Monday, June 28, 2010

10 Things I Hate About Democracy

There are some things I love about democracy, the ideal that everyone is born equal, that everyone ought to have a say in the running of their nation. However, when I left my text book idealism and looked at the Pakistan around me, I felt compelled to write this post

1. Stupidity Measurement Index: We get to really ascertain how stupid the general populace really is. Whether it's re-electing perpetually corrupt or the unbelievably incompetent, our general populace prefers electing the same old corrupt faces. It’s not even that these are folks with any modicum of class…just look at the way they treat each other.

2. The government is expected to always step in because they are ‘democratically’ elected and ‘serve the people’; to be fair they do service the people….their own people as it turns out……which turns out to be a very limited number.  It sickens me to see imported land cruisers and VIP service all paid for by tax payer money, I’m almost glad I don’t have access to view their Swiss Bank Accounts. 

3. Democracy Complex: We justify bad governance by saying 'at least it's a democratically elected government'. Our Democratic idealist love to admonish from their pulpits about some mythical time hundred of years into the future where a few bad teething years of democracy served the greater good. For starters that is insane. If we keep repeating the same cycles of democratically elected ahem re-appropriators of budget resources, things will never change. And secondly, it is hardly any relief to the common man who can’t afford two square meals a day that he has a democratic government. As our honorable Finance Minister stated ‘Starving amongst plenty’ indeed.

4. We elect idiots and feel justified in ranting about how incompetent they are. If you lect a fool with a track record for being a corrupt fool, you don't have the right to be pissed when he acts like a corrupt fool. Particularly when the venerable representative is forced to resign on account of holding a fake degree and then gets re-elected to Parliament on the back of the sitting Prime Minister’s conditional offer of a mega project if the electorate sees fit to re-instate the said official back into office. And you know what…he was re-lected…by a handy margin.

5. Corruption Personified: Our democratically elected MNA's have a god complex and feel perfectly justified in even the most common place thievery. I’m not saying military rule is much better in this regard, but my perception is that the army has a sense of honor that arises from a largely meritocratic organization. The meritocracy of our democratic system stems from accidents of birth. Even the competent are removed on grounds of ….ahem…transitional favoritism.

6. Hypocrisy: Only in Pakistani democracy would an elected official admonish others about energy savings but then be stealing electricity him self. The also feel justified in loading up PSE’s with political appointees and friends in order to ‘reduce’ unemployment, and then blame the PSE for being a burden on the economy. politicians blame each other for the lack of getting anything done due to the desire to build consensus. More like splitting the pie amongst themselves to see who can get the biggest piece. There are no checks and balances: The Checks and balances our democratically elected politicians are familiar with refer to the checks politicians expect written out to augment their bank balances.

7. Democracy is the mob, and in Pakistan the mob is surprisingly easy to manipulate. Oppression of the majority on the minority. Democracy is divisive. Democracy is all about controlling the Mob. That’s it. It is Politicians gaming what they think 51% believe over the remaining 49%, and even in that context they consider which segments actually vote. Religion and Morality are well received segments. Democracy, where even the stupid have as much voting power as the brilliant.

8. Religious Infusion: Islam was built on the basis of democracy....bullshit.... nothing about Islamic governance is predicated on democratic inclination. Prophet (PBUH) wasn't elected by the general populace neither were the Caliphs or the Imams. You get the ability to elect barely literate 'leaders' to run the largest organization in Pakistan. It ought to be left to professionals, not the politicians (Hire the Singapore Government; before anyone suggests, no I have no desire to move there, just pointing out what works). The closest thing to an Islamic Democracy is Islam, where the elected members have wonderful 'advisory' roles with lots of checks and balances by religious institutions.

9. Democracy is a punishment for not having popular enough western leaning leaders. The motto seems like 'Be nice to America or we'll bring democracy to you'. Saudi Arabia, friendly pro-Americans. Kim Jong Il elected leader of North Korea, Axis of evil. So, you better have the right democracy appears to be the order of the day.

10. But what I hate about democracy the most is that best, most stable, economically prosperous years I’ve known have been when we had a military dictatorship (GDP output grew from USD 40bn to USD 160bn), when our economy was deemed to potentially be the next China or at the very least India. Under democracy, now we look like the Nigeria’s oil less, religious, drug addled cousin.

Democracy has disappointed me. It’s not the silver bullet, and for a country like our that is so blessed with natural resources our lack of progress is an embarrassment to God’s good graces. According to news reports, the country has the second largest salt mine in the world, fifth largest gold mine, seventh largest copper mine, fifth largest coal reserves, seventh largest wheat and rice production capacity, is eighth in the rankings of fresh water availability and to add to our embarrassment of riches we possess 185 billion tonnes of Thar coal. And even with all those blessed resources we have a fiscal, energy and international trade deficit.

The primary root of my angst is the lack of education. An uneducated stupid electorate will elect similar leaders. However, the government has no incentive to invest in education, and hence budget after budget, election after election all we are feted to is the customary lip service to education. What’s the point of a democracy if your people starve?

Maybe, I'm just out of line (not exactly outlandish) Is Democracy a dish best served cold? Or in our case….space frozen.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Platonic Friendships: I Call Bull Shit!!!

Platonic friendships are defined as affectionate, non-sexual relationships. I don't think men don't typically have them with women. I doubt anything resembling platonic friendships actually exists. The only platonic inter-sex friendships that exist are between guys and their buddy's girl friend; It’s because we go into Bhaabi mode. Other than that, a girl may as well believe that she's walking around with a bull’s eye on her backside. Even if she's ugly, after all, there is somebody for everybody. 

A girl knows that a guy is interested in them, but she isn't interested in him, so she makes him, her platonic friend. The only way she can make this utterly and completely clear is requesting him as her 'brother' on Facebook. Short of that she's leaving open the possibility that even though you aren’t Mr. Right, you may be Mr. ‘Eh Alright’, which is wise since majority of women fear becoming an old maid.  

Guys pretend to be platonic friends because they want to be more something later, or they buy that crap women spew that I like to get to know the person better before they date....complete lies, a woman will either date you or she won't, she'll use you till you become wiser...take it as a lesson learnt and applaud yourself for trying.

If you are a guy and want to remain a glorified back up to a girl who thinks she can get something better, but if she can't fingers crossed that she see's you Mr. ‘I’m just the Friend’ as a viable backup option, then by all means go ahead.

Men do exactly the same thing, particularly with girls who we'd feel ashamed showing off to our friends (however, in the right circumstances we may be willing to invest in plastic surgery...seriously).

Is it actually subconsciously manipulative to have such relationships?...yes, but it works both ways and benefits both parties. It fulfills some of the relationship functions of having someone to talk to about your day with a member of the opposite sex, solid practice on light flirting and tremendous ego boosts.

I always wondered why parents get upset when their kids are up late hours at night talking to the opposite sex. Well, it's because they are worried about WHY they are talking. And naturally, they've already figured out that there is no such thing as 'just friends', How many married men do you know that have a chick as their best friend.....does the number ZERO match your tally?

That is also why when men get married they are forced to give up their platonic female friendships, call it a by product of being married to the opposite sex. It’s not that women are generally insecure about their partners fidelity, but they are aware how conniving other women are and how dumb men can be (once our ego is stroked, we go back for more).

Men use platonic friendships with women to gain insight into the opposite sex, we don't understand women, so we create 'fraanships' to get some intel...that's just smart use of available resources.

Men make friends with girls because they want to be in a position where they are able to squeeze into a position where women lean on them, and once they are reliant, they pull the plug. Nice strategy if there ever was one, as once that girl realizes that she can't take platonic boy toy for granted unless they date them...genius really, particularly how needy women are and once they become reliant on having a guy to 'deal' with them...well, then that’s the ball game.

Women use men through these platonic friendship to do things that they would usually ensnare their boyfriends into doing, whether it is running errands, taking them shopping, etc all whilst screaming to the world, 'We're just friends, what is wrong with you' etc etc well, I hate to break it to you, but lean back and think for a second why a man is putting himself through hell (we don't enjoy hanging out at kapra centers or playing chauffeur) to please's not because he wants to be 'your friend'. Odds are that he has plenty of friends who like doing things that other men would likely be classified as 'fun'. 

The friendship that he’s looking for has an exercisable option clause where they can become friends with additional benefits that may cultivate into a relationship of the sort that a girls parents wouldn't be a huge fan off. Most men don't do things like that just to be 'nice', they do it because they have an end game in mind. And if that end game doesn't involve that girl or her friends, it consists of developing female expertise. 

Practice makes perfect, the more female friends you have, the more likely you are to successfully manage and deal with women. Platonic friendships....bleh. More like friends with benefits (halal or otherwise). 

A version of this Article appeared in Dawn Images

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14th

Different days mean different things to different people, maybe it's a part of us all being different. And June 14th means something to me, because in addition to it being International Blood Donor day and USA's Flag Day (no idea what that actually means), it's also my Birthday. Yes, I've managed to make it 25 despite rolling through life with the co-ordination of a drunk baby. Whoo Me.

The first thing I do on any birthday is thank my Mother. I have a rather super-sized head, and even though I didn't as a kid, it still shocks me how Mother love their kids even after the pain of child birth. Now that's L.O.V.E. Hell, my mother even makes me a dish of Lasagne on my birthday and still re-affirms her love for me. How awesome is that? No wonder none of my brothers are married, those are stratospheric standards to live up to.

My Dad has this habit of remembering the exact time when all of us were born, so he recounts that story with glee...probably in appreciation that he wasn't wearing my Mom's shoes that day. But my sweetest part of talking to my Dad is how he tells me how much he loves me and is proud of me. For a son, there is no higher compliment than his father being proud of him and that's the moment I cherish.

I never really wanted a whole lot for my birthday minus the usual childhood yearnings for GI Joes, Play Stations etc, because frankly, I didn't need a whole lot. I may want a new laptop or sleek new car, but I'd never ask for it. After all, I live a pretty good life. I even remember the day that I realized how insanely lucky I was; I had gotten some money from somewhere (Eid I think) and I had watched a documentary on some starving kids in Africa with acute goiters. Pretty sad stuff for a five year old kid to watch and I couldn't help bawling my eyes out, for me being hungry was the ten step walk to my over packed kitchen to delve into any of two stuffed fridges. So that night, I couldn't sleep so I went to my mother cried some more, gave her the money and told her that I didn't deserve it and went to bed....and finally slept like an angel (well, as much of an angel as a destructive five year old).  

To this day I find it offensive and extremely uncomfortable when I haggle with an obviously poor man over his goods at a store (by store I mean blanket on a sidewalk), even if I feel like he's cheating me. Particularly when I take into account that I spend more on a single night out than he does on rent. My issues in life are getting pissed off at my Driver/Chauffeur for arriving late to pick me up, and his involve making enough money to afford the bus ride home so he doesn't have to walk 5 miles to get home. 

I'll bitch and whine over the increase in electricity tariffs, where his issues are being able to afford an electricity connection in the first place and the sad thing is that the few extra hundred rupees a month (several US dollars) has zero impact on my lifestyle. Now maybe this makes me weak (which I've often been told by my more practical friends), and susceptible to being hoodwinked out of a few bucks, but the truth is that I am lucky enough to afford it and the only reason I am is thanks to an accident of birth, but what I can't live with the thought that that poor guy, toiling (fairly) honestly for his daily bread has to go without so I can enjoy a fancier cell phone or yet another Egyptian cotton hand stitched shirt. Frankly, it'll make me feel disgusted with my self, and every birthday I have I remind myself of that bare essence of humanity that I have left with the full knowledge that I'll be answering to God for the starving of many in the midst of plenty.  Depressing right? 

We all have a sense of pride with regards to our Birthday, like it's supposed to mean something, and I personally like my birthday. It's in the middle of summer, so no worrying about school or exams (Work on the other hand is another matter), weathers always pretty fantastic (I'm a child of the Desert) and best of all it's simply my day. None of my friends share a birthday with me (well a few distant ones, but I've long forgiven them for that).

We tend to look at Birthdays as a marker for our lives, where we assess what we've done, and what we still hope to achieve and combine that with traditional whining how we expected to have accomplished XYZ by then. But the truth is that age never really mattered to me. I don't feel any more mature than I did when I was 24 or 23....or 16 for that matter. I have a lot more life experiences which I hope put me in greater stead in terms of decision making (I Hope), and I try to be a better person than I was the year before, and I sometimes doubt that I am better, a lot more desensitized to certain things like corrupt politicians, suicide bombing, power outages, mass murderers (not), poor governance etc, and I doubt that makes me any better.

Today is my Birthday and tomorrow will be another day, and inside I hate the idea of tomorrow not being my very own day, but then again, so be it. Life goes on, there will (God Willing) be more Birthdays to celebrate and more tests for me undertake.

Why is it so special to me? Honestly, I have no fucking idea. Maybe the fact that it does mean something to me, without actually knowing why makes it Truly Special.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Pet Kraken: Best. Idea. Ever.

I was never allowed to get a pet when I was kid, the last time I recall asking for a pet, I got a younger sister. I did eventually get a turtle but alas, I was allergic. FML Indeed.

I was thinking, what would be my ideal pet and if there were no limitations (like practicality and existence), I'd go with a pet Kraken , even though a pet Raptor  (they have such cute hands...perfect for the Wii Controller), a regal Basilisk  or maybe even a nifty Cyclops  were all close contenders. Now back to my Pet Kraken, I'd call him Krako for short.

"The Giant Kraken is a very rare, very unseen sea-creature ít 8 gigantic tentacles. The only way they have been found is dead, washed up upon the banks of the seas. These massive creatures are one of the most dangerous, largest, and still unknown about creatures within Caelereth. With their strength they can even tear whole ships apart." (Damn Straight).

Many would question my sanity and ask, why a Pet Kraken? Wouldn't a talking Dog suffice, and I say no. Krakens are bloody useful, particularly in Karachi.

Firstly, I live 5-10 minutes from the ocean, so feeding and lodging would hardly be a concern. Screw the fisherman that fish those waters, they'd be Krako's personal dessert. Krako would also have to develop a very strong stomach to deal with the toxic water, but hey, he loves me, so it's all good. What is love compared to a little indigestion. Husbands all over the world have been accepting their wifes cooking no matter how badly it effects their digestion system. Krako would be a peach about it. Now that's Pet Love.

It'll perform some really rad tricks. None of this roll over crap, Krako will be well versed in the art of Juggling (boats), Torture (Taliban) and even water gymnastics (he can do an awesome Swan Impression). He'll even do a mean Al Pacino impression.

It'll totally impress chicks. Like completely. How hot would I become if I could have my pet Kraken snare us a couple of Lobsters and Sea Bass for a romantic dinner on the beach. Or I could play tough man and pretend it fight him....

Safety: I don't foresee any mob/political party/peeved on fund Investor being able to take on little Krako. Unless they really want to be cataloged as 'dinner'.

He'll live For-Ever. How cool would it be to have a pet which you can perpetually hand down to your kids? You know that they'll be taken care off...what more do you want as a responsible caring adult?...other than a vault of Gold of course (dollar depreciation is a bitch).

We'd also do some really fun charity things like protecting aid bearing flotillas. Eat that Israeli government. Just try to interfere and Krako'll eat you....even if it gives him indigestions, have I mentioned how damn loyal he'll be?

I would also be able to scream 'Release the Kraken' without sounding like an idiot. And how big a hero would I be if I savedf cities around the world from destructive Tsunami's and Phet like hurricanes. For cheap publicity I'd even down a few Indian Battle Cruisers....just kidding. I'd be a hero....and so would Krako. Babes, Book Deals and Toy Royalties Galore.

What do we seek from pets? Loyalty, fun, companionship, someone whose always glad to see us when we get home. Pets are great and the best pets love unconditionally. Odds are they'll be your longest relationship...well atleast in some countries. Everyone should have their own version of Krako.

What is your Ideal Pet?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A 6th Graders Bucket List (II)

The first Bucket list was far too long, so here are the rest of these notorious 6th grade dreamer kids crazy life experiences they'd want to have before they die. Here are some more gems which I thought I ought to share.

btw: I think these kids are all high.


Sky dive in slow motion. (Wow....)

Break an air conditioner. (Have you tried...dropping it?)

Attack a wolf. (And pray that he's sleeping)

Sleep underwater. (Watery graves are the mob's specialty)

Capture an octopus. (and do what with it?)

Have a party in space. (Sweet)

Go inside the Treasury Building and steal the treasures. (he's going to be so disappointed when he grows up)

Become a Ghost Hunter. (Solid pension benefits complete with early retirement)

Travel to Uranus. (this one had me in tears because they didn't get it)

Go see a demolition derby and pray for the people there. (I love it)

Fight my karate instructor. (Any odds on winning)

Ride a jet pack. (love it)

Enslave the dolphins. (Your guess is as good as mine)

Jump from a 12-story building onto my bed. (Hope your close by)

Punch and fight a bank robber. (Find one)

Figure out how to not die. (Good Luck....keep me posted)

Find the Kraken. (.....)

Raise a monkey. (Much Like Children I imagine)

Crash a plane into something. (This child is not Muslim)

Defenestrate myself. (No comment needed)

Throw quarters out of a plane. (How much damage could that cause?)

Join the Army. (respect)

Have a conversation with a parrot. (About global warming no doubt)

Pull a tiger's tail and run. (Run fast little one)

Jump off a cruise boat. (I hope you can swim)

Go to jail and then do a prison break. (I hope they realize that it's not a reality show...)

Ride on top of a helicopter. (think about that...)

Eat a killer whale and say "Who's the killer now?!" (Bad Ass Moby Dick)

Cut a volcano open with a chainsaw. (Molten Madnes)

Ride a horse backwards. (yessssssss)

Jump in a pool with a crocodile. (For What? To exchange compliments?)

Walk into the Apple Store and tell everyone "I'm a PC". (Sweet)

Win the lottery and get $1,000. (hahahahahahaha winner winner, chicken dinner)

Do the moonwalk ON THE MOON. (Love it)

Play with a gorilla. (Chess I imagine)

Make my sister cry. (hmm)

Go to the zoo and call out the gorillas until they fight me. (This is how evolution happens)

Make a hole in a shark tank and run away before anyone notices. (How fast can you run?)

Fill a pool with chocolate and wrestle someone in it. (Wait. Till. College.)

Eat a rat. (Yuck)

Buy a mansion, burn it, cash in on insurance. (Criminal Minds Start Young)

Fight a bird. (I vote ostrich)

Hunt a gorilla. (Banana Robber!)

Jump off the moon. (To where?)

Destroy a house with rocks. Only rocks. (Forrest Gump Lover)

Get shot while I wear a bullet-proof vest.(Still hurts dude)

Kill time. (Worthy Goal Young Einstien)

Get some muscles. (One Day)

Mutate a human being (Into What?)

What's in your bucket list? Mine grows every day, todays was sky dive out of my Office Window....It was a beautiful day.