Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bathroom Reading Chronicles

Also, since we're on the topic of the Daily Times, here's something that I've been itching to write a short post about since I flipped through it's Sunday magazine this past week.

Look at the following photographs from its Eye Spy section, which focuses on the social elite. The photographs depict a Halloween party thrown by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer's son and daughter-in-law (in leading photograph):

Another world is possible?

Now, I am no prude or killjoy, I enjoy a good party as much as the next person and I really don't have a problem with people enjoying themselves (something this country could really stand to have more of). But I kept wondering about two things while looking at these photographs. The first was, who ARE these people who expend such effort and time on dressing up and take Halloween parties so seriously. I mean, one knows who some of them are, but you know what I mean.

The second thing I kept wondering about was the mindset of such exhibitionism in a country still suffering through one of the worst natural disasters in the world that has robbed hundreds of thousands of even a roof above their heads, an ongoing brutal war against extremism that continues to kill and maim thousands, and galloping inflation that has people pouring on to the streets crying in desperation. The same country is going around the world, begging bowl in hand, to save it from economic and social meltdown and is imposing super-taxes on those already in the tax net to raise revenue. What la la land are these people living in? For such exhibitionism to come from a politically-connected family makes it all the more insensitive. You want to have a party for your friends? Fine, go ahead. But must you rub your disconnect from the rest of the country into the face of everyone else? Must you provide ammunition to those who are already bristling at the yawning chasm between the elite and the 'common folk'? Whatever happened to political savvy and common sense?

I really was having a hard time figuring out what exactly goes on in the heads of people such as these. Until I came across the following gem of an interview, also in Sunday, of someone billed as a 'designer-cum-teacher-cum-chef', all rolled into one.

According to the interview, the last time Ms Ayesha Hashwani cried was "8 months ago when my tailors formed a union and I had no choice but to fire them all." Poor choice-less girl that she is, she then goes on to wish she "wasn't such a push-over."

Doesn't it all make sense now?


Magnum said...

LOL!! Good one, XYZ.

Do not mind me saying the following, but such kind of tarty exhibitionism is quite a Lahori thing. The truth is, a lot more 'action' happens in Karachi, but without the typical 'mom I'm in GT' kind of bull which Lahore's gliterati love.

I've never understood the tendency of papers like DT and TFT with this .001 percent crowd.

Yea, you're right, who the fuck are they? But then who the fuck cares ... untill they begin tumbling out from the pages of Sunday Magazine, GT, TFT, blah. Typical zonked out Lahore crap.

karachikhatmal said...

umm i normally defer to the superb writing on this blog, but playing to the gallery a little bit here?

you guys know this - this sort of celebrity reportage allows those being reported to feel important, and those reading to be able to dismiss their own anxieties about being super privileged by dissing on these guys.

the taseers are not a significant family in political terms, and their twitter exhibitionism as well as their patriarch's confrontational soundbites provide a clue as to the route they personally employ in staying within the national discourse/spotlight.

but what really disappoints is the recourse to a country suffering blah blah blah. firstly, no matter how much the country suffers, expecting the GT crowd to stop partying would be a bit delusional. secondly, perhaps the partying is the response to constant fear etc.

but on the hashwani piece you missed a brilliant opportunity for some shredding satire. i mean the tailors union getting them all fired? haha thats pure gold.

and there's more: "worst habit: not giving others a chance to speak." "i wish i wasn't: such a pushover"

Anonymous said...

This is such a typical retard yellow journalist article. Yes our country has been through some terrible things, I personally feel much better when I see kids having some good clean fun. So the country is burning because some kids dressed up for Halloween. Maybe if there was more recreation there wouldn't be as many boys blowing themselves up.

Anonymous said...
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Umair J said...

the first comment could be another (un)welcome example in the wonderful piece of fiction titled 'the story of Karachi's exceptionalism'.

What a load of bull.

Anonymous said...

This is a little silly, and I am dissapointed Cafe Pyala... There are tons of people who had Halloween parties all over Pakistan. Many were more lavish than this. You guys are just taking a hit at the Taseer's because Salmaan Taseer is a public (business and political) figure.

And how can u judge someone for dressing up??!?!? That is the point of Halloween! Lighten up, humbugs. Do you diss people for looking nice on New Years on their birthdays also?

Also regarding the Lahore haters --- I know many many parties that happened in Khi, at Sindh Club/beach/what not in Khi. Get real! And in quiet old Isloo too... AND ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!

It's really not a big deal...

Suleiman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

KarachiKhatmal get a life!!!!

XYZ said...

@Magnum: I have to disagree on that with you. I don't think it's a Lahore vs Karachi thing. I think it has to do with the disconnect of a certain class.

@karachikhatmal: You wrote: "no matter how much the country suffers, expecting the GT crowd to stop partying would be a bit delusional. secondly, perhaps the partying is the response to constant fear etc."

The post was not taking exception to people having a party. Please re-read.

@Anon522: Sorry you feel so defensive. But I don't believe I said the country is "burning because of" these Halloween parties. Neither do I think any suicide bomber would be dissuaded from blowing themselves up by seeing kids having "good clean fun." My point was simply about political and social sensitivity.

@Anon529: Once again, the point, if you read the post, was not about people having fun or attending parties. And I am sure there prob were more lavish parties than the Taseers. We didn't see them though in national newspapers.

@Sulaiman: Your comment was deleted because it was gratuitously and crudely personal.

Anonymous said...

tad bit jealous aren't we or not getting invited... :P

Although I do not agree with all the posts in your blog but this one is pure gold.

karachikhatmal said...

XYZ: fair point. still, two cums called for more :)


karachi feminist said...

love it!! at last someone writing about the anti labor, anti union activities of glam designers. I could frame that one part! more, more!

Anonymous said...

Your right. For that matter why dress for weddings, or have weddings, or children, let's just all sit home and moan, How can you publish such intolerance and hate

Anonymous said...

if it bothers you so much, don't pick up the next sunday magazine. LIVE AND LET LIVE. maybe if you had a life and did not live it thru other people (in sunday or some other news paper) you would have something better to write about.

yes, our country is/has gone thru so much. Name one country that has not in history? Its people and mentalities like yours that like to sensationalize things and focus on the wrong things. It seems like a party like million others. Get over it. Do you seriously have run out of better more important things to write about? if yes, which seems like it, than give up writing all together. Spare the people who seem to be having innocent fun.

Or perhaps get out more. Open up your mind.

They did not use your money to throw the party or the governments. What and how people spend their money is their business. Just because someone has a political name attached to them does not give people like you to write about it. Learn to be less judgmental. It will only make you a happier person. Cheers and sending some happy thoughts your way. It might help you grow up =)

Ahsan said...

Holy crap, what's with all the comment hate? There's nothing in this post even remotely controversial.

naam_mein_kya_rakkha_hai said...

Last annon wala pakka Salman Taseer ne likkha hai, he said "CHEERS" at end

Anonymous said...

hey lahore. fuck off.

Ahsan said...

Agree with naam_mein. 100%.

Anonymous said...

ANON734 'They did not use your money to throw the party or the governments. What and how people spend their money is their business. Just because someone has a political name attached to them does not give people like you to write about it.'

regarding this comment...did you know that the Taseers havent paid their employees at DT for over 4 months. If they dont have the money to pay their employees, where oh where do i wonder does the money to hold such parties comes from. And read the post again please. Its not about having a party, not having a party, dressing up for weddings or having children...its about showing political and social sensitivity which can be expected from the Governor and his family cant it.

Philistine said...

@Anon aka salman taseer:

Thank you so much for saying what you did. I have taken to ranting about the elites in Pakistan and how utterly and completely BLIND they are to their class privilege and I was getting just a bit hyperbolic and feeling like I didn't have proof to back my stance.

Your comment, however, has laid all my fears to rest.

LIVE AND LET LIVE? Seriously? Do you have ANY idea the kind of economic exploitation that makes such extravagance among the taseer's et. al. even POSSSIBLE? Maybe THEY (big landowners and industrialists) should 'live and let live' and stop exploiting their workers/ peasants and stop paying them 5 rs. for a day's work and stop chasing them off their land. Live and let live my ass.

Also, what are you smoking? The author of this post is merely asking for some sensitivity towards the flood afffectees. Talking about the flood which has displaced TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE is sensationalizing it? Wtf are you talking about?

My friend you need to open your eyes to the socioeconomic realities of the world and to the role that the elites play in creating the poverty that most of the people in Pakistan live in.

Your comments about it being 'their' money reflect a complete obliviousness to class conflict in the country. And your comments about the floods are simply shameful.

Maybe some people need to open their minds but you would do good to just crack open a book or open your eyes. It might help you stop being such a jerkwad -)

Philistine said...

P.S. Wtf kind of a country do we live in where it's completely ok for someone to say something like Hashwani madam's comment about crying because her tailors formed a union and how poor little baby had no choice but to FIRE every one of them??? Ye kya bakwas hai!!!

M*A*S*H said...

This is excellent and healthy debate. But if we remain confrontational (as this mini debate shows we are), we won't achieve the much needed common ground that our civil society desperately needs. I wish the tone of both sides would be persuasive and conciliatory instead of arrogantly dismissive.

Anonymous said...

My husband works at the dt and we've been paid wages regularly since it began. Salmaan taseer is a hard working job creating businessman. Because of him liberal journalists have a voice. This miserable self righteousness of doing nothing and begrudging those who do is so depressing. sunday is a voice of liberalism and brings a little joy into peoples life.

I have a name said...

@ the anon above

oh really, your husband must have been a special one. Employees at DT only got paid their July salary until now. There is a possibility that they may get Aug salary before eid but it is not confirmed as yet.

Anonymous said...

People must raise themselves to liberty. Thank god there are still kids who take the trouble to dress up for Halloween. . Despite joyless haters like the authors of this column.


Anonymous said...

Where do u get your information I have a name? All the employees including my husband have been paid. He's worked there since 2006-there's nothing more pathetic than stay at home lie mongering bloggers

Anonymous said...

listen Anonymous who happens to be the wife of one of the few (if not the only) employee who gets paid on time at DT, why dont you go to the DT office and ask the employees there if they're getting paid or not. Most of em didnt even get paid on the last eid. They were given a petty 10,000 to compensate for the 3 previous wage-less months.

oh and apart from Mrs. Anonymous, if anybody reading this has doubts to whether im telling the truth or not, go to the DT office and ask the employees yourself. Its the building right next to the worldcall office on Guru Mangat road.

kalakawa said...

Oh my.

"sunday is a voice of liberalism"


Madam, I'm sure you and your husband may be liberal and that's great, but let's please not besmirch the good name of liberalism by equating a half-assed fashion magazine with it.

One can party all they want, wear whatever they want, do anything they wish to do - but it does NOT necessarily make them liberal. The vast majority of the Pakistani fashion scene (incidentally, Sunday's core audience) greatly supported the Musharraf's regime. Few things are more illiberal.


"Thank god there are still kids who take the trouble to dress up for Halloween."

Yes, Thank God they STILL exist. Like the centuries old tradition in our part of the world. Let's please not turn a fancy dress party into a stand for Pakistan's soul.

Ahsan said...

The inanity of the GT crowd is shown beautifully in these comments. Honestly, the rest of us shouldn't even bother saying anything, just sit back and enjoy it.

MSS said...

Madam, I think your point about making allegations you can't substantiate vis-a-vis salaries is a valid one, but object most vociferously to the term 'stay at home lie mongering bloggers'! I'll have you know being a stay at home lie mongering blogger is one of the most unappreciated jobs there is. Not only do you have to give birth to your little bastard blog babies, you then have to raise them (post), nurture them (moderate), resist the urge to go grizzy mama when someone mocks them, and suffer that woeful empty nest syndrome when the day ends and the world moves on to the next post. And all this without being paid!

As for the others who are calling the author of this post a hater/killjoy/buzzkill etc, you've completely missed the point. Nobody has a problem with anybody partying, but yes some of us do have a problem with those who think it's ok to publicize pictures of said partying at a time when most Pakistanis are deprived, destitute or depressed. And also a problem with people who spend money they haven't earned or owe to somebody else. Not that this blog accuses the family in question of doing that. That came up in the comments.

As for 'don't read it if you don't like it!', again, fair enough. Except, these fluff mags get waved into our faces at traffic lights and are sometimes the only option of flip through material in doctors offices and strange bathrooms.

The kind of fundamental disconnect seen in some of these comments is disturbing. To me, the defensiveness shown by reading 'you hate parties and halloween' and 'why can't you live and let live' into 'please don't make a spectacle of your plenty at at time when others don't have enough' suggests guilt.

I look forward to the day that guilt turns into self loathing and that turns into a desire to better oneself and give as well as take. Until then, party on 24 hour party people! Maybe next year instead of the vampirish undead you can tie a pillow around your tummy, wrap an eidhi shroud around yourself and go as the bloated corpse of an unidentified flood victim.

secularpakistan said...

Somebody please tell this paindu what is GT?

secularpakistan said...

I helped myself to find out about Good Times. Will send pictures of my parties as well from now on.

Nabiha Meher Shaikh said...

Hello what payment? One of my closest friends quit after 6 months of no payment. He was there 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Taseer owes him close to 2 lakhs.

Anonymous said...

The venomous anonymous comment has a style suspiciously like one of the other Taseer son's other half...

TLW said...

All that's running through my mind is that they were partying like this in Lahore (and Karachi) through 1971, and if Mullah Umar takes over, they'll bribe some senior-ish Mullah dude and party behind their walls as well whilst ordinary wimmen get whipped. It's a big whatever, and I wouldn't have wasted my time if there weren't 30+ comments on this.

Plus theory:
You think the Pak elites went along with Zia's Islamisation because of a guilty conscience for all the partying at the Bengalis expense, (exploitation, not raising voice when they were being massacred, etc.) and to salve that generations guilty conscience, went along with Islamisation like guilty sheep?

And this generation doesn't feel the same guilt, so they can express themselves freely until the next near genocidal massacre?

Shoot or support theories as you see fit.

Anonymous said...

if all we were going to do was to celebrate 'halloween' than why did we need pakistan in 1st place?

shouldn't we just merge in india ?

Liberals please tell me that WHY do we need to to keep this country in existence ?

Jao. said...

you guys are making my head hurt. please. if you really don't like this article then dont come here. go and celebrate your halloween and work with salman taseer. and post photos in the newspaper of your lavish party alongside the flood victim's photos. no one's stopping you, really.

Anonymous said...
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karachi feminist said...

Ayesha Farook Hashwani's comment is so outrageous, I suggest she publicly explain herself, and give contacts of her fired employees so I can interview them and present their claims and labor violations.

In any country, even the United States, where unionization is at a low of 14% people would think twice before saying something so explicitly anti labor and anti poor.

Its just in our banana republic of a corporate military landed elite state that such a thought does not even cross her mind.

Suleiman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I dont understand why so many people are having problems with you voicing your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Utterly sad, extremely disgusting and highly unrealistic so called 'creme de la creme' of a poor, chaotic, terror struck and a financially backbroken country. Celebrating? that also Halloween?
For an average Pakistani, it is Halloween everyday. The demons of everyday life hardships and despondancy haunts him on a regular basis. Adopting this type of lifestyle is not justified. My opinion.

Anonymous said...

@karachi feminist
wait till she turns out on some TV channel for the 'cause' of the poor and deprived

Anonymous said...

@ Philistine. I think you need to read the comment again. Sensationalizing = the party. NOT what has happened to the country!!! so much hate! why so? My only point is that, just because someone has a party or a get together does not mean they don't care about what is happening to the country or the world in general.

Incidentally, my name does not have to end with 'Taseer' to think that this blog was full of ridiculous talk. I have been a regular reader of this blog and I just felt this one was completely out of line. I feel no one has the right to judge how others live their lives. HENCE, LIVE AND LET LIVE. And till we as a nation don't start respecting each others space and life choices, we will be forever stuck in this vicious circle of hate and trash talk. Peace.

Khizzy said...

i'm not sure what everyone else is reading but what i understood from this post was NOT that XYZ had a problem with the partying per se. yes we all know you cant stop those and there were plenty of other parties in Karachi and Lahore and Isloo too. Nobody's telling the taseers to not party. they can party. everyone can have their get back to paying attention to what this piece says.
I think the author just hoped that a politically connected family, that is very much in the public eye would set a better example or AT THE LEAST not publish the pictures of said party.
so relax people, no one can force you to stop partying, or have weddings or birthday parties. just be a little sensitive about flaunting such extravagances.
and maybe its unfair to be targeting the Taseers alone, but isn't that one of the compromises you make by being public figures?
so simply put...dont put up pictures of exorbitantly priced parties when people can question you on pending payments that you cannot 'afford' to make.

btw, why is everyone always perched on their seats ready for a Lahore Karachi debate? (i know its fun but this wasnt about that)

warning: I may have repeated myself several times in this comment.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahah loved it, very well written and true, XYZ. Pfffft to the nay sayers, stop making everything into a Lahore-Karachi thing (that's SO passe, losers) and into a 'live and let live' thing. The author is not concerned with people partying but the exhibitionism is disgusting.

Philistine said...

@Anonymous 315:

Firstly, it's pretty ambiguous in your comment whether the sensationalism you're referring to is about the party or the floods. Maybe you can be more specific next time. I think I explicated pretty clearly the reasons for my 'hate', although hate isn't the word I would use, more like rage, which I think is an apt emotional response in scenarios such as this one.

It’s probably good to not throw around liberal ideas like “let’s not judge!” and “let’s give each other space!” given that they ring really hollow given our country’s problems. (These arguments ring hollow even in first world countries, where they are more common and are used to gloss over structural inequalities along the lines of race/ class/ citizenship/ gender/ sexuality etc.) Sometimes there is due cause for judgment. The whole ‘no-judgment’ philosophy stems from the idea that all values/ lifestyles/ choices are of equal merit, none better or worse than the other. This is simply not true. There is REAL poverty and inequality in this country caused by REAL oppression of the majority by the minority. For DT to not pay its workers, or for industrialists/ big landlords to pay their workers/peasants really low wages IS economic exploitation and SHOULD be condemned, not tolerated. This exploitation forms the very basis that makes the GT crowd's party hopping lifestyles even possible, so it's not something to be brushed aside.

Furthermore, throwing ostentatious parties and having pictures published in GT or whatever is not really the best expression of sympathy towards the less privileged in the country. Rather these parties are avenues to flaunt wealth and privilege and create distinctions between the elites and the rest of the country. You will be aware, I am sure, of the obsession in these circles to appear more ‘with it’ than everyone else, and the constant need to assert one’s superiority in terms of money/ status/ burgerization. These are practices that are implicitly aimed at reifying class distinctions, which is no way acceptable to anyone with a shred of empathy for the non-elite.

Also, you sounded pretty judgmental in your own first comment with your get-a-life-loser type argument, which is pretty hypocritical. The weird thing is the author wasn’t even making a very radical or controversial critique, they were just asking for a little sensitivity. For people to react with so much acrimony at a simple idea is just astounding, and as someone else mentioned, probably based in guilt. That’s probably also the reason that you enjoy most of this blog but didn’t like this particular article. It’s easy to be critical of our government/ media etc but everyone gets really uncomfortable when their own privilege is called into question. If we pretend to care about the poor, we need to think about the causes of their oppression in a way that does justice to them, and not merely in a way that allows us to feel good about ourselves.

deuceexmachina said...

thank god for verbalizing what's been bothering me since the onset of the floods, and the lack of care and concern amongst the elite, and not so elite of the nation.

RUMrum said...

I've kind of been waiting for a very long time for someone to take a stance on this "Most pertinent" issue - the Taseer blowout.

First off, where the heck did the Taseers suddenly come in - as in, how are they suddenly in the limelight so much? Daily Times, right? Promoting the family, and their various business ventures on their "fair and balanced" news publication. Secondly, whoever said that Salmaan Taseer promotes liberal journalism is a little bit of bull. Newsweek Pakistan, who employs his daughter Shehrbano Taseer gave her the liberty to interview her father for the magazine. A respected name like Newsweek should know better - conflict of interest much?

Another thing. Governor Taseer tweets like it's nobody's business. The man is unstoppable. Two percent of his tweets describe some projects that he's actively involved in (like growing rice on his fields in Punjab) .. ok slight exaggeration, but also true. But 98 percent is dedicated to Nawaz Sharif bashing. They say great people write about ideas, not people, but Taseer does exactly the opposite. Unfortunately, his tweeting rampage was highlighted in ForeignPolicy too - how, if anyone disagrees with him (for instance when someone pointed out that perhaps talking about how Taseer should not be boasting his fantastic rice harvest at a time of flash floods) - Taseer conveniently calls them out for being a "retard."

As per the partying, let them do what they want. What really annoys me is this obsession with wealth that follows such partying trends, which is shameful in this current "Great Recession" and Pakistan's greatest natural disaster.

Anonymous said...

This does not surprise me at all. I feel bad for poor DT writers who have done nothing but stay loyal in Najam Sethi's departure.

Salmaan Taseer does not give two hoots to profit at his employees' expenses.

Case in Point: Pace claimed insurance in the face of arson when it was widely known they burned down the building to avoid reconstruction costs.

Case in Point: Salmaan Taseer uses political connections to acquire large tracts of land for his Rice Production and then gets premium government contracts guaranteeing sale.

Case in Point: A lavish Halloween party funded by lakhs of rupees unavailable to DT because they can't 'afford' to pay.

My question is, if a family run company cant afford to pay its employees, how can it afford parties, Mercedes', a humongous house? WHehre are shaheryar taseer's Rolex's and Cartiers coming from?

It just makes me sad, because as people literally loot the country dry, there is nothing we can do but watch them dress up like ghouls and taunt us

taimur said...

is that mohsin hamid in some sort of blackface getup? nice.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how much an ayesha hashwani outfit costs? probably 30-80K depending on the type of outfit it is. I wonder what the poor tailors were being paid? 10-15K at the most if not less a month. Which begs the question, why just dump on ayesha hashwani? what about all the women who buy hers and other outlandishly priced designer outfits (which suffer from bad quality and production and design flaws), at the same cost of reputed international designers (who pay taxes, much higher overheads, deliver on time, are of much better quality, and are professional businesses). Why are we buying these clothes and why do we think 10K for a simple cotton/lawn kameez (without a pant on dupatta) and 30K for a formal chiffon outfit with hardly any embellishment, is "reasonable". I think women and the men who allow and encourage this sort of profligacy should be court martialled...

Anonymous said...

The post was thoughtful. Some of the comments, thought, extremely hilarious. I wonder why the "live and let live" crowd have such trouble understanding the fact that they totally missed the post's point!

Anyway, kudos~

thesaproject said...

ohmygawd! I think I had a bigger laugh on the comments! though I really did wish that the Karachites didnt bash ALL us lahoris that much.

much as I support having a good time and partying I totally agree with the author on the tactlessness of the situation as well as the fact that Daily Times is the most unreadable junk around...and I mean the news section and not just the entertainment bits. (though i do miss its crossword :( sigh*)

the union thing had caught my eye too. and it made me seethe in anger. but imagine how many aunties would have nodded their head in acknowledgment and sent her a 1000 rupee cookie to make her feel better.

oh no. I sound bitter. I'm going to get my own 20 rupee cookies and contemplate how many people I pissed off now by saying this.
Back to drawing board and blogging on art critique!