“We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work”

(quote from a recent Hollywood Rom-Com)

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Hate is a Four-Letter Word too, you know!

It’s finally happened. Standards of journalistic decency, so scrupulously upheld by the dynamic duo of vigilant-powers-that-be and a ruthlessly self-censoring media (soon to be self-censuring?), have begun their slow, inexorable decline into the sordid depths of gratuitous vulgarity.

ABCD blocksI know, because I have had the dubious pleasure of spying, for the first time in my fifteen years here in the Gulf, the dreaded eff-word in a local journal. And lest you think I’m setting you up for one of my excruciating wordplays, I shall tell you that the word in question is four letters long and most often used as an exclamation – though, in it’s formal sense, it is primarily a verb, with frequent nounal applications. It is also, in case doubts linger, the commonly accepted benchmark for profanity in the English language (though its status in German, whence it derives, and in which substitute “i” for “you”, is less lofty).

Of course, I’m not going to spell it out for you. I have standards, you know! And the deeply ingrained habit of self-censorship in case my standards start to slip. Continue reading

Path of Pralaya

Verily have I swapped the
rusty shackles of propriety for the
chic, anodized fetters favoured by the Style Patrol
(Liberté! Fraternité! Maseraté!)

Questioned by his earthname as to his whereabouts in the heaven-world he stated that he was now on the path of prālāyā or return but was still submitted to trial at the hands of certain bloodthirsty entities on the lower astral levels. In reply to a question as to his first sensations in the great divide beyond he stated that previously he had seen as in a glass darkly but that those who had passed over had summit possibilities of atmic development opened up to them. Interrogated as to whether life there resembled our experience in the flesh he stated that he had heard from more favoured beings now in the spirit that their abodes were equipped with every modern home comfort such as tālāfānā, ālāvātār, hātākāldā, wātāklāsāt and that the highest adepts were steeped in waves of volupcy of the very purest nature.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

No proverbial nonsense, I use this trite and woefully Panglossian remark appropriately to signal nothing short of a sea change in my basic and fundamentally flawed philosophy. For henceforth I start living my life the way my maker surely ordained: in the relentless pursuit of visceral thrills, and in the gratuitous gratification of an unfettered and unbridled lust for material possessions. And this desert paradise provides ever-increasing opportunity to do both in spades (pun intended).

I have spent all of my earthly existence misguidedly upholding the lofty ideals of scholarship and altruism. I blame it squarely on the influence of a family that is terminally steeped in the sufiyana tradition of asceticism. I’ll have you know that these anachronistic gardes noires value the spirit of compassion and the incessant quest for knowledge above all else.

In my father’s household the highest honour is accorded to individuals embodying the ideal of erudition; who, in the days before the term acquired overtones of pretension, were known as intellectuals (and often, in transliteration into Urdu, as untul-kachool). Down at the very bottom of the honour roll are merchants and tradesmen: those unctuous reprobates (my father’s expression) whose only distinction is an abundance of wealth, i.e. who possess no redeeming features whatsoever. Continue reading

Soon to be gora

Just got a job. Not just any job, but the lucrative, executive kind, with that mother of all multinationals, MegaTrade Corp. Yeeeeeeeeee-ha.

As all of you who live on this planet know, MegaTrade’s largest facility outside Europe is based in Dubai. What you might not know is that this office directly employs about 27,000 people. Well, about 27,001 now. (he he he)

MJ1Some 26,783 (my own rough estimate) hail from Third World backwaters (eww) and are employed in menial and clerical functions. The other two hundred or so perform critical executive functions and all of them hail exclusively from points West, primarily Britain.

And, at the ripe old age of 24, I’m one of those Brits.

Aaaaarhhh, you must be thinking. Avast there Master Khokhar, are ye be losin’ all yer marbles?

Not. Cos young Niaz Baig is no longer the sweet little Packy baa lamb you have grown to know and love. Continue reading

Plumber to room three one seven, stat

Mummy ji came home from hospital today. Oh no, nothing serious. Alhamdolillah she’s fine. She had her tonsils removed. Yeah I know, would you believe? In this day and age. At her age. No, I’m not going to tell you. If you want to know how old she is you’ll just have to ask her yourself. She’s quite sensitive about it. Oh and she’s got a craving for that fancy Gopäl Däs Häguu Däs ice-cream, so could you please bring some along when you come to visit her.

She spent seven days at the hospital. The American Medical Complex, if you must know. And yes, her medical insurance covered it. Well, most of it.

I’ve always wondered why they decided to call it the American Medical Complex. Well, I know one reason, which is basically that you can open up a shit stand (that’s a stand peddling shit) and call it The American Shit Stand, and sell all the shit you can produce at a healthy profit. But apart from exhibiting a genius for marketing in the Middle East, there doesn’t seem to be anything American about it. Continue reading

No mayyarr-playyarr pliz

Quædam non jura scripta sed
omnibus scriptis certoria sunt*

Yes, I would say my wife and I are pretty active socially. We enjoy living the high life, if you know what I mean, heh heh. And what’s wrong with that? Live life to the fullest is my maxim. To which I normally append the subtitle, “Don’t worry about the road kill”.

Edwardian gentlemenWe all like to choose our friends – the people we mingle and spend quality time with. And many of us have standards – some high, some low – for judging the suitability of people to our particular circle. I’m thankful to my parents for instilling within me important social values: we don’t mix with just anybody. After all, there are so many things to consider, not only back home in Packyland, but here in Dubai too.

There’s background of course. What my dear mer-maah calls khandaan on the odd occasion when she drops into the infra dig lingo for effect. And we all know what that implies. It’s breeding and bearing and social standing, whom you know and who knows you, where you studied, who tailors your suits, how far back you can fudge your family tree and get away with it, how many generations your servants have been with you, and so many many other things. Not necessarily money, though, as the saying goes, “the more, the merrier”.

In the manner of dress, and I can’t stress this enough, you cannot be casual, even when Continue reading