Paindoo season

Published: August 23, 2010
The hills prior to the invasion of the loathsomes

The hills prior to the invasion of the loathsomes

A man, wearing a grubby, white, slept-in shalwar kameez, was marching up and down the narrow road over the garden wall in perfect imitation of a constipated chicken. Arms bent, elbows extended, jutting forward from waist up, striding six steps forward and then the same in reverse, turning purple in the face with effort. It looked painful! Two more, one in a crumpled suit straining to contain him at the seams, the other in sloppy jeans and once white t-shirt, were halfway up the very tall, iron spiked side gate when I finally paid attention to the insistent warning of my barking dogs.

“Hey!” I yelled at the two would-be intruders. “Get down from there. This is private property.”

“Aah!” expelled the chicken. “I’m an estate agent, you’re the gori and this property is for sale. They,’’ he pointed at the two rogues, “have come to buy it.”

“It isn’t for sale,” I told him in surprise.

“Yes it is,” he self-righteously insisted. “Open that gate and let them in.”

“No. This is my property and it is not for sale so please go…Now.”

“It is for sale. I say so. Open the gate,” he squawked, testing my patience to the limit in the process.

“Suno tum paindoo…it is not for sale. You two get down from there before I do something about it.”

“Give me the key and I’ll open it,” the chicken declared. “Give it to me now. You have to let them see the plot.”

Leaving my vantage point on the wall, I went inside the house, returning seconds later with a rifle in one hand, cell phone in the other.

“Suno,” I angrily said through gritted teeth. “This is a rifle and I will use it if you don’t go away. This property is not for sale. I have phoned the police to come and arrest you for trying to break in. They are on their way right now. So…what is it to be?” I asked visibly slipping off the safety catch.

“But,” the chicken squawked. “They have come all the way from Lahore to see this plot…let them in.”

I took steady aim… all three turned a sickly shade of green and, slowly, with their hands in the air no less, backed off and vamoosed.

‘Paindoo season’. It comes around every year and I loathe it.

The season opens around May and runs through until the end of September with a little give and take at either end depending on the weather. Prior to the advent of road access five years ago, this obnoxious breed of person, mostly, for some unfathomable reason, originating from Lahore and its environs, restricted themselves to haunting ‘possible’ properties adjacent to the main road on the other side of the mountain or parading up and down the Mall in Murree. But the access road came and they, much to my dismay, quickly followed. They, it appears, are under the impression that every single piece of property in the locality is theirs for the asking and rarely admit defeat. In their book, everything and everyone one has a price, a price which can, after downward negotiations in their favour, be met. They can be extremely stupid and  insulting to boot.

Take the couple that Forest Gump delivered to my gate recently: “Madam, Madam,” he yelled as if the entire mountainside was on fire. “I have brought some guests.”

The ‘guests’ were his not mine.

“They want to talk to you and look around your garden.”

The couple, he overweight, badly dressed and somehow brutish, she also overweight, decked out in all that glitters including the kind of gold jewellery more fitted to attending a wedding than wandering round in the mountains, were complete strangers to me but, initially at least, I was reasonably polite.

“Hello!” I greeted them over the wall. “Did you want something?”

“Yes,” replied the brute. “We are thinking of buying some land off this man and he told us that a foreigner lives here so my wife wanted to meet you. She has some questions. I want to see your garden. I will look around while you are making tea.”

Making tea!

“I’m sorry. This is private property, not a restaurant and I happen to be busy right now.”

“Oh, but I need you to tell me some things,” wailed the woman.

Noting Forest Gump’s dismay, he is a neighbour after all and this is a very small community, I took a deep breath and said “Yes?”

“Aren’t you going to let us in first?” asked the brute, a man used to getting his own way to judge by his attitude.

“No,” I replied before turning to his wife. “What do you want to know?”

“Where do you come from? What are you doing here? How many rooms are in your house? Where do you do your shopping? How many servants do you have? How much a month does it cost to live here? What do you eat?” all rattled off at the speed of sound as I raised my eyebrows at the awfulness of it all while her golf-playing husband leered on.

“I happen to be a Pakistani national,” I replied. “I live here. The inside of my home is none of your business. I shop in the bazaar like everyone else and the other questions you asked have absolutely nothing to do with you.”

“But…but…” she almost blubbered… “What do you eat?”

“Where I come from,” I told them both in no uncertain terms, “We eat people like you!”

Naturally, the effort was wasted. It sailed completely over their ignorant heads as if I hadn’t uttered a single word.

“You must be a Christian,” was the woman’s response.

“And you must be Hindus,” was, to her shock, mine.

“No. No. No,” she screamed. “We are Muslim of course.”

At this point, a rather deflated Forest Gump decided that using my presence to ensure a sale wasn’t a very good idea and, thankfully, escorted them out of my sight, the brute trailing behind still insisting that he wanted to see my garden.

This ‘brass not class’ brigade of ‘Johnny-cum-latelies’ are, on the whole, totally devoid of manners. Expecting their money to do their talking for them which, unfortunately, it does in their own peculiar crowd and with servants, when it comes to communicating with ‘real’ people they are out of their depth, and quickly discover that putting their money where their mouth is, simply doesn’t hold water and certainly doesn’t equate with respect.

The amazing number of paindoos — the term is certainly not applicable to all Lahorites some of whom have impeccable manners — who have enough wealth to invest in or construct holiday homes in the hills does make one wonder as to the real, above board, economic situation of the country.

Forest Gump meanwhile, is smiling all the way to the bank while I curse him for the paindoo problems to come. I just hope that he invests part of his windfall in a lawnmower so that he no longer needs to pester me for mine.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Dimmu Borgir
    Aug 23, 2010 - 8:21PM

    Ohh.. it’s social satire you say? Shobha De you are not.Recommend

  • SS
    Aug 23, 2010 - 9:53PM

    I would have called this article offensive but its not even that its just simply terrible and i’m distraught that somebody thought it was OK to publish this stuff. Its bad enough that sometimes u have to encounter this kind of brattish depraved talk and thought in coffee houses or social networking sites but to PUBLISH it on a newspapers website is incomprehensible.Recommend

  • usman
    Aug 23, 2010 - 10:04PM

    This article is racist and full of venom against punjabis. Paindo is a derogatory word used against punjabis. Every pakistani has a right to buy property anywhwere in pakistan as so many people from khyber has properties in lahore and are now controlling most of the commercial cloth markets, but we punjabis have no problem with that. Recommend

  • nyla
    Aug 23, 2010 - 11:36PM

    Zahra, have been a fan for ages! At last something to make me laugh rather than weep…Recommend

  • Mamoon
    Aug 24, 2010 - 6:28AM

    @ Usman:
    If you had read the article completely you would’ve realized that the author was not referring to all the Punjabis but to a select few who think their wealth is superior above all else. Also you are correct in saying that every Pakistani has a right to buy property any where in the country, however they don’t have the right to buy private property which isn’t up for sale.Recommend

  • Anon
    Aug 24, 2010 - 6:08PM

    It’s Lahoris, not Lahorites!Recommend

  • usman
    Aug 24, 2010 - 7:20PM

    Well, we dont have a tradition of putting sale sign like they do in america. we have people knocking at our home in lahore inquiring wheather we selling or not but we dont mind knowing its normal here. punjabis are tolerant and large hearted people by nature, but it can’t be one way traffic forever. Recommend

  • Bally
    Aug 25, 2010 - 1:10PM

    I enjoyed the article because its so true to life and those paindoos who have every right 2 buy property…they jus do ur head in…ok in small doses…not my cup of tea.Recommend

  • Shez
    Aug 27, 2010 - 12:22AM

    Great article. These paindoos are everywhere and they truly make life a hell.Recommend

  • Ghausia
    Aug 28, 2010 - 2:02AM

    Cool I found this here, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this, my favorite part was the chicken telling you that you were a gori. As if a giro can’t be Pakistani? How typically narrow-minded.Recommend

  • Faiz
    Aug 28, 2010 - 10:26PM

    This was a pretty good article. It reminds us why we as a nation have collectively failed to develop our manners. Asking if a property is for sale is fine; but its quite wrong to barge into someone’s house as if you already own the place. Hilarious and entertaining; effective word choice.Recommend

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