The-Alif-Team

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pakistani Weddings - The Saga that is


This article is long overdue. Despite being an incredibly handsome unmarried 20 year old stallion who has never even come close to tying the proverbial knot, I feel I have more than enough experience in the realm of Pakistani weddings to be able to write an article or two or three about how weddings work in our sub-contracted Indian culture. Think of this as a sort of wedding guide for those young, soon to be married Pakistanis, and indeed, those poor unfortunate non-Pakistani souls who, unbeknownst to them, have incurred god's wrath and decided to marry into a Pakistani family. Shudder.

The Fights

No Pakistani wedding is complete without a fight or two. Be it the guest list or the color of napkins, there is always something to have a good ol’ fashioned battle royale over. Although normally inconsequential, these fights can sometimes boil over, with people (often close relatives) refusing to attend the wedding and canvassing others to do the same. The reason? No one (boycotees included) are really sure - though it most probably has its roots in the fact that the day of the wedding (planned 6 months ago) has fallen on the same day as a senior auntie’s dentist appointment. Said auntie was well within her right to ask the bride’s parents to change the day of the wedding. The parents refused outright, resulting in some 'izzat' related problems for the auntie and other members of her clique.

The Wedding Card

Always a joy to read the spelling mistakes and seventy-seven names crammed into a wedding card the size of a postage stamp.

An example:
Mr and Mrs Ahmed rekwest the pleasure of your company at the Walima Seremoneee of their beloved shon,

Muhammad

Grandosn of the late Tariq Ahmed and Maryam Hussain. Newphew of Hasan Khan, Cousin of Tanveer Yusuf, Ex-husband of Fatimah Raja, Friend of Ameena Sarwar.

The Guest list

Ahh...the guest list. Your social circle tops well over a thousand. Unfortunately, the Royal Albert hall was booked out on June 17th so you had to make do with the local town hall instead – capacity: 250. For a reason unknown to anyone bar god himself, desi parents are compelled to invite all sorts of barely related weirdos to the wedding.

Remember that questionably homosexual 'uncle' you met at your cousins' BBQ? - Yup, he's invited. Your close friend of 15 years, Ahmed? No space for him unfortunately.

Guest list are hard - their construction requires a lot of time, effort and patience. They also require common sense, something which in a wedding household is strictly at a premium. So stupid, idiotic, and downright barmy decisions will be made.

The Rituals

The rituals...deep breaths. All great cultures have weird and wonderful wedding customs. The Jews hold the groom up on a chair and dance round him - sweet. They proceed by breaking a glass - small scale vandalism, but again, sweet nonetheless. Pakistani wedding customs on the other hand range from theft and force feeding to eerily disturbing levels of emotional blackmail.

Theft:

The theft of course, comes in the form Grand Theft Khussa. For those unfamiliar with indo-pak culture, the wedding celebrations cullminate in a somewhat bizarre ritual where sisters/cousins from the brides side steal (yes, that’s right - steal) the grooms shoes. Like a swarm of shalwar kameez clad locust, they swoop in,literally wrestling the shoes off the poor sod’s feet. He is left there, bewildered - in a state of shock. He has essentially been mugged by a group of sissy girls in front of his family and friends. If the loss of dignity wasn’t bad enough, the groom is now obliged to pay obscene amounts of money for the safe return of his shoes...so begins the bargaining. What would you pay for the return uncomfortable shoes that reveal your short stature? £10...£15 at the most. Yet for some reason, the idiot groom ends up forking over £300 to get his shoes back. It is the ghetto equivalent of being mugged for your Nokia 3210 and being forced to buy it back from the mugger at over 10 times the market rate. Does nobody else find this disturbing? I swear, come my wedding day, I would rather walk out of the banqueting hall bare foot, than pay for the shoes I never wanted to wear in the first place. Or better yet, maybe I’ll fight back. Let’s see how brave the girls are when I decide to throw a few punches. One black eye = saving of £300. Well worth it if you ask me.

Force-feeding:

At some point in midst of wedding fever, the sodding groom will be force-fed ladoo (an Indian sweet, spherical in shape...mucus orange in colour. See picture) by a group of about 33 barely related 'aunties' . Each auntie will turn up with about half a ladoo, ceremoniously forcing it down the grooms throat. In a period lasting no more than half an hour, the groom will have eaten the equivalent of about 10 boxes of Ambala - adding an extra 7 kg to his weight in the process.

The Number of Events

Pakistani weddings have enough events to confuse most attendees into believing that they have been invited to the wedding of a grand Venetian prince, not Mr. Khan’s 20 year old son. The mendhi, the pre-mendhi, the pre-pre-mendhi, the registration, the shadhi, the nikkah, the valima, musical nights, laptop evenings, egg and spoon race...arrgh. By the time the wedding festivities are over, the happy couple have had 3 kids - with twins on the way.The

Cameraman

Perhaps the single most annoying person on the face of the earth. The semi-professional cameraman scours the wedding hall, 1987 camera in hand with an absurdly bright light attached. He will invariably catch you when you are stuffing your face with kebabs, or when you have a few grains of rice stuck to your chin. His light is almost blinding; comparable, perhaps, to a near death experience, yet he still keeps it on full blast, with an astonishing disregard for the pawns in his sordid Bollywood debut.

The Clothes

The bride comes in wearing a red bed sheet embedded with sequins and the groom is dressed like Aladdin. I am yet to see a Pakistani wedding where something other than this is the case.

The Segregation

Oh boy. Segregated weddings just do not work. The intention is fantastic, seperate the men from the women, minimise free-mixing, promote Islamic culture. Great. Unfortunatley, this holy intention isn’t shared by all. The organisers seem to think that a mere silk curtain will prevent wife-seeking loners from the men’s side from venturing into enemy teritory. The sanctity of the curtain will last for about half an hour after which the first breach will occur - usually a close male relative/uncle. Before long, the curtain will fall - much like the berlin wall, with folk flocking to either side rejoicing in their liberating victory over the tyrant organisers. A bit of advice – segregation will only work with an electric fence. And perhaps a few dogs patrolling the buffer zone.

And so, there we have it. A guide. A review - call it what you want. When is comes to the circus show that is a Pakistani wedding, there's always one looming on the horizon.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Social gatherings - a distinctly Muslim problem

M = Muslim
NM = Non-Muslim

NM: Hiya, we're going for a drink down the bar - fancy joining us?
M: Oh, not tonight mate...I'm busy, maybe some other time
NM: Ok...no problem


Phew, crisis averted. You see, most Muslims are in a bit of a bind when it comes social get togethers. You want to be seen as the cool, fun loving Muslim, but you don’t want to spend £100 getting boozed up at some seedy underground bar in hackney. It's a dilemma, some - give in.

"Sure I’ll come" (thinks to self - I’ll stay in for 10 minutes, get myself an orange juice and leave)

"Sure, I’ll come" - Ends up having coke with rum, I mean, hey, it’s only a teeny weenie bit of alcohol, it’s not like I got drunk or anything.

"Sure, I’ll come" - Gets hammered, pukes up his morning paratha - wakes up with more than JUST a hangover.

Some have scruples. They stand up for what they believe in, refusing to go and engage in explicitly haram activities with individuals who, for whatever reason, enjoy spending their hard earned cash on booze, cigarettes and blander than bland pub meals. Some choose an excuse, alhamdullilah - the Muslim ummah have been blessed with their fair share of excuse-mongers. It is, in fact, the one thing we excel at. No one makes excuses like we do. Rather than explain to them the religious reasons behind your non-attendance at next weeks brew-ha-ha, the guilt ridden Muslim will use his god-given excuse making ability to avoid the event.

"I’m busy"

will usually suffice for about 2 weeks, but unless you have a social life reminiscent to that of Paris Hiltons', you're going to need something better - a bit of initiative is usually required.

"Oh, tomorrow did you say? - I can’t make it, its my umm my mums birthday"

Simple enough eh? Birthdays can get you out of pretty much anything. But they could also land u in some deep bush in eye-raq style doo-doo.

NM: "Wasn’t it your mums birthday a few months ago" (shoot, he remembered)
M:"umm, yeh, like that was my other mum".

Congratulations, people now think that you're a product of some sort of weird love triangle. Not good.

Of course, the excuses will get more and more outrageous as the weeks and months go on.

"Oh, Tuesday did you say - no can do, I've been invited to my second cousins ex-wife's mother in law's step sons' best friend bar-mitzvah - he's pretty close, he'd kill me if don’t come".

One of 2 things will happen to the well-intentioned, though slightly embarrassed of his religion excuse monger:

1. He will continue to make up more excuses, each more outlandish and mind numbingly cringe worthy than the last until eventually his friends/co-workers give up on him.
2. He will give in, sitting rather awkwardly on his bar stool with intermittent glances at his watch. Orange juice in hand, ba-da-bing: ba-da-boom...in and out as quickly as possible.

Both outcomes should be avoided. The first gives the impression that you're an anti-social, infidel hating fun-do-mentalist weirdo. The second means you've compromised on your faith.

The only legitimate solution to this problem is, like most dilemmas in life, honesty. The vast, vast majority of non-Muslims are decent folk and are fully aware of cultural/religious sensitivities. One should make a concerted effort to explain, from a religious perspective, the reason for your no-show. Again, you gotta be careful with how exactly you go about doing this:

"Come? With you? To the bar...and do what exactly? Drink overpriced champagne with a bunch of socially retarded individuals who haven’t even the slightest of clue on how to enjoy themselves without getting mindlessly intoxicated? Sounds like a hoot...oh, maybe we can go to a few nightclubs too, ya know - pull a few girls and maybe, if we play our cards right, get ourselves infected with syphilis...i'll c u losers in hell!"

May very well result in you receiving a social call from MI5. Again, not good.

Ok, so you've mustered up the courage to tell them the truth, your non Muslim friends (assuming of course, they consider you as a friend, with the excuses and what not) have gathered round, eager to hear news of the latest hamster death. It has become somewhat of a ritual, a gathering of men - a sermon if you will. There is a hush as he enters the room, his face, arms and feet wet, drenched in sweat (or so they think, he's actually just gone and done his wudu. But he told them that suffers from chronic sweating).

M: Guys, I won’t be able to come today, my religion forbids it.
NM: Oh ok, fair enough. Why didn’t you tell us before?
M: I guess I was kind of embarrassed...
NM: So you lied?
M: Well...umm...yeh, I guess but -
NM: Isn’t lying forbidden in Islam
M: Yeah, but -
NM: Well, if lying is forbidden and coming out to bars is forbidden, then what’s the difference?


And there it is, you are now officially the president of moronville. Population, you.

The above scenario brings home the importance of honesty from the outset. If explained in a thoughtful, non–condescending manner, you may very well find that that same annoying dude, who would give you an FBI style grilling in pursuit of your latest excuse, is an ideal candidate for some finger-lickin dawah.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chav

For those unfamiliar with the term -

Chav is a slang term which has been in general use throughout the United Kingdom since 2004. It refers to a subcultural stereotype of a person with fashions such as flashy "bling" jewellery and counterfeit designer clothes or sportswear, an uneducated, uncultured, impoverished background, a tendency to congregate around places such as fast-food outlets, bus stops, or other shopping areas, and a culture of antisocial behaviour.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav

Chavistani = Asian Chav

Chavistani's Demand Independence


In a move that has shocked political commentators Vikram Patel, head of the Chavistani liberation Front (CLF), has demanded that Chavistanis are given control of a series of states within the UK.

Dr Frederick Shmack, head of Multicultural Studies at University College London, had this to say about the movement:

"The Chavistanis are a proud people, standing up against the evils of education, manners and good dress sense all over the UK. Although finding their inspiration from the traditional white chav movement, they seem to have carved out their very own distinctly desi sub-niche. Asians in the UK are a varied lot - more often than not, you can tell the difference between a Pakistani and an Indian, or a Bengali and a Sri-Lankan. The beauty of the chavistani is that it transcends the usually bitter sub-continental divisions. Pakistanis, Indians, Bengalis and Sri Lankan’s become one, a sort of unholy alliance of uncouth morons. A chavistani is a chavistani, not an Indian, not a Pakistani...a chavistani, and will remain so till he realises the error of his ways and renounces his former lifestyle. "

Fuelled by anger, idiocy and "coz they got nuttin better to do innit", the chavistani movement is calling for a series of semi-independent, self-governed regions of autonomy in the UK. They claim that their way of life is being threatened by the rule of law.

In a statement, Vikram Patel said:

"Bruv, mans needs his own crib innit. Ma boyzzz iz gettin hassled ways to much by dem racist. Mans trina chirps er n they always get in da way, tru say."

Translated:

"Brother, we need our own state. We fear racial abuse from the police, to the extent that we cant even cultivate meaningful relationships with members of the opposite sex. That, my friends, is the truth."

He went on:

"Raa bruv, were goin dan to Blair’s ouse innit, we gonna bash em up roodebwoy style...don’t wanna mess wid ma crew man, ma crew is sick bruv."

Translated:

"We are organising a protest outside the Houses of Parliament, demanding that they give us the right to govern ourselves. All senior members of the Chavistani Liberation Front will be present. They will not be able to ignore a protest of such magnitude."

Patel, a graduate from the Chavistani School of Sickness – more popularly known as the University of East London – and organiser of tomorrow’s march recently drew up proposals outlining which parts of the UK should be ceded to the CLF. The proposals took longer than expected, with senior members confusing a map of Argentina with that of the UK.

Singh: Bruv, there aint a bo-nnies aei-eh-ries in England, man.
Patel: Mans no nutting bout Geography..i got an E in ma GCSE bruv..give me tha map innit.
Singh: Raa...bruv, mans a genius...i got a G innit..
Patel: Izzit..haha..g fo g-unit.

The topic soon turned to Fiddy's beef with the game. 3 days later, they managed to secure a map of what they thought was the UK. It wasn’t.

Singh: Bruv, New York aint in England man.
Patel: Haha..mans no nuttin bout Geography...New York’s in Yorkshire, innit?
Singh: Oh seen..raa bruv, man’s a genius.
Patel: Tru dat, I got a E in ma GCSE geography, innit?
Singh: Respect bruv, respect...i got a G innit?
Patel: Haha...G for G-unit.

The topic soon turned to 50 cent’s latest album. After finally getting their hands on an actual map of the UK, Patel demanded that Bradford, North West London, East London and Leicester be given independence. In a surprisingly coherent statement released today, the CLF were adamant that their plans would be a success:

"We hope the Blair government will listen to us. We believe that as moronic idiots, we should be given an opportunity to govern ourselves. All peoples should have the right to self-determination. We are a disgusting, illiterate, foul-mouthed people and should not be exposed to the masses."

The statement was later retracted, with Patel claiming it had been "messed up by a hater" or, in conventional English "sabotaged".

Political commentators have pointed out that the march tomorrow may not have much of an effect. It is believed that coachloads of people from all over the country are confused as to the exact location of Parliament, with most setting up camp in Upminster instead of Westminster. A group of about 100 grass roots CLF members were seen protesting outside 10 Dowling street in Swindon. When asked what they were doing there, one Adidas clad teenager replied "We’re hatin President Bush, innit?" A friend corrected him, "Naa bruv, its Prime Minister Bush, trust bruv – I got a E in GCSE Geograpy".

Burberry Inc refused to comment on the issue.

Edgware Road - Refuge of the Damned!




If you're a Muslim and you live in and around London, the likelihood is that you would have had the unfortunate pleasure of visiting the morally bankrupt cesspool of sleaze and corruption that is Edgware road. For the uninitiated, Edgware road (well, part of it anyway) is a place where young hip/cool Muslims hang out, smoke sheesha, chew khat and eat outrageously priced, sub par chicken shwarmas, served by rude arrogant Arab bus-boys who believe that their job title as "Head Waiter" gives them some sort of intellectual and/or moral authority over you.

It started of as a place popular for rich, lonely Arabs from abroad, who would bring their white girlfriends to ridiculously overpriced restaurants and show her off to their fellow pervert friends, while, of course, hitting on any remotely good looking girl who happened to walk in. Causing a scene in the process and eventually being thrown out by an overzealous, pissed off "Head Waiter". E-Road (as it is referred to by regulars) soon became popular with Pakistani's, and, more recently, P-Diddy clones (aka Somalis).

Over time, something quite remarkable happened. The non-Arabs had slowly begun (for want of a better word) to metamorphosise into Arabs - This spread of Arab culture amongst non-Arabs was nothing short of astonishing. Pakistani's were using words like "yalla", "akhi" and "habibi" in their regular conversations. The tea towel scarf was now being worn with the shalwar kameez...the song "habibi dah" was on everyone’s' play list... men fantasized about one day marrying a fair skinned Arab girl and made plans on how they would take up residence in Dubai once they graduate.

The trend continues today, and has gotten to the stage where many have deluded themselves into believing that they actually ARE of Arab extraction, making up some outlandish story about how his/her great-grandfather was of one eighth Syrian. Or, that their "Ahmed" surname somehow proves their Arabian heritage. Morons.

You see, normally you have to be careful when making gross generalisations about people en mass, but in this case, the generalisations are completely justified. Take, for example, the now famous E-Road rude boys. They normally hang around in groups of about 300, making the already overcrowded road an absolute chore to get around. They adorn, almost without exception, the standard chavistani attire. Hoody's, baseball caps, low riders and Persil white Adidas trainers… fake silver chains are also common. Their sole purpose (in life?) is to roam the streets looking for their female counterparts (hojabi's) who they will invariably greet with the words "whagwan sister" before proceeding to one of the multitude of classless Arab cafe's where they will practise smoking near perfect rings and indulge themselves in groundbreaking conversational topics such as"why biggie is better than tupac" or "the latest Nokia hand set which has, get this, 512mb space for MP3’s, wicked!"

But Edgware road isn’t all rude Arabs, and Pakistani chavs. You also get the more distinguished crowd. The well educated stiff upper lip types. Normally in their mid-to-late 20's, they turn up dressed like metrosexuals models and can usually be found clutching a copy of today's Financial Times. The groups are a lot smaller, not more than 4..a pot of herbal tea can always be found on their table. The topic of choice is usually work (oh yes, I went to see a client in Singapore last week...went to this fab restaurant...you must go) although sometimes marriage (depending on their relationship status) is discussed. For the most part, their manner is a refreshing change from the usual redneck types mentioned above. Although obnoxious at times, the elder crowd tend to be pretty decent folk.

Finally, we move on to the elderly. The 60 something Arab men who, rather than spend their precious time with grandchildren, prefer instead, to sit in a sleazy underground cafe with equally sleazy men discussing god knows what up into small hours of the morning. I’m not sure whether they are hard of hearing, but their discussion seems to be more like a shouting contest than an actual conversation. "I CAN SHOUT LOUDER THAN YOU" said one "NO YOU CANT, I CAN SHOUT LOUDER THAN YOU" said the other, using the most gutter form of Slang Arabic known to man. I actually find this particular group quite amusing, especially when they turn the local Mc D's into a social hang out reminiscent of a cafe in downtown Beirut - believe me, there is nothing, NOTHING, funnier than seeing a congregation of about 10 elderly Arab men sitting in McDonalds, eating bismillah hamburgers. You can only shudder at the thought of what the god-forsaken employees at Mc D's must go through - round the clock requests for shisha instead of milkshake, filet-o-fish running out of stock, aggressive men complaining about the lack of salt in their French fries. May god have mercy.

Yet, despite all this. Despite the idiots. Despite the atmosphere, despite the distinct lack of class shown by about, say, 80% of the regulars and about 100% of those moron waiters....I still go there, every week. Without Fail...and I'm not sure why. Am I compelled by idiots? Am I just another e-road stereotype?