high rank in Paradise).

Khala Jaan was an epitome in wisdom. Experience and innate wisdom were etched on her face. And so, her famous “quotes” were passed on in generations as family heirlooms.

And one of these famous quotes was: “Beta, mard ke liye shaadi se pehle aurat aik rangeen khoobsurat novel hoti hai jise woh ghour se, shouq se, baar baar parhna chaahta hai. Magar shaadi ke baad biwi textbook bun jaati hai. Roz parhna parhta hai.” (For a man, before marriage, the woman is like a colourful novel which he wants to read intently, passionately, repeatedly. But after marriage, she becomes a must-read textbook. He HAS to read it everyday.”

Now, we can disagree with this quote. And exceptions may always be there. But let’s give it a thought.

Girls, remember “that time”? (let’s go all dreamy-eyed!).

That time when he remembered EVERYTHING you said? When he even remembered your chaachi’s birthday and knew what your mom cooked best. When at the end of every phone call, he would say “acha paanch minute aur na” (ok let’s talk for 5 minutes more). When he found everything you said or did soooooooo interesting. When, to get a glimpse of you, he would easily give up a meeting with his CEO. When the “unlimited texts” package was used to the fullest. When it was important to know what shampoo you used and how you liked your eggs and which books you read and what clothes you wore that day. When on every second sentence you got responses like “how lovely”, “you’re awesome”, “tum kitni achi ho“. When you both couldn’t stop talking. When everyday, you both came up with new terms of endearment for each other. When he felt you were made for him. When the sense of connection was so strong that you thought of him (which was pretty much most of the time) and voila! He’d be there! When you ACTUALLY felt you were on cloud nine. When, as my friend and deputy editor of the first magazine I worked for (name withheld on request) used to say,”even going to your maamu’s house is ecstasy”.

Phir kya hua?

What happened next?

The same drill. You both dive into the scary “C” – Commitment!

Whether your parents do it for you (via the tea trolley rishta routine, or now the coffee on Zamzama routine). Or whether you did it yourself. Samaaj se lar jhagar ke. Convincing the cruel world that you were both soul mates, and fighting to be together.

So now, jumla huqooq mehfooz… are his. Sense of ownership sets in. Whether in a commitment, engagement, nikaah or full-fledge shaadi. Dreams come true. Imagination is realized. It is what you both always wanted. Khushiyaan. Khushiyaan. And MORE khushiyaan.

And then what happens? Well, girls, “that time” is over (wipe that dreamy-eyed, goofy look off your face. We’re talking reality check now!!).

The phone calls from office are lesser, your chaachi’s birthday no longer matters, you are “so emotional and impractical, baby. Grow up!”. The compliments are lesser. The conversations are predictable. Yet, you somehow still don’t find him so boring. But he? Well, he already knows everything there is to know about you. You are no longer on cloud nine. You are on ground sub-zero!

Now, don’t get it all wrong (as we women sometimes in our sweeping EMO moods do). It’s not like he doesn’t love you any more. He may in fact, actually, in his weird twisted way, love you more than ever. He can’t do without you now.

But the only thing we need to understand is……..(drums rolling)…….this is the animal kingdom!!

Till you were the hunted and he was the hunter, even if he had to dangle from trees to impress you, he’d do it.

Remember “You Tarzan, Me Jane?”

Remember the phrase “Thrill of the chase?”

That is how he is programmed. Once you are his, you ARE a text book. Not the novel.

But what we need to remember is that the textbook is indispensable. What you gain from the textbook is what the perks and joys of life eventually rely on. The really wise men are those who make the textbook feel like a novel, every day.

Giving the “guys” their due, the problem is not just theirs. We, the women, are also more pleasant and fun in the incipient phase of the relationship. We complain less, we are more fun, we bring out the best in him, we look good and walk good and talk good.

The problem, inherently, is complacency. When we start taking the “ownership” tag as a licence to become boring and become bored.

Relationships are high-maintenance items. They always, I repeat, ALWAYS require the input of creativity, of emotion, of communication, of expression. A single gesture. A smile. A holding of hands. A small gift. A call or text saying “I miss you” or “you’re the most important person in my life”. Taking an avid interest in each other’s work. Making each other feel “wanted”, “needed” and “desired”. It’s not an easy challenge. But it is so worth it in the end.

So all you textbooks out there, worry not. You are the REAL thing. The thing he can’t do without.

And guys, step up your game!!! In the end, faaida (benefit) will be yours. 🙂

A Book of Love, A Novel of Rumi – 40 Rules of Love

Love and empathy
Elif Shafak’s novel is full of lyrical beauty

By Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam 

The Forty Rules of Love:
A Novel of Rumi
By Elif Shafak
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 350
Price: Rs. 895

It is difficult to say who is the main protagonist of The Forty Rules of Love by Turkish author Elif Shafak. It is equally difficult to decide which century should we choose the protagonist from —the 13th or the 21st. Such is the fluidity and exuberance with which Shafak has written this popular fictional.

Ella Rubenstein is forty, Jewish, unhappily married, and has forgotten who she is, revolving her life around her infidel husband and children. As part of the work she is doing for a literary agent, she comes across the manuscript of a novel called “Sweet Blasphemy” which mesmerises her in how it revolves around the relationship between 12th century Islamic theologian-scholar turned poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and the mystic Sufi Shams of Tabriz who is Rumi’s spiritual master.

This is a turning point in Ella’s life, who is inspired by Shams’s life-altering forty rules of love that ultimately aim at helping people achieve communion with the Absolute, the Creator, through the path of love, and in so doing learning the answers to the deepest questions of life that would in turn help transform a person’s conduct and behaviour towards other creatures in a beautiful manner.

This was what Shams was teaching Rumi. This is what, indirectly, the writer of “Sweet Blaspehmy”, Aziz Zahara, teaches Ella, forever changing her life.

Aziz does to Ella what Shams did to Rumi – he becomes her mirror in which she sees her real self. He is the stone that flings itself into the stagnant waters of Ella’s uneventful, complacent, almost dead life, and causes a ripple effect that brings to the surface everything she truly is and is meant to be. Thus, she discovers love.

Shams of Tabriz was an Iranian Sufi mystic, a wandering dervish, responsible for initiating Rumi into Islamic mysticism. Rumi’s poetry has immortalised Shams, who is said to have been the reason Rumi evolved from a scholar used to the Aristotelian style of questioning and scholarship in faith, and became a love-poet, whom Shams brought to the path of a direct and ecstatic connection with God.

The word “Shams” literally means the Sun in Arabic. While the beauty of Rumi’s poetry continues to be celebrated world over, Rumi can be compared to the moon who actually reflected the resplendent light of the sun, by passing on the message he learnt from his spiritual master, Shams.

Shafak’s ingenious technique of usage of the literary device where each chapter is named after the character, whose inner soliloquies comprise that chapter, makes it very believable and relatable. An essential part of Rumi’s poetry, of Sufism, and in turn of Shafak’s book, is about empathy, in which you understand the other’s perspective. Through the different voices in the book talking in first person, in an almost “stream of consciousness” narrative technique because they are so intimately monologue-like, Shafak has achieved the objective of keeping empathy as one of the central threads that keep stringed together the many themes in the book.

The message of empathy and understanding different perspectives is spell-binding in the book. We look at the world not just through the eyes of Ella and Aziz, and Shams and Rumi, but also characters like Desert Rose the Harlot, Sultan Walad (the son of Rumi), Suleiman the Drunkard and even The Killer who is hired to kill Shams.

As a writer Shafak is capable of using much more intricate phraseology and vocabulary, but it seems as if she on purpose keeps the choice of words and the tone very simplistic and basic, as if she is afraid of diluting the basic strength of the profound message of the book through unsolicited use of jargon.

The fact that the novel catapults the reader from past into the present and vice versa, from the world of Shams of Tabriz in 13th century Konya to the world of Ella Rubenstein in 21st century New Jersey, is deeply symbolic. The fluidity with which this has been done gives the novel as surreal timeless quality, where even the characters from the 13th century seem relatable today. This is where Shafak is truly brilliant, for this is an underlying message that Rumi and Tabriz’s message of love is not and cannot be limited within encapsulations of time and space.

To understand this further, we have to take a look at Rumi’s position over the centuries. His funeral it is said, was a historic event in that it extended over forty days of grieving, where he was mourned by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Greeks, Arabs and Persians. Rumi, himself, it is said, married both a woman of Islam and a woman who was originally a Christian. In the present day context, Rumi is prided over by Muslims who see him both as a commentator of the Quran and a scholar (especially his life pre-Shams), as well as a proponent of the universality of the message of Sufism. But what is doubly interesting is how Rumi has managed to be celebrated even by the West, thereby bridging many of the gaps between the East and the West centuries after he died. He has influenced the writings and philosophy of the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Recent years have seen an upsurge in Rumi’s popularity in the West. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Rumi got ranking as America’s best-selling poet in 1997. Rumi-following and coffee table books boasting a dabbling with the message of Rumi are quite the fad. In a world where the mantra “I am spiritual, not religious” has gained momentum, Rumi is one person the past, present and probably the future, and both the East and the West, agree upon.

The Forty Rules of Love has been hugely successful. It sold more than 600 000 copies, becoming an all time best-seller in Turkey and in France awarded with the Prix ALEF – Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangère. While there is no doubt in the lyrical beauty of Shafak’s work, part of the reason for the success of this book lies in the fact that in the world that we live in today, you cannot go wrong with Rumi and Sufism.

Published in The News on Sunday:

Killed For Wearing Hijaab???

Look at this face. This is Shaima AlAwadi. Killed. Reason? She was a Muslim woman who chose to wear the hijaab.

She was an average harmless homemaker. A mother of 5, whose children will forever wonder why their 32 year old mother’s life was snuffed out. An Iraqi refugee living in the Land of Liberty, in USA, this resident of California was assaulted in her house on the 21st of March. She was beaten with a tire iron. When her daughter 17 year old Fatima AlHimidi found her covered in blood, unconscious, in their living room, she also found a note next to her mother that said “Go back to your country, terrorist”. Shaima died on the 25th of March 2012. She had been getting threatening hate notes before she was assaulted.

While investigations are still underway, evidence is largely pointing in the direction that Shaima was a victim of a hate crime. If that is true, then Shaima was killed for no other crime but the fact that she was a Muslim woman who chose to don her hijaab which is a mark of a Muslim woman’s faith. It is her identity. It is her choice. A Muslim woman does not wear it because she wants to necessarily make a statement to antagonize anyone. This is her act of worship for her Allah. Just as peaceful an act of worship as reading the Torah or ringing a bell in a temple or singing hymns in a church. Just as peaceful as a nun choosing to cover herself or an Indian ascetic choosing to wear an orange robe. Why must then she be killed for it? And even when they are not killed for it, Muslim women are often subjected to judgment, to marginalization, to discrimination and to prejudice because of an act that she does purely for herself. Yes, there is a growing acceptability, but the perpetrators of hate crimes against Muslims still see the hijaab as a threat.

It is the same psyche of non-tolerant and hateful behaviour that was behind the shooting of the young African American boy, 17 year old Travyon Martin, in Florida, on 26th February 2012. The killer is believed to have had racist motivations behind killing Travyon who was wearing a “hoodie”, a mark of being an African American kid.

Travyon Martin - Killed for being an African American. For wearing a "hoodie"

Parallels are rightfully being drawn in the two cases. Important parallels. It is a person’s fundamental human right to wear what he likes, and make a statement with it peacefully if he/she likes. Such crimes hint in the direction that people belonging to certain races, skin colours, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and specially if they are migrants, are “lesser” and as such can be shoved around, bullied, mistreated, called names, judged, and as in these two cases, even be subject to violence.

The “Million Hoodie March” was inspired by the killing of Travyon. In another act of solidarity, activists world over are working on a “One Million Hijaabs” march for AlAwadi. Students at the University of North Carolina in Asheville are organizing a ‘hoodies and hijab’ rally on March 29 to “stand up against hatred and racism”.

"Hoodies and Hijabs: Uncovering Injustice"
Wake Forest and Salem Students, organized by Muslim peers, came together to show solidarity with Trayvonn Martin and Shaima Al Awadhi. Students are calling on our community leaders to condemn hate crimes and make sure our community is a safe place for everyone.
Please re-post this picture to raise awareness about these atrocities!

It’s a supremacist world out there. If a Jew or a Christian is beaten to death by a Muslim, it’s termed an act of terrorism, and I believe rightly so. But when an unarmed Muslim woman is killed in her home, it is also an act of terrorism. Loss of human life is always a huge loss, whether it is the loss of innocent civilian life somewhere in Europe or in Waziristan in Northern Pakistan.

Coming back to Shaima’s case, it has triggered an outrage that has begun to cause a ripple effect globally. Human rights proponents, activists, and even common people from all religions and continents are sitting up and talking about it. Because while there are supremacists out there, there also fair-minded and just people out there who know in their hearts when something is wrong, and dare to stand up and voice their protest against it.

This blog is not an attempt at venting mere pro-Muslim and anti-Islamophobic sentiment. It is pro-human rights and anti-hate crimes…..crimes committed against any human being, any where, belonging to any caste or creed.

So to the killer of Shaima AlAawadi, I would like to say that you don’t even know what you’ve started. In killing one hijaabi, you may have created millions.

And this hate crime is just going to make all those women out there who wear the hijaab even stronger in their resolve to do it, whether they are in the USA or France. It is a mark of liberty that one is allowed to practice what one believes in. It is a right no one must take away.

Peaceful Co-existence – Possible in Pakistan?

As a die-hard patriot who still harbours hope in the goodness of the Pakistani people, and the resilient strength of this nation, this 23rd March 2012 I found myself thinking. The day commemorates the resolution which became perhaps the most important founding document of this country. Our forefathers believed in why Pakistan was created. My mother’s most important memories as a young girl are of the times when she worked as a political activist in the Women’s National Guard in which women worked to support men in the Pakistan movement. When she and her family were struggling to help out their brothers and sisters who had migrated to the newly founded country called Pakistan. Migrants who had sacrificed homes, lives and more, just for the dream of a country where they could live on their own terms.

And the reason both the muhaajireen (migrants) and the Muslims already living in the areas that today comprise Pakistan did what they did was because they believed in the cause – that Muslims, like any other race or followers of any faith, have the right to live life on their own terms – terms that may be religious, traditional or cultural. At the same time, minorities, it was very clear, in this new state that was to be called Pakistan, would have a right to co-exist in complete peace and security, and will not be punished for believing in a different god.

Some 64 years later, sad things have happened. If we just take the last couple of years as an example, we see examples of the oppression and persecution of minorities like the Ahmadiyyah sect. We see stories of many who are forcefully converted to Islam. The recent most story is of Rinkle Kumari who was forced to become Faryal, while her heart I have no doubt remained that of Rinkle Kumari. Over the last 120 years, claims of caretakers of the Bherchondi shrine in Sindh point in the direction that on an average at least 250 people are coerced into accepting Islam every year.

This is insane. And it saddens me at many levels.

It saddens me because, at the risk of being called an apologist, and a risk I am willing to take, I know that Islam is not about force. Faith, like love, is a matter of the heart.

Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, says in the Qur’an: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256]

What, then, are we forcing people to convert to? A soulless, dead declaration which will in fact act as a repellent against Islam? If I ever meet Rinkle Kumari, I would want to go hug her, and tell her that my dear sister, please know that what they converted you to is not Islam. It is a product of bigotry and a complete lack of awareness about Islam’s true essence.

Having said that, I will not say to Rinkle Kumari that I have failed her. That WE have failed her. Because the obstinate believer in goodness of my people that I am, I believe that a bigger majority of Muslims in Pakistan would not and will not commit or approve of atrocities and hate crimes against minorities.

This saddens me because many Rinkle Kumaris have been wronged on my homeland….my home land Pakistan,  for which I refuse to use the sarcastic slur word “land of the pure” because I believe that a lot of purity still does exist here.

But on 23rd March, in retrospect, what saddened me even more was that because of these extremist incidents and attitudes, we are borderline apologetic for having believed in wanting to create a homeland where Muslims could peacefully practice their faith. And may I add, without harming or marginalizing the minorities. Ever so often, we hear people say “what was the whole point in getting an independent homeland for Muslims?”. It seems we are being forced to choose sides. If you believe that this country was rightfully created to safeguard rights of Muslims, does that make you someone who is against the rights of minority communities?

Politically correct or incorrect, I still believe it was the right thing to do… want to have a homeland where the sound of azaan resonates through the air five times a day, but where my Christian brothers can peacefully visit the church whenever they want to…..that was the idelogy on which Pakistan was based.

Muslims were not getting their rights back then, so they struggled for them, fought for them, and got them, under Quaid e Azam’s leadership. We may not realize that today, but we are blessed that they did. So here I say it, loud and proud, that I am thankful for the gift of an independent homeland where I can practice my faith. And that does not make me a bigot who is aiming to undermine minorities. There is always a middle ground. Always. Let’s stay there.

“We Have On This Land That Which Makes Life Worth Living…..”

Mahmoud Darwish wrote this for Palestine. It reminds me always of my resilient country, my home, Pakistan.Omer Offendum recited it and livened this poem even more. Read. And watch.

“We have on this land that which makes life worth living

We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living

April’s hesitation

The aroma of bread at dawn

A woman’s beseeching of men

The writings of Aeschylus

Love’s beginning

Moss on a stone

Mothers standing on a flute’s thread

And the invader’s fear of memories

We have on this land that which makes life worth living

September’s end

A woman leaving ‘forty’ behind

with all of her apricots

The hour of sunlight in prison

A cloud reflecting a swarm of creatures

A people’s applause for those who face their own erasure with a smile

And the tyrant’s fear of songs.

We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living

On this land

The lady of our land

The mother of all beginnings 

And the mother of all ends

She was called Palestine

Her name later became Palestine

My lady….

Because you are my lady

I have all of that which makes life worth living.”

But Why Do Punjabi Women Fall For The “Karachiite-type” Men?

Jaani, kuch to baat hai hum mein

The idea of Urdu-speaking larkaas falling for Punjabi mutyaars caught on like fire! We all saw much of ourselves in that earlier blog. So many of us related to it. As did I, because of my half-Punjabi streak (the other half is Sindhi, but that part will need another blog;)).

What makes perfect sense is that if in the 6th most populous nation in the world, Pakistan that is, a HUGE number of Karachiite-type men are falling for and are with Punjabi women, a complimenting number of Punjabi women have also statistically fallen for, and agreed to be with, and “LIKE” (more than in the FB “like” kind of liking) the Urdu-speaking variety of guys.

So what’s so special about the Karachiite-type dudes? Why do many Punjabi girls choose them over the bhangra-ofying, equally colourful, jazbaati, food-loving, mostly good looking, from the same gene pool, khulla dulla Punjoo guys?

Let’s find out:

1. The Namak Factor:

They are not always lookers. They are not always hunks. But the Karachiite boys have something going for them….something that works! Not always gora chitta, but mostly attractive in a rugged kind of way. It could be the tanned complexions owing to roughing it out on Nipa chowrangi or catching the bus that takes you Karachi University. Or maybe because they have been doing the wheelies on the Honda 70 on Jail Road. But even the ones with FX Suzukis and the Corollas and the Civics etc….even if they are usually in air-conditioned cars, and even if they are Delhi walas with  fair complexions, they have, well, what is called attraction. It’s like the Khewra salt mines peppered the Karachi guys with namak. Kuch baat hoti hai!

2. The “Opposites Attract” Factor:

Punjabi girls have seen, since they were doing kiklee kaleer dee, boys which are like their daddies and chachoos and phupha jees…..the same kinda culture. The “saying it on your face”. The warmth and affection for which you never have to work hard because in a Punjabi family every body is perpetually in a “maa sadqay jaye” zone (trust me, I know this one!). The “pehle bolo, phir tolo” attitude. The potential to get all emo, angry or sad very soon, and get back to normal equally quickly. The loud volume. The khul ke hansna.

While all of this is awesome in it’s own way, she enjoys the change when she meets a man who thinks before he speaks. For whose attention you have to work hard if you want it consistently (I’m not talking about the first 6 months of marriage here), because the thrill of the chase is not only reserved for men. She likes the manly-but-not-irritatingly-macho style. In many ways he is gentler. And he also brings out the best in her – within months of being with him, she realizes that he has inner censorship beeps. She is suddenly in the “aap ye leejiye” zone. She enjoys the transition from “haan jee” to “jee haan”, just like he enjoys going from “jee haan” to “haan jee”. Why, even if he has to scold her, he will probably say “zabaan sambhaal kar baat keejiye aap, zyada bakwaas mat keejiye” instead of……!!! And he will very soon be calling your mom “ammi jaan“! Of course, the Karachiite boys also have the “abay tu kya keh rahi hai” side to them, alongwith the tehzeeb o tamaddun.

He will not say “Inna pairha salan pakaya jai”. He will instead praise your badly cooked salan so smartly that he will eventually bring out the khidmat guzaar biwi in you. This is unlike what you have known all your life! So it is attractive in a weird way.

It’s completely the opposite. Life takes a 360 degree turn with him. That’s both attractive, and complimentary. The combo works!

3. The Attitude – The X Factor:

What do Urdu-speaking, and particularly Karachiite guys owe their attitude to? It’s probably the multi-cultural, cut throat, no-time-for-nonsense, on the go, fast-paced, dangerous nature of the city of Karachi that makes them have this attitude. They have a defiant streak. Perpetually on the hum kisee se kum naheen roll. Even if they weigh 45 kgs, they feel like they can take on a man double their size. They are street smart in a very tehzeeb yaafta way, but it’s written on their forehead that “honey, mere saath badtameezi naheen chalay gee“. Whether they are in a naqsheen Lucknowi kurta or looking all unkempt in a pair of jeans, warn out loafers and a shirt from Zainab market, they have the same attitude. The “HUM” attitude – and this self-assured streak, though irritating and a pain at times, is attractive. The damsel in distress inside every woman likes a man who takes charge, specially when he does so politely.

Sharaafat ki zabaan samajh lo jaan e mann!!

4. He Is ALSO A Foodie In The Closet: 

Other parts of Pakistan have a known reputation for being the food capital. Lahore and Lahoris, for instance, are synonymous with khaana peena. But Urdu-Speaking men are no less. In fact, they are more picky and particular about food and related combinations. They will not just devour food. They will notice subtle details like “aloo gosht mein aaloo lambai mein katnay chahiyein, choraai mein naheen”, and “qormay ke saath sheermaal chalay ga” and “Tower ki chaanpon ki kya baat hai” and “nihari to bhaii bong hee ki achi banti hai” and “maash ki daal par to moti laal mirach ka bhigaar hota hai, haree mirach ka naheen” and “Zahid ki nihari? Naheen yar. Malik ki baat aur hai. Wohi Burns Road wala”.

So if the begum is  a Punjoo and a food lover too, the combination works. One big happy foodie family.

5. Urdu-Speaking Men Are Better Husbands (Myth, Or Reality!)

That’s the general perception, at least. That they are gentle and keep their temper and tongues under check. That they allow the khawateen in their life more empowerment. That it’s the women and not the men in a typically Karachiite household that rule, but in a civil, polite manner.

But bhaiyya, the truth is that Lahore ya Karachi, Quetta ho ya Sukkur, Peshawer ho ya Multan, har shareef aadmi is afraid of the mood swings and tantrums of the woman in his life, whether the tantrums are the “silent but deadly” kind or the openly volatile kind.

So guys, whether you are from Lahore or Karachi, agar apni khair chahiye and you wanna be happy then treat your woman with love and respect. The more you give, the more you get 😀

Of Karachiite Guys & Punjoo Girls – Choicest Comments From My Awesome Readers

Harrippa 😉

WOW! Last few days have been so much fun because of the amazing feedback you all gave on my blog titled “Why do the Karachiite-type men fall for Punjabi girls”. I must say, though, that this blog was a “just for fun” thing based on genuine observation. It is not a hit on any province/culture/ethnicity. Variety makes life fun and beautiful, so embrace the difference.

I have enjoyed your comments as much as I have enjoyed the approximately 12,000 hits on this blog till now. Everyday I think of writing the sequel on popular demand – Why do Punjabi girls fall for Karachiite-type boys? But then I stop because I wanna write after some thought. Sequels are never easy. I want that to be an equally fun blog too.

Till then, lets take a look at some of my personal favourite comments from you all – from fb, twitter and Chaaidaani.

1. On no. 1, my personal favourite: “Honestly! This includes everything that I felt when I met my jori-dar, a ‘Punjoo Girl’. There are few things that come with the package that really hurt at times. But this was a very good read; explains it all. You just reminded me why I fell in love with that girl in the first place.
Got my love revived! Thanks a lot to you FarahNaz. You don’t know or may not imagine but this post of yours might help many couples to ease their tensions. I had a rough time yesterday and was in a bad mood. But this just made me call her and tell her how much and why I love her. I am also thankful to my friend who shared this on Facebook. May Allah bless you all! ;))”

2. “I am a Punjabi girl who just tied the knot with my urdu-speaking husband. The first punjoo girl entering his family! So everybody is in shock on his side. Wait till I spread my colours in that part of the family. They’ll be punjoo converts ;) InshaAllah.”

3. Urdu speaking wives/moms “Tehzeeb aur Tammad’dun ka Gehwara”, na khul ke hansna, na waazeh expressions dena, chand maah ke bachchay ko bhi “aap” keh kar mukhatib karna. Too much!. Loved the blog , very keen observation. Punjabi mutyaar = Never a Dull Moment. And I could’nt agree more with what the comment that “Opposites Attract”.

4. “O baji farah jee!!!! kuch punjabi mundyan wastay ve likho….. liked your blog, want to read something funny for the ‘Punjoooo Boys’ as well.”

5. “What can i say…tussi great ho!”

6. “This article was great, i loved it! only problem is that this is just going to increase the ego of my punjabi girl! we need a sequel to stand up for us karachiite men!!”

7.” Can’t disagree with u more ma’am, I have lived half of my life in Karachi & other half in Punjab including Lahore. To be honest, I have never met a single aunty around looking for a Karachiite to marry her daughter with. Quite contrarily, Punjabi women, as far as my passive observation (spanning over 13 years) is concerned, prefer Punjabi guys for their strong physique, casual & open extrovert personalities, and a lot more than just TAMEEZDARI. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that most Punjabi girls would prefer guys who are dominating in certain aspects, a FEATURE most Karachiite guys lack :-)

8. “Oooopsss! Story of my life. I am a Punjabi girl and I have had serious relationships with some Karachiites, to be precise Dehliwalas , Urdu speaking Khans and pakkay moulvis from Jamia Masjid type.”

9. “Punjoo aunties always say they are looking for urdu-speaking boys for their daughters because they’re tameezdar. as for Karachi kay larkay choosing punjoo girls, i think there’s just one major reason: gori skin.”

10. “As a urdu speaking dude who loves punjabi women, I agree with everything here 100%.”

11. “As a proud karachiite/urdu speaking guy, Punjabi girls have always been a MAJOR turn-off for me.”

12. “I fell for it and still loving it…every moment and every day. By the way will be waiting to read ‘Why Punjabi girls fall for Karachiite Guys’….”

13. “Dear Farah, You just made my day. I’m a “punjoo”girl and your piece of writing reminded me of who I am and why I am the way I am. Wonderful sense of observation and yes this piece is very precise and oh sooooo true, especially the part where you mention the punjoo girls’ love for food just like their male counterparts. It was sheer joy to read this hilarious piece and am waiting for my husband to be back from work so I can read it to him also. Great job… Keep it up Farah and from now on I’m following your blog religiously ;)

14. ” I love cultural fusion. Btw what inspired you to write this post?”

15. “Thanks for making us Punjabi girls look so desirable farahanz!! Was an awesome read! :-). Now im just gonna go and fix my Laacha….  :-p hehehe!”

16. “Very well written article.. keep it up, you’re doing a great job…..TUSSI CHAA GAE HOOO…KASMAY :p”

Why Do the “Karachiite-type” Men Fall For Punjabi Women?

Ballay ballay baii tor Punjaban dee….

I begin with the disclaimer that this blog is not for 3 kinds of people:

1. Those who have an issue with the sweeping generalizations I am about to make in the spirit of fun, though parts will be definitely based on truth and years of research-based observation.

2. Ladies who are non-Punjabi and take the title as a jibe against themselves, and say to themselves “what does she mean? Don’t men like non-Punjabi women? She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! I know my husband would never be able to do with a Punjabi woman…..they’re so loud!”

3. Punjabi women who, well, have ended up with the “non-Karachiite-type” thaith, purely Punjoo men.

Ok so it just me or do you see it all around you? Out of the inter-provincial, inter-cultural marriages, engagements and other stuff, as a Karachiite I have always seen non-Punjabi men falling for Punjabi women. I on purpose used the term “karachiite-type” men, but to be more specific, we can use the term “Urdu-Speaking” men. So WHY do urdu-speaking men keep falling for Punjabi women? Specially considering the fact that many stereo-typical terms are associated with Punjabi women: Loud. Tacky. Dominating. Laraaki. Big in size. And again, loud.

We seem to forget, generally, the beautiful, slender, groomed and talented Punjabi girls who are quite the norm. It seems like the image that comes to our mind when we say “Punjabi girl” is a big-sized female in a colourful Laacha, helping irrigate Pakistan’s agricultural lands by jumping in the fields trying to entertain a disinterested man, or eating a HUGE paratha dripping with ghee, and yelling so loudly that her lungs are about to fall off on G T Road, screaming “mere naal bakwaas na keeta kar naeen te tera bootha tor diyaan gee”. And yes, she IS pretty, even though she is all of the above.

Yet, day after day, the civil, tameezdaar and wonderfully peace-loving Karachiite (or Urdu-speaking) men fall in love with Punjabi women. And not just them. The other provinces have joined in too……Sindhis, Balochs, Pathans. The question remains “why”?

A few probable answers I discovered, after careful observation and asking around, are these:

1. Need a Change:

“All my life,” said a friend when he was choosing a girl to marry at the ripe old age of 23, “I have seen my mom, sisters, cousins, aunts – so proper. They don’t laugh too loud. They talk in aap janaab. They wear light blues and pastel pinks and beige. And I am like that too….the subtle aap janaab type. So somehow, the idea of a colourful lady in red appeals to me. Who laughs to her hearts desire and speaks her mind. You know, Phuljharee-type.” “Phuljharee-type?” I asked him to confirm I had heard correctly. “Yes yes. the Phuljhuree, Titlee type. For a change you know,” he affirmed. That’s when I somehow understood it. The firecracker butterfly fun brand  actually works for a lot of men. That DOES NOT mean other provinces and ethnicities are bereft of phuljharees. But maybe it is inbuilt genetic selection that men seem to like the “made in Punjab” variety increasingly.

2. The “Khulla Dulla Ishtyle”

“At least with a Punjabi girl, you don’t spend your life wondering what’s under the cool demeanour,” said another anon friend. (And yes, it’s better my informants stay unnamed, lest they face consequences at the hands of the non-Punjoo women in their lives!). “She is who she is. Ghussay mein ho ya khush, kam az kam pata to chal jaata hai. You know how we men are, yaar. We are bad mind-readers, and women expect us to be just that. At least this way, you know that it is what it is. In your face. Jo hay wo hay. At least she’ll say it and not keep it in her heart for the next decade,” he said. And that’s one general impression about Punjabis that yes, under the umbrella term “Punjabi” come people who are not afraid to be. Plus, they are less formal and more casual. Less takallufaat and formalities, and more of Lath Maar stuff.

3. They Are Lookers:

“For guys, it’s all about looks. And Punjabi girls are mostly good looking. For me that is the single most important factor. As it is, I like her to be not stick thin,” said another informant. Need I say more?

4. They Have A Lot Of Fire:

With the package of the whole loud, khulla dulla ishtyle, comes a genuine spirited fieriness. Being passionate. Being fiesty. Humourous. Hulla gulla and fun. “I’m telling you, the ‘wujood e zann se hai tasweer e kainaat mein rang‘ wala shair was written for Punjoo girls,” said one know-it-all, in his second year of a happy engagement with a Punjabi girl, while he himself has ancestors from Lucknow. My two cents to my friend were: Make sure you know how to handle the fire, before you get scalded.

5. They Are Such Foodies:

And men like food. So in a Punjabi girl, they dream of someone who will be able to share his excitement over puri bhaaji, nihari, gola kabab, kharay masalay ka qeema and biryani. But she will also bring into his life the joys of aloo kay parathay, murgh cholay, sarson ka saag and makkai ki roti, and Punjabi pulao. She will understand the cliche that the way to his heart is through his tummy, simply because hey, the way to HER heart is also through her tummy.

To each his own. Whatever ethnicity works for you, go for it. And rather than the ethnicity, whatever “package deal” works for you, go for it. Meanwhile, let me sit and think over a sequel – Why Do Punjabi Women Fall For Karachiite-type Guys!

Link to the sequel:

“I Do Not Love You….” – Sonnet XVII – By Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss - 1908

The Askari-III Murders – So How Did You React To That News?

February 29th, 2012:

5 members of a family are found brutally murdered in the “secure” residential area of Askari III.

March 1, 2012:

Newspapers, tv channels – media in short – is abuzz with the murders. News spreads fast in the city of Karachi.

March 2, 2012:

I am at a hi-tea at a newly-added-to-the-friends’-list friend’s house. The house is beautiful. The food is yummlicious. The ladies are dressed to kill. And over the hors d’oeuvres and the freshly squeezed orange juice glasses, the topic of the Askari III murders is brought up. Conspiracy theories are spiraling out of control. The ladies are discussing, while sipping juice in a beautifully landscaped garden, what happened to the bodies, and who must’ve done it. Rumours, Gossip. Speculation. Some of the women are animatedly listening, interjecting with their two cents. Others are full-fledgedly into the rumour-monging. I am put off. My heart is feeling saddened. I do not know how to react. Thankfully, it’s call for the maghrib prayer. We get up. The conversation is discontinued.

March 8, 2012:

I am at an inter-active class of Islamic Studies, and we are about to start our lesson of Sahee Al-Bukhari. A participant whom I have known for a while – her face looks grieved, in pain, lost. I ask. She shares. The 5 people who lost their lives in the Askari III murder crime were her close relatives. “What had to happen happened. But what is extremely painful is how people are assuming things, and rumours have started. While condoling, people keep asking in hushed tones what happened, and want details….gory details,” she says, weeping with hurt. We quietly hear her out and make a dua (prayer) for the deceased.

March 11, 2012:

In the OPINION section, on page 8 of the newspaper DAWN, the daughter of the deceased elderly couple has voiced her pain over the callousness of media reports and people. She has had to openly talk about some family secrets. The letter reeks of pain.

I am sitting after reading her letter, trying to understand (as I shudder at the thought of imagining) in the spirit of empathy, what this daughter, and family and friends who ACTUALLY cared about those who lost their lives are going through. How their pain must be magnified by having to explain to people, as a retort to those questioning eyes and commentaries and speculations, what actually happened. As if their pain was not enough!

A hadith of Prophet Muhammad (saw) says: The beauty of a man’s Islam is to leave what does not concern him. (Tirmidhi) 

So many of us would be scandalized at the thought of sharing a dinner table where pork or wine may be served, for religious reasons. Yet, in our careless speculations and gossips, we end up committing so many sins that are even more heinous…..yes, I use the word sins……to also remind myself that all these are sins too: To talk behind someone’s back, specially a deceased person. To talk about what does not concern us. To cause hurt to an already grieving person instead of extending gentle, empathetic support. To harbour unfounded suspicion about others. To spread rumours. To not have empathy.

Leave religion aside. What is wrong, people? Do we have nothing better to do? To talk about? To discuss? Life is short. There is so much good we can do with the limited time we have been given. There is so much to be done. Why not use the same time doing something better? Cliched but true, that an idol mind IS indeed the devil’s workshop. Also, it is plain scary! To talk about someone in such a situation is plain scary. Wouldn’t you rather not talk about it?

Alive or dead, the lesser we discuss people, the better. For our own good.

For once, can we want for other’s what we would want in a similar situation? Karma! Do we respect the privacy of the deceased? Their sanctity? Do we think they’d like people to discuss what happened why, and exactly in what way were they slaughtered? If God Forbids we were in the position of the grieving family, what would we want? The answer lies therein!