Fahim's Irrational Thoughts

Overseas Pakistani Syndrome

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on July 23, 2013


If every Pakistani was given the chance to live in any country, Pakistan would most probably be an uninhibited desolate paradise. Most of us living in Pakistan would bail, given the chance. Let’s face it; we would give up our white collar jobs to jump into the “chalo chalo waliyat chalo band wagon”. We would live happily ever after, shelving products, mopping the floors and finally owning the crown jewel kebab shop that every Pakistani child dreams of since the day he can say the word “kebab”. There are some amongst us that are more fortunate than others, and we go for ‘alaa taleem’ which essentially still means “I ain’t coming back” given the slightest chance. We would prove ourselves to be the pinnacle of what academia has to offer; the summa cam lauds, nay the creme da la creme of graduates, with the finest of grades. the same us which had to go to the HOD’s office a couple of times to get the two marks so we could pass the course, it’s the same us.  It’s just that was our parents money and this is well our hard earned cash from the part time job I got which would be beneath me if I was back home. We then graduate and find a job, we serve to the best of our abilities and more, something we’re incapable of doing back home because back there it’s our birthright to litter, to not pay taxes and to try our best to get away with as little work as possible. (And then whine about how the system is at fault)

US-PassportAs days turn to months and months to years, we settled down, get married (but only after we’ve broken up with my girlfriend in walayat and my fiancé’ back home whose nose I find faulty now) to that good looking woman who’d never marry me because, well, I was just a guy, now I’m a guy with a passport that’s not green. Before leaving you promise yourself that you’ll make all that cash and settle down back home with a comfortable life style you could never have if you worked here, but that never really happens. Time goes by, you stop converting everything into rupees and how much it would cost back home, whenever you go shopping. All the while your father’s hair turn white, his beard grows long, and his face gives in and shows the weakness that now consumes his body. Slow and shaky, he reluctantly gets used to carrying that big grocery bag home week after week. Whenever you ask your mother how her bad knee is now over skype she keeps repeating ‘khud hi theek ho jaye ga’ you tell her if you were there you’d drag her to the doctor to have it checked, but you’re not. You’re not a bad son, you always make it a point to show your parents their growing grandchildren, albeit on Skype at least every other week, you try, you really do, but things keep piling up. You have bills to pay and deadlines to meet. Then the inevitable happens you parent(s) ends up in a hospital bed. You want to go, more than anything, that’s the only thing you want to do, but then there is the school that doesn’t consider it an emergency and isn’t letting your kids go to another country without the shots, and the high paying job you just switched to have a different time off policy. You really want to go…. But you don’t.

Hey, I’m not judging you or anyone else, how could I judge anyone when, if given a chance like every other Patriot Pakistani, I would jump through hoops to get into the “Gora band wagon”. How can I or anyone else for that matter judge you, no one has the right to judge you, well not until they’ve walked two moons in your moccasins. But that wasn’t really my issue in the first place.

My issue begins when you sit in your leather recliner chair with the central heating/cooling on, in front of your burger baby kids who would have you committed to a psychiatric ward before they let you move them back to Pakistan. With your trophy wife, who would call the home office and have you jailed, before she agrees to live with your parents in this terror infested, corruption ridden uncivilized piece of land you grew up in. As you sit there, staring blankly into the idiot box watching the Pakistani news channel (or should I say entertainment central), commenting on every move Mr. Politician, whose name while living in Pakistani I don’t know, makes.

My issue is when every one of you folks lectures us on the intricacies of how the country is going to shit and no one is doing anything about it. What bothers me is how you have the audacity to lecture us from the comfort of your centrally cooled/heated drawing room. Yea sure, each and every Pakistan also discusses the same from the comfort of their drawing room, but hey! We do it without central heating/cooling! My issue with you is not the life choices you’ve made nor what your intentions were/are; my issue is every Pakistani not in Pakistan complaining about Pakistan all the frigging time. (I will concede that we do provide a tempting target given our politicians, society, mullas healthcare, education, infrastructure, security, law and justice …).

What is required is you move on, accept the fact that you will never be as Pakistani as the guy who lives here, goes through the power outages every half hour, sees the poor on the street but cannot do anything about it. For God’s sake stop confusing our weakness for indifference, we may not have been able to help the poor on the street but we do empathize with him. We may not have been able to change the system but we sure the hell are determined to try. We may not have been able to bring a sweeping revolution but we are willing to stand under the blazing sun for hours on end to vote. It’s about time you accept the fact that you gave up your right on criticizing this country when you didn’t come down here to vote.

And to all of you living in self-imposed exile let’s ask ourselves what have we done for our Country, how much tax have we paid in the last X number of years, how many schools and colleges did we open? How many people did we provide jobs? How many households did we support from the money that we earned from foreign countries? No one asks these questions, no one really cares. All that seems to matter is what the TV show guy is saying on Geo in the comfort of your modern homes. Yes there are problems with our system, yes there is corruption, yes everything might be falling to pieces, but it’s our problems. It’s the Problems of the people who live and breathe the air here, who go, day in and day out, surviving this urban circus.

You gave up your right to complain when you gave up your green passport. Not your right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness but a far more fundamental one, the right to criticize your Country and it’s time to accept it. You gave up your right when you realized that the day your kids are old enough to know that they can say no to visiting that stinky smelly country and stopped coming. You gave up your right to comment on every single speech the politician with opposing views makes when you paid that mortgage on the second home. You gave up your right when you couldn’t make it to your dad’s funeral because they would kick you out of the 6 digit paying job that you just joined. You’ve gave it up a very long time ago and it’s about time you accept it.

Come visit us meet us after a couple of years or whenever you want, we will welcome you, love you and respect you, like you deserve. We will open our homes and hearts for you. Just be courteous enough not to be involved in the matters of our home. This is our land, this is where we live every day and this is what we will fix. Everyone has a choice, you made yours, let’s accept that and move on. Let’s tune into the news and talk shows that affect our daily lives and the lives of our children, let’s talk about things that we deal with on a daily basis; because if words were food, nobody would be going hungry in Pakistan.

Disclaimer: I think it is my weakness of writing that I couldn’t convey my point properly. I am not criticizing anyone for moving out for one secondly I have no right to ask how you spend your money and how you live. Nor are all overseas Pakistani’s like that. Heck our company is funded by a man who built his fortune in the states lives in the states and has 500+ people employed in Pakistan and to top that off is funding start ups in Pakistan. There are those people and they are great they are the essence and the building blocks of our society and they are our only connection with the western world, they represent us and they do a great job at it. This article has got to do absolutely nothing with them, this has to do with the rest of us. The rest of us who would run away not because we need to because we want to, it’s for us the one’s who would not invest a single rupee in the state (whether charity or otherwise) yet would spend their lives criticizing the country. It’s for us who would never be ease at being where they are and would never have the kahunas to actually move back. Accepting is the first step my friend.

Focus

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on December 30, 2012

After watching animal planet for a whole decade, every day, I realized, besides teaching me the names of at least twenty venomous snakes, it has really taught me a thing or two about the focus of animals. If you observe any animal carefully (let’s keep hyenas out of this, those bastards are scary) or a group of animals, they all have it figured out: hunt, eat, reproduce and, well, don’t get eaten. And over the years they evolve to make themselves better hunters, survivors, scavengers or whatever the particular species is supposed to do. Their goals are simple and they start working on them from day one. Be it an individual goal or the goal for the whole community, animals will go to any extent to fulfill that goal without caring about the consequences of the struggle. There isn’t a thing called leisure in their book, there isn’t an alright let’s take this Sunday off, let’s chill out a bit and then see what’s next. Every single generation will sacrifice itself for the higher purpose for the survival of the species on the whole.

We humans on the other hand, have complicated ourselves with complicated and vain goals (if any). We are always worried about that, what will I get out of it and more importantly what will I do with that. This too is not in all people there is a small size of these kinds of people. Others, well most of us, spend our lives figuring out what the goal was, or not caring about it at all (if dad’s paying). And if we do come across certain individuals who are goal-oriented, instead of appreciating them, we often are looking down upon them with phrases like, “dude you really need to chill out”, “why do you do so much of what you do” , “there is life beyond what you are doing”, “come to the dark side we have cookies”. Ok, I just added the last one randomly but you do get the point.

I don’t know when or where did we get this lost and how did the luxury became our focus, how’d it get so bad that all our focus is on having a good time and even if working , doing it so we can have a good time later. Isn’t there anything, anything at all that you want to do that does not end up with laying near a beach, getting a tan. Is that all the brilliance the most intelligent creatures come up with? If we want to evolve into better creatures (humans) we really need to start focusing. Because this isn’t going to last for long.

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Lets Live

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on December 23, 2012

I understand, I completely do. But here me out just this once, when you are in university. You have a sense of purpose, you have a target. Something substantial something right in your face, when you wake up you look at the calendar and go like fuck three months till the semester ends. I never said that goal was something you liked or you were looking forward to, but it does give you a sense of purpose. When you graduate, things change for better and for worse. You come home from your 9-5 job, and you have that free time, you don’t have to worry about projects or deadlines after you’ve left the office. But at the same time, somehow that’s something you start missing. There is a deadline there is a purpose but the one that you have defined. There is no teacher grading your papers, no tomorrow is the last chance to submit your assignments, there is freedom. This freedom makes you feel old very soon.

Your friends start to get engaged, married or move out of the state. You still hang out on the weekends and you talk about your weekend, some of you find your hair, well let’s say you’re getting bald, and some turn gray. And one day it snaps and you know that you’re getting old. That’s an awful realization for anyone I’d say. But it happens to the best of us. It has happened to me a little while ago. But, here is the thing; here is the bit that puts the puzzle together. YOU, yes I did write that in all caps.

You are the one that still makes me feel young somehow. You, still make my heart skip a beat. I still feel like a silly fool when I’m with you. I still smile and try to impress you like a teenager. I talk too fast, and too much. I get loud and frantic, and I pace around the room when I’m talking to you. Trust me, I’m not that youthful on the best of spring days. What is that word, yes ‘alive’ I feel alive when I am with you. Yes, yes, I know all about it and I don’t expect anything. I’ve planned my life too much, I’ve always worked for that goal and I got it. I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to think about the future or how it’s going to end. I don’t care about the end, it somehow doesn’t matter anymore, ‘the end’. I just want to live this day, this day which is today . Not even this day this moment right here where I am , with what I’m doing. Cherishing and enjoying this soothing moment jumbled up in joy, wonder and a little sweat. I want to live here, not the previous moment not the next. Nor, do I want to waste this precious moment for the worry of the next. This is, this is now this is where I am, where I want to be. With you.

I cannot afford to waste this today, on what may or may not happen in the future. Worrying about who may or may not get hurt or what happens. This is my moment and nothing can take it away from me, not even you. I cannot any longer jump around with my measuring tape of rationality or my notepad of pros and cons. Or that special three column gadget we take out on special occasions like that. I don’t, I don’t want to rationalize what is what is not. I just want to feel this moment with you and that is all there is to it, I want to feel that skipping heart, that smile and that look on your face, God that look on your face, your face. I want to live in the time we spend together, talk, chat or text even. Not the time that we won’t be doing all those things.

Rationalizations, have let me to where I am today. With sticky notes, lots of columns, and things to do lists. Grey hair, the stupid gray hair. More, diaries will be filled, more sticky notes on the desk, more pencil columns, this will never end. Let’s just stop this today, and live. Let’s live, for now at least.

Education, Social media and Competition

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on December 16, 2012

“I arranged a ping pong tournament for kids from my school, in the back yard. So he could interact and be friends with the kids you know. Now he stood there in the corner, he comes to me and says “Dad isn’t it sad, only one of them will win, which is Matt of course. The rest of them will go home feeling miserable”.

That’s the thing whenever we introduce competing into anything, we always make it about winning or losing and too often we forget why we were doing the thing in the first place. I feel it’s not necessary to find out who among a particular group of people is best at something. What exactly do we achieve by doing that?

My sister has always been amazing at academia, got the best grades, scholarships and all. But we never forced her to study or be the best or anything. When her results came back, she aced it, we’re happy for her. Then I went online and there were all these kids on twitter, Facebook and everywhere going please don’t ask my result. Why does it have to be like that? Parents, neighbors, friends make it a point to ask you what happened and if it wasn’t something good. You’re humiliated over and over again.

When I was a kid, I remember getting 80% was brilliant everyone was happy and all, but by just one generation that has jumped to 90% there are even kids scoring almost absolute marks. Somehow, in between all these kids, in my opinion, are losing one, their childhood because all they do is basically study for the next year, and two, the reason why their studying in the first place. Why do we want these children to have an absolute percentile? The kid with the full grades and the one who just passed, usually end up in the same colleges study the same material and too often have the same jobs and no one even asks you what grade did you get back in school. In a couple years, it all stops to matter.

Let’s be honest, why do we study? Is it to gain knowledge? I sure as hell didn’t study to gain knowledge I knew I had to do A,B,C and D to get to E, being the job that I wanted or research that I wanted to do. It was never about gaining knowledge too often it never is. So, if I want to get an X job for which I have to study this and in the end it’s not going to matter what I did 5 years ago. Why deprive these kids today of their childhood and more importantly why make these kids feel superior or inferior than one another.

I believe, a society as modern as ours or even better can be achieved and improved without having to deal with competition and numbers. As we are going forward these numbers are for some reason becoming increasingly important to us. How many twitter followers you have, the number of friends on facebook, the blog hits, the flickr views, the behance likes, so on and so forth. Something that should have been or was supposed to be a platform to interact with loved ones, friends and random strangers even is evolving into another number/popularity game and the interaction is being lost somewhere in between somehow.

We need to start discussing ideas, have conversations try to gain knowledge and well just be honestly happy in a community where numbers don’t matter. A place where we share knowledge and love without having to worry about what number and we are what our ratings are. I really hope we have that society someday

Dear Taliban

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on October 28, 2012

I’ve always been confused about you. You’re that batman headline ‘batman friend or menace’, though over the years you’ve been falling in the latter pretty often. But let’s not discuss good and evil here; I still want to live at least a little longer than this.
I don’t mind suicidal bombings, if that’s your weapon of choice—so be it. I do have a small issue with the targets though. The part that I don’t get is why random people, children, and women even? What did they ever do to deserve it? People in mosques, people on roads. I’m not saying stop the suicidal bomb only god knows what you’re going to come up with after this.
All I’m saying is why not find slightly more fun targets; give those 15 year old future martyrs something to be proud of. Let’s not think about Zardari for now. How about those adorable minions of his on the roads with a Toyota Hilux and back full of gunmen screaming “get back get back” let the lord pass through. How about we take out a couple of them just for fun. Even if this doesn’t achieve anything it’s going to help Islamabad’s traffic a lot.

Love,
Fahim.

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Zaheer chacha

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on October 22, 2012

I was lucky enough to know a man who wrote the most amazing letters. He had a free subscription of Newspapers, Magazine, gift hampers, you name it, because of his letters. In his last days he was restricted to his bed moving around was a chore for him, somehow that didn’t get his spirits down. He was still connected to the outside world, more than you and I can ever be. He knew all the big guns, but he was never connected in the material sense, but rather on a more human level.

If he saw something good in the city he’d write a letter to the mayor, he’d write to the post master, the road worker and the cop for doing his duty in the scorching heat, he would write if he likes something, if he doesn’t. He’d write if he missed you or thought you needed straightening up. He believed everyone who did their job well needs to be recognized whether it be a politician or a maid everyone deserved to be respected for his work.

Him and I, we used to email each other and I was 15 back then, I think. I’d ask him about what career to choose, why we are here on this planet, and he would answer me patiently always. I’ve lost those emails somewhere and that’s one of my biggest regrets. I wish everyone could have a sitting with that man and share his wisdom; sadly he passed away too soon.

Letters, mere words and the man had a gift to connect with any human regardless of age. He’d talk to you about technology if you were into that kind of thing, business, banking politics and what color was nice this season. You could sit there for hours and he’d entertain you, in which he’d take ten minute breaks for his prayers. He had an alim degree and we never knew about it, humble to the core.

He had all these things and more, but the trait of his we could learn from was his respect for time. His own and others. If you invite him over at 7:00 pm he would be outside your house at 6:55pm and polite enough to not ring the bell. He would actually wait five minutes and ring the bell at the time when he was supposed to meet you.

We always seem to be in a hurry, always and we’re going nowhere. And we’re never there when and where ever we are supposed to be. Not on time anyways. Some things need to change.

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Peace and happiness

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on September 24, 2012

Some of us find peace in religion, others in drugs, money, men/women, alcohol, so on and so forth. If I had one more drop of this licker it will take away my worries and it would all be beautiful. I would rather have a purple colored dinosaur running after me for three straight hours, scaring the living shit out of me, or I’d work 14 hours a day , x years straight to get me that one thing that I wanted, which will get me what I want.

I have a friend, his status always reads as “A society obsessed with HAPPINESS!”. I hate him, I hate him to bits. I hate the fact that he always makes me think when I logging in the morning. I hate analyzing in the morning everyday why are we doing what we’re doing, what form of happiness what kind of satisfaction are we searching for , so on and so forth and you know how the cycle goes better.

He always has to say these little things at the weirdest of times, shut up you over analytical fool. You know too much! And the worst part of the whole thing is, he is usually right.

Personally, I think it’s not happiness we think we are looking for; we’re mostly looking for peace.

Now, that’s something precious-to be at perfect peace in whatever conditions we are living in; realizing what we have and what we don’t and somehow being content with it. Well, that’s the right way to do it.

But that’d be too easy wouldn’t it? In our flawed human nature we seek happiness .We run, we run after it like a fairy tale princess we’re seeking locked up in a high tower with an evil step mother.We want to seize it we feel the need that we need to work for it harder and more and in x,y and z directions.

We’re always striving, for any one of the above mentioned. It’s always about needing that or there, it’s always about goals and meeting them. Which kind of makes sense; everyone should have that something to live on for. But associating that “something” with happiness / peace is something different.

I always think hey if you go to that special place after that x amount of running around the mountains (literally) you’ll be happy or at peace. You get there, and that moment last for nothing more than an hour. You come back and you tell everyone about it. How amazing it was, how great it felt, the air and the clouds, you relive it in your head over and over again. But somehow, if you didn’t have all those people to tell, nor did you relive it in your head of how perfect it was (in your head) it would have absolutely no meaning or significance.

Peace, shouldn’t or isn’t something that you can gain by winning or earning x, y or z. It’s either there or it isn’t. Maybe, if we stopped looking for it so damn hard, and in all the wrong places. It would find us, one day.

(Edited by : Izza  because woman knows her full stops)

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This is it

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on September 18, 2012

There is no other way to put it but, this is the best time of your life and this is it. Although the last time someone said that line, said someone died because of a heart attack which later turned out to be the doctors fault and no one ever found out why did he have a amusement park in his backyard that being said, still let’s go with it. So this is it! You are exactly where you are supposed to be. You do not need to worry about completing that list; toss that “the 100 things to do before I die” aside. Because you didn’t even realize that your joy and memories were all parts of things that had nothing to do with that list.

Quit investing your time in objects. Yes those oh my gosh, oh my gosh this over priced toy of a show from my childhood that no one remembers and I really didn’t cared for but I have to buy it counts. So do those cinderella stelletos from that posh shop with five pairs on display.Open your eyes to your experiences, they will always give you more satisfaction than any object can. The happiness tied to an object prevails as long as you don’t have it, and when you get it, there is no long term pleasure or feeling of happiness that you thought there would be. After a while it’s just that pretty white dress you thought you’d look gorgeous in but never had a chance to wear or that secret collection of necklaces you have (what? I happen to like necklaces no really. Seriously). An experience however lasts for much longer and that now has been proved by science by science I mean that random piece of literature I read floating on the inter webs.

Your life lies in your future and your memories are only yours and yours to cherish, cherish them smile. Yes! smile that’s something we’ve replaced with a frown lately because we’re too hip to smile And in some cases it’s been replaced by duck faces.

You’re twenty-something, if you’re reading this you’re literate, you have an Internet connection and you have money more than 90 percent of the world. There is nothing that can stop you from being what you want to be but yourself (and boos and drugs and women/men and society and education and money and…)

But I will say this life is too short to listen to bad music. Treat yourself with an exotic flavor of jazz or maybe Congo. Dance, because you deserve it alone in the dark- Or with someone in a crowd. Lose yourself.

Everything you’ll ever need to be happy is right there with you right now, it’s all around you. You don’t need “oh if I had that or him/her I’ll be satisfied or happy”. If you’re with someone-brilliant and if you’re alone – brilliant. If you have friends to tag along, that’s lovely, if you don’t, in the history of man kind there hasn’t been a boring walk in the park alone. What you have is yours what you don’t is not and you can’t change it but you can certainly keep trying and waste what you have for something that was never yours to begin with.

Work and work with all your strength, faith and commitment. Don’t look for the money it will follow. If this still doesn’t make you happy, quit. There isn’t a better feeling than knowing you left something behind; that you never really wanted for yourself. Don’t do things for the sake of it , life’s too short for that.It’s never too late to get out of it.

This is it.

Disclaimer : This by know means is ‘you only live once’ aka YOLO. Oh god no, please no. That …. forget it. no!

Exit through the gift shop

Posted in Film/Music, Journal by Fahim Akhter on August 4, 2011

The one thing I’ve hated most about the consumer culture is the fact that good or bad isn’t judged by the quality of the product or the features, but it’s more affected by who owns it, whose wearing it and how high is it priced. That is not limited to products sold in commercials, made in factories or in designer houses. The same is very true for art, sadly.

An artists with a good PR team will gain more fame and acquire more money then an amazing artsist working on his own. All of this is portrait such brilliantly in ‘Exit through the gift shop’ . Thierry Guetta is well nothing at all, he doesn’t even make his own work, the one that he does make is a blend of already done street art with big paint splatters that he put in. The ‘art’ does not necessarily convey a message, unlike Banskey or fairy. It all just might be a social experiment by Bansky but well it worked. With a huge PR campaign, endorsements from Bansky, the LA weekly and Fairy. Shit sold out, to say the least. The exhibition went on for two months, selling most of the ‘pieces’ and earning Thierry Guetta over a million dollars.

The whole phenomenon is well brilliantly put by Steve Lazarides “I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke’s on – really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.”  

Thierry Guetta set out to make some money by selling overpriced modern street art and well he succeeded, of course everyone in the street art business is not going to be pleased by it. A random guy just came out of the blue and made more money in two months then they could ever imagine and that too by selling work that has been there for ages.

Well, one should never underestimate the stupidity of people in large groups, if you are in the business to make money well there is nothing wrong with making a quick buck earned on by other peoples stupidity. If you’re in it for the works well you need to stop thinking about who buys your work and for how much, the process of creating art should be full filling for you. If it isn’t well you really should find a side job or well go Thierry Guetta on the public and stop thinking about if it’s ‘art’ you’re creating and feed that stomach.

Overall it’s such an amazing thing to watch, personally I do hope it’s all a hoax created by bansky. It would just take it to a whole new level.

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Competition

Posted in Journal by Fahim Akhter on March 30, 2011

Although it’s not very hard for me to find things to hate, somehow it comes quite naturally. Not the best of traits I must say, but one I can live with. So if I take a look at this list, amongst consumerism, shopaholic and Stephenie Mayer (for sins that will never be forgiven) I find myself staring at this big bold word “competition”. Oh how I loath the whole concept, man vs man trying to choose which one is better. Why?

You can’t compete with a an animal or some other creature, it’s always a man vs a man isn’t it and then there is the loser and in the right corner we have the proud winner, with his head held high because clearly he is the better “man”. Why do we need to be better than anyone? Why do we have the constant need to know we are better than someone else. Why can’t we just be equal and be happy about it.  But that would mean actually loving the whole humanity and accepting you’re just another guy/girl. That would be heart wrenching now, wouldn’t it.

I’m not saying abolish everything sports and all. I’m just saying, why can’t you just go to school to learn instead of getting a grade A? Why can’t you just enjoy a sport instead of trying to be number one? During all this fatigue of competition and trying to destroy the other we somehow lose our humanity in between and more importantly we forget the reason why we were doing the thing in the first place. Of course if you’re a bookie you’re going to declare me a witch and burn me alive.

But think about it, would the world be a horrible place, if there were no grades, there were no number one’s, you did not backbite someone just to get ahead of them , you did not cram just to get good grades.  Would it be so horrible to enjoy everything because you actually want to enjoy it. Isn’t the only competition just with your own self in the end?

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