So you want a bad boy.

If you ask any dimwit of a girl today, she will have a variety of renditions and adjectives to attribute to her interpretation of a figmental “bad boy” she aspires to date. Liking the bad boy types is the new trend, making it difficult for the men who were raised to cultivate harmony, as well as contributing to overall social discord. Somewhere along the line, we started to believe that a “rebel” was someone who gave way under peer pressure to things such as drugs and uncivilized, abusive behavior; forgetting the fact that the real rebels are the one who stay up all night studying, despite the colossal amount of peer pressure and alienation they have to face in lieu of their grotesque, nerdy behavior.

However, I digress. Let’s ask why, in the first place, women are attracted to the conventional bad boy.

As logic will have it, women would want to avoid being abused and brutalized. Girls typically equate vulgar behavior to a man’s masculinity, and hence his earning power. Even if you don’t believe in evolution, you’ll have to admit that our ancestors didn’t put food on the table by being kind gentlemen who held doors for people and stayed at home with their pet birds. Their survival was dependent on how brutal they were. So it’s possible that women are naturally, genetically, attracted to the man that lives up to Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

And how is that working out in 2013?

The average girl will settle for a delinquent thug who offers that delusion of security and fleeting excitement, even if he has little to no earning potential. What she is genuinely fantasizing for is a monetarily stable man who is kinder to her than he is to his counterparts. This is almost never the reality, as sad as that is.

The average girl also fails to recognize the difference between reality and fiction. She assumes that television and movies actually mirror the real world. When the idiot box’s depiction of a successful man substantiates cunning, underhanded, ruthless and impertinent behavior, girls’ hormones are more than likely to kick into overdrive when presented with that situation in real life.

To her, bad boys are a project, a challenge so to speak, and she can feel — for once — dependent and debilitated in their arms. Her hormone-driven thought process will not stop to rationalize the situation. She wants to bask in the glory of adventure, the thrill which ripples through her when she fantasizes about being pampered by a menace to society who indulges all of her whims. In her mind, this will allow herself be wild, she could experience unrestrained humanity, and afford to express her sexuality as freely as nature hath intended.

And when her expectations come crashing down, and her morality is still intact — she will revamp her recent encounter with reality by telling herself that this bad boy in particular was not truly a bad boy, and that she can still land a real bad boy if she tries again.

Women can only follow their natural proclivity to be attracted to the degenerate. It isn’t their fault, because most of them haven’t come across bitter realities or texts (such as this one) that warn them of realistic outcomes. However, in their resolve to find such specimens, they are contributing heavily to an uncivilized society. Logic would suggest that society creates a counter-force to eliminate such behavior, but hormones don’t listen to logic now, do they?

 

Gentlemen,

Confidence is not synonymous with ungraciousness. Being assertive does not mean you have to be uncivilized.

A bad boy carries all of the latter traits without the formers. And although this makes for a fantastic initial attraction, the female partner will eventually figure out that she deserves better than you and she will move on. The smarter one, at least. The one you can spend your life and procreate with.

 

And ladies,

By the time you get past your bad boy stage, most kind men will have found someone worth their time and moved on. The rest will be incarcerated. As a matter of fact, the only thing standing between you and your dream relationship right now are a set of prison bars.

Hogging Loneliness. [Two]

I can’t remember the inciting event.

Perhaps it was a holiday, or maybe I fell ill. It could have even been a mixture of events, but there was an occurrence that helped me distinguish between solitude and loneliness.

Solitude was a choice. Loneliness was a cancer.

Being by myself was how I always recharged my batteries. Whenever I needed to regain composure, gather my nerves and come up with my creative best, I would look for seclusion. Some people tend to go out and draw their energy from being around others. They actively share their opinion, and as much as I enjoy being expressive, it never was my niche in society.  I preferred to listen, reflect and stay focused on my chosen set of interests, almost naturally.

After being a recluse for what suddenly seemed like decades, I decided that it wasn’t for me.

Being alone became tedious. I started to feel drained halfway through the day without even doing anything. I began to wonder if I had converted to the dark (read: extrovert) side or if I had just become a victim of  self-inflicted social abandonment.

Being alone to ponder over such questions never helped much.

Social engagement became a necessity almost as quickly as social disconnection had become my priority. I reached out to my fellows and colleagues, who seemed more than welcoming to let me in their social circles. I found their company to be almost always one dimensional. It didn’t take long for me to realize that keeping up with this company would be a detriment to whatever was left of my intellect, and that it needed to be cut loose.

In my resolve to not reduce myself to a label, I decided to make the best of my situation, and blah blah blah, here I am. I can’t keep writing about myself. I hate this post and the idea behind it. And I said “I” too much in both part one and part two here, which is killing me. So that’s that.

My life is a series of unfinished thoughts and unpursuable ambitions. This post will just have to be added to that long list of deeds.

Hogging Loneliness. [One]

I can’t remember how long it had been since I wanted to live alone. 10 years? 15, maybe? As far back as I can recall, all I wanted to do was get away from people.

I wanted a lot of things, as a matter of fact.

I was selfish and confused. I wanted a lot of friends, but I wanted them to never be around. I wanted to wake up alone and I wanted to fall asleep alone. My mother tells me that as a child, I would insist on sleeping in my own room. She would tuck me in and turn out the lights, only to find me standing at her bedroom door in the middle of the night, crying because I got scared. I would wake up the next day in her bed and beg to be left alone in my room the following night. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Flash forward to half a decade later:

Being immigrants who were trying to begin anew, my parents had little time and resources to cater to our growing pains. This is not to say that they didn’t do a fantastic job at it. Growing up, however, meant learning a lot of things before my parents would. At times it almost felt like I was raising them just as much as they were raising me. I also had the privilege of raising my kid brother until he was well into his adolescence. We were eight years apart, and I was barely a teenager myself when I babysat him for the first time. That went on for almost 10 years. It felt like too much back then, but if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before I turned 18, I had successfully developed a self-reliant mentality.  I could cook, clean, do my laundry and manage my checking and savings accounts. I kept a regular grooming and hygiene routine almost religiously. I could almost make my bed. My grasp on necktie knots was just as good as my understanding of a credit score and my networking skills were as adequate as they could be, growing up where I did. My first job started when I was 15 years old. I mowed lawns and painted fences until I was 16 and I could change a flat tire under 15 minutes once I got my own car. I tried to be a savvy consumer, but an impulse buy here and there was always cathartic. I worked three jobs, I traveled overseas and I managed a stock portfolio, along with a tiny record label. I had done everything anyone could ever want to do, and I did all that before I turned 21.

With the exception of one thing: living alone.

Fast forward to January of 2010. I moved out of the college dorm and into my own apartment. It was 8 pm and I sat down to eat in the tranquility of my own living room. The plastic furniture didn’t bother me. The unpredictability of electricity didn’t faze me a bit either. I must have had the most impish smile on my face as I raised the first bite to my mouth. The dull crunch of my teeth piercing the roti and kabob was almost deafening. It was loud enough to wipe that smile right off of my face and make me realize that I had never eaten alone before. Perhaps an isolated incident here and there, but never this quietly. Never this utterly lonely. That was the first time I began to build respect for myself. I continued to eat and I couldn’t hear myself think over the sound of my chewing. The loud noise of loneliness.

With each passing moment, the space around me began to grow vast. I felt myself grow right along with it. I was happy. I was never in bad company when I was alone. I must say, I have never found but one companion who was as companionable as the solitude itself. There came a time when people came knocking at my door, and if I wasn’t in the company of that one companion, I would refuse to answer it in a feeble attempt to convert them to the religion of solitude.

Sometimes, I would sit face to face with myself, pondering over my despair and rejoicing over my achievements. The people closest to me were even closer now that they weren’t actually physically close. The further I kept them, the more I loved them. I guarded my isolation in the cunningest of manners. I belonged to myself. Not like a hermit. That wouldn’t be enough. It was worse. It was almost better.

I strengthened my fortress of solitude to a point that it became impenetrable. I succeeded in being considered totally unworthy of company. People left me alone, just as I wanted. I was victorious. The only thing left to do was develop a capacity for constructive use of solitude. I bought a guitar, and I caught up on reading lists from three summers ago. I started this blog, though I preferred adhering to the more satisfying, micro-blogging platform, otherwise known as twitter. (It provides instant gratification, don’t judge me.) I cooked and maintained my health better than ever before. Being alone was every bit as rewarding as I had expected it to be,

Until recently.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’ve noticed that my posts have started to become too lengthy. I intend to be inadvertently verbose, specially when I start talking about myself. Grandeur. It’s pathological. Anyway, I’ve recognized the readers ever so shortening attention span and I decided to address it by splitting my posts into parts. This is only an experiment, and your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!

A Puzzle

Sit down. In a manner that’ll allow you to bend your knees at a right angle and let your feet lay flat against the ground. Square your shoulders against an imaginary plane running horizontally below your chin. Let your head drop until your mouth touches this plane. Cup your face in your palms. Let your fingers into your hair. Rest your elbows on your thighs, and hold your head in your hands as you would hold a small, heavy boulder from rolling off.

Close your eyes.

Breathe.

Now travel back in time.

To every mistake you ever made. Every moment of embarrassment arising from your own actions. Revisit the first memory of every regret you still carry the burden of. Let the pain and the shame drench you as if it was a dense waterfall. Let it run wild through every corner of your mind as if it was a physical place. Let it grow. Let it isolate you from everything that isn’t it! Let it form the walls to your oratory, to the sanctuary of everything that never should have happened. By the time it’s done, there should be nothing but darkness around you. Darkness and a loud silence. A silence filled with screams from your past. Howls of the ghosts of a you that once was. Ghost that demands answers, asks for another chance, begs for resurrection.

Focus on the darkness.

Wait until those overlapping screams become singular, distinguishable sounds. Listen to them as they begin to simmer down; from roars to shrieks, until they’re nothing but sobs and whispers, and eventually a not so distant memory.

Now figure out how to break free from whatever is left of this chamber of grief and remorse and regrets and disappointments.

Try this at home. Unless you’re only there for a few weeks, in which case you certainly shouldn’t trouble yourself with such obscurities.

I swear we were infinite.

Pardon me for skipping past the usual commentary and jumping right into story mode.

My father invested in our first family computer when I was in 8th grade. This was back in the summer of 2002, I think. (I’m 23 now, stop doing the math.) Everyone had their own thing. I was into MS paint & Delta Force. My mother was in it for the music, to some extent. My father was into news & getting in touch with family back in Pakistan. For this intensive purpose, he brought home our first headset. Unfortunately, he would soon be turned off by the fact that the only people using computers in 2002 were my younger, douchespout cousins. My mother was too busy with her job and my brother was deeply involved in whatever headstart/preschool students get themselves deeply involved in. I wouldn’t know. That part of my life was spent in Pakistan. We have prep and kindergarten, and I can’t remember in which order.

Anyhow, this left me with all the computer time. Then came along a friend who introduced me to the art of piracy & downloading music without paying for it. I still remember that sunny, Sunday afternoon he came by my house to show me how to use Ares lite. To this day, I think of that as the first in a series of events that made me who I am today. That very day, I ended up downloading about seven songs; 56kbps was wild. As fate would have it, I was relatively new to music & didn’t know what I was downloading. I just saw whatever was on top of the ‘most-downloaded’ list & clicked away. What I ended up with was some Lil’ Wayne, some Lloyd Banks and some Eminem.

Now, despite a few scuffles and a stolen bike or two, I grew up in neighborhoods much safer than their’s. There weren’t any shootouts or people slanging cocaine on street corners. Yet somehow, I felt myself relate to the struggle and the culture that their music was all about. As all like minded people end up finding each other, it wasn’t long before I started hanging out with the crowd who had similar sentiments towards rap and hip-hop. I invested in my first MP3 player after saving up lawn-mowing money for a while. It was used, roughed up everywhere and it held 35 songs, with a slot for a memory card I couldn’t possibly afford. My parents didn’t find out about it until much later in time. I would download a few songs a day, and walk around listening to them until I had the lyrics and the beat memorized down to the very snares.

It was one of those days. I downloaded a song, turned off the 56kbps beast & started listening to it. Halfway through the song, it turned into an instrumental with the producer of the song ad-libbing their website and calling for people to rap on the rest of the beat. It piqued my curiosity and that very night, while I was supposed to be doing my homework, I started writing lyrics to it. My dad walked in on me a few times and asked if I was writing a poem, to which I replied in the affirmative & would do so for years to come. Once my “poem” was done, I played the instrumental & rapped over it. I never actually thought about recording because I didn’t think I could afford whatever it was that it took to make songs. Turned out, I was quite resourceful.

The next day I visited the website and saw hundreds of versions of that song people had already submitted. I downloaded the top five and although the first couple were quite admirable, I clearly remember scowling at the bottom few. My lyrics were much better and I had never been so sure of anything before.

I started searching the internet (yes, still on my modem) for information. Today, I can still teach you how to set up a home studio without spending a dime. I can show you how to make a pop-filter out of a stocking & a tea-strainer frame. In that research, which went on for several weeks, I learned about pirated software & beat-making. I downloaded professional versions of ProTools, Cubase & FruityLoops. My main software was Audacity though. I can get you a decent static-reduction using nothing but some pillow filling. Hilarious, I know. As I said, I was broke but I was resourceful.  I found my father’s dusty old, walmart headset which he had purchased for $16 and later on declared a waste of money. He didn’t even get around to using it with the Rosetta-Stone CD’s he picked up once. It was a lot of work, but it didn’t feel like anything at all because it put a smile on my face. This work was my play. At that time I didn’t think much of it, but I can’t tell you how proud I feel of my 15 year old self when I revisit those memories.

So, I sat down one lonely summer afternoon and I recorded my very first song. I must have had the house to myself each time I recorded, because I remember being pretty loud and repetitive but I don’t remember anyone inquiring as to what in the world I was doing! I recorded my song and I uploaded it somewhere on soundclick. I went around other people’s pages and practically begged them for feedback. Most of it was positive, to my surprise. Some were very specific about what they loved in my song, and this newfound appreciation added fuel to the fire. The general population usually has rappers pegged as illiterate nobodies, but the constructive criticism they provided was extremely professional. Plus, creating music broadened my horizons to all sorts of sounds. I listened to country, rock and roll, Latin, Arabic, anything I could get my hands on. I found myself downloading more instrumentals and spending more time writing to them.

I wasted a lot of paper & ink. I would write something before going to bed, and wake up to hate it. When I went to record, it would be quite a few takes before I was happy with my final product. I would sometimes record a verse about 17-20 times before it sounded good to my ears. As hard as many may find it to believe, there came a time when I was recording without writing. Given that those weren’t my best lyrics, but I would learn later on that it was a rare talent.

One thing lead to another as time went on. I got involved with other teenagers doing the same thing. We started our own record label. We built a website and we got one of my songs some radio airtime in Chicago & Atlanta. I was maybe 17 at that time. Along the way, I met many people who were encouraging and many who weren’t. I, however, drew more inspiration from the naysayers. At this point, I had about 25-30 decent, studio-quality songs with complete copyrights to the beats & the lyrics under my belt. Me and my friends made CD’s and started sending them out to record labels.

Bad Boy Records got back in touch. As excited as I was about the prospect of being signed to Diddy, an older producer told us to steer clear of the bigger names and find someone who would let us be more independent. Tony Yayo’s cousin in Florida also got in touch, but he wasn’t offering much besides studio time. We thought about being independent, but we didn’t have the capital to take on that task. The only label we found suitable for ourselves was an independent label located in Brooklyn. They offered residence, studio time, production & marketing and only asked for a small share of whatever sells.

It was decision time and it was senior year. I was way out of touch with my high school’s social circles and I barely maintained honor roll. No one in my family knew what I was up to. I’m pretty sure my dad thought I just watched porn all night on the computer when I actually sat there and produced my music. I would rather have him believe the former than the latter. I wasn’t sure of his reaction & I didn’t want the discouragement. Little did I know, discouragement was inevitable.

Lacking the funds and the motivation, I just sort of drifted away from making music. My passion lacked conviction. I was happy that I didn’t have to think about how to turn my hobby into money. I was happy with what I had. 40 some songs. Music, that I created. The first ever form of creative self expression that appealed to me. A year went by, I graduated. My friends moved. One went on to live in Kentucky. The other in Florida. The first one to move called me and told me about “a cat named soulja boy” who came and rapped at the same studio that he was rapping at. Soulja Boy, as you all know, went on to become quite famous afterwards.

2006 rolled around. I moved on with my life. I focused on my education, and didn’t look back again until recently.

It is with a heavy heart that I begin this paragraph. I’m not sure if it is my desire to create, once again, or the fact that life was so much easier back then that it is now, which leads me to feel this way. Or maybe it is the fact that none of the music I once made still exists, except for four songs that I left up on my label’s myspace page. You see, all my music was stored on these websites or with my friends. I didn’t keep any of it on the hard drive. I was too young to know any better. Since 2009, I have been trying to get in touch with those friends. This year, in 2013, I have practically begged the folks at Soundclick to retrieve my songs from their archives, but they refuse ever having encountered my email or my username. I find that hard to believe, but I don’t know how to prove them wrong.

My myspace is still there though. I don’t share it with people. They will taint my memories with their comments. Ever since 2009, I have only shared those four of my songs with 5 people. These five may have gone on to share it with others, or I may have  inadvertently posted a link publicly, but at least these were the only 5 to direct their comments at me.

I left a lot of my story out. It’s hard to condense 5 years of your life into one short blogpost, specially when you’re a terrible story teller. I tend to embrace verbosity, but I really tried my best to squeeze in as much as I could with as much brevity as the context would allow. I don’t know how else to end this. It seems like a dream unfulfilled. If not the main, then perhaps a part of the root cause of this occasional feeling of dissatisfaction. Yet I still feel like me and music will cross paths once again. I don’t think this blogpost ends here. I think I’ll be coming back and editing it every now and then. More for myself than for the readers, but I will be adding to it.

Perhaps, had I ended up downloading Kenny Chesney on that one summer afternoon, I would be a different man today. That, however, isn’t how it all worked out.

I live on a deserted island.

Not really, but I might as well be. The way I feel right now, a deserted island might actually be a much better setting than my current location. Not only because of my ceaselessly welding neighbor and the loud public transport that runs all night on an adjacent highway; but also because I would like to stare into a deep, blue (or clear) body of water. Stare into the abyss, as they say, and have the abyss stare into me.

This is probably one of the most discussed Nietzsche aphorisms ever. Lost in translation, it is supposed to read roughly like this:

“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.”

In interpretation, the first sentence tells us that we become what we hate. We take on the traits of whatever evil deed or person or habit we pursue. The second sentence tells us how it happens. Some argue that Nietzsche clearly commands you NOT to battle with monsters, but the Hollingdale translation suggests otherwise. According to that, the first sentence says “he who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster.” Followers of this translation believe that Nietzsche is simply asking one to be more cautious when involving himself deeply in a conflict which is evil in nature.

I, on the contrary, always felt that this quote should be openly interpreted. It has always allowed me to learn something about someone from their explanation of it.

I never got past basic Philosophy in college, primarily because other disciplines closer to my career goals required my attention, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. Philosophy is practical poetry to me. I don’t think of things in the same terms as I once used to. Not when I’m in Pakistan at least. Burdening myself with my own thoughts is the last thing that I need. Recently, however, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of this quote.

Battle Not With Monsters:

I won’t bore you with too many “when I first came to Pakistan” stories, but this is sort of important. When I first came here, I was repulsed by the general insensitivity I witnessed everywhere. Now, this may in part be due to my particular location and company. I didn’t realize that until at least two years into my stay.  I have seen the softer, much more elegant and humane side of this country now that I’ve been here for almost four years. When I first came though, and my friends would testify to this, I was on a never ending roll about how cold hearted and thick-skinned the people around here are. The incident involving the brutal deaths of two Sialkoti boys, for example. Don’t even bother looking it up. It’s too graphic. Just take my word on the fact that the murders were public and absolutely barbaric.

Anyway, when I first came here, I fell sick a lot. I made appointments with the best doctors available and I was appalled by the lack of compassion they showed towards their patients. Something about walking into a clinic and speaking English with an American accent gets their attention, but those who don’t, basically get shafted. I often found myself in situations where I would have to take a relative or a family friend to the doctor with me. They admitted that the doctor never bothered to pay that much attention when they were being chaperoned by just a regular chap or by themselves even, for that matter. I was flattered, pleased and overwhelmed with frustration at the same time. I promised myself over and over again, that when I start practicing medicine, regardless of my demographics, I would be as generous as humanly possible towards everybody.

I am now four years into my medical education. Two of which involved actual interaction with patients in a clinical, hospital setting. Our professors don’t practice what they preach. I doubt they even consider doing so. They will tell us to be extra courteous and attentive towards the patient, the bedside manners they teach are commendable, and 10 minutes later they’ll be examining a patient while chatting on their cell phone. I should state that it’s a government hospital. Patients are provided with cheap healthcare at the cost of quality. Not to be confused with proficiency, which is still quite high, to my surprise.

I have yet to speak up against that nonchalant attitude. Whenever I witness it, I stand there and wonder why the attending would tell us something and do the exact opposite. I wonder why no one in my batch is even considering the idea of speaking up against it. In my head, I imagine telling one of my professors off and then I remember how some of them have a tendency to hold grudges against students and screw them over when exam time comes around. So I stand there, quietly. I scowl, sometimes. And while scowling, I wonder if I’ll eventually justify their behavior in my head & become what I hate.

Abyss Gazes Into You:

When we see something, we see it through the lens of our own mind. In the example above, a friend standing next to me might be perceiving the situation in a completely different context. He might be admiring the doctor’s ability to multi task, or he might be condemning the doctor’s inattentiveness to his wife on the phone. The fact that me and my friend are both perceiving the same situation differently suggests that there isn’t anything there at all. The doctor, and the patient, are a part of a void. A vacuous space which drags you in to itself. You empathize with the nothingness, you begin to fill it with things only you can comprehend and thus, you begin to view yourself through the eyes of that void. The abyss, the emptiness, stares back at you. There is nothing scarier than what it sees, because you see it too.

I just want to be myself when I get out of medical school. I want to remain in the same spirits that I came here with. I will battle not with the monsters, for I do not wish to risk becoming one. I will continue to gaze into the abyss. The abyss will save me.

Pakistan’s Democratic Delusion: A Case Against Voting.

Hold your hormones, youth of Pakistan. This post is not for the emotionally motivated, average teenager, who is so eager to bring a change that he or she will be willing to risk bringing the wrong type of it. Before you proceed, you will have to set aside your mob mentality and that false-consensus effect you carry around so pompously, feeling like an elitist political specialist because of all your social networking slogans and hashtags.

Did that sound familiar?

Good.

Here’s another assertion you might be familiar with.

You’ve been lied to! 

You stopped living in a democratic society a long, long time ago. Around 450 BC, to be somewhat precise. That was when the first, and sadly the last, democratic state was established in Athens. In Athenian democracy, candidates were chosen by lottery, a process known as sortition. This ensured that every citizen, regardless of how rich or poor, gets a chance to become a decision-maker for the people. What we have here, in Pakistan (and probably most other democratic states) is an Oligarchy. A system, where only the most powerful and monetarily influential people have the resources to run for office.

Take the next few lines with a pinch of salt. If the information in the paragraph above comes as news to you, you should abstain from voting. You owe it to the rest of us. You lack the ability vote in an informed, competent, and logical manner if you’re under the impression that you’re exercising your democratic rights. No one is saying that you don’t mean well. I, for one, am a firm believer in the fact that most of these ill-informed voters carry the best intentions. There isn’t anything wrong with being politically ignorant; as long as you don’t vote! 

Still confused? Let’s dumb it down a little further.

Suppose you were given an opportunity to elect the baker at your local pâtisserie. A select few candidates, rich enough to buy their way into the competition, came to you and talked for hours about what wonderful ingredients they would use in their confections and propelled at you every term in the book of a Cordon Bleu valedictorian. You as a mere costumer, rather than a connoisseur, had no idea what the hell they were talking about. And suppose you proceeded to vote. Wouldn’t you be voting in an uninformed manner & perhaps voting in a candidate unsuitable for the job? Wouldn’t it be better if you left the task to the handful of well-informed people who are familiar with the culinary vernacular and arts? Unfortunately, we might not even have a proportion of such people required to make a difference.

The system is flawed. You are being fed a false illusion of democracy and freedom.

If you vote, you endorse the system. 

Boycott the system. Do not vote!

When they come to question your intentions, tell them why.