The Capital Vulture: Top 10 Islamabadi superstitions and wives’ tales
Old wives tales abound all over the country - even in the capital. Here are my favorite superstitions.
Growing up, I’ve had a lot of quaint ‘folk’ wisdom imparted unto me by many a semi-lucid septuagenarian. Islamabad (all of Pakistan really) has a massive repository of the absurd and asinine, these totally bizarre yet still fantastic half-truths, wives’ tales and superstitions known by all citizens in different variations.
Anthropologists, eat your heart out because this is all unchartered land by scholarly standards; and for the sake of discourse I’d like to offer up the greatest hits, this week’s top 10.
10. “If you keep swallowing your gum, a tree will grow out of your stomach!”
The fear, the coma inducing fear when that piece of Juicy Fruit slipped down your gullet; and all because some crazy relative implied that a diabolical gastric process would inevitably grow the chingum into a bamboo shoot. The same applies to swallowed cherry pits.
9. You shouldn’t wear perfume or let your hair down at night.
Because people will think you are a hussy. *Snap*
8. Get rid of spots with spit
Move over Clearasil. A bit of early morning spit (eww) gets rid of pimples and spots. Damn right it does! The saliva is probably so astringent in the morning that it annihilates all zit-causing bacteria.
7. Cutting at the air with scissors makes your parents fight
Accept the fact that the marriage is volatile and on the rocks. Scissors have nothing to do with it.
6. If you’re dark or have a skin disease, your mother spent too much time in the sun during pregnancy.
By this logic, way too many mothers in this country spend their pregnancies in the sun. This explains the complexion of so many Pakistanis. In truth, they are all Caucasian with bad mothers.
5. The darker your shade of mehndi, the better your saas (mother-in-law).
Or, what if your mother-in-law ends up being really dark and horrible?
4. Jinns in trees.
This one’s eerie: fall asleep under a tree and a jinn gets you. This is Paranormal Activity, the Margalla redux. The best ‘rational’ explanation I’ve gotten for this one refers to lethal carbon-dioxide emissions from the tree. Somehow I’m doubtful of this rationale because, otherwise, camping just got really dangerous.
3. Thunder and lightening, very, very frightening.
Our contender at third place involves the risks of wearing all black when you’re out in a thunderstorm- I’ve been told the colour will ensure you get struck by lightening. There’s a gratuitously sci-fi logic behind this superstition, that your noir ensemble will drive charged ions crazy. Either that or God punishes those [Goths] who wear the devil’s colour.
2. “If someone walks over you while you sleep you don’t grow tall”
If someone walks on or over you, chances are you’ll end up with a case of the broken ribs- or worse, crushed spine, internal bleeding, a foot to the ‘nether’ regions and so forth. Also this happens? People walk over you at night or in general? This explains midgets. Or maybe it’s a clever allegory for low self-esteem.
1. Breast enhancement made easy
Tired of always looking down at a sad, non-existent bust? Homeopathic creams and supplements just won’t work? Well then, we have a solution: our pro-achar dietary plan will make your breasts larger, satisfaction guaranteed.
This is our winner: achar makes you go up a cup-size. Alternatively, aloo bukharas (plums) will do the same thing. What remains to be explained is whether this wives’ tale applies to men. Considering the man-flaps I’ve been seeing in Islamabad these days, it totally does.