Saadia is sick of the trash on TV
The Friday Times, 18th June
We live in exciting times. Trying times, but exciting (not that I’m a big fan of the Pakistani brand of excitement). After my rant last week on Lahore setting itself on fire with the May 28 attacks, Karachi and its cousins began to drown. Yes, even the burgers at Clifton and Defence! My beautiful cities, this is not a competition, stop trying to one-up each other!
For the last few weeks, my father’s hair has gone from grey to white, my mother has elongated her prayers, and I have become a compulsive frowner. Pakistani media, I am frowning in your general direction. Thought I don’t know yet if it’s an angry frown or a bemused one.
I couldn’t fix Pakistan’s troubles but I could turn off my brain for a bit (selfish, I know). So from Tuesday to Thursday, I subjected myself to an anti-social experiment to try and prove the “no news is good news” maxim. I would block out the media from my life and see if my frown lines ease up; maybe my outrage would drop from clinically-insane to only shouting-at-the-TV-nuts. This sloppy experiment was quite oxymoronic to begin with, seeing that I wrote for a weekly newspaper.
Day one and I was already missing City 42 reports of Lahori sheep getting kidnapped by Lahori police in sheep’s clothing who were in cahoots with some mafia don of Samnabad. I decided to catch up with the latest Punjabi soaps. For the next two hours I soaked in daughters running away with men from the enemy tribe, sons running away to the city, mothers running to the hospital weeping over shot husbands, and husbands just sitting on their charpoys demanding chaa. Inspired, I tortured my mother with broken Punjabi all day and bought myself a canary yellow kameez like the female protagonist of the drama, and a pair of sunglasses to be able to look at myself in the mirror when I wore it.
Of course my friends shook their heads just like they do at my other less successful suggestions of social experiments including; writing a book about their food filled Lahori lives, driving around Lahore with Pahsto music blaring through open windows, and a sit-in protest against government tyranny where we sit in the nearest McDonalds. No one was allowed to say a word about the news to me. Thus without being able to throw around words like Rana Sanaullah, Phet, Zionist conspiracy, and nail color (Express News did a report on this; true story), company quickly dispersed after a fifteen minute discussion on whether my yellow shirt was radioactive or installed with an LED light source.
By Thursday, I was really bored. I found that national disasters kept me on my toes. I was tired, and blank. From being a compulsive frowner I had become a compulsive shrugger. The morning paper lay a foot away in my office; I couldn’t have reached it if I wanted to. I just shrugged at it. Finally my boss hit me on the head with a rolled up Friday Times (from last week), blurted out the day’s headlines as I clutched at my ears in agony, and told me get back to work. I obsessed over Talat Hussain and the flotilla for the next ten minutes, frowned, and then wrote this frivolous article. A colleague looked this article and frowned very very hard.
This is contagious.
Tomorrow’s news is going to clog my arteries. How is your cholesterol?