Tag Archives: Pakistan

Loadshedding

Today I stopped pretending I was in idyllic serenity. This is a funny kind of hell. The heat makes it worse. This funny kind of hell burns me up and burns me down. My feet are burning in my silver shoes.

This loadshedding situation is never going to stop, is it? I cannot believe there was a time when I hoped that it might someday. I have this sinking feeling that perhaps the people who are supposed to fix problems are not really capable of fixing anything. Infact, they might not be the least interested in fixing anything either. So I grit my teeth and suffer the heat and the lack of electricity.

How am I supposed to work in this madness? Sometimes, all I want to do is find a cooler place to crawl into and sleep – and dream. Dreams are better than this. In my dreams, I draw all the time. In my dreams, it isn’t so hot. I’ve heard great art comes from great suffering but seriously, I need to stop suffering to make something. The sweat in my eyes makes it a little difficult to even stare at blank paper.

Soon the batteries will run out and I’ll have nothing to do but stare at the walls and sweat. I know I sound like a ridiculous brat complaining about loadshedding when there are people out there with less. Even so, I am sorry but I am suffering. And I cannot help but whine. Even if it does make me sound like a twat.

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A New Resolution

From my post last year on March 23rd:

In Pakistan this day marks the passing of the Lahore Resolution. Republic Day of Pakistan was first observed in 1956 when Pakistan officially became an Islamic Republic (previously Pakistan had the status of a Dominion). The main events of this day include a full military parade and the awarding of honours at the Presidency (Presidential Palace) by the President. Every year, on March 23, the Pakistani people commemorate their National Day in remembrance of “The Pakistan Resolution” passed on March 23, 1940, in the historic city of Lahore which is also the day the country was declared a republic.

I was at Minto/Iqbal Park, Lahore on March 23rd this year for Lahore Agitprop Theatre performances (more on that here) and encountered a strange phenomena that I can inarticulately call a “moment” that changed my perception. And for a while, I didn’t feel cynical, bored or jaded. Perhaps it was the day itself, the space, the city, the performances and my students that created this amazing feeling. I am convinced that any other combination would not have worked.

These days all I feel is despair. The future seems bleak. I have no affiliations with any political party or their odious bullshit. I feel that I can do nothing; that I am helpless. Every day, I face people who are monstrous in their hate and ignorance. I work with such people; those who are teaching despite their ignorance and the vile poison they preach. I feel dejected and depressed. I don’t even remember what I believed in that brought me here.

But that moment at the park, I realized I was amused, delighted and moved. I am not jaded afterall. There is still work to be done. I don’t know how long this feeling with last but I intend to make the most of it. Maybe I should thank my students and colleagues with me that day. Maybe I should live in it for as long as I can.

Pakistan Zindabad

For what it’s worth, with 5 minutes left till it’s over, Happy Birthday Pakistan.

We Are Conformity

 

Ha! The work of an aspiring smart-ass

 

I might get your heart racing
In my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight

Conformity: 1. Correspondence in form or appearance 2. Acting according to certain accepted standards.

The space called art-school is an interesting construct. You can find all kinds of sub-cultures within this space. Justinian the Bieber illustrates such a reality. The dream of Success, or Love can also be found within this space. Individuals that bring with them the burden of various languages and cultures come together in this space to create the dream of the art-school.

Now all that might sound like a bunch of bull to most but I’ve been watching and learning. This particular art-school construct is far more interesting since it is a spin-off of a much older parent in a much more culturally laden city. This art-school exists in a city known for its military past and within a space where (important) people were assassinated. It’s a bubble inside a bigger bubble of fear and terror and everyday urban happenings. This art-school is an idea within many other ideas, guarded by barbed wire and barriers and bored security. This art-school is an anomaly yet it fits the idea too well sometimes.

Here the boys and girls from far-flung “remote areas” wear their skin-tight jeans and their bandannas and paint their faces and build dreams. Frankly, it overwhelms me sometimes. Another interesting take on this is here. Very interesting.

In trying to connect pop-culture with sub-culture and further with the idea of the art-school I’ve managed to draw no hard conclusions. The best I can do is observe and state what I see. This is a phenomenon that deserves further study as far as I am concerned. Also, it is very late at night and I am heavily medicated as usual. Hence, the random musing.

No Rulz

As always, amongst all the treasures on Murree Road, Rawalpindi, I found this:

No Rulz

No Rulz. This profundity brings to mind all kinds of possibilities:

  1. The word NO rules. Say NO to everything. Say NO to reason and sense. Say NO to education that would build a nation. Say NO to basic human rights. Say NO to decency and morality. Just say NO.
  2. Ignore RULES. They are for morons who want to be boring. On the road especially, ignore all the RULES of the road. Never indicate when you’re about to turn into a lane. Never brake at a red light. That’s just a dumb RULE for the safety of the countless morons on the road.  Get rid of all your mirrors and ride into the sunset. RULES are for no-good losers who want to live or want their children to live. Life is for losers and so are RULES.
  3. There are NO RULZ (NO RULES). No fucking way. Deny everything. It’s great to have NO RULZ. It’s great to be here – in this time and place with NO RULZ.

Yes. Exactly.

Resolution Day

In Pakistan this day marks the passing of the Lahore Resolution. Republic Day of Pakistan was first observed in 1956 when Pakistan officially became an Islamic Republic (previously Pakistan had the status of a Dominion). The main events of this day include a full military parade and the awarding of honours at the Presidency (Presidential Palace) by the President. Every year, on March 23, the Pakistani people commemorate their National Day in remembrance of “The Pakistan Resolution” passed on March 23, 1940, in the historic city of Lahore which is also the day the country was declared a republic.

From Wikipedia.

March 23, 1940

I have been thinking about March 23 and feeling very good about a holiday in the middle of the week. That should indicate what agonies my mind must be in at work and otherwise. A holiday in the middle of the week! I could jump for joy! But then the more serious part of my brain kicked in and reprimanded me (as usual) and I started thinking about Pakistan Day in another light. The truth is, I do love this country. Annoying as it is, it is my country. I was misguided as a younger person with falsehoods about it in Pakistan Studies in school. Then, as things started dawning on me, the love burned a hole in my heart – flawed as this nation (it’s people, mostly) might be, I feel compassion for it and – love and a strange kind of respect. I find myself standing whenever the national anthem plays anywhere – the same national anthem I lip-synched to as a child in school assembly, bored out of my mind. Things change. I am angry but not ashamed. My green passport does not shame me. It gives me grief but it does not shame me. I am Pakistani. I am not pakistanian, pakistilian or a paki. I am Pakistani.

The Minar-e-Pakistan

March 23rd was when when they decided that Pakistan should exist, right? I feel its a good day to make resolutions. Everyone can make their own Minar-e-Pakistan (if a 60 foot phallic monument works for you, so be it) and decide what it means to be Pakistani. I have some suggestions (just suggestions, people – not trying to impose. Also, they’re just my resolutions):

  1. Do not be ashamed. You might get treated like dirt when you travel out of the country, but do not feel ashamed. Hold your head up high like the Minar-e-Pakistan. The phallus shall prevail!
  2. Get misty-eyed whenever a national song or national anthem plays on the TV, radio, in a film or anywhere else. Make sure everyone notices your patriotic tearfulness. This will guilt-trip others to emulate your actions.
  3. Always tell people you are Pakistani. Don’t give in to provincial racism even if your heart makes you want to (oh, I know you want to).
  4. Speak in Urdu like you know it. Or, speak in any other Pakistani language (face it, we have a lot of languages but they’re all essentially Pakistani) like you know it.
  5. Love your country – it’s the only one you’ve got. Unless you have another one. But seriously, this is the only country I’ve got and I feel like I belong to it. Or rather, that it belongs to me.
  6. Take responsibility for being Pakistani. Which means you must try to do something about it – as long as it is peaceful.
  7. Art and culture are good – not haraam. Promote art and culture – they define us.
  8. Do something meaningful for the country and it’s people. That does not mean that you have to bomb the fuck out of it. It means you can teach tolerance and build trust and love and all that jazz.

The above might sound shallow in places but I’m in a funny mood. Food poisoning explains most of it. It might be my deranged mind’s attempt at humor. It could also be from a twisted kind of love for my land. In light of the current events in the country, it’s difficult to keep a straight-face or a straight-mind. And we just got hit by a small earthquake here in Islamabad. That usually turns me into a raving lunatic.

The Dispossessed

(Yes, I stole the title from Ursula LeGuin)

I’m thinking about going home from work and I get an sms – Murree Road is blocked due to protests. Yesterday, when Shahbaz Bhatti (the Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs) was shot and killed, there were burning tires on Murree Road. Today, the road is completely blocked. And my reaction was “oh well, now what?” And then, I thought what the hell? What is happening to me? What do I feel? The truth is, I don’t know what to feel.

Dispossessed: Physically or spiritually homeless or deprived of security.

I don’t know where my soul lives anymore. Sometimes, I feel tired. Sometimes, I feel afraid. And sometimes, I feel NOTHING. And even that tires me.