The Perks of being an (Employed) Bum, and Pakistan of the Past

Oh how I’ve missed this blog!

Now I won’t lie and make excuses about how I’ve been strapped for time or topics to write about. On the contrary, I’ve had plenty of both but there’s been this one, omnipotent, evil force preventing me: lethargy.

Today marks one month of returning back to Dubai; one month of being a newbie graduate, one month of waving goodbye to Lahore, LUMS, and all the lovely people I’d gotten to know in my 4 years there.  This one month has been…interesting, to say the least.  During my first week back, I felt what I reckon almost every fresh grad feels upon returning home: RESTLESS.  I needed something to do, and I needed it yesterday!

I’d figured applying for jobs would be fun.  After all, all it takes is a few clicks of uploading a CV and writing a cover letter, and lots and lots of praying and hoping something turns up.  And turn up it did, faster than I could say ‘LUMS grad’.  What with all the commuting back and forth on the metro (NOT as fun as it looks) for interviews and assessments, I was exhausted and the thought that ‘This is what I’ll be doing from now on…everyday’ wasn’t great motivation.  But I suppose the gods up there had mercy on me and my prone-to-blisters feet, and all the paperwork and logistics involved in starting a new job have granted me a few days of leisure and laziness.  It is bliss!

So how have I been spending my time? I’ve re-done my room, nearly revamped my wardrobe and refreshed my workout regime.  I’ve also started and finished a series (Breaking Bad – HIGHLY recommended!!) and read tons of stuff online.  One of them is a blog series on Dawn.com by Nadeem Paracha titled Also Pakistan.  As a writer, going through these is an absolute treat.  It is full of images of an alternative Pakistan, a Pakistan that was, up until the 1980s.  There are snapshots of hippies smoking up, Hollywood starlets filming in Lahore, NYE parties at the Metropole in Karachi, posters of crazy movies and soundtrack albums (might I suggest ‘Miss Hippie’ (1974) for your next film club meet?)  – all ripe fodder for a short story!

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Hippies enjoying hash in Peshawar – oh and look at that, no one is stoning them!

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Dance up a storm at the Metropole

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No important relevance to the post, just some eye candy

The best part about it is that it is all real.  It all happened, it all existed.  Yes, the booze flowed freely and not all women covered up, but how is that different from today’s Pakistan, you ask? Back then, the society wasn’t repressed.  There may have been vulgarity but that exists today as well, it was just that, back then, there was perhaps more tolerance.  The blog series, Paracha writes, is

an attempt to chronicle social and cultural shifts and trends in Pakistan before the years when Pakistan’s cultural and social evolution began to become ruddily ridiculous by a quasi-Orwellian ‘Islamist’ dictatorship

It does that, I believe, quite successfully and is really a must-see.  Personally, I had only heard of such a Pakistan and never quite believed it, because it stood so starkly against everything it appears to be now.  For all those who perceive it with a tunnel vision of the created persona thrust upon it by the world’s media, I strongly urge you to see the blog series.  As a Pakistani, it is perhaps an inherent trait within me to love my country, but seeing it through these images has sweetened that love and made me wistfully wonder if maybe I’ve just been born a few decades too late.  Check out Paracha’s blog series here.

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