Monday, March 15, 2010

Dear Lodhi

Lodhi,
I think we were in Class 10 at Beaconhouse when I asked you why you had a sticker of that dog from Garfield, Odie, on your pencil case. You pointed at the L to the left of the sticker and said, "L plus Odie equals Lodie!" Then you laughed. And then you shook your head.
Your body is home. And your soul is free. We hadn't talked in a couple of years, I know, but that doesn't bother me, for some reason. Ours was a comfortable friendship, I like to think, one that would pick up seamlessly after long periods of quiet. It did, whenever we met. And it will, again, someday.
As we let you go for now, I think of the good times we had growing up in Karachi... especially the stupid good times.
  • You, me and Nade getting kicked out of that music store in Khadda Market.
  • Our Pat Rafter vs. Mark Philippoussis tennis matches. You were so horrible at that game. Haha.
  • Studying for our O levels at my place and spending 10 minutes laughing helplessly at the sound pencil made on paper in a quiet room.
  • Whacking each other on the head while travelling in cars over bumpy roads and then apologizing insincerely a la Faisal Butt. (Sorry, Faisal, wherever you are.)
I'm only upset with you for one reason, really, Imran. You were the best shot I had of knowing an honest to goodness global celebrity. Someone with your talent, passion and love of music was going to make it sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. And I was really looking forward to cashing in (socially, and perhaps monetarily) on your fame. Why else do I still have the ticket from your first Undertow concert at the Alliance Fran├žaise stored safely at home? You owe me, buddy.
You left earlier than anyone knew you would, but while you were here, you had the courage to follow your dreams, through ups and downs and across oceans and continents. And you did it with that unassuming charm and humility that we all grew to cherish. Your sense of humor was one of a kind. Your life brought us joy. Your death leaves us devastated, but appreciative of the years we had with you.
For a life ended too soon, I mourn. For a life that meant so much to so many, I celebrate. And for a life well lived, one filled to bursting with the love you yourself may have described as unobtainable, Imran Khan Lodhi, I salute you.
Shahyan

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ayesha Nasir, I Am Sorry

Dear follower of this blog,
Before reading the below, maybe you should read this.

And now:

Ms. Ayesha Nasir, I am sorry.
I am sorry that all Pakistani Muslims don't have two Masters degrees from Columbia and know how to pronounce obscure French terms correctly. Clearly, we are barbarians.
I am sorry that you "scrawled your signature on the most important contract of your life without reading a word." Clearly, the ability to read doesn't presuppose the existence of the ability to reason.
I am sorry your family and your husband's family considered you extraneous to quite possibly the most significant ceremony of your life. Clearly, you need to take this issue up with your family and your husband's family, NOT with the entire Muslim world in some Western tabloid.
I am sorry you had to sit a mile away from your fiance during your wedding ceremony. Perhaps you could have taken a cue from EVERY OTHER WEDDING that has taken place in urban Pakistan in the past fifty years, and sat together.
I am sorry that you have a group of friends who suffer from the same victim syndrome you do. Perhaps all that money spent on those expensive educations and global opportunities would have been better invested in someone who was actually going to use them.
I am sorry that your rights were signed away in your marriage contract. Perhaps that is not your fault. But it is not the fault of Pakistan either. Or of Islam. Allah gives women all the rights you have stated in your article. It is the fault of your family. And your husband's family. You may wash your dirty laundry in public, but don't pretend it isn't yours.
I am not sorry that you have a joyous marriage (far from it), but I am sorry that you felt the need to point out how horrible things could become for you, despite your good fortune and (apparent) happiness. There are serious gaps to overcome in women's rights in Pakistan - I am not denying this - and there are some interpretations of Islam that are unfair to women as well. I do not take issue with the fact that you wish to draw attention to these issues. I take issue with the fact that you make sweeping generalizations about a religion and a nation in your writing. The title of your article itself implies that "Islamic marriage contracts" inherently limit the rights of women. You know as well as I do that this is not true. A good marriage contract, of any faith, will adequately protect the rights of both parties. A bad marriage contract, of any faith, will not.
What has publishing an article in Slate done for the women you want to help? Nothing. It has only given more ammunition to those who wish to beat Pakistan and Islam down every chance they get. The women who don't read their marriage contracts are still not reading them. Are they?
I agree. You should have read your marriage contract. The fact that you didn't though, is not a problem with the Islamic faith nor with the Pakistani nation. It is a problem of cultural awareness and an unwillingness to break with tradition even when it serves the greater good. You'll find this problem everywhere in the developing (and in some cases, the developed) world, not just in Muslim countries, not just in Pakistan. And Ms. Nasir, it falls to people like you and me, with our Masters degrees and our impeccable diction, to do what we can to fix things. How? By encouraging our countrymen and women to think for themselves and providing them with outlets for unique expression and opportunities to learn. Not by selling a sob story to a rag.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Of Speeding Tickets and Such

So I got a speeding ticket in Michigan this past Friday night (rushing to see the Indian and his fiancee)... it had been over two years since my last one (ticket, not Indian... never mind). It was dark. I didn't see the sneaky fellow sitting in the median with all his lights off... flew by, lights flash, stop, talk, wait, talk, ticket and on my way in about 5 minutes. The officer was civil, as most are, but I still got hit with a hundred and fifty five dollar bill... doing between 20 and 25 miles an hour over the posted speed limit (70).

So here's my philosophy on speed limits. They are stupid. They serve no purpose other than to pad the coffers of whatever law enforcement agency decides they want to enforce them. Drivers should be able to drive as fast as they want on the road for as long as they want without speed limits to deal with/worry about/look out for. But (there's always a but), the penalties for at fault accidents or other losses of control should be so severe (25 years to life, for example) that people will think twice before pushing the pedal down just in case something goes wrong. The benefits of this are twofold. First, drivers such as myself who believe in filling the empty road ahead of them while maintaining full control of their vehicles will not have to deal with being pulled over for nominal speeding offences. And second, really bad drivers (and East Asians - I'm sorry; THAT stereotype is completely true), who weave dangerously through traffic and in general act like complete jerks on the road, will be forced to get their act together, because even the tiniest dent could cost them dear.
Think about it.
All this aside, I really don't mind getting ticketed every now and then because:
1. I see them as a yearly (more or less) premium for driving as fast as I want whenever I want. I'm always in control of the vehicle and I'm prepared for the occasional ticket if it means I get to save myself hours and hours in the car over the course of 12 months.
2. Every time the trooper returns my license with a fresh new ticket and says, "You drive safely now, Sir," without arresting me, I realize that I am not wanted in the United States for any major crimes. And that is a good feeling.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chase Sapphire

No, seriously. If my wife were to secretly spend our Chase Sapphire Card rewards points on some stupid dress, I would not be smiling at her like this moron.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Interlude

I just realized my blog doesn't really have an identity... it's a little bit of all over the place. It's also very sporadic... ages of dormancy interspersed with brief periods of fervent productivity. It sounds like me, actually... strange.

Things are fine (in case you're reading/care). Maybe I'll start writing again soon.

Maybe I won't.

Or maybe I will.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grandmother

She called me last night, from Karachi, where she lives, and in between the usual prayers and hopes and admonitions (I'm not allowed to go on boats any more, apparently), she mentioned that she hadn't been able to get my brother on the phone.

Me: "Oh, he was in South Dakota this past week on some University trip. He's probably busy getting ready for school tomorrow."

GM: "Oh... is South Dakota safe?"

Me: "It's as safe as Karachi!"

GM: "Then WHY did he go!!??"

...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Nessun Dorma

This is several kinds of powerful and wonderful. And the YouTube clip below is one of the best versions of it I have heard...



Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore
e di speranza.

Ma’il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il no me mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!

Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!

(Il nome suo nessun sapra!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincero!
vincero, vincero!

Nobody shall sleep! Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
In your cold room,
Watch the stars,
That tremble with love and with hope

But my secret is hidden within me,
My name no one shall know...
No!...No!... On your mouth I will tell it
When the light shines

And my kiss will dissolve the silence
That makes you mine!...

(No one will know his name
And we must, alas, die.)

Vanish, o night!
Set, stars!
Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win, I will win!

If you like, watch this clip of Paul Potts on Britain's Got Talent... it's a great story too. He went on to win the thing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA
(Couldn't embed - the embed code was disabled.)


A piu tardi.