Sunday, January 31, 2010

Going Green My Way!

There is something about a camp fire in the middle of the woods that is extremely comforting. Particularly if you're there with friends, music a bag of marshmallows, drink and a handy dandy Shisha. Its a pity that you have to go so far out of the city to get that experience. 

A night out in the woods is the perfect remedy to disconnect from urbanization. One of the great things a trip out in the woods is that when you look up, you see hundreds of stars, but if you are in the city (and if you really squint), you can maybe see 4. I think as a society, we should look into being more green (like I do, all of my currency is green). 

So here is my suggestion, put a Forrest like area in the smack down centre of the downtown area of every major metropolitan city. Ok, I understand how this sounds silly, but trust me, there is lots of utility. 

Plant/place huge fully grown trees where the traffic lights are supposed to be, rig the power to some handy solar panels and a battery rigged for the night (in Seattle this wouldn't work as they don't know what the sun looks like). All in all, this would reduce electricity consumption by 12%.....don't ask me local cleric told me (he seems like a trustworthy fellow for someone who can't read). 

The rooftops can rid themselves of those polluting chopper pads and instead can invest in a nice zen garden. screw the damn cement foot paths, lets get natural with some green top lawn, preferably the putting green kind so the CEO's can practice their strokes on their way to rob their customers. 

Also nature tends to chill people out, and the advent of working yourself to insanity combined with the stressed out hell that is modern living, one could use a bit of nature in their day. Right now, the only bit of nature you get is the clouds of smoke threatening to toss acid rain down our throats. All of these greenery will soothe the masses into a lull of peaceful endeavour. Basically, people will be that much nicer to other people and how great is that? In order one wants to maximize this effect, I'd allot a section to the Rastafarian's and encourage the growth of poppy plants.   

The shade from these massive tree's will provide relief to all of the evil commuters, tourists and homeless people, besides, if they happen to be fruit tree's no one goes hungry. Incidentally my proposal also contains provisions for taming wild dangerous animals to roam these areas and kill off anyone that evolution might have missed (lets stop wasting resources). C'mon, room and board costs for these animals would be non-existent.....and the animals could find a place to bunk down too. The city zoo would also also have fewer budgetary pressures, in fact they could be shut down. 

All of these trees will get rid of all the green house gasses....we hope. If not, they'll be handy for hanging laundry off of, hence reducing the need for consuming electricity in Dryers. 

Elephant rides would also be completely baller and would reduce our carbon foot print. NGO's can roam around picking up the poop and making natural fertilizer distributing it under the brand name of 'Urban Shit'. Its a multi-billion dollar industry in the making. 

In NYC there have always been rumours of gators in the sewers (they looked into it, its a myth). I propose that the government actually does put wild dangerous snakes, gators and tigers in the sewers, cover the tops with unbreakable bullet proof glass and have a really cool side show of animals fighting for their lives on main street (well, technically, underneath). 

Media organizations will find this concept wild(ly entertaining) and will voluntarily start purifying the sewage (saving the city a few bucks) so as to have clear visuals over the running battles, the show can be called 'Wild Times at Times Square'. 

Prisoners can likewise be executed by being released into these special sewers and having to fight their way out (there is no way out, but they will be partially misled.... those villainous scum!). National Geographic will become the coolest channel on the planet (even though I think Alien will love it too!). 

Greenery is fucking gorgeous. Screw all of this grey concrete jungle BS, lets get some natural god given Green laced with colors, and if you don't like that you must be communist swine hell bent on killing cute little babies! 

PS: if this doesn't work we can cut the trees down and have an awesome bonfire. Kill the animals and have a huge feast. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Got any Laid off Homies?

The Global Economy is still in shambles. If one doubts that, then I'd recommend checking their respective countries level of unemployment as compared to last year.

There were a round of layoffs in a large local media organization recently, luckily as far as I know none of my friends were axed (none of them make enough money to warrant firing, talk about market efficiency). But it still made me think.....

How do you do with people who have recently lost their jobs? There is no play I have come up with several awesome courses of action. 

A: Leave them alone, go out have a bloody good time and compensate for their unhappiness by having a particularly legendary time. Although this may be highly enjoyable, and help you reduce the stress that they are going to be putting on your relationship with their whining and sulky, it may be a tad unkind. But there must be balance in the world. and there is no point for two people to be unhappy. Karma means balance. So if one is unhappy, you should make it your goal for that period of unhappiness to be super gay. It doesn't matter if it means, spending a week at a 24 hour rave; you must man up and bring balance back to the Universe! Probability of you feeling better is 100%, your friends would be markedly less, but thats the point of the balance. 

B: Get said friend and use him/her (preferably her) as a wing man/woman. The sadness of their predicament will garner sympathy from the opposite sex. Chicks will also dig that your blowing of a night of reckless partying to support your friend and hence you will score massive brownie point. In fact, your probability of scoring will conservatively increase by several thousand percentage points. Your friend may get laid too, but your primary focus should be one Number One. 

C: Find a place for them to relax and fume. And give them some company in case you feel like they may be suicidal (remember to bring your video camera along, media orgs' pay a tonne of money for that sort of stuff). Just kidding, of course your going to prevent any suicidal behavior from manifesting itself. Find a serene environment for them to relax, a spa treatment at a local parlour with a hot masseuse perhaps (complete with happy ending if your nice like that). 

D: Get them a hooker. If they aren't up for the idea, pay a hooker to seduce him/her unsuspectingly. At the very least it cheers them up and released the tension, best case scenario you have an awesome story to recount till the end of time. 

E: If this is a female friend and she is particularly sad, tell her how much you love her and want to marry her (even though you definitely don't), she'll think your the sweetest person in the world and she'll appreciate you for whatever it is she thought you did (men don't have a clue what women think, the sounds they make may as well be alien), and the desirable outcome has been reached as you've made her forget her problems (and actually made her your problem). The downside to this is that if she accepts....your fucked (even if your already married, Islam allows 4 wives)

F: Convince their boss that they are having a mental breakdown and if they are not rehired that everyone at the company may be unfortunately killed by Black water and your friend's pet poisonous  Tarantulas (they are tricky little buggers) if your friend isn't rehired at double his current salary. To show that you are serious, kill the boss's gold fish. 

G: Tough Love: Yell at them for being their top performer not saving their company for the ignominy of firing them. This may be harsh, but I convince for a few, this experience will make them stronger. If you really love them, then hire them to be your Personal Assistant and instill some tough work ethic into them, they'll eventually appreciate the mental pain, long hours, low pay and asshole boss. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Capitalism: Ordering Medication off the Menu

 There seems to be a fundamental change in the attitudes of people towards medication. Alot of people I know tend to pop pills, not necessarily the illegal kind, but mostly be over the counterPanadol, Advil, Augmentin (though to be fair, whether its over the counter or not, pharmacists will sell you anything) more often than they theoretically need. 

I'm not sure if it's because of work life balance issues but its slowing becoming a problem; the problem being that work seems to absorb people's live period and if one has a stressful job and barely any time for a life, its easy to see why one is attracted to solutions the size of a pill. We nothing if not efficient.

Now, I'm a fairly proud free market Capitalist, and in line with that over riding moral philosophy (I slept through ethics class) I have a proposal; Let Restaurants and Cafe's Sell pills. Now I'm not saying they should sell Vicoten (yet) or any other illegal harmful substances, but things like mild pain killers, vaccines, diet pills, laxatives, energy pills no problem (even sanitary iPads...sorry couldn't resist). 

After all, everyone gets a head ache once in a while; for some unfortunate people its just more often than others; Put it down to the work place's oppressive demand for greater productivity and our materialistic need, the rate of migraines has increased. In that vein a good capitalist should try to fulfil that niche market and enjoy the benefits (money) whilst taking a swig from the keg of glory. 

Pain killers are a necessary evil for the perpetually stressed and those trying to quit smoking (nicotine patches just aren't very manly, though they will be made available under my proposal). I have no qualms replacing one addiction with another, as humans we're better at substituting problems than eliminating them, call it human nature. Also I'm sure those suffering from actual medical ailments would also appreciate grabbing an Advil or Energy Pill along with their morning Coffee and Danish. 

Dieting is becoming pretty popular, though the problem is that in Pakistan, going out to eat is still the most common thing friends tend to do together. So for those who don't want to lose all of their friends and become an out cast, restaurants can start selling them diet pills off the menu!  

So one can go and gorge themselves with a hearty steak meal and then finish off with some convenient diet pills to justify their packed tummies.  In that same chain of though, laxatives could be sold (discreetly of course....capitalists can be sensitive too!).

People tend to enjoy their food a little bit too much sometimes and have heavy post meal stomachs, which make them very sleepy. Now sleeping after a big meal is very unhealthy, but lo and behold, restaurants can sell energy pills! 

Get a good boost of 5 Hour energy after a meal fit for a king(dom). You may say crazy, but I say Insanely profitable and highly advantageous (particularly for employers). 

Now these places already sell Cigarettes and Shisha/Hookah, which you can order off the menu (despite smoking in public indoor spaces being illegal in Pakistan). You'd be hard pressed to find an eating establishment not complete with an ashtray and smokers menu. 

So selling mildly harmful substances at eateries is not exactly uncommon and I would contend that a greasy Triple Decker burger is more harmful than popping a tiny FDA (Food Distribution Authorities) approved pill. 

This would also save lives for example for people suffering from an Asthmatic in the middle of a meal and need an on the spot inhaler (yes they'll be charged for it later) or Diabetics who badly need a dose of insulin (sell with measurement kit to increase revenue). 

Pills make people happy, whether physically or emotionally, establishments with happy customers tend to make a lot of money (oh and depriving customers is bad) and that's the bottom line....all the way to bank.  

Longing for Nap Time

How I miss the days that I could take a nap in the afternoon, Pre school and College were pretty sweet in that respect. In college if I had a gap in between classes, it was usually a good time for a nice restful nap (any time is good nap time). In Pre-school, I had no choice. 

Thinking about it further, I realized how important a good daily nap is for the human being, and that perhaps lack of sleep is the reason for all of our daily problems. And sleep deprivation, like most things in our poorly wired main frames is the root of all stress related evils!

One of the greatest institutions pervading in early education is nap time, its often seen as a way for Pre-schools and Kinder gardens alike to keep kids quiet and relatively destruction free (kids are known to have bed wetting problems), however I feel that nap time is vitally important, and not just for a teacher/educator/minders sanity. It's a fact of life, has anyone noticed how virtually every animal in the world takes time out for a daily nap; learn from your cats and dogs! They, the zebra, cheetahs, Lion, Black Widow Spider all do it.   

Besides, its good for the kids and we all love the kids (they're all so darn cute with their tiny little hands and adult like clothing). How confusing must it be for a kid to graduate to a higher grade and be told 'No more Nap time!' It's extremely disconcerting to a nascent mind and can lead to a reign of terror, which would aptly explain why kids become hyperactive and Armageddon-ish. 

It's their form of the Civil Disobedience Movement. When children return home from school, they don't rush for a nap; nope, they want payback for losing that blessed hour of sleep they could always count on during school, and the parents are the ones who get to pay for it (This is after they've already caused hell at school; I know I did). Take that you Nap Stealers! A rested child is a happy child, some may say that the more rested they are, the more terroristic their waking hours would be, but that is baloney. 

The more a child sleeps, the more relaxed he/she is (its also the only time Mommy gets to relax too). Babies, if they haven't slept, bawl all the time. But if they get their rest...well they'll still bawl till their fed, but they are generally more serene and cute worthy. It's why mothers raise their kids, rather than toss them off a cliff or keep them for the organ harvesting business (always good to have a back up plan my friends mother always says).  

I bet that's why Osama Bin Laden is just so damn irritable, the nap deprived man is always plotting, telling folks to blow things up, its enough to cause kidney failure....oh wait, Yeah. And come on, having to live in a cave, and hard floor bedding that is Afghanistan probably really made it hard for him to get a decent nights sleep, let alone the much needed afternoon nap! Especially after growing up with Egyptian Cotton Bed Spreads and Cushy Cashmere laced Mattresses. Tough luck dude. 

Has anyone noticed how Barack Obama is always so relaxed, the man is leader of the free world, he ought to be shitting bricks, while in contrast Michelle is...well not so relaxed (in her defense, she got knocked up and had to deal with crying babies), I bet they had different sleeping patterns, namely Barack Obama takes his afternoon nap....right after he smokes his daily joint...oops I meant cigarette. It is in anticipation of that hour of awesome dreamy time that he's able get things done...Efficiency galore. I'll bet anything that good ol' Dubya (President Bush; The stupid-er one) got his naps in before being elected, which is why he looks so damn old and stressed out now!

How much nicer would people be if in the middle of the day they were allowed a siesta break. A time to rest, recap the days events and aggregate any knowledge gained or ponder any weighty decision making. Everyone would be so much more relaxed, rested and focused. All it would cost is for companies to start nap hour. It would be awesome and highly productive. 

One also feels that Countries that do promote this practice, namely Spain and Italy have citizens that are just that much more nicer and provide pretty desirable places to work and prosper.The Greek & Spanish Gods' basically came down and said 'thou shalt siesta...and procreate (I realize that the second part isn't particularly relevant).' Italians especially are also famously lauded as the most genetically gifted womanizers ever (Only because Spanish people think its bad form to make public your number of conquests due to crappy paternity laws). There may be a connection there, that's all I'm saying. 

Sedate your Kids. Let them Nap and take a Nap yourself. You'll feel happier....if not, at least better rested.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pakistan Tourism Policy 2010

I recently read a piece on Pakistan's Tourism policy; basically on how it should be improved with cheaper lodging, modest travel costs etc. Now I was amazed that the government even had a tourism policy (or a ministry....or tourists for that matter), but lo and behold, Pakistan does! With a Snazzy website, Who would have thought it? 

Now I have some ideas on how to bring Pakistani Tourism on the upswing!

Make your Millions Campaign! ( Generously Funded by the US Terrorism Watch List). 

Main Slogan "Broke? No Problem, Grab your Gun and We Got You!"

Expertly release news items stating how Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah etc are all actually located in Pakistan (so they can keep the local domestic terrorists company, we probably have the highest domestic terrorist per capita in the world! Take That Ripleys!), this will modestly result in a jack pot of tourism. 

With properly placed ads on Fox News (CNN and the liberal media viewers are wusses), Black Water and every mercenary hunting group in the world will come and seek out these guys for the big US Bounty on their heads! There can even be vacation packages for the retired ex military chaps! 

In my mind, that translates into at least 200,000 guys (Pakistan is a big country). Dog the Bounty Hunter might even shoot a few seasons here....he'll never be short of challenges, we'll even comp him room and board (Pakistani's are generous like that). Yay Reality TV! And Bounties....and Booties, but I digress. 

A negative side effect may be a US Coalition led invasion...though to be fair Fiji and Haiti have their own problems right now, so they may need to skip on that. Though if an invasion took place, that's easily half a million troops/tourists right there! Imagine the tourist bucks! And then there are the international NGO's, development organizations etc, Volumetric awesomeness guaranteed. 

Since Pakistan has the innate ability to spew out a new generation of crazies by the clock, this will be a long term strategy, though Pakistan may have to subsidize the hit list at some point to get catch folks that actually do harm people and not just foreign interests (depending on the government in power some may be re-released into the wild for the entire process to start all over again). 

Death Defying Sporting Adventures: Adrenaline rush Guaranteed!(life insurance is not available)

Main Slogan "Don't be a wuss...Risk it all! We Dare YOU & We'll help ;) "

Start a new advertising campaign on how Pakistan is the new home of extreme sports. Every adrenaline junkie on the planet is just looking for their next rush. Here the rush is 24/7 365 days a year! Think about it, Pakistan is a country with dangerous landscape. In K2, we have the second highest (and still growing) mountain in the world, crazy weird deserts, perhaps one of the world most polluted oceans and the kicker is that this is discounting the fundamentalist nut jobs! Take extreme to a whole new level! And that's without considering the fundamentalist crazies. 

Skiing with explosion induced landslides, climbing mountains with bullet holes and swimming in an ocean of spilt oil and teeming with mutated animals. Way Rad! The medical ramifications will also result in these tourists having to spend months (maybe even years!) in intensive care (with our hospitals it'll probably be years); their loved ones and relatives may even show up and augment our tourist dollars! I say we even throw in a few surf boards and free mountain climbing equipment.  

We'll even host the X games and make Tony Hawk President for the day (he can't read Urdu, but politicians are fairly illiterate, so whats the worst he could do?). 

Find the Perfect Submissive Wife campaign. (No Refunds)

Main Slogan "Perfect Bride + Perfect You = Perfect Happiness!"

Living abroad, there appears to be some myth about how girls from the home land are perfect; that they cook, clean, sew, well mannered, respectful, completely traditional, and are excellent baby popping devices to boot! Now when anyone (with any sense of reality) hears this, it is supremely funny (mostly idiotic). 

The fact that its a pipe dream is irrelevant (I live here, trust me). It's a terrific marketing opportunity. If Israel can fund their expats to come and check out the homeland, Pakistan's Ministry of Tourism should too! But with a wife/spousal focus, they can spin it like an investment as marriage is long term (even though divorce rates are creeping up...repeat business yo!). Everyone knows what a long process wife hunting in Pakistan is! The wife hunters will be here for months at a stretch and Islam allows 4 wives fellas ;) 

White people in particular will love it, as they'll get someone exotic and Pakistani families can brag about how fair their new in laws are and how often they get to travel! Win, Win Situation!

With Western divorce rates the way they are, at the very least Pakistan will benefit enormously from remittances (particularly with the no refund policy). And if the unions work out, all the better; the (not so) happy couples tell all of their friends to get a Paki Bride while privately drinking each other into oblivion once they realize that they have nothing in common and that neither are perfect or as modern as they thought. 

Online acquisitions and mail order bride catalogues are a potential downside to this, unless the government steps in with tough regulation (That they actually enforce). 
Pakistan: The Ideal Summer School Program

Main Slogan: "Nothing Tans like the Taliban!"

Give your kids a little culture, don't let them waste another summer at some fancy camp or take a trip to Europe (so boring and so last century). 

From time to time, one comes across parents who gleefully remember the days where kids respected their elders and how schools knew how to administer discipline. Unfortunately as fondly as they look at their scars, then tend to forget how they beaten unconscious and that there may still be residual brain damage.  

Now Muslim parents abroad often lament how their children are 'losing' their religion, though in their kids defense in order to lose it, you have to have it first. Now I can understand how parents want their kids to have the same cool set of values that they had (Does 'pull up your pants! if they get any lower they will fall off!' and 'Beta (son), please let me sew those ripped jeans of yours, they look sooo bad, the neighbors will think we are in poverty' sound familiar?) 

So I propose we combine the two, and have an awesome summer program where the focus in on  getting closer to god, whilst getting a freaking amazing tan! The Taliban teachers will tan the kids butts, whilst the sun tans the rest! Activities offered will vary, such as a course for girls on "How to dress modestly and sexy" at the same time and for boys, "How to groom your beard while not looking like a homeless person". 

Summers here are awesome, your also guaranteed an even brown tan (even in winters) plus you can't buy the cultural experiences that your kids will gain. They'll leave with a whole new out look on life (it may be a tad bit fundamentalist though).

Imagine it, scented love notes being passed from exchanging Qurans (there will be no discrimination on same sex romances....Islam is Tolerance Biatch!). Summer romance taken to a whole new level. Family deal discounts available! Free Lashing Guaranteed!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Deep Question

Q. What do you want to be in life?
Ans. Awesome. (Only God gets to be Perfect and I'm still trying to get on his good side.

At some point in our lives, we tend to ask ourselves what is the meaning of life? Is there depth to our purpose here, or are we merely specks in the fabric of time, forever dancing to the tune of tick tock.

I think because life is so ephemeral in the grand scheme of things, we are always on a quest to prolong and make most of the experience. After all, there is nothing that guarantees that we won't drop dead any second now. Which reminds me, go have fun today! just in case.

We love living, and love the idea of immortality. We don't like to think of the practicality, the boredom, the changing times, losing the people we love and worst of all the loneliness. Which is probably why religions almost universally speak of the after life, a better place where life goes on or at least is continued in some fashion; Whether its frolicking in the gardens of Eden or dining in the Great Hall with Thor (I vote partying with Thor, apparently the bar maids are hot and they awesome dirty jokes).

To deserve that better place, we must be better people. With all of humanities imperfections, disastrous impulses we are gifted the ability and tools to overcome our shortcomings. Unfortunately, we prefer to keep the tools away for emergencies rather than keep them in good use.

We are given the freedom of choice to love, hate, feel whatever we wish. It is that choice that makes us unique. It also places a great burden on our shoulders to be better, if we hope to have a pleasant after life. Assuming you believe in the after life.

I remember a conversation I had with an atheist friend of mine, she had thrown a party celebrating her move from being a closet agnostic to full blown atheism. I hadn't really met any real intellectual atheists, the ones I had met were a mish mash rebellious pissed of girls, who still hadn't gotten over the fact that a God given anatomy would make them bleed once a month.

I obviously went over to admonish her and poke her alien like frame to make sure she was real. One thing about her conversion did trouble me, which I put to her. There was no tangible benefit for her giving up God. Very simply put if she believes in God (lets not get into selection worries) then on her death she has a shot at the afterlife, even if she's right, she dies with that sense of comfort. Both of these don't exist in her current state, which disconcerted me. She has nothing to look forward to in an athiest mindset, and if she's wrong about it all, she'll burn in hell. Sounds pretty freaking stupid.

Why is it that good people tend to lead 'boring' lives? I realized that it may seem boring to me, but they have different things that give them pleasure. The fulfilment of achievement and the promise of a better after life. We admire such people, but rarely enough to change our ways and follow them as our examples, preferring Jude Law to Edhi or Russel Brand to Mandela.

Obviously no one is perfect, humans aren't wired to be, but we can struggle to be better, do better, use our lives for the betterment of others. Whether it is one person or one billion, that love is the same. God doesn't demand we succeed, he only demands that you try as Mother Theresa is often quoted as saying. It is that honest effort that marks our betterment.

I think that their are many easy ways to better ourselves, whether its being charitable, smiling more, being understanding of others, helping people (especially at home) and random acts of kindness. But that choice is ours, and it is both our greatest asset and our greatest downfall. It's a pity its not a responsibility we are really up for.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Preeti Computer...I'm Sorry, But We Are Done..

My Dearest Preeti/Computer, 

This isn't going to work anymore, you have injured me down to my black soul. God have mercy on me for putting so much faith in you (to be honest I expect little). It was only after I saw you respond so suggestively to my co-workers commands, that I realized the truth.  

You flatter me endlessly, you light up immediately when I merely move the mouse and start playing with your key board. You even make me feel that after a dump that my toilet reeks of fresh flowers. Alas, it was but a lie. You were never truly mine. 

Everyone seems to love thee, you and your kind. Everyone needs a computer, or so you say. When I acquired you, we made a pact that you would be mine, I named you (Preeti, because you always were), stamped my office code with pride onto your CPU's backside, all to not avail, that sticker of honor, was no more than a tramp stamp to you. Little did I know how 'open for business' you were. 

Your promiscuity and desire to let anyone play with your keyboard and caress your mouse pad leaves me extremely jealous and feeling rather stupid. But none of it matters anymore.  

Preeti, I had so much hope for us, when you were presented to me with your gleaning screen, so shiny that I could see my reflection in your eyes. Little was I to know that this was a false promise, you'll reflect into any ones eyes, you whore. I hate you, yet I loved you. 

Such are the ironies of life. I feel that we've reached the end of our road together. Fuck you. I can't wait to get a base ball bat and smash you into a circuit spewing pulp, however, because I am a gentleman (Momma raised me right), I will not..... 

Instead I will hand you off to my illiterate underlings, and let them have their way with you. They'll bang your keyboard into oblivion, the sound of their typing so loud and merciless, even I won't want want to hear. Your CPU will groan and shriek with obvious pain as multiple spam and pop up viruses ravage your insides. And to think it was all so unnecessary. 

I know we've had our problems, from time to time I have (by mistake!) downloaded the odd virus file, resulting in clean ups that were uncomfortable and not to your liking. 

I realize how it makes you feel when I use public computers at Internet cafes or marvel at the latest laptop (in my defense, everyone else was doing it).

I even remember the time that you gave me an fatal error when I was surfing the web for laptops (for my sister!). Such jealously seemed almost sweet and loving at the time. Such is our tragedy. 

Preeti Baby, they meant nothing to me compared to you, after all, I relied on you day in and day out for a dozen hours at a time. How many late nights did we spend together in an intellectual embrace? How can you even imagine that I would ever shirk from my responsibilities to you. 

You were my no.1 babe. I was always there when you needed me to make you feel wanted, even if it was a google search on 'bouncing bunnies vs. dragons.'

Where did we lose that trust and mutual appreciation we had for each other? I lavished you with praise even when what I really wanted was to coax just a little more speed out of you (was that too much to ask?). It's not that I was displeased with your performance, my sweet, it was just that I had higher hopes for you.

I knew you were capable of better, Preeti baby, but it never occurred to me that you were consciously holding back. I expected better,  and when I saw you dancing to the tune of that other man's commands, I realized the truth.

The God honest truth is that you let me down. Seeing that other person play you like a piano made me realize that 'us' wasn't meant to be. It was a lie and one that we've lived for too long, my dear.

It's time for me to upgrade, find someone who is better, more worthy of my time. I hope you find someone that you can sync up with. Though to be honest, I just don't give a shit anymore. Hope your processor fries, bitch. 

With Non-Existent Love and all the Pissed off Rage in my Heart,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lessons from College: Cautionary Tales

I always prided myself on the various esoteric connections I made at school, and the unique individuals who in one way or another shaped my life; some were no better than cautionary tales, others were truly inspirational. 

However, for this post I'd like to recap the real deviants. For obvious reasons I have decided to protect their identities, also some details have been changed, largely due to embellishments. 

These 'gospels' provide an interesting framework of how the lessons I gleaned were largely born out of randomness (and at other people expense). 

1. Story of Small P: Permission and Forgiveness

Small P was one of those guys who everyone liked even though he was a small, scrawny kind of guy with a razor sharp wit and was a bit of a dick. 

However, he loved to have fun and had a strict intoxication and enjoyment policy.....mainly 'whatever, whenever'.  

A particular sports team was travelling to a conference game and arriving late into the night at their accommodations. Sans a coach, the Team Captains put the team to bed having autocratically decided it would be best to simply crash and get what little rest you could before the early morning festivities. 

This was for obvious reasons now a popular idea amongst the party loving players. But, the Captain had spoken and his word was final. However, a minority, led by Small P thought that this was an awful idea and took it upon himself to lead a small group of rebels out to the local bar scene. 

After 4 hours of hedonistic, drunken and hilariously irresponsible behavior (the local bar maid might have been led to believe that all the players were Lithuanian) the entire group (miraculously) safely returned to the accommodations and an irate Captain who had been calling every ones cell phones for the past 3 hours. 

It was just plain bad luck that everyone on that trip had left their cell phones behind. After a severe tongue lashing, the group feeling sorry for themselves, vented their frustration at Small P for his galvanizing them earlier. 

Small P (still startlingly drunk of his hiney) asked one question, 'Did you guys have a good time?", everyone assented that indeed, they had. He then shrugged his shoulders in the way of a modern day Aristotle,  "Some times its better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." 

2. Story of Roger: Genius of Circumstance 

Hamilton has extremely cold weather, the winters were almost unbearable. For anyone who likes a good smoke (weed, tobacco or otherwise), the winter months are perhaps the most despicable aspect of life at Hamilton. Personally I'm convinced that Hamilton intrinsically forces people to quit smoking via the weather. 

Any how, my friend Roger and his room mate 'Roomie' lived in substance free housing, but they were avid smokers (of all things that could be smoked). Now in substance free one isn't allowed to possess any alcohol, drugs, smoke indoors, or make loud music after certain hours. 

Unfortunately for the more rule inclined residents, one in particular Crazy Suzy, Roger had an electric guitar which he played with wild abandon at a mind numbing volume.  Now Crazy Suzy was one of the super wound up substance free Priestesses, she was obsessive about maintaining the purity of her substance free domain. 

She was therefore not a natural fan of Roger and Roomie, and registered formal complaints against them on a weekly basis (conservatively est.). Though in her defense both Roger and Roomie seemed to be aiming at shattering the record for most rules broken in a single year. 

By winter, Roger was on his (5th) last chance and one cold bone crunching night both he and Roomie were prepping for finals, drinking a beer (illegal) whilst working and contemplating a smoke. Roger decided that the weather was prohibitive and Roomie agreed and turned to continue working. 5 minutes later Roomie felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around. 

Roger had wrapped up the smoke detector (illegal), stuffed a towel underneath the door and was in the process of lighting up their favourite bong (illegal) . Bemused by Rogers 'genius' they smoked and drank whilst studying for the rest of the night. The next day they both went to class (hungover) and Roomie upon returning, noticed something was very wrong. 

The door was wide open, at worst Roger would leave the door slightly cracked on his way out of the room due to the contra brand nature of their possessions, but never wide open. He then opened his email and noticed a note from his R.A that Crazy Suzy had taken pictures of their room with a covered fire detector, various bong pipes, open alcohol containers and that charges were being filed imminently. Roomie obviously panicked and waited for Roger to saunter in. 

Roger heard the news and was surprisingly relaxed about the situation, the calmed picked up up his guitar, and in the blink of an eye cut the strings and jammed his foot into the amplifier and said 'oh shit, we've had a break in'. 

After they filed counter charges against Crazy Suzy for breaking & entering, destruction of property and planting evidence, the Resident Advisor brokered a compromised where charges from both sides would be dropped. (Crazy Suzy later moved to a different floor).    

The lesson to be learnt, is that no matter who you are (or think you are) pick who you mess with, just because you have evidence doesn't mean that the other person isn't a genius of circumstance. 

3. Story of Steve: Space management

Anyone who has attended college, knows one of the most useful and hotly contested items in the dorm room is the mini-fridge. It keeps cold the booze supply and is typically full of late night sustenance food and on occasion early morning breakfast staples. 

Now Steve and his roomate 'Alex' often had difficult discussions on how to allocate the mini-fridge space. There was simply wasn't enough room for the vast amounts of pre/post party booze and the less essential things in life. 

One morning Steve woke up late and had to rush to class, he grabbed his Nalgene full of orange juice from the fridge, recounting how last night he had yelled at Alex for drinking out of it and for overloading the fridge with half empty hard alcohol bottles. Now his Nalgene bottle was full again and Steve was happy with the world (Alex was passed out snoring). 

Upon getting to class Steve took a huge swig of the juice expecting its refreshment to engulf him with energy. It tasted off. Steve assumed that Alex had used a different brand of orange juice to re-fill his Nalgene and it was simply lower quality stuff. 

Non-plussed, Steve (as was custom), drank the entire Nalgene in just a few minutes to maximize his energy boost. About 30 minutes later while in class he realized how carefree and relaxed he felt, almost like that 9 AM Econometrics was the coolest class in the world. By 9:45 he realized that he was drunk and was on the verge of puking in class. 

Then he realized what happened. Alex had emptied out the bottle of cheap vodka into the orange juice...and 'forgot' to tell Steve. (Alex later swore that it was an accident, how one could accidentally empty Vodka into a orange juice Nalgene was never explained or justified).  

Steve had consumed 1.25 litres of the most lethal Screw Driver known to man and promptly puked on the floor 20 yards from the bathroom.  

The moral of the story is that living with people involves compromise, be nice to them and they'll (largely) be nice to you. Don't piss them off or get in their grill, because they have greater access to mess with you than anyone else if your life.

4. Story of Paul: Not Mine!

I always liked red necks and red neck humor, blue collar comedy tour was one of my favourite late night shows to watch. There was a kid from the south, who I was always a bit of a fan off, but he did do some random things. 

We had gone to the Sangertown mall to grab some food and vitamins from and he recounted a recent story of a friend of his. His friend, lets call him Paul, thought of the mall as a public freak show, a homage to white trash and it was pretty common to see over weight 14-15 year old girls of the goth fashion trend pushing strollers by themselves. 

Youth pregnancies and single parent baby mommas were fairly were unfortunately pretty common in the local populace. Paul had a wicked sense of humour to say the least and saw these child moms as perfect fodder for his/our entertainment. 

Paul would walk up to to these baby carriages, block them, lean forward, inspect the baby, (sometimes prodding them) and then pronounce a sigh of relief, look at up to confused girls in question and joyously exclaim 'Not mine!.' And then promptly walk off with not a care in the world whilst high fiving every person in sight. 

If the presumed father of the baby was anywhere close by, he would stamp to the baby mama and give her a earful. The lesson being that just because someone says something, it doesn't mean its true.  

5. Story of Nate: Always keep your door Locked.

A good friend of mine used to leave his door unlocked, to make his late night bathroom jaunts easier. 

One fine Friday night, my friend Nate and his roomate went to bed early due to their early morning athletic meet the next day, Nate was half asleep when he heard the door crack open and the cheap fluorescent tube light stun the room. 

At first he thought it was his roomate and was about to turn over to the other side before he realized something was amiss. His roomate was a small scrawny kid, who was 5'5 and around 100 pounds. The person who had just stumbled into his room was at least 6 feet tall, and was conservatively anywhere between 250-300 pounds. 

Even though Nate is actually a pretty strong kid, he was scared witless, particularly as the lumbering giant approached his bed. Nate prepared himself, ready to fight for his honor with every last bit of strength emanating from his body. 

Once the giant was at his bed, he looked very confused to see Nate there, he shrugged his shoulder and then tapped ashen faced Nate on the shoulder and in the dead silence of the night said two words 'Move over.' As the giant got into bed, Nate scrambled out of his bed and jumped onto the floor as the giant, unperturbed by Nate's ferocious activity, wrapped the blanket around his torso and went to sleep. 

The kid, in his drunken stupor had mistaken Nate's room for his own, but was still charitable enough to share (what he thought was) his own bed with him. Fortunately the giant's fraternity brothers found him. After that Nate always locked his door.

 Lesson being that things are not always as they seem and even in their most intoxicated states, people have the capacity for generosity. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Finger Lickin Good

I don't think any foreign fast food chain in Pakistan has penetrated the Pakistani market quite like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Despite the accretion of look a likes and pretenders to the crown, with the likes of Kohat Fried Chicken, Chicken & Chicken, HotNSpicy etc, KFC has reigned supreme. You'd be hard pressed to find a local fast food joint that didn't have a version of the Zinger.

I've come up with several reasons why I think that is:

1. KFC puts addictive drugs in their food. It might sound silly, but drugs are really cheap in Pakistan, we grow the stuff. Some do so on their lawns. Agricultural growth galore. Yay!

2. People like eating chicken as it is considered a premium meat. It's clean, hard to mess up and you can eat sizable quantities of it without needing to taking a nap in order to continue eating.

3. People keep pet cows and goats, no one has 'pet' chickens. So Pakistanis have less of an emotional connection to them. The Welsh Sheep Shaggers Guild agree.

4. Colonel Sanders looks like a Feudal lord/ Vedera. We love our feudal culture. And the Colonel with his white hair, great big moustache and portly figure fits right in (a little too snuggly of course, he eats nothing but fried chicken). He is always well dressed in a crisp suit, much the same way the stereotypical feudal lord. Please don't beat us Sir, we will eat your fried chicken for hundreds of years.

5. He is called Colonel Sanders....We were taught to respect the military. He is a Colonel after all. We are scared of a possible coup so we constantly appease him by adding to his bottom line, sacrificing our waistlines in the process. Sir!!! Yes!!! Sir!!!

6. Pakistani people are secretly black (or want to be). Stereotype and all. The people (urban or otherwise) eat a lot of heavy food and the Premium Fried Chicken fits right in. Also why Pakistanis like watching Basketball....we support our homeboys.

7. Pakistanis believe that Kentucky is not an American State. In fact the myth is that it's a place in England. KFC officials refuse to dispel this myth with their 'Tally ho' ad where Colonel Sanders is playing a nice game of cricket.

8. They tempt the people's palette. Every time they upgrade their burgers saying how super spicy they are, what they are really doing is throwing down the gauntlet. We do not back down from challenges. Yes we will eat 20 Super Hot Zinger Maxx Burgers at one go to prove our manhood (At the point with which they'll ask us to sign a release form before ordering a burger will be our moment of success). Burn Baby Burn!

9. They have the coolest Kids meals. Sick Toys which keep on breaking, so your forced to go back and buy more.

10. It is finger licking good. Pakistanis also believe that vast amounts of fried food have healing qualities that will sustain us in the after like. Chicken, Corn on the Cobb, Zingers etc. Awesome food. Dear Chicken....get in my Tummy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time Machine...Who Would You Meet?

How unbelievable awesome would it be if you could go back in time and meet folks, knowing what you do now. Minus the stock market gain that you would make, I think it was freaking amazing thing to do. So I compiled a list of people who I'd like to meet and why. 

People I'd like to go back in time and meet: 

1. In Pakistan, in some rural areas, people/super committed adrenaline drug addicts catch poisonous snakes/scorpions, and literally smoke the poison (usually out of a bong). So I want to go back in time and meet the innovator who thought it was a good idea to catch and then smoke a poisonous scorpion. Mad Respekt. Talk about commitment to getting high. 'I'm going to Kill you, and then I'm going to smoke you!" true visionary. 

2. Black mailing is not a new thing, as it actually quite a terrible things to do. But I'd still like to meet Tiger Woods, right after he got married so I could start black mailing him for tonnes of hush money, but I'd be nice, I'd even let him beat me at our weekly golf games/cash exchanges

3. Everyone like to complain about the huge deficits run under the Republican Presidency.So I'd like to be a good Samaritan and go back in time to meet George (Dubya) Bush, back when he was taking finance courses so I can explain to him in great detail what a balanced budget means (I totally understand, my 17 year old little sister still have problems balancing her balance sheet in accounts.....not to mention her budget). 

4. I understand how its a global consumer based economy we live in and how it gets really expensive and that everyone gets in debt. So I'd like to meet the man who came up with the bright idea for huge malls so women can shop all day and blow their (and their husband/boy friends) entire months salary in a single I can kick him in the balls (bro code demands it). 

5. I grew up with everyone telling me how Oprah is a role model, a genius at helping people lose weight, solve their marital problems (basically perfect St. Oprah if you will), so I was forced to watch her shows from time to time (not when any 9 year old wants to watch when cartoons are on), so I'd like a little revenge. Go back in time to meet Oprah; Back when she was still skinny (so pretty far back), so I can tell her that she is going to really get as fat as a sumo wrestler, so she can just chill and have a Twinkie and let little Murtaza (who was extremely awesome kid) watch his cartoons. 

6. Agnes Bojaxhiu, for no other reason because she is one of those super charitable, generous people of our age. It's always good to meet really sweet hearted people and she fits the bill. Some would even say, that she has the heart of a Saint. You may know her as Mother Theresa.

7. Mick Jagger: If the man can rock concerts now, can you imagine how incredible he must have been 20-30 years ago. Word. 

8. John Lennon: Knock him out with a base ball bat about ten minutes before he heads out to get shot. Man could make some seriously sweet music. Beatles would totally make a come back. 

9. Head back to the 1400's Isabella of Spain's Royal court while Christopher Columbus is asking for seed money and tell her not to do it, saying "Your Highness, do you wish to be the laughing stock of the flat world?"....It will be Legen-wait for it-Dary. American Indians will worship me as being Chief Brown Skin of Masala Masala......if only they knew. 

10. Guy who invented chocolate. You are a beautiful man, and you must be full of wisdom about women. I promise to bring you some Weed, a bottle of Tequila, an XBox and a crate of Mars Bar....but you deserve so much more.  

11. Back in the time of Moses, explain to him how he rocks and everything, but that his compass is broken, but that I'll be more than happy to give him mine (I'm charitable like that); finally that he's going the wrong direction and I'll kindly point him the way to Eastern Europe. 

12. Meet the guys who built Stonehenge....what the hell were you dudes upto?

13. Myself, any time in the past will do. Talk about hanging out with a true legend. Hell, I even went back in time. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Discrimination...Don't Push It Buddy!

Discrimination in any way, shape or form is disgraceful. I had never given much thought to it, but an experience I had at a conference whilst still in College made me question those who live in a 'Am I being discriminated' mindset. Unfortunately, looking back and around me now, I still see far too many people put their own failures or just plain back luck down to discrimination. 

I'm not claiming that it doesn't happen anymore, but I definitely do feel that people tend to take advantage of the Political Correctness (PC) culture. 

I attended a conference on behalf of my college and I met someone who made me think about the issue at hand. At the conference, there was this annoying incompetent kid I met in the morning of the event and was forced to partner up with (I had overslept and arrived late). About half way into our joint assignment I realized that he hadn't followed any of the guidelines and we (by we I mean me) had to redo all of it. 

Needless to say, I was livid, still fatigued from travelling and lacking sleep. Even on my good days, I am not a morning person; about as irrate as a hormonal girl on her period. So I did what any civilized person would do. I exploded at him. 

I drew on as much inspiration (as much as I could bring to bear in my groggy caffeine deprived state) in inflicting volumetric amounts of mental pain upon him for being so utterly incapable (and annoying), when he interjected by asking me if I disliked him because he was gay. 

He completely knocked me off my flow (I thought I was in the midst of quite the 'Legen-Wait for It-Dary' tongue lashing. At the time to hide my confusion, I couldn't help but laugh it off and give him a pat on his ogre like back. Almost as though that act proved to him that I wasn't 'hating on him' for being gay. For several reasons: 

A. Because it was a weird unexpected question; I had just bitched the kid out for not doing his job properly/being a useless tool/Being King in the Land of Village Idiots... being asked if I was prejudiced against him based upon his sexual orientation was not the response I had envisioned. 

B. I didn't feel like explaining him the numerous ways how he perpetually annoyed me in the short 3 hours we had spent together. Imagine a clinically tone deaf person with a fork being stabbed into his stomach singing "Can't Fight the Moon Light" over and over again whilst typing (inaccurately as it turned out). 

C. His ignorant outlandish statements were already so stupid, I couldn't compute; 'oh I think I definitely know where Pakistan is, its a place in Mexico, right?", that I had to grit my teeth and remind myself I was representing. (yes I was one of those morons). 

D. I had no clue that he was gay; It's not like they wear a freaking sign. Though in retrospect the perpetual singing was probably a big clue. I admit it, I had sucky Gay-dar. 

Thinking back on it, I realize now that it was probably a practised ploy to throw me off and make me uncomfortable. Well it worked you asshole. I'm forced to wonder how often had he and other minorities used that particular line. 

"Is it because I'm gay/Muslim/female/christian/black/Yellow/Blue (OK maybe not blue)/etc?" 

Now let me be clear, I have never disliked people because they are gay. I dislike them based on their merit and if they have values that I take issue with. It'd probably because you are a combination of being an incompetent asshole, dishonest, disloyal and a callous imbecile to boot....(stupidity is a given).  

Anyhow, a few months later I was later posed a similar question at a Q&A forum by a prospective gay student as part of my Multi-Cultural Ambassador work on behalf of the Admissions office (yes I was still the moron representing) during an open house, he asked me whether discrimination was prevalent in Hamilton and do gay students in particular feel marginalized?  

Now, I hate to break it to people, I am not the poster boy for the 'we have been discriminated against' movement, I can't say that it's been my experience (though flying commercial sure does suck), but if your looking for gross open acts of discrimination at any preppy super liberal arts college in New York, you've come to the wrong place. In response to his query I did make a keen distinction which one, in the world of political correctness (my membership was revoked), tends to forget.  

You don't and shouldn't form opinions on people because they belong to a certain type casted group. It's unfair, we are all individuals who are more than the obvious labels. 

Hell, I even have an Asian friend who is allergic to tea! (less than a hundred years ago, they'd probably have killed her with their multiple tea based cures)   

I'm not sorry, the black person who can tell an audience that 'Pool' is a racist game, because the white ball has to hit the black 8 ball into the pocket to end the game, has severe self esteem issue and is almost grasping at straws to find a situation where he can claim discrimination. Lets not forget that a black ball is used in bowling to get knock down 12 white pins.  

Barack Obama....need I say more. 

Damn, it must suck to be a straight white (christian only in name) male. When did they become the minority? 

For simplicity's sake lets get back to the question I was asked at the forum. and this is something like what I said:

People possess other qualities other than being gay (or whatever) that you can judge them on. If a good dude happens to be gay, then odds are that we get along (I did say I thought he was a good dude). One should never judge their attitudes towards someone based on their sexual preferences.  

On the other hand if someone is an asshole (or has other qualities I profusely dislike) happens to be gay, I am not under any obligation to be particularly nice to him and treat him with kiddie gloves. He may want special preference, but what he (and every other being) is entitled to is equality. 

He/she has no right to use the gay card cheap shot as their primary defense, otherwise I will be pissed and I'll know that I was right about them being a waste of space. 

You have a right to be gay, whether you choose to be or were born gay, is a useless question, because of the end of the day you are who you are. What Science, Evolution, Creationism, Atheism, Buddhism have to say about it is completely irrelevant, in the end, there just justifications for any number of sides. 

As far as a guy ought to be concerned, the more open gay people out of the closet, the greater the improvement in the straight male/straight female ratio. Gay men are a good bridge to understand what a girl is really trying to say (1800-female problems advice from gay people .com). Gay men are the only type of men that a guy feels comfortable leaving his girlfriend alone with for hours at a stretch (assuming he buys that you are in fact gay) and if a gay man says you look hot, it means you ought to go change (unless your into that sort of thing). 

If you really are a bigot and think that gays and other minorities in general are unnatural, I'd really like to toss your sorry ass in the middle of gay gang banging heartland of Waziristan (but I won't because Islam teaches tolerance, and I am too scared to go into Waziristan). 

If you really think it's abnormal, you ought to be happy with homosexuals coming out of the closet. Their gene lines end with them and the fact that they are willing to give up their inherent desire to procreate and multiply shows how serious they are about who they are.   

We are all creatures of God, and who the hell are we to say that someone can't be what they are, but we are the ones who have the right to choose how we act, and its a matter of moral decency to treat others on their merits, not preferentially, but fairly. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Beggarazzi

Anyone who has visited Pakistan (or any developing country for that matter) can't help but notice the multitude of beggars, whilst it would  be callous to think of every beggar as a professional beggar, drug addict, mentally ill, we grow tired of their constant prodding on every side walk, at every traffic light bugging people for money. 

Sometimes we acquiesce, sometimes we ignore them and sometimes we have the urge to cuss them out (rarely do we, as it would entail lowering the windows of our air conditioned cars and no one wants to waste cool air, its bad for the environment). 

But I think we should try to look at it slightly more constructively and find an awesome solution. None of the lame, pay the kids to go to school, or give food hand outs, or make the govt. give them jobs. Everyone has tried, yet it hasn't work. So I have come up with a uniquely awesome solution.  

I think of them as the Beggarazzi, as they tend to swarm and follow you at the slightest sign of weakness, which is what gave me my latest brain storm. 

Turn the Beggarazzi into Paparazzi. Yes, I am serious. Think about it, they have all the qualities to be successful.

1. They are masters are making people look at them with pity, even targeting people's sympathies, promise to pray for their fertility for a few rupees. (I'm not sure how God would feel about someone being paid for praying).

2. They have extremely well rehearsed lines that arouse a sense of humanity in the worst of us. They will have no problem in sticking to a script and eliciting responses/gather attention. 

3. Inconspicuous....when is the last time you remember what your local beggars wore? Whatever actual color the clothing was is now hidden by dirt and grime, they also have the scary ability to blend in with their surroundings....perfect for stalking a would be celeb. 

4. Completely thick skinned. They don't mind being despised by their bread and butter. The international Paparazzi all have one thing in common. Everyone hates them, (well except for publisher and editors). No one wants to associate with them, share a meal with them, and want nothing better than to have them out of their daily lives....sound familiar? 

5. They will have no problem working on commission, which means that they will be super effective to point of being willing to kill others to get the job done. Get'er done and they will with $$$ signs in their eyes and smiles all the way to the bank (though they may prefer cash).

6. When Celebs see these dirt poor people with camera's they can't help but feel sorry for them. After all, what celeb would (with cameras present) cuss out a poor destitute struggling to make ends meet. Traditional vile Paparazzi yes, no one likes them, but the Beggarazzi, would have their sympathy.  

Oh and we can get the Beggarazzi "Feed the Beggar" tee shirts, have a group of Bleeding Heart Volunteers drop off and give them lunch, so that they don't go hungry (while there on a stake out). It'll alleviate the bleeding hearts club because they can't stand to see others go hungry especially when in comparison you feel like a bastions of privileged.

7. They are Hungry....for success....well in all likely hood they are probably physically hungry too. So it's something they are used to. At least this way they have an avenue with which to make money and not annoying common folk (you celeb folk are screwed btw). 

Now I can see why some members of the Bleeding Hearts Club might see this at cruel and exploitative, and the current Paparazzi mish mash might feel a little territorial and go into a deep discussion about the merits of their craft and the skills and composition that goes into a good photograph and how beggars are unsuited for it. Fortunately, I have prepared some fairly simple responses. 

Dear poorly satisfied (yes I went there, some people just need to get laid) Bleeding Hearts: Please explain to me why it's not better that for beggars and destitutes to earn an honest wage, rather than live off others' meagre generosity. 

Lets not kid ourselves, they rarely give them enough money to buy anything other than cheap candy; and please don't make the ridiculous argument that so many people give them money that they earn a decent amount because it's insulting, you try living like that. 

This way they are able to live with dignity, I'm not saying that they'll be particularly well loved, but it's not like they were adored to start with. This way they can afford to feed their families and have a realistic dream for a better life, as well as a real future.

Dear Paparazzi: Digital camera's do all of that composition, light and angle crap automatically .....Your fucked. Even if they didn't your Editors care more about the content of the picture rather than the professional quality (assuming a basic level can be reached via digital cameras). Besides, cellular camera photo's go for egregious amounts of money. 

When you see a picture of Tiger Woods making out with Jude Law, your less concerned with the perfection of the shot, rather than the fact that two of world's biggest womanizers are making out. Sorry to bust your ego's about how your all artists, well your not. Your jobs are to chase people with cameras and I'll bet that the Beggarazzi can do a way better job than you can. 

It's a whole new world. Deal with it. However, in case life becomes too tough in the face of the severe competition there is always a begging spot open on 'Get the F**k Away from Me" Blvd.  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Credit Cards are Like a Bad Relationship...

Credit Cards; We all own one, and how can we not? They promise so much yet deliver so little. Much like a relationship.... You never know what your really getting yourself into until your stuck counting the cost. But how do you explain it's impact on someone who hasn't owned one?

If there was ever a recipe for bad romance, credit cards are it. I sure hope credit card companies and debt collectors have a sense of humor about what they do.

When you meet someone you like, you feel very happy, you see how others act around her, and you can't help but want her for yourself. Lets call her Madame Visa. You are hesitant to apply, after all, is she really worth the commitment, is she someone you want to take home to meet your parents? Someone to rely on a during a pricey family dinner maybe? 

Once you scrounge up the courage and apply for her good graces, you can't help feel hesitant. After all who knows what your past history will reveal; A faulty credit score is a tough thing to get over. But who knows? Maybe if you've been prudent your entire life you haven't been with her fickle friends Madame's MasterCard, American Express and Discovery. You might be safe. You pray that she doesn't scorn you over your past involvements. After all, they're in the past baby, I'm sure with you it'll be different. Magical even. I know your the right one for me! 

If she says yes and embraces your hand with all the comfort you dreamed off. You can't help but enjoy how magical it feels. She accepts and chooses you. She will support you (with 0% for the first 6 months even) and even give you 2% cash back, all because she is so fine that all business want you, treat you special even, just so you you come visit. All because of the lovely lady nestled in your outstretched palm.  

You think it's poor taste to swipe her once too often, after all, she is special, but you can't help but show her off and how powerful you feel with Madame Visa clutched onto your fingertips.  

How can you help but not fall in inexplicably love with her? She always says yes to your most arduously hidden desires, should you buy a light pink man-purse complete with a humidifier for $399, yes! After all, its less than $400 and she will feel oh so protected in there. 

It is only after that glow new loves brings to fade that you discover the problems that a real relationship brings. She is no longer as comforting anymore, she grows distant, disinterested even and at times severely demanding. 

You acquiesce by throwing money at the problem, the 38.95% rate is no problem, anything to keep Madame Visa happy. She wants and expects the best. After all, you knew what you were getting into....didn't you read the fine print? You find that your 'investment' in Madame Visa's happiness is really an expensive hobby....nay your life in fact. Until the day when tempers fray she humiliates you by declining your affections in public. 

You fight, you cry, you scream and you beg to be placed back in her good graces, but alas. You try and you swipe, but it is done. You have been declined. Someone takes Madame Visa off you and cuts her into small pieces, much like your heart and the realization that you are no longer whole. Your life will never be the same. To have loved and lost, is better than to never have loved at all. You will eventually recover, and hopefully learn from your past and trust your heart to someone who will really take care of you and know when to say no. A trusty debit card perhaps.    

When you get a card, you feel happy, suddenly you feel like you can do anything (as far as your limit allows). New frontiers open up as your no longer constrained by the pesky prudent limits of your disposable income, in short you love your shiny new credit card. You feel that the card and its minimal introductory fees are truly an investment, much like a nice shiny charcoal grey power suit. 

In fact, maybe you'll splurge on that awesome suit you saw at Barney's, imagining your co-workers' complements flowing on how great you look, how your boss will see how you've taken your look to a new level and are now ready for a big promotion (not to mention an earth shattering) raise and how that hot new receptionist's knees are going to buckle just seeing you gliding regally in that suit of Kings. 

Master of the Universe indeed, and your plastic lover, Madame Visa is your king maker. 

Well, you buy the suit (along with shoes, tie, belt, silk briefs and a watch), swiping your card away with care free abandon with the full knowledge that its 0% for 6 months. You don't care what it will cost, after all, your forthcoming raise will probably more than cover it all. It's an investment in the future.

Fast forward 6 months and no one has really complemented you on your suit, minus your co-workers cursory, "Is that a new suit, gee that's nice" before going back to their desks (after all, your bonus is based on the work you do, not what you wear while doing it you twat!), your bosses look at your (mostly) shiny suit silently fume that you bought a nicer suit than the ones that they are wearing and privately wonder if its because your going for an interview.... you disloyal brat! And the pretty receptionist doesn't notice your gargantuan investment, after all she sees hundreds of suits every day, what does she care/know if you splurged on a new expensive one, she's more concerned about her date with the Managing Director and the ride he promised her in (or perhaps on) his new fully loaded company issued Mercedes! 

To add insult to injury, you just saw the same suit you splurged on, on discount at Men's Warehouse no less....the nerve! 

6 months of good living start coming back to haunt you....0% is history, now your rate has ballooned to 38.95%.  Making those payments means drastically reducing spending, time to start bringing a sandwich to work. Cereal diet takes on a whole new meaning...if you splurge, its on the dollar menu at Mc Donalds. Time to down grade from Grey goose, to "affordable yet still tasty" Bud Lite. No more nights out at that hot new VIP clubs; trucker dive bars are the new name of the game (Hello STD ridden biker gals)....maybe it's time to hawk your suit before the debt collector walks in. 

And whilst all this is happening, you wistfully think, perhaps you shouldn't have insisted on getting bottle service to impress your entourage (and the honey's) every time you went out, or rented that expensive BMW for your road trip home. After all you wanted everyone to remark on how amazingly successful you are. But alas, it was but a lie, funded by Madame Visa and now she wants it all back.....with an egregious amount of interest. 

Your plastic friend was a burning plastic fiend in disguise. Now its too late. Your screwed. You wanted a life partner, and what you got was a temperamental mistress. Treat her well, and she'll be good to you for a while, but as time goes on her demands grow more the irrational, after all, paying a monthly minimum credit card of $800 per month is insane! But you must grim and bear it. After all who wants to be alone and reconvene that feeling of powerlessness?

The lesson to be learned here is that a good life is expensive, full of expectations and imperfections which we are desperate to hide to the world. Unfortunately life isn't quite so simple, even happiness has its costs. Lets just hope for your own sake that it's not as expensive as a Credit Card. But if your really good and really lucky, you will one day find that magical card that will make your life all the better for a life time.    

Promiscuity; double standards galore...Thank you Father Time!

One of my male friends tried to explain a double standard to a female friend when she posed the question of why when a girl sleeps with two different guys a year, she is a slut, but if a guy sleeps with two girls in a night he is a rock star.

I do have a few salient points that I need to address.

Firstly, I'm appalled that any girl would sleep with two boys in her WHOLE LIFE (do her irresponsible parents know that her libido is destroying the family's reputation?) as opposed to a single year (You slut!).....just kidding....or Am I. Yay Pakistani culture of Abstinence.

Secondly, Rock stars sleep with way more than two girls a night, though once they cross the age of 60, they are allowed to slow down....looking at you Mick Jagger! (I'm excluding all rockstars that play Jazz or Country music).

Thirdly by sleep we don't mean actual sleeping, doing the dirty would be more accurate, though men have been known to take cat naps during the cuddling process.

Fourthly....You Brought if up! why do you discriminate, I would never call a girl who slept around like a prostitute a slut.....highly available and open for business maybe...but never so callous. Besides, I hear girls call each other sluts with happy smiles on their faces all the time.

Now I really enjoyed my male friends justification.

Think of it like a Key and Lock. Guys are Keys and Girls are Locks. If you have a key that fits in many locks, then that's a Master Key, which is really awesome, effective and desirable to be. But if your a Lock that fits many keys, well that's just a shitty lock.

Every guy likes to think of himself or try to be a master key, but no girl thinks of herself as a crappy lock. It's only the ballsy guys (typically the assholes) who have "drive" to try to open as many locks as possible in the never ending quest to prove themselves to be a master key (results may vary), while a woman's apparent duty to be as sturdy a lock as possible; the more their lock is opened the less desire one has to take that lock home and pronounce a lifelong commitment use that lock as a protection for one's home/family's 'honor'. After all insurance sucks and there is no life time warranty.  

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Marriages; Arranged or Love....Are they Really That Different?

"All the Worlds a Stage and all the Men and Women are merely Players"
-William Shakespeare

I was recently asked to write an article on the virtues of Arranged Marriage Vs. Love Marriages. This is what I came up.

1. Arranged Marriages: Long gone are the days where the family merely informed you of your own wedding via shaadi card, with strict instruction on what to wear and what time to be there. No one gets married anymore to satisfy their family, unless you are gay, and then you don't really care who you marry as long as you get to keep your extra large closet to yourself.

However, some key elements still remain. Your family does the match making, you have a partial decision (though usually if either party respectfully declines, its all good unless the parents are bosom buddies and in that case your completely screwed, 'how dare he not want to marry my perfect daughter/son, does he think he's too good for us"). At this point it may not be a good time to note that their 'perfect daughter' is about as intelligent as a tub of face cream (Think Brain Mush), as sweet tempered as Attila the Hun (refer to your history books) and has as much in common with you as Tom Green (see 'Freddy got Fingered' for Details). Rejection from either side hurt, so you try to humor parents by sitting through pointless dinners till you can find a reason for reject the match (In terms of being matched with a brown girl, saying that you heard she is crazy, ought to do it, but don't be specific, leaving it vague allows for imaginations to run wild; particularly as your actually right, and all brown women are born a little off their rockers.)

2. Love Marriages: Its your own choice...but how independent is it? Your lifestyle circumstances, friends, work place, college choice do the match making (fate), the decision is mostly up to you (very rarely do I see marriages where the parents disapprove of a choice (religious grounds excluded)) but that said, it depends on how the relationship dynamic works. There is exceedingly popular the 'I just want to be friends, even though you don't angle' (both persons are usually aware of this, if not then respective IQ levels ought to be examined), though the "hey we're dating" piece becomes more prevalent, as our cultural values shift. But the main relationship development is stress free as the couple develop an understanding based on their mutual desire for a shared future (for men, the tenure of that future is likely to be shorter). But once they are "ready to go public"/tell the parents, good luck and if your a guy, you had better pray that the girl meets all/most of the family requirements (in Pakistan, parents are more particular on who their sons marry as the daughters usually move in). As long as they fit most of the basic requirements, parents are usually willing to go along with it all (though expect vicious back ground checks).

Perhaps parents have realized that its their kids lives, and they should be allowed to make their own choices (highly unlikely). I personally think it has something to do with wanting grand kids and lacking good reasons for rejection (saying she's not perfect enough doesn't work anymore). Though God help you if you decide to break it off....Seriously. That news spreads like wild fire and you know your officially cut off from main stream society when Aunties forget who you are, and when they eventually remember they start their "tsk tsks" and start jabbering in excited voices about why the marriage was called off (the contents of which are unintelligible jabber...secret code language for the Auntie Fellowship). Pariah's Anonymous meeting invitations will ensue.

3. Arranged Love Marriage: This devious form of marriage set up stems from family and extended relatives quietly acting from behind the scenes and setting up casual encounters for a potential couple to meet; Ever wonder why you keep running into girls with their mothers at Coffee Shops, now you know why (Aunties don't even bloody drink Coffee you fools, In Pakistan they fuel up on Tea!). The result of these casual encounters may be to ascertain the level of attraction, but more likely they figure that the more time they spend together, the more likely they are to shack up (life sentence pre-requisite).

It could entail dancing at 6 different mehndi and mysteriously being partnered up with the same partner for all 36 dances....coincidence? (Only a guy might think so or derive some logical explanation that would sound like 'we dance well together', 'she thinks I'm hot', 'She's creeped out by the other guys', 'I promised my Mom I'd look after her'). It's probably the kind that makes the most sense, until you figure out that your a pawn. But at least it seemed spontaneous and bloody good luck that you met such a fine compatible partner (your probably evaluating the odds of how rarely that happens).

After taking time out for contemplation/my nap was over, I came to several streams of thought. Why would anyone put themselves through being set up by their family, friends, etc? Its the same reason people are drawn to Internet dating. No one wants to be alone, we all have a human desire to be loved and cherished. Now in Pakistani society, the best way to navigate the behemoth of cultural carcass and expectations, is by being willing to be a functionary of the system. Let others provide 'suggestions' on whats best with you (the force of the suggestion can be directly correlated to the size and weight of the bag the Auntie is carrying).

In order to find a suitable partner, one is told to look for certain things that would make their parents (and various mega bag wielding Aunties) happy. This could be religion, social class, education, family back ground, looks, cooking ability etc. Now doing this on ones own, is a pretty momentous task (particularly if you have a job/life/responsibilities).

After all, In the Love Marriage set up, you don't ask these questions until you get to know the person (by which time your hormones have already decided for you). However, in the Arranged Marriages & Arranged Love Marriage frame work, one is already interacting with approved candidates. So if you like them, then it's already a pre-approved match. Everything to gain if you will.

Think of it in terms of credit cards, if your pre-approved for a really good advantageous rewards card, then that's a great thing; Good rates, excellent advantages and benefits/cool stuff, but you don't want to be the one trolling for crappy cards with hidden fees etc; Does "Special introductory rate of 0% (for 3 months, after which rate will be 215.76% per anum)" sound familiar? 

We all want the best possible card, but we are all wary of the final costs, the fine print and how our lives will be changed because of it. Sometimes we appreciate the general prodding in the right direction, other times we prefer to DIY (Do it yourself). 

A Day in the Life of an Economist/Research Analyst

I tend to field a lot of questions from people I know and don't know on what I exactly as an Economist/Research Analyst at a Mutual Fund in Pakistan. 

Inspired by the 'A day in the life of series' (I think the ones I've read so far are really boring) here is typically what a good day looks like. 

8:00 AM: Wake up, hit snooze, Go back to sleep. I don't have to be at work till 9 and my pillow and I are in the midst of an engaging conversation. 

8:20-9:00 AM: Bounce out of bed, quickly change, shower, shave and prepare for my day. Jump in my car and drive to work. Blissful if good music is on and annoying Radio Jockey's just shut up and play music.  

9:05 AM: Stroll into my office, working at a mutual fund in Pakistan is pretty chill, so people don't walk till 9:30-9:45 AM (Market opens at 9:30 AM) . I on the other hand have things to get done before the markets open.

9:05-9:40 AM: Get to work, I have to check various news sources, pulled out any relevant news pieces and figure out how the news will skew the market (Karachi Stock Exchange;KSE), if I'm well versed in the subject matter I'll have an idea on what impact it'll have on certain companies for eg. if Saudi Arabia lifts its embargo on regional exports for cements, that's probably bad news for Lucky Cement (symbol LUCK) as it relies on exports to distribute around half of its units produced. Saudi Producers are also highly subsidized in terms of energy costs, which Pakistani producers aren't. 

9:40 - 10:00 AM: Morning meeting with the investment team, listen closely to whats being said, I'll offer my input only if I know whats going on or if I have questions. Often the questions I'm asked to field are related to the Economy and what macro impacts certain policy changes will have. Dubai crisis, means bad news for the rates of our floating Euro Soveriegn Bonds. Jeez, no one wants to trust big governments anymore...what is the world coming too. 

10:00 AM-1:00 PM: Meeting is over, and I head back to my desk, I have a barrage of emails to deal with coupled with morning reports to go over. Since the dedicated research team consists of 3 people, we have to juggle multiple work flows that tend to overlap across sectors. So it's important to be as widely well versed as possible in virtually every sector. I'll also start making calls to other research analysts and brokers with queries (definitely the norm; you are alwayslearning something new) I'll have about certain points they've made in their reports or any contentious issue that arises that I need to understand. It's a pretty full morning, the highlight of which is when our resident Tea Distribution Manager/Chai Walla drops off a batch of sweet steaming tea in my personal over sized mug on my desk.....and then...he semi-bows. Which I'm yet to get over and it always puts a smile on my face. I also typically think about various potential investments we might be interested based on the news flows, assessing our exposures to market swings etc. 

1:00-1:45 PM: Get Lunch, the guys in the office usually go out and get lunch together, but depending on deadlines and just plain bad timing we'll peel off into groups. Working in the financial epicentre of Pakistan has its perks, for starters the food here is great (and cheap), whether you want Chinese, Pakistani, Iranian, Afghan or Western food, its all available. There is even Pizza Hut, Henny's, KFC and Subway nearby so its a pretty wide selection, but it depends on what your in the mood to eat. Most places will also deliver in case we are too lazy to leave the office or don't have the time. Healthy options are at a minimum and I don't think I've ever seen a place serve a real salad. 

1:45-4:00 PM: I usually spend this time working on my economy work flows; inflation projections, current account break ups, monthly economic reports, updating state bank data and at least a few times a week I'll call other Economists and get their views and get some feedback on ideas of my own. It's important to understand how people think than what they actually think (in fact what they think is usually irrelevant, for me its all in the thought process). Economists don't need to be accurate, though they need to be as close as possible. 

4:00-5:00 PM: We invite different research analysts to give presentations; its an opportunity for them to pitch us their ideas on certain companies and sectors (which we're considering taking a position in), if we like what they have to say we'll use them (usually) as our broker for the deal. 

5:00-7:00 PM: Wrap up any work flows, investment notes I have left to do, in some cases a late query will come in from the Investment side and I'll have to deal with them as quickly and accurately as I can. 

7:05: Head to the gym and then head home.