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Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Art Of Being A Loser

I'm exhausted. Not because I have trekked a lofty mountain to have a silent solitary place to write this piece and neither am I a married man with five noisy kids & a fat wife who stinks of fried onion. I'm just tired of a task so common its become a habit for all of us, a common routine, a social phenomenon.
Walking in a newly built, urban and stylish mall you might come across a teenager trying on a pair of jeans and his friend exclaiming “Yo man, that’s cool!” Or you might see a girl tuned to her I-pod listening to a metal-band without the slightest clue what it’s all about. Or the worst case scenario you see someone posing for a photograph with giant shades, one arm neatly folded against the belly with the palm supporting the other arm’s elbow, face held between the thumb and the index finger.
These common acts of idiocy, seemingly benign, speak volumes about our behavior as individuals and social animals. Admit it fellows. No matter how educated our race becomes, originality will still remain an illusion.
Our English teachers used to emphasize upon the importance of building up our vocabulary. Why? It will give us a chance to express ourselves more accurately, more precisely, more factually, more appropriately, more spot-on. See, that’s one advantage of having a good vocabulary. But who has time for such unnecessary complications when easy shortcuts are available. And hence kicking aside the old –school grammarians, some new easy-to-use words for all occasions were coined that went across the board and slapped the teachers and the other wannabe sophisticated population across the cheek(read: butt). Every good thing or having attributes please-worthy to the person became “cool”. And from there onwards, just like the Ice-agers had run after fire, the Barbarians after blood, the 1st BC onward-ers after metals and the Medievalists after land; the 21st century people decided to follow a quest for glory like none before had followed. It was the quest to be “cool”! And if you are not cool enough for the 21st century’s superficial standards, you’ll get the worst possible punishment. The punishment being so harsh and socially demeaning that many of its affectees will go jump from the tallest building in the locale (that’s Ayub for Abbottabad) while the rest will take an over-dose of Panadol-Extra or Brufen (for these are the only medicines they know) and get killed by the careless hospital staff. The punishment being: the poor soul will be termed as a “loser”!
Did I just hear someone say “duh”? If yes then you are indeed spot-on my dear. It’s a major wtf-ing moment for us all. Let’s just sit for a while and reflect upon our own selves now and let’s try to bring a more elaborate meaning to the term loser.
Is a carpenter’s son - who lives in a two bedroom house, doesn’t know what a PSP or Avatar is, speaks Hindko, listens to those “sajjan meray sajjan” type songs and recently got into a good university because he did have some brains afterall – a loser or the one with a rich dad – who drives the latest car in town, has a muscular body complete with a six-pack, wears the most stylish shades and t-shirts, has a girlfriend too, doing business from a C-grade private university so that he can sit in a comfy chair at his tycoon-of-a-dad’s one day- a loser?
Yay! The unanimous answer is the carpenter’s son. His name is Shamrez. Ew! What a paindoo name! He wears shalwar kameez. Eww! That’s so uncool. He listens to those Hindko songs. Cheapo! And guess what. His dad is a carpenter. Aww! I feel bad for that loser now.
Driven by the overtly consuming materialism around us and in a constant desire to be one of the glitzy & glamorous, we ignore someone really close to us who constantly screams for freedom and a chance for self-expression. That someone is “our self”. We forget to be ourselves; we are either that guy on the TV who wears black, does his hair in a gel-back style & talks in the “Yo” format i.e. “hey yo. Waddup” or we are the girl from the house next door who listens to Pink Floyd, drives a Civic, shops at Bareeze and sports an I-phone.
From driving while reclining on the seat & only one hand at the steering to mimicking Munna Bhai’s accent at college; from doing hi-fives and punching your friends backs because the coolest gang at your previous school did so to wanting to have a love-affair because that’s what happened in the latest Bollywood flick; from wheeling on bikes with torn jeans and chains dangling from necks to playing Akon’s “I wanna love you” on full volume to show off the car’s new woofer speakers in a busy market. Our lives are loaded with people whom the young and hip part of our society call “cool”.
And that’s why I was tired. I was tired of being cool all day long. My cool muscles need a rest & my cool hair need to be washed with my cool shampoo because my cool gel is all dry and flaky now. If a person has been brought up in an elitist environment then this behavior is understandable. But how do you explain the behavior of a normal middle-class family person who dresses up in those skin-tight bright-red clothes, talks in the “yo” accent, constantly bombards you with the latest news about his favorite actors and finishes it all off by telling you that he has “trapped” a new girlfriend and left the old one for she was boring? Wow! I’m impressed!
And that my ladies and gentlemen is the diary of a true and bonafide loser i.e. the guy who wants to be cool. Let’s hear it for these paradoxical winners because no matter how cool they seem to the eye, they are losers indeed.
Who says being a loser is an easy job?

Someone spank our butts please!

A brief visit to GoogleTrends exposes the sardonic truth that has long been shunned and denied by our “Islamic” society. Voila! The word “sexy” is most searched in the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan. But do not be ashamed. Our spiritually beloved Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and the extremely wannabe-liberal India are also in the top 5.
So what does this mocking fact teach us? That morality and religious piety have failed to cordon and stop the apparently magnanimous lustful appetite of our population. And at a time when we, calling ourselves the citadels of Islamic values and ethos, shirk and seethe at the merest mentions of anything related to the very natural process of sex; the progressive and forward-looking minds of the world (including Iran) are busy devising new policies and methodologies of imparting an education to the masses, that seems like a cry in the wilderness for our country, that is sex-education.
The need:
When renowned sexologist Wilhelm Reich said “All worries and troubles arise from unsatisfied sexual impulses”, he was undeniably correct. Why does a 7th grade student quickly jump to the Reproduction chapter soon after buying his first science book? (Only to be left dejected and confused for we only teach the frog’s version)
Children below 11 and 12 seldom show interest in any “dirty” activity. At the onset of puberty, where the body undergoes very obvious and discomforting physical changes, the mind also takes a sexual turn. That’s not perversion or religious transgression. Its normal hormonal biochemistry! However, unfortunately enough, for all those queries arising in a naive mind there is no suitable person to elucidate except for that part-and-parcel-of-our-culture XYZ bhai in the street who has quite a reputation for being sleazy, whose usual explanations come with the aid of cheap pornography.  
A major chunk of our youth has seen, and is seeing, porn; a fact very well put on display on the GoogleTrends. The reason in the beginning is always curiosity. Then why not give a proper channel to these very normal and natural feelings? Why leave our highly talented and energetic youth at the mercy of pornography, pedophiles and sordid rogues? If, keeping mum when a child asks his parents what happens after marriage or hurriedly changing the Greenstar commercials, is called modesty; then what is having one of the highest porn viewership rates in the world called? Qiyamat Ki Nishaani?
The myth:
The first myth: England is a very “modern” country; modern implying female soldiers and a highly liberal social setup among others. The reality: Neither does the British government allow women to take part in direct-combat roles in the military, nor do they allow topics like sex to be discussed publicly or even educationally. The result: Britain has the highest unlawful teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.
The second myth: Telling children about sex corrupts their minds and makes them more prone to getting trapped into social-evils. The reality: A). we are not “telling” them about sex; a seventh grade student won’t understand much about the anatomy of the human genitalia and the complicated hormonal activity involved anyways, neither does sex-education mean engaging a student in sleazy talk. Education is always age-appropriate and details are only revealed according to the mental development and the need of the student. B). when a nation is consciously and proudly labeled conservative; considers sexual talk, feelings & behavior highly illegal and immoral and simultaneously it exposes itself to an extremely obsessed with lust-and-love media with a shameless neglect; and the results are reaped in the form of colossal proportions of child abuse, illegal abortions, domestic violence, homosexuality, pornography and sexually transmitted diseases; does the proud and priestly talk of minds being corrupted remain even valid? Education is a power; it’s a means of familiarizing the minds and equipping them with the muscle to make the right decision.  We have lost too many a people to wars and terrorism; we don’t want to lose more to the ravaging jaws of the present day media and the ever corrupt society.
The third, and the funniest, myth: Pakistan is an Islamic country hence sex-education is prohibited. Firstly, Islam doesn’t ban sex-education; many Ahadith and Quranic Ayaat are about sex themselves. Secondly; calling Pakistan an Islamic country should definitely be the joke of the millennium. Only one fact of 80% homes having domestic violence is proof enough to refute this argument! If the Muslim society of our country has no qualms about women being burnt to death for that extra spoon of salt that they put in the food then they should at least have the shame not to drag religion into education either.
The reach:
The Government of Iran has made it mandatory for all to-be-married couples to undergo a Pre-marital sex-education course. Many researchers claim that the Iranian sex-education is “better and more extensive” than its American counterpart. Where the US has adopted a more abstinence-only approach towards sex education, the Iranian system provides counseling on all issues of reproductive health, birth control and even satisfaction (gasp!). All social evils related to marriage like extra-marital affairs, divorces and unhappy marital lives can be successfully tackled through this means. Consider what benefits our society will obtain if marital problems are dealt with before they even start to appear.
Japan has made sex-education compulsory for all children aged 10-11. Consequentially never will one find Japan’s name in Google trends porn directory.
Let’s face the reality. Neither does Pakistan have a country-wide co-education system nor will you see women in bikinis parading in our streets. Despite all the social inhibitions, pre-marital sex is rampant and automatically so are illegal abortions. Without finding a doctor who is willing to abort the child, many young girls fall victim to greedy midwives or choose to abort the baby themselves by injecting poisons in their bellies or pushing probes into their uteri. Many of them end up dead. Those who shockingly survive have their future lives destroyed once their husbands find out the secret on the nuptial night.  And then comes the bitter old saga of a modern day slavery replete with violence. All because of our incapacity and myopia to consider and educate our youth about a process we all desire behind closed doors.
Our country is third-world. People die daily of tuberculosis, malaria and countless other simple diseases. Moreover, evils like homosexuality and unlawful sex are on the rise ever since our media opened its doors to inspirations from Hollywood and Bollywood and their undying obsession with sex. STDs are high-risk diseases. Syphilis and gonorrhea, the commonest of STDs in Pakistan, start invading the nervous system if not treated within a stipulated time-period. Are we, a nation with hospitals already understaffed and overloaded with patients in critical conditions, ready to sustain a subsequent rise in patients suffering from sexually transmitted diseases?
The backlash:
A widespread frenzy came into play once media reported a certain school in Karachi apparently carrying out sex-education. The reality was that students of class 8th were being taught reproduction in a Biology lesson from a Cambridge book. The Secretary for Education of Sind had to visit the institute and made the principal seek an apology from the parents and the authorities. The secretary could boldly be heard on television stating to the principal “This is not US, this is not UK, this is Pakistan!”
If this is the reaction of educated individuals, the response from the clergy clan isn’t hard to imagine. Moreover, children walking back from schools with books titled “Reproductive health: Grade 7” and “Essentials of Sexology” won’t be a very pleasant sight for the parents as well. The most important court of law, that is the society, will term it highly immoral and disrespectful; something of the magnitude that is able to quake the very roots of this pseudo-religious culture.
So what is the realistic practicality of sex-education in Pakistan? Should it be considered a dream too far-fetched to be turned into reality? Should it be implemented with full force completely ignoring the wails and sirens emanating from the ignorant mouths of our country men and women? Or should it be imparted but subtly, without being included in the text and curricula, but surely taught age-appropriately in the class? Whatever the answer to these questions may be, the fact remains the same as Will Durant said “No great civilization is conquered unless it has been eaten away from the inside”.