No, I don't want 'fraandship' with you
Never smile at men. It takes less than a minute for charity to turn into a chat invite on Facebook and Twitter.
Most people reading this, especially women, probably already know the drill. If you happen to be a female in Pakistan and if your age just so happens to fall between the range of 16- 30, then you are liable to have already accumulated a respectable (sic) variety of cell-phone stalkers and perhaps a handful of the corporeal variety. The jury is out on which brand tends to be more abhorrent.
What is particularly interesting about cellphone and/or Facebook stalkers in Pakistan is the consistency of their attack and the belligerence with which they continue to assume that the word 'no' means 'now'. There is philosophical proposition known as the 'dirty hands argument' that, although tends to apply to Pakistani's in general, seems particularly apt in the case of prank callers. The argument involves the justification often purported for acting badly, that 'if we don't do it, someone else will...so we might as well do it'. In this particular instance it is the 'implied gain' that is worth examining more closely.
What do serial phone stalkers gain by being hung up on and having their text messages ignored? I am completely taking for granted here that the person on the other end of the line has the foresight to ignore the calls. If not than he or she deserves whatever they get.
Is it merely the satisfaction of knowing that someone is losing sleep, or getting distracted during work with hordes of texted Punjabi love poems or smiley faces offering 'fraandship' or is it simply that the caller knows there is someone on the other end and that someone happens to be .....wait for it.... a woman.
The average Pakistani single girl knows the basics of circumventing this consistent stream, and most wear their armour of subliminal dont's on their sleeves.
1. Never make eye contact with men while driving, shopping and/or at restaurants (unless with the express purpose of receiving calls but that's a whole other list).
2. Never smile at men. It takes less than a minute for charity to turn into a chat invite on Facebook, Skype, Twitter and what have you.
3. When receiving a prank call, never pick up and swear at them. They get a kick out of it and lose any lingering sense of shame they might have had about making your life hell. You just bought yourself three more months.
4. The best way of dealing with phone stalkers is to switch on the phone put it under a pillow and let them talk to themselves hoping it won't take them longer than a week to realise they're phone plan cannot afford you. There is always the particularly pesky variety that finds this technique intriguing but they also give up eventually when they begin swearing at you. That, or when they find a prettier voice.
5. Never ever, ever, ever write your cell phone number on restaurant comment cards or promotional scheme vouchers. Seriously, that's just stupid ...borderline, blonde-joke stupid.
6. When you list each prank caller in your phone book under an expletive and a serial number (eg. Kutta three) be sure to be specific. Even though the exercise is contrived to make sure you don't pick up, you want to know which ones deserve more ahem... descriptive adjectives.
I recently found myself bemoaning to a close friend, the fact that I was barely sleeping because one of my phone stalkers had picked 8 am as the ideal time for his morning dose of poetic wooing.
Seriously, who actually falls for:
'Jab hum mile dil khille. Chalo Baagh lagaaen?'
(When we met, hearts blossomed. Now, lets plant a garden?)
"I bet there was one idiot caller who spewed this nonsense and some girl bought it and then he told everyone else it can work," said my friend.
She said we should push the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to stop banning swear words that help us all cope with these degenerates and look to finding out who the first cell phone stalker in Pakistan is.
I have a better idea, I think we should all be sharpening our pitchforks for the girl who fell for it!
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly translated 'Chalo Baagh lagaaen'. This has been fixed.