Love in the Time of Flu

The post has little to do with the inspiration for it’s title, a novel called Love in the Time of Cholera.

Basically, I’ve been suffering from a debilitating flu the last few days now which didn’t take long to transpire into a respiratory infection. Debilitating because the nausea and headaches, not to mention the fever, really don’t allow you to make the walk up & down 6 stories of stairs let alone the commute to the college & hospital. Of course that commute has to be on a motorcycle, in a country heavily laden with dirt & pollution. Pun intended.Plus that wet cough accompanied by a little midget trying to break out of your skull with a chisel and hammer is terrifying. Not too long ago, my extensive medical experience as a 2nd year student would have said I have tuberculosis & a brain tumor but I have over come the hypochondriasis and thankfully so! The smallest thing used to drive me crazy. My head was not a happy place a year ago.

Not that it’s a happy place now but, it’s a little better without the constant paranoia.

So anyway, as I lay alone in my room last night with my nose stuffed, chest congested and the lights off, I thought about all the great times these eyes have seen. All that fresh air these lungs have so heedlessly exhaled. Selfish alveoli, not once holding it in, cherishing it before letting it go. We can all be ungreatful at times. I remembered the Friday nights I had spent with my friends. Aimlessly wandering and listening to loud music, among other vices. Not hurting anybody and just minding our own business. Being there for each other was all that mattered. We wouldn’t get upset at stealing each others girls or mooching off of each other; it was more about being there for each other. It sounds corny now but that’s all there was to it. To know that you will always have a friend that you could count on.

I wish I could say the same now. It’s Pakistan that I’m in. I was born here but I wasn’t raised here. I didn’t grow up with anybody here. The handful of acquaintances I refer to as friends are just as reliable as any co-worker or colleague you have to be in touch with for the sake of keeping life afloat. Yeah, sounds selfish but that’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if I was buried here, I’d always be an outsider. The friendships that last are created in high schools and early years of your college when you can benefit very little from having a certain friend. That’s when friendships are selfless and solely based on mutual understanding.

If I could say something to the 17-21 year old me, it would be this: Cherish the friends you currently possess. Never again will you ever experience friendship at this level. You will make opportunist acquaintances in grad school & you will have colleagues & co-workers at work. Never friends. At that point in life, when you go out looking for friends, all you will find is people with their hand out. Asking a favor for a favor. No amount of money, no skill, no trade or socioeconomic status will buy you sincere friendship. It ain’t sold in the market like that, although the rap videos would have you thinking otherwise. The person you find yourself closest to, the person you trust the most will be the one to turn around & stab you in the back, in real world. And that’s okay. It’s acceptable because it’s expected.

Love will also be just as different. It’ll be Pakistan. Romance will be re-defined by terms like SHARAM GAAH (private parts), ZINAH (sex outside wedlock. Even looking at a girl is ZINAH but it’s okay as long as you call it Poondi, then it’s acceptable), HUM-BISTARI (laying in the same bed?) and NA-MEHRAM (a person of the opposite sex that you can potentially marry?). The language of a repressed, sanctimonious culture designed to kill romance. 1984 anyone? George Orwell would concur. Salay munafik madarchod is a term I would like to add, it means the average uneducated, holier than thou, Pakistani. The person who would bribe people for small favors, steal electricity and natural gas from the government and come home to talk about how terrible his leaders are and how we should block Youtube.

The last paragraph above, eight new blog posts waiting to happen.

So here I am, the next Saturday evening, writing this blog and coughing my heart out. I think I’ll have some coffee and wait for sanity to return to me so I can start knocking out these Pathology chapters. Two more years, I keep telling myself. Two more years.

Exit stage right.

Chicken Cottage in Jhelum

Don’t ever eat there. The reason why I didn’t come up with a cleverer title is because I know that eventually, someone belonging to this restaurant will try to Google their name and end up finding this neat little article. Boy, are they going to be upset when they see this!

On a personal note, I did blog for a while on Food Connection – Pakistan (FCP) but that wasn’t as lucrative for me as it was for them. So I think I’m going to be doing restaurant reviews here instead. Specially for the ones that stand out! Like The Chicken Cottage in Jhelum. No one knows how to drop the ball like these guys!

Me and my friends had to drive a while to reach that place. The menu on their website looked just as delicious as the one inside their restaurant. It promised unburned American food served by Pakistani people, which is a reliable promise, right? Hah. Even though the country is currently suffering from an ENERGY crisis and we don’t have ANY electricity to fulfill our daily needs, let alone spare, this is what the outside of their facility looked like. 

Chicken Cottage Jhelum

So once we got over the lights, which was like showing a swimming pool to an African kid who drank water out of a mud puddle most of his life, we finally went in. The gentleman at the counter tried to swindle us into buying an extra drink! Really! You could see clearly on the menu that a 5 piece order of chicken wings was Rs. 250 but Abrar, for some reason, kept telling us that we will get a FREE drink, if we pay 280. It’s a promotion. We were just trying to buy wings as an appetizer before the “mountain burger” meal arrived but Abrar wasn’t having it. He really wanted us to have that FREE drink which was actually 30 rupees. Apparently the management at Chicken Cottage thinks there is a special pocket in our wallets that produces an expendable sum of 30 rupees every time we toss out the one before. Sorry guys, not going to steal from me today.

Anyways, the “mountain burger” I ordered was just a big pile of shit. It was just a lot bigger than the other 3 piles my friends got. It had a piece of chicken and a fillet of fish with a slice of cheese and some mayonnaise. A piece of cabbage leaf, not lettuce, was also involved in there somewhere. That’s it. 

The wings were either uncooked, or burnt. Which is incredible because I, as an avid recreational cook myself, could have never managed to accomplish that task. Here is what they looked like.

Chicken Cottage Jhelum

You can notice the uncooked pink on the left and the well beyond overcooked black on the right. Nice contrast for the eyes, not so much for the gastric mucosa.

Also, he sent out small fries and a small drink on my large order. I had to complain to 3 different people before one of them kindly replaced my fries and brought me another small drink instead of a regular large one. The cups for these drinks were made of crap and became soggy after a while. Yes, the cups became soggy. It was like holding a water balloon after 15 minutes. 

The restrooms were super tiny but that’s alright, I guess we didn’t go there to take a dump. The management should have been more considerate, given the fact that this restaurant is located on a well traveled interstate highway called the G.T. Road. People are going to stop in to use the restroom every now and then. 

The owners office was bigger than half the restaurant, but who cares about that?

Here’s the break down:

Price per head: 800 (average)

Food: Disgusting

Service: Mediocre for a Pakistani restaurant.

Ambiance: Excellent 

Should you go there? No. The subway across the road is a much better choice and that’s where we all ended up going afterwards. They have cookies. 

Wait for it

Once you become used to instant gratification, the word ‘patience’ can strike gloom in your heart fairly quickly. Specially when used as nonchalantly as it is today. The fact that people don’t understand the essence of the word is more peeving than actually having to practice it.

The worst thing about being patient is having to accept things for what they are. When you’re asked to be patient, it’s as though you are being told that the status quo is not, by any means, under your control. That you must practice faith, probably the second worst thing after patience. Having to believe that yes, by being accommodating to someone else’s needs, you are guaranteed the result you desire instantly but at a later point in time. And having to believe that for no good reason and without any evidence, too!

Then you are expected to bear the load of being calm & composed. A task particularly difficult for someone like myself, who throws a temper tantrum like he is seven years old when things don’t go his way. Well, it’s either that or the equally unhealthy bottling up of sentiments. The latter precedes the former in most cases. 

Anyhow, the winner always goes home feeling like this uncomplaining (or as they like to call it, “understanding”), submissive little fool. Unless he already is a fool! Then he goes home feeling like an easy going, persevering hero who shall endure all tests of time and come out victorious. 

“Patience is bitter” says Aristotle “but it’s fruit is sweet”. Well, I wonder if two years is enough time for the sweet fruit to get over ripened and fall off the tree, eventually to be squished into a tiny puddle of soft scrumptiousness under the gigantic boots of reality. No one eats over ripened fruit that was trampled upon. Except for a few wild animals maybe. Rodents. Ants, also. Not humans! That is the point. 

Some fruit for thought. 

Ha.

“Fuck your principles” I says to Fulton J. Sheen. “And fuck your power!” I add.

It’s hard to wait and hope once you’ve already been waiting and hoping for as long as you can bear it. On the other hand, restlessness and impatience never changed anything either. 

Upon arrival.

 

 

Anyone who has seen the movie “300” knows that the choreographed action was just as titillating as the dialogue itself. Specially the narrated monologue which held the appearance of being delivered by Delios, although we didn’t know that until the end of the movie. Here’s a quote from one of those electrifying moments, without going as far as to spoil the movie for someone who hasn’t seen it yet. 

“It’s been more than thirty years since the wolf and the winter cold. And now, as then, it is not fear that grips him, only restlessness.”

No matter how tastefully you toot your own horn, it always sounds ridiculous. I have yet to master the art of doing so without blowing it. With that said, this is how I felt when I entered Pakistan, minus the duration and the climate. It had only been about two months and it was rather the beast and the brick oven warmth instead of the wolf and the winter cold. For those of you who have had similar experiences, you are well aware that is never the fear. It is always an anxiety. A disquieting antsiness propelling you to push forth and be done with the experience as soon as possible. Hence, the restlessness. 

I had been wearing a woolen outerwear when boarding at JFK and I was forced to take it off the minute I stepped off the plane before even reaching the building established as an airport. The air-conditioning might as well had been off, despite all their convincing claims that it wasn’t. The passport control and baggage claim wasn’t tedious at all, I kept my positive outlook through all the line budging and service solicitation. I suppose the bag handlers have a right to implore, that’s how they are taught to make their living anyways. The problem started at about 11 minutes into my arrival when one of those good men tried to cut in front of me at the check-in security, and in the process, knocked one of my suitcases off of my cart! I had no choice but to address him in his native malediction of Punjabi and curse-words. I did not stop until his facial expression matched that of a man who understood the etiquette of a queuing area. The thought of apologizing did not occur to him, nor would it have made a difference. 

Moving on. Stepping out of the airport, I saw a horde of bearded Moslems awaiting the arrival of an expatriate mullah which happened to be riding in the same plane as me. I call them Moslems and not Muslims because these are the fundamentalist bastards that the West refers to most of the time. I’m a Muslim. I’m the norm. They are the Moslem. The illiterate mob who thinks that Islam is about circumcising your cock and blaming everything on the west while wearing bright neon or earth toned turbans. Anyways, I’m not sure if it was my, for the lack of a better word, swag, that gave it away but they seemed to have a very clear idea that I was a man very fond of the Western society. No tattoos, no piercings, no crazy hairstyles and I still got served. The horde of 200 plus Moslems held hands in their effort to not let me take the shorter route out of the airport. When I reached upon an exit which was being blocked by two of their men men holding hands, I noticed that they gripped their hands tighter in an effort to convey that I, the westerner, will have to take the longer route and will not be allowed to pass through the airports regulated exits. So, to avoid being beaten to death by a brutal mob, I held my head up and walked right through the labyrinth of Moslemic brotherhood they had set up for me. The airport security opted to ignore the situation probably for similar reasons. The rose petals they planned on throwing to welcome the biggest dick smelled wonderful, although it hurt to imagine how many plants had to die for an asshole’s welcome.  

The air outside the airport was heavy. Humidity must have been high. I begin to understand why, so often, Google describes the weather in Lahore as “smoke”. Breathing became difficult and I felt my lungs doing some serious overtime. It was alright though. It could have been worse. There was an incident that took place in the parking lot but it was very similar in nature to the previous two and I have not the energy, nor the motivation to jot it down.

So, despite my best efforts, half of my resolutions had to be discarded at the airport whereas most of them were broken before the 12 hour mark was reached. That’s pathetic to say the least. It wasn’t even my fault. It’s hard to stay positive when someone’s working on sucking it right out of you. Right? 

Well, there was another quote in the movie “300” where King Leonidas’ wife Queen Gorgo declares in bed: “Your lips can finish what your fingers have started… “. I am going to take that out of context and say that anyone else interested enough to hear what else happened at the airport shall ask me to do so in person with my lips, for my fingers are now tired of typing out this wonderful little post. Ciao.

 

 

On departing

I’ve had a wonderful time the last two months. Seeing my town, the place where I went to school & a place where I spent all of my adolescence & my teenage years was exactly what I needed. Being in medical school can take its toll on your mind and body, but add to the mix a 3rd world with all the wrong people and you have yourself a recipe for a nervous breakdown. This vacation helped me realize why I was there. Along with all the wonderful places I visited with my family, there were a few places I had to disembark upon by myself. Most of these places were in a not so distant past. Places that helped me draw up a plan to attend medical school, places that pushed me past the limits to choose Pakistan over all other options. In my head, I revisited that one place which helped me realize that healing and helping people was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The place that told me it was okay to waste the best years of my life for this dream. I turned 21 in Pakistan and I won’t be back until I’m 28. What else defines one’s prime?

Anyhow, I shared plenty of laughs with my parents, who have ever so graciously shouldered the financial as well as emotional responsibility of seeing me through this tough time. Me and my brother spent a wonderful, and possibly our last, summer vacation together. We fought, we laughed, we ate and we played; not once worrying about what the future holds for either of us, although it was in the air somewhere at all times. My only regret going back this year is of all my friends I didn’t get a chance to see. I met with only a handful, who after all this time, still accept me for everything I am.  

I did a lot of shopping. Every time I imagined going back during this vacation, shopping was the only catharsis strong enough to relieve me of that depression. Sounds shallow, I know. I’m going back with double the amount of luggage that I brought, only to realize that there is no material in the world that can rid you of this feeling of ultimate loneliness. I did only purchase things that I would have bought anyways had I been in America and not, there, you know. Needless to say I had a great time! Absolutely splendid. 

Like all good things, however, this too must come to an end. 

Not all that many hours left in my departure now. As the moment of truth nears, the darkness creeps slowly back into my mind. I get the strangest feeling. Like the feeling of a trapped soul, screaming, pounding her fists against cement walls and scratching at them with her long, dark and rotting nails. Begging to let her free. Screeching howls, pleading to let her bleed. Questioning every single movement, catechizing every decision, searching frantically for a way out so it can seize the body to which it belongs and engulf the being that has put her through so much pain and never be put through it again. Little does she know, she has no other choice. 

So with a smile on my face and a hop in my step, here I go frolicking off to the land of the Indus River which flows from the Himalayan & Karakorum ranges to the Arabian Sea. The Indus River Valley was once a birthplace of civilization, little of which is to be found in that land now a days. Luckily, the vibrant, educated and open minded population of Pakistan is  statistically in the majority, to none of whom I have any exposure unfortunately. 

Well, except for one. 🙂

It’s like I’m 5 years old again! She is the reason I go to school. She is also, the love of my life. I can’t wait to see her when I do. 

13 new resolutions to live by.

“Can I get some coffee please?”

*Receives coffee*

“Thank you.”

Yes, I like to pretend things sometimes. I just pretended to order some coffee and receive it right away from my imaginary butler. I’m also going to pretend that making a new set of resolutions and following through on them, starting September 16th, will make things better for a few years to come.

Anyways, this post is for all the people who have a hard time dealing with life sometimes. It’s for the rest of the people because you can always learn something new from someone new. So, here we go, in Spanish:

Resolución número uno: Learn a new language.

Yes, I took about 5 years of Spanish in School and I had a great time. The first two years were easy, we sang the alphabet and played language games but starting with Spanish 3 and moving onto college level Spanish was intellectually challenging. The truth is that I forgot most of it now, as did many of my peers who didn’t practice it regularly I’m sure. Learning a new language is serious cerebral stimulation and helps you keep your mind broad and open. You realize everyday that there are worlds outside of your’s. So, I haven’t decided yet but it’ll be either French or Italian. Most likely french. I have the CD’s+Workbooks for it and it seemed like a lot of fun the first time I tried last year.

Resolución número dos: Stay positive.

This one seems easy right? Seems like something you would do every day anyways. Well, wrong. It was the most difficult thing to do in Pakistan. I was a negative nelly about EVERYTHING. I was negative towards people, towards situations, towards outcomes of my actions. I had no hope. This time, It’ll be different. I will make sure I say “No” to NOTHING. Everything will be a yes. Unless it’s a negative activity, of course. I will be positive towards outcomes, I will be positive towards people, and I will expect positive behavior from the universe in general. I will also update my readers on how that turns out for me on a weekly basis.

Resolución número tres: Stay out of arguments.

This relates to number two. This will be specially hard since elections are coming up in both Pakistan and America, and since this was the topic of discussion with my best buddies about 80% of the time, but I’ll deal with it. If you have come to my place and you want to discuss politics, religion, ethics, traditions, and cultures, you can GTFO. If I come to your’s and you start, then I shall do the same. I will also try my best to stay off that topic on my blog but we all need to vent sometimes, so no promises.

Resolución número cuatro: Surround myself with open-minded people.

This is the single most difficult thing I have had to deal with in Pakistan. Open-mindedness is not a trait held commendable by most of my classmates. I try to stick to the ones who are open-minded though. Also, the extended family that I associate with finds being open-minded an act of the devil. I can’t stand being rude to them or ignoring them because it will only make things worse, plus it’ll leave a guilty mark on my conscience. I hate to sound pretentious, no matter what the case is. Anyhow, I will find a way to deal with this. I am going to try and spend the least amount of time possible with people who like sticking to their “old-ways”.

Resolución número cinco: Get involved.

No better way to feel good about yourself than to make someone else’s life easier. I’ve been trying my hardest to get involved with non-profit organizations that need volunteers or any sort of help I can offer. TCF has been at the top of my list and I’m proud to say that I’m also pursuing an opportunity to teach children over Skype, in areas where human resource isn’t quite accessible. I think it’ll be a wonderful experience and a great way to give back to the society that gave me an opportunity to study medicine. I just wish I can make time between now and the prof. this December. Baby steps. I’ll run with it once I get walking. You should too!

Resolución número seis: Get organized.

I don’t know how I plan to do that. I’m pretty organized already. Like, I know where to find what I need; who doesn’t? I guess what I mean is that I need a schedule. Not really one of those damn “time-tables” people make in this country but I need to start practicing punctuality. I need to sleep on time, wake up on time, and definitely eat on time. I remember waking up at 4AM to eat dinner and skipping lunch because I ate breakfast at 12PM and an unhealthy, afternoon snack at 4pm. That sort of behavior will land you in the diabetes clinic by the age of 40. I need to organize my daily and weekly activities. I need a laundry day, a grocery day, and a maintenance day for my bike & my apartment. Specially need to carve out time for my books, which is next.

Resolución número siete: Two hours a day, keeps the supply away.

It’s as simple as that. Just give two hours to my books every day. This is something I should be doing anyways but there are days when I don’t study at all and days when I study all day long to cram all the material so I can get by on the exam. If I can somehow manage to carve out two to three hours every day, I think I can avoid the test-anxiety and cramming sessions that lead to starvation, frustration and disorganization.

Resolución número ocho: ONTAD

One Nice Thing A Day, damnit. Do one nice thing every day. This idea, actually, my fiancee came up with a long time ago. My head was in clouds with exams and other issues probably but after clearing up my mind these past 2 months, I’ve realized that this is incredible. It can be anything. Give food (not money) to a peddler. Pay for some poor mans groceries. Pick up a piece of garbage from the street. Ask your neighbor if he or she would like to join you for dinner. ANYTHING that you consider to be a nice gesture. Just do one each day and write it down. I’ll be sure to do that on my blog right here and I’d love to hear what you did each day too!

Resolución número nueve: Take care of me self!

This is sort of emasculating but it’s necessary. Actually another one that my fiancee came up with a while ago but I’m sure she would deny this to my face. “OMG I NEVER SAID THAT!” Yeah right, kitten. Anyways, I’m going to invest in manmetics: the manly cosmetics. I’m going to work out at least 5 days a week and I’m NOT putting anything synthetic & sweet in my diet.  I’m going to eat healthy! I’m going to avoid unhealthy habits & activities. I bought me a manmetic today and I’m proud of it. Not really but let’s just say so for my self-esteem’s sake.

Resolución número diez: Thirsty Thursdays

It refers to something completely different in America, and most other parts of the worlds. Since I’m not planning on touching any alcohol, I plan on trying a new drink every Thursday. Anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just anything I haven’t tried before. I’ll go to the store and look for it. I’ll pick up the most expensive thing even if that means no food for the weekend but I will try something new to drink every single Thursday. I’ll make juices out of vegetables and squeeze anything that’s halal till it is liquified into a juice and I will drink it. When I run out of normal foods, I will mix them. I will mix coke with milk and I will mix tomato juice in banana shake. I will not, however, get food poisoning. I will also, keep you updated right here if you’re ever interested.

Resolución número once: Foodie Fridays

Similar to number ten, just replace the drinks with foods. I will try a new food/fruit/dish every Friday. Same rules apply. As long as it’s halal, and edible, I shall eat it. This one I’m really looking forward to because I’ve always been fond of eating. I lost a lot of weight and became this scrawny little kid because I haven’t been keeping up with my favorite interest. Not anymore. Your suggestions and recommendations are always welcome.

Resolución número doce: Satisfaction Saturdays

This one sounds ridiculous but wait until you hear the idea. Ready? I’m going to find something to be incredibly thankful for every Saturday. I know we should be thankful every day, 5 times a day, but how well is that working out for you? Consider this. Every Saturday, you wake up, and you think of ONE thing that you just couldn’t be without. It could be something materialistic too because there is nothing shallow about being thankful for material things. It could be your own pinky toe, that you wouldn’t be able to stand up straight without. Anything small, anything big, just something to pick and be thankful about all of Saturday. Think about how different your life would be without it and just appreciate it’s existence all day long. No repeats please.

Resolución número trece: Scary Sundays

This one is fun and the one I’m most likely to not do. Find something that scares you and do it on Sunday. Now it has to be something that you do for yourself! You can’t have your friends telling you to jump off of a cliff or else you won’t have a scary Sunday. It could be something simple like, walking into a dark room alone. I have fears of being bit by a dog so I’m planning on seeing how it works out when I walk by a pack of them next Sunday. This should really help me appreciate being alive on the Monday after. I’m also afraid of heights so, maybe I’ll go sit on a ferris wheel or something.

 

Well, that concludes my list of resolutions for the time being. Bid adieu to the old you, and say hello to a new you! Give yourself a hug. Feel free to take this list, edit it any way you want, and follow through on your own set of resolutions to make your life a little less difficult. Your comments and ideas are always welcome.

A few days left…

Then I’m headed back to Pakistan.

Don’t bother reading this, it’s a long rant.

Everything is going to be worse this time around.

The first time I went to Pakistan, it was different. I was ambitious. There was a fire inside me. I hadn’t seen Pakistan in 11 years then. I had only heard about it, and I wanted to change everything I had heard. I thought I could do it. I thought I could make a difference, change a few minds maybe. Little did I know, it takes more than a wish. Anyhow, we’ll discuss that some other time.

Back then I was also looking forward to starting a new life. From working two to three jobs and busting ass at school while accumulating large amounts of loan, to sitting on my behind having everything paid for seemed pretty appealing. I was unaware of the petty little issues that can add up to such a difficult life. I didn’t think power outages were going to be much of a problem; there are a 180 million people dealing with them after all. To be honest, they weren’t. It’s a 120 degrees out and no electricity? Big whoop. Toughen up, take a shower. It’ll be back in a few hours.

I didn’t think healthcare system was going to be a problem either. There were so many doctors coming out of Pakistan that I thought I would receive only the best in treatments. Apparently, metronidazole is their solution to every problem. Isn’t that a carcinogen? I was prescribed antibiotics after antibiotics without any conclusive diagnosis for my first year and a half. Yes, that’s how long it took for me to wise up and realize that I shouldn’t be taking so much medicine. I was petrified. The mortality rate was high and being a medical student, you are bound to develop some sort of hypochondria. I went for second opinions, then third, then fourth…it never stopped. The city I was in lacked, to my standards, adequate healthcare. I, in return, in part due to my poor planning, lacked the transportation to go out in Lahore or Islamabad for a measly “check-up”. I also lacked the motivation to  get rough housed in the Pakistani transportation system so I could travel from one city to another. What sick person would want to do it? Of course a lot of people do it, I know that. That’s obviously the sad truth. It satisfies the sickest person to travel for hours in the worst possible conditions to get a sub-par diagnosis and come home believing that they shall now be healed. Ignorance is a bliss I don’t care much for.

I also had high expectations from my family. I had a lot of it right? Boy was that a let down though. Your family actually cares for you so much, that they will watch your every move and try to govern your life as much as possible. There is an old proverb or aphorism or adage, whatever the hell you want to call it, and it goes “Neem hakeem, hatra jaan”. It basically means that an ill-educated opinion is more dangerous than no opinion at all. Well, in Pakistan, the only opinion they have is the ill-educated one. There are a very few, handful of Pakistani people who are either minding their own business or actually providing helpful advice when it’s truly needed. If you are reading this, I assure you that you’re in the latter few.

It’s like that in every society though. I couldn’t name all the Americans I come across every single day who try to do the same thing. They have their own half-ass theories on how things are supposed to be. “Op, Romney ainnnt got them votes cuz he aint really all that pro…” shut the fuck up. Go play with your belly button lint. The only difference between the American moron & the Pakistani moron is the fact that the American moron can’t impose his beliefs on you because of legal restrains applied by law and the freedom granted to you by the constitution. We don’t have that in Pakistan. We have blasphemy laws and honor-killing pardons. Can you imagine having to suffer through the murder of a loved one only to find out that the murderer was pardoned and your family is now a disgrace to the neighborhood because your loved one fell in love with someone else? Now I understand that these laws are in place to prevent the inevitable rape that will happen to your daughter no matter what (sarcasm, in case you miss it) but really? Last time I checked, American chics wear a lot less and get a lot more respect than most Pakistani chics. Pakistani chics walk down the street as a guaranteed object of lust for misogynists to stare at and drool over. If she puts out, she’s a whore. If she ignores the man, she’s a snob. No matter what happens, it’s always the girls fault.

Anyways, back to not having any freedom of speech in Pakistan. The blasphemy laws lead all Pakistanis to believe that they are the god damned guardians of Islam. Half of them won’t do it for Allah. As a matter of fact, 90% of Pakistanis fear the mullah more than they fear the Allah. It’s true! How many people do you know that are corrupt inside and fucked up to the core but act like their isn’t anyone more righteous than them? The sad truth is that it is the socially acceptable thing to do. One of the most common excuses you will hear is “log kia kahain gay?” or “what will the PEOPLE say?”. Oh no! What will the people say when they find out that you’re a sanctimonious little twat? I guess they’ll talk shit about you, yeah, but then they’ll go home and realize that they are not so different from you after all.

Now after living there for for 3 years, I have come to realize the beast that is Pakistan. The belly of the beast? Punjab.

Good thing I don’t spend a lot of time there. Surely I would have gone insane by now if I had to. You either go insane, or you become one of them. There are seldom other options. If you are one who had to grow up with these circumstances and you still managed to hold your head on your own shoulders, I bow to your perseverance. Lord knows I would give up and succumb to becoming a mindless drone with a untamed beard & some sort of head covering.

This time going back, I know what I have to deal with. I know that I have been trying to deal with it for the past 3 years and it only gets worse. The hardest thing to do is to deal with it alone. My parents, although wonderful and possibly the best parents in the world, will never see eye to eye with me on these issues. The values of accepting without questioning and such have been instilled deep in their beliefs, engraved deep in their minds. “It’s just how it is!” and “It is the culture!” are statements I am tried to hearing. I’m not promoting going out and having wild animal sex in the middle of the street, I just want people to keep their beliefs to themselves. Is that too much to ask? “Yes, it’s Pakistan.”

Anyways, back to dealing with things alone. I have a few friends and I’m always looking forward to making more. With a little help from these friends, I manage to get by on a day-to-day basis. I have nothing else going for me there. It’s as if though everything in the universe conspires to act in harmony against everything I ever want. Another thing that keeps me going is the hope that I can influence someone. If I can reach out and touch one person every month in a way that I, myself, have been touched; my life is worth living. I’ve been trying my hardest to get involved in TCF or something similar but time is now a precious scarcity as exams get closer.

I think that’d be all. I could take this as a rough draft and re-write something more articulate but… I’d rather not. It isn’t meant to be impressive. I’m just venting.