Superstitions – What makes us scream everytime a black cat crosses our path?

April 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm (Uncategorized)

“Mahhhruuukhhh!!!” my friend said reproachfully, her eyes wide open with alarm. She was seated across me on the computer chair while I was sprawled on my bed, cutting and filing my nails (which, in my case, is a very rare show of feminine-like nature).

“What?” I stared back at her with a blank expression. My mind immediately recounted the last few minutes; did I honor my time-old tradition of stupidity and commit another faux pas? Or did she suddenly remember that she had a report to submit, that too by the very next day, and thus wanted to embroil me in the chaotic mess that would inevitably follow of drafting it – ‘just for the sake of our friendship’? (and yes, that HAS happened)

“What did you just do?” the expression of incredulity had still not left her face. I looked around, trying to figure out what she was pointing at. “What did I do?” I answered, completely bewildered.

“You just threw your nail cuttings into the trash, didn’t you?” She replied, crossing her arms across her chest with now an expression typical of a strict schoolteacher. It bore such resemblance that I wouldn’t have been surprised if she took out a ruler and slapped my wrists a couple of times.

“Yeah, so?” I said, still trying to comprehend what had irked her so much.

Her eyes opened wider at my, obviously ignorant, reply. (I’d like to think that they resembled the eyes of Tweety Bird from the Sylvester & Tweety cartoons. I kept that observation to myself though). “So?? Don’t you know what that could do??” Her arms flailed wildly in the air at this statement, in an attempt to help me grasp the magnitude of my mistake.

“What?? They’re just a bunch of nail cuttings!” I replied, slightly miffed after realizing the cause for such fuss. If this was going to be one of her melodramatic ‘I-need-to-be-heard!” episodes, then that’s it, she’s not getting a piece of the Nando’s chocolate fudge cake my mom had kept for us in the fridge. (Whaat? She needs to lose weight anyway)

“Oh yeah, you wouldn’t be saying that if you knew the consequences of your actions!” she retorted. And then, her eyes gleamed as she said, “Your nails will go brittle and weak, they will develop a terrible fungus and soon die, leaving you with nail-less fingers!” She rounded off the argument with a gruesome picture of the possible results that would be brought about by my naivety, and then, having fulfilled her duty, settled back into her chair with a satisfied smile.

I looked at her for a long moment, then turned to look at the pile of nail cuttings I had just thrown into the trash, and then I looked back at her again. I wanted to ask her: How could something so trivial, so utterly mundane, have such far-reaching repercussions? I mean, its unfathomable! Unfortunately, my friend’s behavior is a reflection of the mindset of the general population. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, there’s no telling which particular action has the potential to invoke an outcry from the people around you. In fact, some of these superstitions have been naturally ingrained into us through our upbringing as children, only to be shattered to pieces once we finally reach adulthood. Imagine my shock when, after reading an article about certain medical myths, I found out that the white mark that normally appears on our nails is not a result of a lack of calcium but actually caused by some nail injury or undue pressure applied to the nail. (*Mother shrugs sheepishly*: “Well, there was no other way to get you to drink your glass of milk every morning!”) Not to mention the farce delivered to me whenever I made a face at something I didn’t like;

“If you keep making faces like that, someday you’re going to end up looking like that for the rest of your life!”

Not wanting to be stuck with possible disfigurement, I obliged. Only to find out later on in life that there was no such thing; the muscles on a human face do NOT get jammed when faced with certain twists and turns. (And to think, all the times I got pulled into doing things I didn’t like, I could have easily gotten out of them had I made my disdain for them apparent…hmph).

And of course, let’s not forget the oh-so-common story that has remained paramount throughout everybody’s childhoods — the ants-will-devour-your-teeth-if-you-don’t-brush-your-teeth-after-having-something-sweet story. The purpose could just as well be served by providing an explanation on the harmful effects of tooth decay, namely cavities and plaque, caused by a lack of brushing; but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. That wouldn’t be even half as interesting! Plus it wouldn’t have the necessary impact (which is basically scaring an innocent child half to death). Never mind if the child, out of sheer fright and being scared out of her wits, resolves to determinedly keep her mouth shut throughout the night so as to make sure that no ants enter her mouth without her knowing. (Did I mention that I was extremely gullible as a child?)

If truth be told, superstitions are actually perceptions created within the vestiges of the mind that hinder us from having life’s experiences. Some people have allowed such superstitions to dictate virtually every action they perform, even if it is a task as mundane as going to the local supermarket to buy groceries. Letting that happen is allowing yourself to be bound by things that probably wouldn’t affect you at all if you choose to not think about them. Mostly, the superstitions that we have become so accustomed to are actually the perceptions or random observations of people who wanted to gain attention or who had a lot of time on their hands. Having said that, there is a fine line between heresay and faith.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go burn green chillies in order to bless the arrival of our new car. =P

Until next time, ciao. 😉

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Silence in the Cinema

January 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm (Uncategorized)

” — she didn’t hear the door of her bedroom creak open slowly. A masked figure entered the room and without a moment’s hesitation, headed towards the bathroom. He slowly opened the door, unsheathing the dagger from his jacket pocket as he did so. The girl completely oblivious to what was happening barely two feet away from her, continued to hum her favorite song as she washed away the last traces of shampoo from her hair. The masked figure could easily see the outline of her body through the shower curtains; he then poised himself for the strike. Creeping forward, he slowly lifted the dagger high above his head, aimed it at the girl and then………”

CRRUUNNCCHH!!!

I was brought crashing back to reality when the guy sitting behind me, wearing a baseball cap sideways, munched loudly on a bag of chips while simultaneously reaching over to his friend sitting two seats to his right, loudly exclaimed: Did you check out the girl?? Man, she was sooo HOT!!”

I rolled my eyes at this obvious display of reckless male hormones at play and tried, albeit a little miffed, to concentrate on what was happening on screen. To my right, a group of 5-6 girls apparently found something really amusing about the point where the victim was being slaughtered to death as they were continuously giggling and snickering without even a pause. Each action triggered another round of uninhibited giggling and small squeals of laughter to the point where i turned in my seat and said firmly:”hey listen, could you please keep it down? i’m trying to watch a movie here.” I figured they didn’t take too kindly to that comment because as soon as i turned back, i heard one of them whisper: “Sheesh! what’s HER problem??”

I don’t know if anybody else has encountered this kind of experience in the cinema or if anybody is even remotely bothered by it but i surely am. I don’t want to appear as a party pooper but honestly, is a simple, uninterrupted and completely uneventful night out at the movies too much to ask? Gone are the days when families and groups of friends would actually plan an evening out at the cinema, not just for the sake of a good time but to enjoy a really good movie which normally had a good storyline, incredible acting and great cinematography. My parents would echo this sentiment time and time again, rounding it off with the typical statement “aaj kal ke generation tou yeh samajhti hi nai hai!”. Many a times I would find myself shaking my head with them, the same expression of distress etched across my face..( now now, don’t get any ideas.. i’m only 24.) Nowadays movie outings are rarely remembered for the movies screened, but rather for the experiences encountered with other cinema goers. A child’s incessant ramblings during the most interesting part of a movie, a man’s phone continuously ringing, teenage girls and boys whispering and snickering are but a few examples. I remember watching the movie ‘Singh is King’  in the cinema; the movie could’ve proven to be one of my most memorable and enjoyable outings had it not been marred by two particular attendees who got into a bit of a row with each other; apparently one guy had the audacity of putting his feet up on the front row seat, treating it like a floor cushion. The other guy understandably didn’t exactly appreciate the intense proximity of a smelly shoe beside him and hence proceeded to raise a hue and cry. Later on, my parents asked whether I enjoyed the movie. I replied: “oh well, it was a bit hard to judge amidst the swinging of fists and loud cussing, but I heard little snippets of the song and it sounded pretty nice.

Heck, I can almost empathize with this guy…..



….. although I wouldn’t want a risk like that to be breathing down my neck.. haha! get it? risk, breathing down…aah, never mind.

However, to be fair, this is, thankfully, not prevalent in every cinema house in Karachi. I went to see the latest movie, Avatar, in one of Karachi’s oldest cinemas; Nishat Cinema. Except for a few hoots and whistles emitting from the crowd during an intimate scene between the leading hero and heroine, (its at times like these when I feel proud to be Pakistani), the rest of the movie was watched without any unpleasant interruptions. In fact, I was witness to several cheers and claps of support during the most riveting parts of the movie, when the Na’avi race has to safeguard its homeland against the human invaders. I can safely say after this experience that I can re-think my vow never to enter a cinema house in Karachi again.

until next time, ciao. =)

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Be afraid…. be VERY afraid!

October 31, 2009 at 6:36 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s that time of the year again. As soon as darkness falls, the streets shall be filled greasly goons and ghoulish figures, slithering and sliding about in search of their next victim. No, no, the world has not been taken over by zombies nor have the undead run amok in the neighborhood; this is actually an annual festival that has been celebrated for the past many centuries – Halloween.

250px-Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31 Although Halloween is regarded as a Christian festival, traces of it can be located here in our part of the world as well and ironically enough, it is mostly popular amongst adults. Private costume parties where people can enter dressed in the wackiest or scariest attire they can think of are scattered throughout the city. Although this particular festival is not as popular and widespread as our main or major Muslim festivals such as Eid or Basant, however it is rapidly gaining momentum.

Halloween is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain which means “summer’s end”.The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm.

Just the other day i was reading a magazine in which one of the articles covered the ’10 most haunted places of the world’. This heading caught my eye, therefore i decided to read further. The place that made the No. 1 spot was none other than The Amityville House, Long Island, New York.

On November 13, 1974, 24 year old Ronald Defeo, using a high powered rifle, shot his parents and his four siblings as they slept. Defeo said he committed the murders because he heard voices and presumed that God was talking to him.However much of the legend about the house comes from George and Kathy Lutz who moved into the house with their four children a year later. They left 28 days later however, claiming that the house was haunted. The Lutzes said they experienced a great deal of paranormal activity: doors were ripped off of hinges, windows flew open, a swarm of flies materialized out of nowhere, and a crucifix hung on a wall revolved until it was hanging upside down. Mrs. Lutz says she levitated several times.Both the Lutz family and their priest stated that each time the priest tried to help the family, he ended up with bleeding blisters on his hands. They also said their phone calls were often interrupted by strange sounds.

Other incidents which the family members claimed to have experienced included the sounds of a German march band tuning up and their 5 year old daughter Missy befriending a demonic pig like creature with red eyes named “Jodie”. Although many skeptics have disregarded the Lutz family’s recounts calling it a publicity stunt and have concluded the entire story to be a hoax, yet the house still holds the wonder of anyone who either reads or hears about it.

So the next time you hear something go bump in the night, there are two possibilities; either the noise is a figment of your imagination or there really is some sinister presence somewhere very, very near you.

Sweet dreams everybody. =)

until next time, ciao. =)

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“Weight, weight go away; come again…………NEVER!” =P

October 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm (Uncategorized)

We’re all familiar with the issue of weight gain; its one of those topics that can never be exhausted – you can talk over and over about it and yet still gain a new perspective each time you do talk about it. Weight gain is like chewing gum (or as we say in Pakistan, “bubble”) stuck to the back of your shoe or that annoying frandshipper on Facebook; neither lets go easily until and unless you make active efforts to remove it permanently.

Although there is pretty much a unanimous agreement on restricting weight gain, there are, however, two schools of thought regarding the method to weight loss. Just the other day, i was sitting with two of my friends in our university cafeteria. One of my friends was complaining about how difficult it was to maintain weight and how, no matter how much dieting she did, she’d always gain the extra weight back. My other friend was trying to convince her that dieting was not the answer, that one should eat everything and then try to burn the calories by exercising. Contrary to normal behavior (where i tune out and instead daydream about ‘Jim’ from ‘The Office’), i decided to participate in the conversation by saying that both were, in a way, instrumental to losing weight because it ensured that one got all the proteins and nutrients required while at the same time eliminating all the fatty acids. Both of them fell silent and glared at me; one of them retorted, “You’re one to talk! You don’t even need to lose weight! in fact, just the opposite!”. And with that, my banishment from the topic of discussion was made final. Sigh. Alright, so i am thin. That doesn’t mean that i don’t care about weight gain! The amount of time i spend in front of the mirror, turning from side to side to make sure whether the shirt i’ve worn is appropriate or not is proof of that. Yet i am powerless; my will power crumbles when the aroma of pasta oozing cheese sauce reaches me or when a perfectly shaped chocolate bar is placed before me. I’ve never been on a diet in my life, therefore when faced with the prospect of having to give up the foods that i love in exchange for a meal that is fit for a mountain goat, i break out in a cold sweat.

I haven’t had much luck with exercise either. It is during that time when, along with my enthusiasm, my clumsiness goes to its highest level; i am no longer just a danger to myself but am now also a danger to the people around me. Once in my excitement to try my hand at badminton, i accidentally hit my partner in the face with the shuttlecock. Towards the latter part of the game, the top part of my racket flew ahead of me, just stopping short of my opponents feet. Needless to say, i haven’t picked up a racket since.

More often than not, i just don’t seem to possess the stamina. Two flights of stairs are enough to make me pant like a dog. I remember once i had enrolled for a trial  exercise program at one of the gyms in Singapore. I was put in the responsibility of a personal trainer on my very first day. I should’ve seen it coming; he was Chinese and that race is known to work their butts off to excel in every phase of life, physically and mentally. That guy made me do push ups, sit ups, stomach crunches and leg muscle exercises all within the span of two hours. By the time i came home, i had only enough strength to drag myself to my cousin’s room and collapse on her bed, unable to even lift a finger. I knew my cousin would throw a fit considering i had managed to transfer my body sweat to her bed covers but i was just too tired to care.

So yeah, i guess i shouldn’t talk on the subject. I can barely hold my own when it comes to a piece of chocolate cake, neither am i motivated enough to enroll myself in a gym and dance to Paula Abdul exercise videos. But common sense (which is beginning to get scarce nowadays what with numerous talk shows blasting the same rhetoric over and over) suggests that a diet combined with a satisfactory exercise routine is the key towards lasting weight loss. A proper diet consisting of all the vital ingredients needed to stay healthy while keeping the harmful food items to a minimum together with a proper exercise regimen designed to increase stamina as well as reduce flabbiness is an effort guaranteed to make one lose weight, maintain it over a period of time and also feel good about oneself without having to suffer cravings from time to time.

However different methods suit different people. Some are comfortable in starving themselves to the limit, while others are more at ease when hitting the treadmill 10 times a day. Me? i was thinking of curbing my urge to have a chocolate bar every now and then and also giving a headstart to my walk routine….. soon. *munches on a bag of chips*

until next time, ciao.  =)

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Evil stepmother: “Who’s the fairest of them all? oh heck, i’ll just post it as a poll on Facebook.” =P

September 26, 2009 at 11:59 am (Uncategorized)

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Social networking sites have now become a household name the world over. In fact, one cannot imagine the Internet without social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and Twitter. Gone are the times when the departure of a loved one or close friend to a far off place (more often the other side of the planet) would herald the end of a relationship or friendship due to lack of proper channels of communication except post (which we all know, in the case of Pakistan is very…ahem, ‘reliable’) and phone calls (which would cost an entire fortune for just one minute of talk time). Provided that both these means of communication have improved immensely over time, yet the convenience from communicating through social networking sites is unparalleled. All one has to do is create an account on one of these sites, search and add all close friends and family to their list of contacts and then type away! Geo-political borders disappear and people are allowed to interact comfortably as if they were sitting just rooms apart.

Communication is not the only thing that these sites are offering: Facebook has hundreds of applications or ‘apps’ as they’re more commonly known where users can either create their own virtual farm, take quizzes ranging from the best hairstyle to which ‘Friends’ character they most resemble, compete with each other in the mafia don arena on the basis of the most hits and kills and participate in best friends contests; Twitter allows users to express their views and opinions on a variety of issues and topics thus also creating room for discussion between like-minded individuals; Flickr is a site entirely devoted to movies where polls are created and posted, encouraging users to vote for their favorite movie, scene or dialogue. All of these are just a fraction of the services and entertainment facilities provided, thus people can rest assured that whatever time they’ll spend in front of the computer, it’ll be time well spent.

All the benefits and advantages of such sites notwithstanding, there have been certain problems associated with them, some minor, others major. Orkut suffered from some major privacy issues where users were bothered and pestered to no end by stalkers and perverts; also certain sites like Facebook and MySpace, although through no fault of their own, have been subjected to negative publicity because of certain incidents where teenagers have instigated each other with threats and accusations resulting in violent and tragic consequences.

On the lighter side though, they may be a source of entertainment for some and yet a nuisance for others. For example, on Facebook, the number of notifications about how many ‘ribbons’ a person has won or how many neighbors one has helped or how that person has been labeled a ‘Tree Hugger’ due to the maximum amount of trees that person has planted clutter your news feed to such a large extent that there’s no room left for anything else. The variety of quizzes that are created also tend to tickle your funny bone or drive you to the point of exasperation. Quizzes such as, “What Friends character are you?” or “If you looked just like your personality, what would you look like?” are just some of the examples. It is rather interesting to point out that the results for such quizzes are more or less the same; probably that’s the general motive behind such quizzes, to please the user to the point where he/she would tell all her friends about it and urge them to try it. Another quirky aspect of which, unfortunately, i am also a victim of is the ‘Add a Friend Syndrome’ (like the name? i just made it up! =P) Certain people feel that the best way to appear on the top in popularity polls is to add every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally or Jane he/she may have come across or came even close to interacting with in his/her lifetime. This can be pretty misleading as the added friend in question may experience a sudden boost to his/her deflated self-esteem as he/she may think that if such a person decided to grace him/her with their presence then there must be something about him/her that it is worth celebrating about. It is only once the initial adrenaline and excitement has died down that one realizes that such was not the case; this normally results in further withdrawing into one’s shell or drowning one’s grief  with a bottle of Sprite or Pepsi (since we don’t serve wine around here =P)

In the end it depends on how you perceive it. The following video successfully managed to put forward a number of things which i found unnecessary or just plain weird. =P Enjoy!

until next time, ciao. =)

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Disney buys Marvel!! =O

September 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm (Uncategorized)

Just when you thought that the world couldn’t get any weirder, when  you thought that the term ‘irony’ was something people only used when discussing politics or current affairs, POOF! something hits you in the face so hard that you’re left reeling and wondering whether you could invent a time machine to help you go back in time to a point when things were a lot simpler.

On August 31st 2009, The Walt Disney company bought Marvel Entertainment for around $4 billion in what was basically a stock and cash transaction. Under the deal, Disney gains control of more than 5,000 Marvel characters, and Marvel gains their massive marketing infrastructure.

Here’s what the big shots heading both companies are saying about the venture:

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories.”

Now there could be a number of viewpoints and opinions attributed to this particular development considering it directly concerns the future of Marvel’s fan base.  I think my opinion can be best explained through the following video:

The House of Ideas meets the Magic Kingdom. sigh

until next time, ciao. =)

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Miss Meera Jee! =D

September 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm (Uncategorized)

Celebrities thrive on attention. After all the reason they got into showbiz was to be famous ; thus they take their popularity very seriously. Landing much sought after roles in big films or even appearing in cameos in others are just a few examples. Making an appearance on the red carpet for the premiere of some awards show or movie, becoming brand ambassador for every products ranging from watches to toothpaste, appearing as judges for talent shows, even creating a reality show which centers around their own personality (case in point: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie for ‘A Simple Life’; where Paris’s eloquent description of everything revolved around just two words: “That’s hot!” =P) are many of the other activities that celebrities undertake in order to remain in the news.

The above mentioned options notwithstanding, one then wonders when certain less desirable news items involving certain celebrities begin to occupy the airwaves. Publicity stunt or a series of unfortunate events? It is hard to tell considering the sheer determination with which the media devours such stories and then regurgitates it in a form which mostly propagates their opinion and perception of the whole affair. However, in a country like Pakistan where the film stars are probably as shrewd and cunning as the number of journalists and reporters of the media are, one is at a loss for words. =)

News of Meera’s sudden change in marital status hit the airwaves around 10 to 15 days ago. News channels had images of the so-called nikah ceremony plastered on all the television screens of the country. Then the inevitable blame game began with accusations and allegations being hurled from both parties; the ‘husband’ claiming that the both of them had exchanged the sacred vows of marriage after which Meera did an about face leaving him in the lurch while Meera vehemently denying the existence of such a pact and therefore willing to bet her parents’ lives as well as her own career if she were to be proved wrong. (pretty bold statement if you ask me). Such developments in the media tend to leave a person confused and thus ask himself/herself these questions:

  • Why is the media still offering so much coverage to the whole affair 10 to 15 days since it came into notice?
  • Why in the world is Meera denying the marriage ever took place when images of them signing the nikahnama are circulating the media circuit?
  • Big question: What in the world did that guy see in Meera?? =P

Now let’s be fair. By taking an unbiased, unprejudiced and impartial view of things, one can judge and therefore determine that there are actually a number of reasons supporting the opinion that Meera is the victim. Can we guarantee that the  pictures taken of the nikah ceremony were not forged? hmmmm, debatable. Can we guarantee that the exchange of e-mails between Meera and the man who claims to be her husband was authentic? hmmmmm, questionable.(Although the English of the e-mail written on behalf of Meera was uncannily similar to the painful tirade she normally launches into whenever she gets the chance. William Shakespeare must be turning in his grave).  However one thing is for certain; the way Meera is handling the entire situation is not characteristic of a sensible and rational human being. Purporting one version of the events that transpired at one time and then completely taking a 180 degree turn and claiming an entirely different version has somewhat become a habit of Meera’s over the past few days. For whatever reason that she may be doing this, it is surely not helping her case as her inconsistency in explanations is overshadowing whatever amount of credibility she did possess at that point.

In the end, one is left down-hearted and disillusioned with these people as they are supposed to be representatives of their professions, yet they are conducting themselves so irresponsibly. Footage of Meera first fervently denying that such a development took place, then when asked about her views about the pictures of her nikah ceremony presented as evidence to the media, her immediate claim that she wasn’t feeling well accompanied by her request to the reporter to shut off the camera ( which they didn’t and which turned out to be a severe ethics violation on behalf of the news network) and then her shameless plead to the reporter to present a positive view of her case in the most vulgar way possible are enough to make any rational person shake his head in dismay.

Conclusively, whether the story is true, sensationalized or completely false is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for certain; the phrase “what you see is what you get” holds no value in the media domain anymore.

Below are the videos of Meera’s ‘antics’ and ‘expeditions’. Enjoy! =)

until next time, ciao. =)

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Reality drama: reality not only bites, but it also reaps in a hell lot of profits.

September 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm (Uncategorized)

There used to be a time when simplicity used to reign in the television circuit; a normal day would consist of a series of cooking shows, talk shows on current affairs and soap operas. Sure, the soap operas were a bit over the top (ladies’ faces caked with makeup, lame cliched dialogues and never ending episodes devoted to certain conniving characters who have nothing better to do than plot and conspire against the main character who possesses such an angelic like demeanor that it’s to the point of being absolutely ridiculous) but one could take comfort in the fact that television, in general, is mainly a source of entertainment and although we may not like certain aspects of it, yet largely it helps us get through the day. Thus we were content.

However, big shots at certain production houses began to think otherwise. They thought that many areas of the media horizon were yet unexplored and that such areas held immense potential. If they were able to tap into them, they would become millionaires. Thus the concept of  ‘Reality TV’ was born. Now here was something new for the viewers to devour. Instead of pre-determined stories and scripted dialogues, people will now get a chance to see participants ‘react’ to certain situations that are thrust upon them. Gives a whole new meaning to the following phrase, doesn’t it?

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and yet some have greatness thrust upon them

Now viewers can see people similar to who they are tread a path full of obstacles in the quest to achieve greatness and make a name for themselves. In other words, viewers can easily ‘relate’ to the participants. Therefore these kind of programs do provide some appealing entertainment.

However due to the fantastic response received by their audience, creators of such shows are now exploring every available avenue for something which they can project to their viewers and in doing so they are looking, to say the very least, quite desperate. For example, a show which is currently being aired on Star World by the name of ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?’ Why everyday people who have stable jobs and stable lives risk public humiliation by coming on national television and fumble around for answers to 5th grade questions is beyond comprehension. Upon first arriving on stage, their chins are high and with puffed chests they announce to everyone that going through this competition would be a piece of cake for them as they were A+ students back in grade school. What image they project at the end of the show is anybody’s guess.

Then there’s another series which surely pushes the envelope; ever heard of ‘America’s Greatest Dog’? Now you can get the chance to see a number of dog owners subject their canine counterparts to the greatest humiliation and embarrassment. Yes it’s a sad day in Poochie Land. Beneath all the frills and glitter, i am sure there is a poor, unconfident canine, who suffers from such immense low self esteem and inferiority complex that it may not possess the energy to bark in protest.

Even our own country, Pakistan has not been able to escape from this reality drama mania. ‘Maachis’ proves to be a good example in this case. Now we are no strangers to televised court dramas; in fact such scenarios ensure immediate justice which are a blessing especially in our case where the judicial system is in dire straits. However even these have been corrupted by adding spice and masala to attract the audience into watching certain families show their dirty laundry in public. Such shows are being shown with shameless abandon. From start to finish, the show is engulfed with shouts of allegations and accusations from both sides with the host’s voice sounding as loud as the participants’ voices and thus causing you to keep your television volume to the bear minimum. In short, it can be called our very own Jerry Springer show. The only difference is that instead of showing images of gays and lesbians making out on stage, one sees images of people belonging to the same family but at odds with each other over a certain issue and thus persistently trying to drown the other person’s voice.

Unfortunately due to the lack of check and control on behalf of the authorities with regard to the proper operation and procedures of such reality television shows, sometimes the producers of such shows in their greed for more profits tend to cross the line. And sadly, many times the cost associated with such greedy and selfish pursuits is too high and completely irreversible. Case in point: Saad Khan’s untimely death due to the excessive danger he had to face in a certain reality show sponsored by Unilever. As part of the exercise, he had to carry a load weighing a couple of tons on his back and swim across a river within the time limit allotted to him. During the task, he began to face some difficulty keeping his head above the water. Other contestants standing ashore watched in horror as he disappeared underwater and never emerged. Unilever accepted no liability for Khan’s death.The company is in discussions to provide for Khan’s wife and four children “out of rightness”. Having said that, it is evident how dangerous such shows can become. Such shows are the manifestation of the greed and selfishness of certain producers who are always on the lookout for higher ratings which can be translated into higher profits. i believe there is no way the death of a family member could be compensated for. Gluttony has reared its ugly head for all to see this time.

To give an idea of how ridiculous reality shows have become, the following video should put things into perspective. =)

until next time, ciao. =)

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Early bird catches the worm… (poor worm didn’t see it coming)

September 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm (Uncategorized)

We, as a nation, pride ourselves on being fashionably late. In fact, if any of us were asked the question : ‘Why don’t we make the effort of coming early for a change?‘, instead of hanging our heads and shame and trying, in vain, to mumble out that our car broke down or that there was too much traffic on the road, we contort our expressions to look mortified at the audacity of such a query and then proceed to say: ‘This is PAKISTAN! nothing starts on time here!’ . This is especially true of weddings; gone are the days when marriage was considered as a celebration of the union of two souls as witnessed by Allah and both families. Nowadays, the concept of shaadis has changed altogether; it is now considered the mother of all social gatherings; a competition of sorts where all fashionistas collect and determine which has the best dance floor, the best decor, the best seating arrangement, etc.

If the invitation for arrival is written as 9:00 p.m on the invitation card, then people take it to mean 10:00 or even 10:30. Ask anybody and they shall recount the nightmarish experience they wish they could easily forget of the time when they decided to adhere to the rarely-applied principles of punctuality and came early, only to find that even the hosts themselves hadn’t bothered to arrive by that time.

Mehndis are even worse; people don’t bother coming before 11:00 p.m because they know the real fun won’t start before that. The poor, ignorant souls who, by mistake, did come early now have to bear with the pace of the proceedings as the sequence of events is so numerous that dinner may not be served til before 1:00 a.m!

This love affair with lateness and delay is, sadly, not only confined to wedding functions. Remember the times when we used to attend school; when we’d be getting ready for assembly, out of the corner of our eyes we were always bound to see a number of kids standing at the gate, shuffling their feet and muttering under their breath (probably cursing the van driver for not waiting for him) and wondering what fate awaited them in the principal’s office once the assembly was over. These kids were permanently branded as ‘latecomers‘; people who had no respect for deadlines and who were considered to be tardy.

Recently a news item appeared which stated that offices in New Delhi were implementing the use of biometric scanners in order to ensure that their employees reached their workplaces on time. The scanners required employees to scan their fingerprints at the time they entered the office. The scanner would then record the time of the scan. If the employee came late 3 days in a row, he would have to give up one day off as punishment.

Hmmm… one wonders what would happen if the same device was introduced in our workplaces?

Employee *frantically checking his watch as he enters building*: “oh man! today im screwed! the boss is definitely gonna fire me!”

*proceeds towards scanner*

*scanner beeps out message*: “scan taken at 11:15 a.m”

Employee *groans*: “ugghh!! dammit! how do i get this off the record??….hmmmmm…..”

*lightbulb shines overhead*

*looks around to see if anybodys watching and then pours water all over the scanner*

scanner: *crack* *POP!* fizzle*

Employee *mock indignation*: “oh dear! look what happened! now now, not worry people; i shall get it fixed in a jiffy!”

*runs off with it*

(1 hour later)

Boss: “Saleem! Did you get that scanner fixed or not?!”

Employee: “yes sir i had taken it to the shop to get it fixed but its completely beyond repair!”

Boss: “what?! that thing cost a fortune!! why?? whats wrong with it??”

Employee: “Sir, its a chinese model!”

until next time, ciao. =)

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Ban on Indian films in Pakistan — AGAIN!

August 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm (Uncategorized)

its funny how your mind tends to wander when you have more pressing issues to attend (hmmm, i don’t remember but i think it starts with an ‘E’ and involves writing like a maniac on paper..), but i guess its human nature to get distracted easily. in between paying more attention than was necessary to what people were wearing and noticing one-of-a-kind phrases etched on almost all the buses, rikshaws, tankers and motorcycles of the city (one motorbike in particular was sporting the phrase in bright red and in block letters, “DON’T TUCH ME!”…. yeah, im sure no one would wanna touch this guy with a ten-foot flagpole after reading this), i also came across a program being aired on Express News (anything to get away from studying right?). it was hosted by Mubashir Lucman and his guest on the show was none other than Shaan; the gandasa wielding king of Punjabi films. The topic of discussion was the banning of the release of Indian movies in Pakistan; apparently there’s been a lot of hullabulloo about it since the issue has been raised in the National Assembly by a minister.

i guess the only compliment i can give to Shaan here is that he was looking really good with his clear-cut shave and broad shoulders. other than that, he was reflecting just how low you can get to protect your bread and butter, or in this case; fancy sports cars, designer items and what not. When asked why he thought Indian films should be banned he replied: “Indian films are a threat to the values that we have been brought up with; the images of women scantily-clad and bearing their skin is something we should not encourage!”

……..uh huuuhhhh..riiiiiigghhtt. so that means that Shaan is considering himself to be the forerunner of the values we stand for. that means the images of a heavy set woman who is WAY beyond the age of acting as a lead heroine making ungainly moves in a way to seduce her lover (*shudder*) who, by the way, has his mouth set in a permanently fixed frown that makes him look constipated is a PERFECT representative example of our culture and value system. ohh yeaah riight. that makes a WHOLE lot of sense.

And it seemed that at that point, Shaan was just getting warmed up. He was consumed with his dislike (to put it mildly) for films coming from across the border. He began complaining about the lack of support he gets from the public for his movies: “People come up to me and they complain, ‘Why do you always star in Punjabi movies?’. i asked that person where he hailed from. He replied, ‘Punjab’. i then told him that i am making these movies for people like him. after all, if you don’t find anything Punjabi in the province of Punjab, how can it be called Punjab??”

ohhh i get it. so you’re making movies for the people of Punjab ONLY. so that means that the people belonging to the remaining provinces have absolutely no say in the matter of what they prefer to see or watch. oh and if you think this is what most Punjabis want out of their movie industry, then you have another think coming………..they’re just as embarrassed as the rest of us!!

probably the most annoying part of the entire show was the way the host was playing the role of ‘yes-man’ for his guest. He was agreeing with practically everything Shaan said. in fact he even had the audacity to tell off a caller for not appreciating Shaan’s views and to see a few Pakistani Punjabi movies himself!!

All i can say is that the media should re-think their stand on being the symbol of free expression, or better yet, hang up their prestigious title or trophy on a mantle, because this completely goes against what they claim to stand for. Freedom of expression is all about freedom of choice. If we claim to be a democracy, that means that each one of us as an individual is entitled to his/her own opinion and also has a right to choose. We watch most Indian movies because we like them for their stories, comedy, action sequences, etc. (although India too has its share of over-the-top, ridiculous, gravity-defying stunts). Enforcing a ban only shows how insecure the Pakistani film industry is and to give the pretext that certain Indian films are corrupting our value system while simultaneously our own films are enough to make even the most seasoned movie watcher bow down his head in shame, is not only absurd but laughable.

my opinion is that in order to safeguard our value system from these ‘threats’, first make our value system stronger. if the youth have stronger morals, values and regard for their culture inculcated in them then there would be no need to worry because they would be able to differentiate between what is good and what is bad. Secondly, it is important to take a good, long look at oneself before judging others.

i rest my case. =P

i rest my case. =P

until next time, ciao. =)

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