End of an Era

About ten years ago I started business school and most daily journeys to my classes went by listening to the chirpy baritone of Khalid Malik as he woke up the nation on his Breakfast Show on CityFM89. 

As Facebook shared memories of my graduation four years later, the BFS was still going strong. It was what FM89 was known for. It was called the Breakfast Show with Khalid because obviously there can never be a breakfast show without Khalid. 

Morning shows came and went on television but nothing replaced the BFS. You could only listen to your playlist for so long but you could never tire of Khalid’s voice as he unabashedly roused people from their slumbers or wished them Happy Birthday with a  song you never heard before and never would again. 

When I started working, the BFS was the only thing keeping me upbeat on my way to another long day at work in a beat up pick up van. At my next job it helped me bond with my Dad even more as he drove me to work everyday. I was never a regular participant but occasionally I dropped a message in the show and wondered excitedly who would have heard and known it was me Khalid was talking about. 

As someone mentioned about Khalid Malik leaving the BFS, I let it pass as a joke. Like come on, it’s the BFS with Khalid! What’s a BFS without Khalid? No way the radio station is gonna let that happen! 

I never actually gave in to the idea that maybe it was Khalid who would be moving on. This guy who loves people and loves entertaining them. This guy who has spent ten years as the voice in the ears of thousands waking up in the morning. This guy who has made the mornings better. I never thought for a moment that he would have his own life or aspirations that he would want to fulfill. This person who has inspired and motivated so many to do more would want to do it himself? I was too selfish to assume so. 

But when the announcement came, when I played the video of his farewell speech, it hit me hard. He gave ten years of his life to us, his beloved audience. And we truly were his beloved, his sincerity could never let us doubt that. He was the son, brother, uncle, nephew, colleague, mentor and so much more with just his voice. And now he wanted to do more, be more. How could we stop him when his heart was breaking just telling us about how difficult it was for him to do this. 

And so we let him go. Happily. With cheers and blessings and a standing ovation as the amazing Saad Haroon humbly took up the mantle, perhaps knowing that he would have to build this show as his from scratch again, as with Khalid’s final goodbye there truly came an end of an era. The era of the Breakfast Show with Khalid.

Today I begin…

I’ve always been the sort of laid back person who could have been a hippie but would choose not to because it sounds like too much work. I wouldn’t want to live my life at a snail’s pace, but would love to be able to do things at my own pace. But of course that cannot and does not happen since one remains on the clock at all times. So I learned to take out pockets of time from each day to allow myself the luxury of enjoying small moments.
It is only recently that I realized how every day I learn something new, or figure out a tiny part of the universe, or wonder at something that is yet to unravel it’s mystery to me. Only a few days ago I decided that I will document the memory of these moments that suddenly stop me in my tracks and make me yank myself out of whatever thought bubble I am immersed in and fully experience that particular phenomenon as best as I could.
And so it begins…

The kind of people you encounter in Sunday Bazaar

For those of you not from Karachi, Pakistan and who do not know what Sunday Bazaar is, it is a huge open thrift market in the posh locality of Defence where you find anything and everything, from bolts of luxurious fabrics to original oil paintings to fruits and vegetables to wicker baskets to leather jackets to second-hand books of all genres to used shoes and bags to disposed off toys and electronics among many other things my brain refuses to do an inventory for. Essentially a wholesale-cum-flea market which opens on, you guessed it, Sundays only. And for those of you living in Karachi who don’t know what Sunday Bazaar is, what rock are you living under?

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So considering that Sunday Bazaar is a one-stop shop, it is obvious that it would be frequented by all and sundry, but keeping in mind the strange dynamics of this city, ‘all and sundry’ becomes a lot more entertaining than you would expect, especially the interaction, or lack thereof between those visiting the bazaar. Here is a glimpse into the wide variety of our species I have encountered there.

The Tribal Clan

Karachi is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities, the proverbial ‘greener pasture’ that people from all over the country come to settle in, hence it should come as no surprise when you see flocks of shuttlecock-burka-clad pakhtoon females descend like a blue cloud upon the stalls and begin conversing in rapid-fire Pushto with the mostly Pathan vendors. On the very next stall you might find a small family of fifteen from Hub, Balochistan, who have hired a Bedford truck for their trip to this shoppers’ paradise. They provide a colorful backdrop for the Sindhi clan in their mirrored frocks and scores of children, as they peruse the shiny, gawldun jewellery for the next wedding in the tribe. There is absolutely no shortage of our tribal brethren in this vast space where all of Pakistan seems united for once.

The Celebrities

For the entertainment-starved people here, there might be days when a ray of hope shines upon them in the form of a grimy person covered in the Phase 8 dust, who happens to be famous for some reason or another; well mostly their pretty face since intellectuals don’t really have any mass popularity over here. You might see your favourite TV actor strutting about in Designer sunglasses (which you could find two streets away at a corner stall) and pausing in front of you expectantly waiting for you to ask for their autograph, or you might catch a glimpse of a famous singer haggling with the fruit-wala in a not-so-melodic voice, or you might even see an actress who dared to step outside her house with NO MAKE UP AT ALL! Imagine the horror of seeing her as a NORMAL HUMAN BEING!

The Bookworms

There is a special breed of homo sapiens who have a strange affinity for the written word, and you can easily find them bent over rows upon rows of books at the bookstalls in Sunday Bazaar, studiously ignoring the cacophony of human voices that surrounds them as they withdraw into their book-bound bubble. These people come in all shapes and sizes, belonging to all ages, and chances are that if you saw them in the morning as you entered the bazaar, you will find them in the same shop when you are leaving three hours later, with the only difference now being the presence of a plastic bag full of treasures they unearthed during their long and exhaustive search.

Jbtw I also belong to this category…

The Babyboomers

It is not hard to find this haggard family as the fathers portray Jason Statham-like driving skills, manoeuvring baby strollers through narrow alleys carrying sweaty toddlers dripping ice cream in their wake, while the mothers pacify cranky babies with every form of rattling bling-bling they can gather at the junk corner. More often than not, the babyboomers seem to be on a mission to come, conquer and go as soon as possible, before the baby poops and they have no way to change the diaper in this desert wasteland, so to speak. It is very rare that you see a quiet family of this kind and when you do, you wonder if the zombie apocalypse has arrived because it just seems so unreal.

The Football Fanatics

As you near the footwear area, you find yourself surrounded by complete teams of kitted out teenagers in heated discussions over Nike vs. Adidas, Studs vs. No Studs, Green vs. Black and so on and so forth, extolling the virtues of their favorite player wearing so and so shoes. Sometimes you will find a lone adolescent boy stubbornly pointing at his favorite pair of Nikes while his mother continues to lecture him on the vice of overspending while at the same unsuccessfully tries to convince him to buy a cheap China-made copy which the vendor swears comes from the same Nike factory.

The Scavengers

The early bird gets the worm, and the first to arrive at the bazaar are those who look to sweep the arena clear of the bounties it has to offer. You might not even find the Scavengers after noon because they were the ones who probably helped the sellers unpack their wares during the early hours, while simultaneously setting aside everything they find worth a dime. If you have been wondering why you never find the good stuff, chances are that the good stuff is now the property of these hawks and it will never see the light of the sun again. Ever.

The Misfit Aunties

These are the stereotypical Burger aunties who seemed to have somehow teleported from their drawing rooms straight into the midst of this “Durrty Old Peasant Village” in their expensive lawn suits, sleeveless tops, capris and perfect manicures and blowdries. These ladies also happen to be very active at those stalls that sell *cough* fake *cough* Designer handbags, which they would flaunt at the next kitty party when they explain how difficult it was to obtain this last item from Louis Vitton’s Fall/Winter collection on their recent trip to Italy. They would be conversing in English with the shopkeeper who would answer right back in Urdu and somehow a transaction would take place while you remain lost in translation. If you ask them though, they will most likely look very confused as to how they came to be in this place, telling you in their most earnest voice that it is their very first time coming to Sunday Bazaar only because it is so close to their palace on 26th street and they suddenly found themselves free this unfortunate Sunday.

The Farangi

These are typically the children of the above mentioned aunties, who went abroad for higher studies after A-levels. They turn up at the bazaar in tanktops and shorts and flip-flops and bandanas, and stroll about the bazaar likening it to the flea-markets they visited on their road trip across the States, looking over at the mass of humanity they would hold a social dialogue about among themselves in their most native American accents, on issues plaguing the Third World which the American President’s latest reforms will most definitely solve of course. You might even find them clicking away on their DSLRs capturing the ‘true face of Pakistan’ while they go about telling each other not to touch anything cuz germs bro.

The Foreigners

The ACTUAL farangis who are ACTUALLY seeing this place for the first time perhaps would belong to all races and nationalities, the tanned Americans/Europeans still carrying their backpacks around, the Russians and Ukrainians who sometimes are mistaken for our Pathan brothers, the Africans often wrongly accused of participating in the Lyari warfare and the Orientals who seem to be always in such a hurry to get to the next stall. If they are smart, they will escape the claws of the vendors who heap bags upon bags of “Vairry Chheep” things ‘Made in Pakistan’, turning their stalls into souvenir shops making the foreigners wonder how anybody thought things are affordable here.

The k3wL BwØ!z and Gµ®Lz

If during your journey through the maze of Sunday Bazaar, you come across young men whistling, humming, singing latest Bollywood songs, swaggering in tight jeans in unthinkable eye-popping colors, wearing sunglasses with the stickers still on, and hair gelled back very very carefully, then you behold what we call the ‘kewlbwoiz’. They truly believe they are the perfect substitute of Zayn Malik or Fawad Khan, with the right amount of star quality. Their female counterparts are the heavily made-up, high heeled, blinged-out, fancy dressed ‘kewlgurlz’ who treat the potholed streets as their modelling ramp, throwing Kareena Kapoor inspired hair flips left, right and center. They fully believe they have the filmi husn and hoshruba ada that will score the kewlbwoizez affections and they will promptly break their shiny, little man-child hearts by shifting their attentions to the used spiked and long leather boots which they will pair with their denim-patterned tights and diamante-studded ruffled tops; because really who has a better fashion sense than them, hain jaanu?

The Mazdoors and The Vendors

Last but not the least, the natives of the bazaar itself; the shopkeepers who make their livelihoods based on the whims of the buyers, the vendors whose disposition varies as much as the dwarves that Snow White lived with. Then there are the mazdoors, from toddlers to adults, running after you with their woven baskets, asking if you want a porter to carry all your shopping for you; sometimes you’ll have three boys fighting over who gets to carry your onions and tomatoes. Not quite how you daydreamed eligible bachelors competing for your affections but you snap out of your reverie when you realize they are fighting for a right to the measly wage of perhaps 20 rupees, a small denomination note whose absence you never noticed till it started resembling the 5000 rupee note. They add another depth to the characters you meet in this giant labyrinth you navigate through.

This is of course my own experience in the Sunday Bazaar and I have only listed the most memorable types of people I have seen there, obviously not covering ALL those who visit. Well then, Sunday is upon us and I am off to get myself another stack of novels at a bargain now.

25 kinds of people who interview you for jobs

During my time searching for gainful employment I’ve gone through my fair share of interviews. Although most recruiters have a similar set of questions, there were definitely some interesting individuals that I encountered in my quest for the perfect job…which is still continuing by the way.

1. The Cyborg

“Hi, nice to meet you, bye. NEXT.”

But.

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2. The Definite-Maybe

“You are exactly what we need, you clear all our tests, you are the perfect company material…I’m just not sure if we actually have a vacancy.”

So…did I get the job?

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3. The Judger

“What are you passionate about? If you’re passionate about music then you won’t be passionate about your work would you huh? So you don’t actually know what you want.”

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4. The Mother Goose

“We loooaaavvveeee young people like you, absolutely loooaavveeee mentoring young ones, I feel so much looaaavveee for the young lot…just not right now. Just not ever. Just not you.”

I…okay…

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5. The Reaper

“So you’re a marketing graduate? Sell me this pen. No wait that’s too easy, sell me a condom. No? Okay sell me your soul.”

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6. The Romantic

“I know you’ve applied for this position but are you sure you will like it? Love it maybe? Promise me that you will love it and cherish it and hold it close.”

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7. The Professor

“What is the investment portfolio like for a risk-averse investor? Give numerical working. What is the relationship between Reach and Frequency. Explain with examples. Don’t cry, I just want to know how good you are academically.”

Please stahp.

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8. The Newbie

“What do you know about our company? Oooh I didn’t know that. I don’t know what I’m doing right now either, I just joined last week.”

Neither do I. *highfive*

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9. The Good-Bad Cop

“I would like to take ten minutes to introduce my lovely colleague here in 500 words…now I will let this amazing colleague ask you all the nice questions while I watch you slowly die inside from my stare.”

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10. The Procrastinator

“I’m gonna interview five people at the same time so I won’t have to do this again and again, now you better remember the questions I ask candidate #1 because I don’t wanna repeat myself.”

Aren’t I lucky…

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11. The Best Friend

“Omg you write? Send me something you’ve written! And no I won’t give you my email address for this because I’m obviously just trying to make you feel better about the lack of any other talents in your existence.”

We could totally be frenemies.

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12. The Non-believer

“Why this company? No but why? No I’m asking why? Why do you want to work here? Where are you going? Don’t you want to work here?”

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13. The Investigator

“No I will not look at your degree that states you have finished 18 years of education. I just need to verify this myself. Tell me everything about your life, your family, your job, your friends, your secrets.”

too-much

14. The Crook

“Some people say the way we do business is wrong but it’s only some people. Let’s go with what the majority thinks we do eh?”

I feel so…disillusioned…

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15. The Sleazeball

“What may I do for a beautiful, young girl like yourself? Desk? Yours. Corner office? Yours. Company? I come with it *wink*.”

Uh…no thanks.

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16. The Desperado

“I know our company isn’t famous and you don’t wanna work here but just give the interview okay?”

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17. The Forward Thinker

“Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?”

In a goddamn mirror, that’s where.

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18. The Commitment-phile

“Do you have children? Are you married? Are you engaged? Are you committed? Oh you’re single? But then you might get committed and engaged and married and have kids and then you’ll leave us. Forever.”

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19. The Commitment-phobe

“People leave us very quickly. I want to know if you think you’ll leave us. And how soon.”

You want me to go before I even join? Ok.

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20. The Philosopher

“What have you done with your life till now? How do you measure success? What is heaven and hell? What is my middle name?”

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21. The Soliloquist

“At this company we…

*30 minute long monologue ensues*

…What else would you like to know about us?”

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22. The Player

“Hey yeah I know you didn’t apply for this position, and you’re not even the right fit for this job, but I thought I’d call you over to make you feel horrible about yourself.”

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23. The False-Hope-Giver

“No of course this is the last stop, but I’m only saying this to get rid of you because we actually take three-tiered interviews but we won’t tell you that.”

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24. The One Distracted by Shiny Objects

“This position is actually- OMG I LOVE YOUR NAIL COLOR!”

Easily-Distracted

25. The Non-existent

“I feel like you’re the ideal candidate so I’d like to make you the final offer.”

Haha. This is actually a myth. There are no happy endings.

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*end of list*

 

 

Dear Diary, Bare Blog

Every time I open this page I wonder why I made it. Besides the obvious fame that I have reached, I was told blogging is about putting your thoughts into words, a newfangled concept about upending your brain and showing it to the world.
Kind of exactly like the oldfangled concept of keeping a diary, but somehow innovative. Somehow.
I have to admit that being a girl I tried to be exceptionally special by writing a diary like all the other exceptionally special girls around the world. I tried to be diligent too, therefore I had three diaries over a span of 9 years, each with only about five pages used over time before they were employed for better purposes, e.g. solving complex algebraic equations in the rough for assignments.
I even once had the very rare type of pink diary with a heart-shaped lock that every other emotionally stunted girl possessed, with a key that doubled as a very useful piece of tin that is of no use.
I had an extremely eventful childhood, as one could’ve guessed from the consistent mention of the term “bored”, strewn generously over my carefully worded prose that was written as carefully as a one-year-old carefully handles fireworks. I.e. very carefully, and with care. Unlike all the girls who used the word “kewl” I often used the word “kewl” to set myself apart and many a times I wrote down lyrics of pop songs by boy bands, a practice only practiced by a handful of millions of adolescent females.
Safe to say I always maintained my individuality, especially by doing something as commonplace as writing a diary. And then as I grew older, something not many have experienced, I noticed a very subtle shift as suddenly everyone jumped onto the internet bandwagon very suddenly in a subtle manner. I realized writing a diary by hand had become extremely rare hence everyone must blog to value a handwritten journal entry.
So I decided to make a blog too, and spent hours typing this post in five minutes to figure out where I kept those old diaries.
I have checked the drawer of all-things-miscellaneous and found everything that is not a diary. I suppose the fruitless search has been highly successful; I certainly seem to have collected quite a lot of receipts from the ATM machine. But that is a story for later.

Sleep

Its 4:30am and I’m lying in bed just staring at this magnificent piece of human engineering called a smartphone.
I’m trying to sleep but I’m also not feeling keen on sleeping. Its like this limbo that I have deliberately put myself into and I don’t want to come out of it because I’m enjoying being miserable far too much.
I look at all these people with a purpose in their lives, a plan about tomorrow, a direction to take. All I have is an alarm clock which wakes me up for no goddamned reason, and the only reason I can think of for the alarm not being turned off is that I’m scared I won’t wake up to feel miserable again.
The only thing that’s making me feel better is Twitter and all the funny people I follow there. All my best tweets come after 3am too, although there’s not really anyone there to appreciate them. I just like to laugh with myself, at myself and for myself. That sounded democratically insane.
I feel much sleepier now; I shall blog more often at this witching hour.
Till we wake up.

The blog that once was…

So I have a friend who landed a job as a social media executive in a new company two years ago. Inevitably, she recruited me to write for their website. Nothing much, just whatever I felt like writing.
Now I belong to the category of sloths that can think a lot but get nowhere, so I managed to write about five blog posts over there. Mind you, this only happened because I had absolutely nothing to do except write. So I did, as tedious as the job felt to me, I did.
And what masterpieces I created. I still think the sheer literary brilliance that shone through on those five entries earned me a spot on my resume as “accomplished blogger”. I’m not joking, its totally written on my resume, making up for the lack of other achievements in my life.
Funny story though, I googled myself a few weeks ago, I apologize if I’m not apologetic about it, but I did. And guess what? I couldn’t find my blog. Among the search results ranging from the typical to the bizarre, I found everything unwanted under my name except my blog. The one thing on the internet I was actually proud of besides my embellished LinkedIn profile.
Hurriedly I searched for the company’s web page but Chrome couldn’t find it, and you know what it means when Chrome can’t find it, right? Yes, it doesn’t exist.
“Why don’t you ask your friend?” You say?
Bekhuzz…she doesn’t work there anymore. In fact she resigned a year after joining them, what with marriage and relocation and whatnot.
So yeah, I wrote five blog entries for a website that doesn’t exist anymore. Curiously I don’t have any backups, whereas I, in my habit of saving everything in designated locations, was known to be the one who might have that childhood friend’s sister’s in-laws’ address to an essay my high school nemesis wrote and saved on my computer.
Yet I, the great hoarder of all thing irrelevant, did not have copies of the very pieces of literature that could have made me an online celebrity one day. Ok someday. Alright maybe never.
Thus, I turn to WordPress, a place where I shall now spread joy as I am incapable of spreading and love as I am unable to feel. As a result of this tragic turn of events I have forever lost what little I thought I contributed to the nebulous world of blogging. It doesn’t matter any longer. I have WordPress and, however unfortunate it may be, it has me.
Come now, we have much to share.
From tomorrow onwards.
We have much to share from tomorrow onwards.