1- Holier than thou – the dars aunty
Much like the scorned mullah, the dars Aunty’s default settings are programmed in a manner that will surely drown you in self-loathing. She will seize every opportunity to tell you what women are not allowed to do, which is pretty much everything from watching The Dark Knight Rises during your roza to stepping out with friends after dinner, to having friends in the first place. She will go as far as to tell you the exact number of paces a woman has to walk behind her mehram escort while she ferociously prays for your forgiveness on her tasbih.
2- I’m allergic to cheep - The rich socialite
She carries an Hermes Birkin and will need an extra chair for it at the table. She knows everyone who’s worth knowing and will be snapped with that worthy lot at various events — pictures of which will then appear in The Express Tribune’s “Spotted in Hermes” column. Her husband is the second most important accessory after her Birkin and her love for him is inversely proportional to his objections to her daily socialising.
3- Yeh zameen humari hai (literally) - The feudal
Poor Tehmina Durrani couldn’t do much to wipe out feudal culture with her insightful publication that did not at all sound like a personal rant of a bored housewife. This description of a prototypical feudal lord is not at all exaggerated: he lords over his own little kingdom while his son parades around in a monster-sized vehicle with guns for accessories (think “Wadeiray Ka Beta”). But there has been some evolution over the years. Most of them now have ‘foreign degrees’! Yup, even their feudal princesses ‘go abroad’ to college. The lifestyles, however, remain the same (refer to the rich aunty for details).
4- Hardees is in Nazimabad? - The burger bacha
He will know the exact location of obscure cafés and bars in London and New York, but place him anywhere beyond the bridge and he will run around like a headless chicken. To show his Pakistaniyat, he will wear Gulabo truck art shirts and give ethnic chic a go. He will also say “preggers” instead of pregnant.
5- That’s tel, not gel - The Maila
The Maila Pakistani is cool. He will take the burger, spice it up to make the perfect bun kebab and will reduce you to tears. Those tears could also be a result of his fake Gucci perfume that he bathed in. His pants are so tight, the sight of them stopping his blood circulation makes you grimace. But you love him and he makes you smile, simply because you are overjoyed that he’s a confident Pakistani. He’s found it and he wears it. Tight. That shiny tint in his hair is not gel — he cares enough about his locks to know not to use products that induce hair loss.
6- Chai, Paani - The policewala
You want to turn around and run away at the mere sight of him, but deep down inside, you pity him for the dark vortex he is trapped in. If you do happen to be sucked into that vortex (which can happen at any time of the day but is usually post-sunset) you will be asked to explain the where, what, how, why, why not, of everything. The highlight of his day is rounding up a couple in a car/motorbike and asking for their nikhanama (no, his name is not Maya Khan). His goal, however, is not law enforcement but chai, paani — an amount of money directly proportional to what you want to get away with.
7- Revolution - The armchair activist
These guys want to change the world with their rants blogs and posts online (re-tweet). After they’re done liking their high school acquaintance’s friends’ shaadi pictures, they will replug an article on Syria/the Arab Spring/Burma killings from the New York Times, with a comment on how Pakistan should learn from it. They meet at T2F and say (and tweet) nice things about each other while drinking gallons of black coffee, picking fights with other armchair activists and trying to fight for #minoritiesrights (re-tweet + 1,000).
8- With her satellite jharoo - The gossip maasi
If all modes of communication in the world were to break down in this country of breakdowns, the gossip maasi is sure to save Pakistan. She has an innate ability to catch signals of distress or excitement in the remotest of zones. Even if you think she was sleeping at 10pm, she knows you were up talking to your boyfriend till midnight, or that your brother snuck out of the house for sehri. She has enough space in her memory drive to save all information — even about your neighbours, her old employers, and her gaon wali seheli’s ex-husband’s pet buffalo. If you have secrets, she knows them. And she will tell.
9- Too close for comfort - The sleazy uncle
“Beta, you have grown so big, come closer so that these old eyes can see you better.” No, this is not a Pakistani spin on the wolf’s lines from “Little Red Riding Hood” — it’s the one uncle who takes the idea of a ‘close-knit family’ a bit too seriously. His paternal hugs last just a few seconds too long, the pats on the head creep down and don’t stop sliding until his wife looks up from her plate of food and gives him that killer stare.
10- Smile and (tsunami) wave - The politician
He’ll yell himself hoarse on a TV talk show and bang his fist on a table to emphasise his point, especially when he has none. He loves to gesticulate, accuse, abuse and swear if there is a camera around him, but you won’t catch him picking up so much as a wrapper on the road — even if it flies right into his face.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2012.