5 types of people you meet after you graduate

1. The ones who love to call you a fresh graduate – no matter how many years it has been since you graduated

For them your opinion will never matter until you have grown a few white hair to show that you have aged – doesn’t matter if mentally you are still stuck in the age when you first began watching “Friends”.

2. The ones who will never understand what your majors were or the work you do

They will incessantly ask you to get a job but every time you try to tell them you already have one, they will be like, “oh yeah, that’s good… but get a proper job.” “Okay.”

3. The ones who tell you that you’re making a mistake if you think about quitting your job.

We as a society have a knack for sticking on to things we hate – particularly marriages and jobs that have stopped fulfilling us.  Except when you’re fresh off the boat, you are buzzing with too many ideas & plans to just give up things to the hands of fate.

4. The ones who try to give you work but no money.

These people have grand plans for their business, except they have no money to give out to people who invest their time and effort into helping them. Except they will only tell you that after you have held your end of the bargain. To them, I just say, “The University of Karma has got my back, bitch.”

5. The ones who will tell you that your next goal should be marriage.

These are just my favourite types of people because it’s so easy to scandalise them. You can say anything between “no” or “hmm” and they will give you an equally shocked reaction. “But beta, everyone needs a life partner after some time”. “Great, so I have some time then. Bye bye now.”






Are you for real, bro?

Are you for real, bro?

From naming yourself after your favourite Star Wars character to putting up highly fantasized pictures of your human self on Bitstrips, your online identity has seen you do a bunch of crazy things.  However, what started as fun and games has long since existed to be just. You’re now as much of an amalgamation of your online experiences as your real-life ones and who’s to say which one’s what?

With phone vibrations punctuating almost all our human interactions, the time and importance we give to knowing what #Karachi on Twitter is saying is way more than how we actually spend an ordinary day in the city. But where does our online life end and where does the real life begin and does the latter even matter anymore?

Though seemingly a preposterous idea, our increasing participation in cloud communities (online food groups, art pages and movie review forums) at the expense of real-life interaction with fellow mortals says otherwise. Even when it comes to doing such things as developing skill-sets or finding a living, we are more likely to spend time on activities that are valued on the internet as opposed to real life things, like getting out of bed.

Adorning our cell-phone experience with the furniture of apps, we are slowly doing away with the need of having tangible things around. Notebooks, calculators, chess boards, canvases, alarm clocks are all examples of things that have slowly disappeared from our physical surroundings, only to appear in our virtual one.

In fact, we shy away from having real-life encounters (try running into a “well-meaning” acquaintance at Dolmen Mall) and wish for extra lives in Candy Crush as opposed to brownies in real life (or maybe, that’s a tough call). It is the banning of websites that makes us abandon our comfort zones to protest and it is when we are blocked on online pages that we truly begin to feel for our “fundamental” rights.

With our rooms slowly transforming into Batcaves where we wish we could store a week-long supply of food to go with our technology, we know our online lives are taking over, leaving little or no room to develop our offline identity. We know how to respond to various situations online with standard phrases like YOLO (you only live one), bitch please!, the staple LOL (laugh out loud) coming to the rescue but often find it hard to tell someone off in real life – a fact which was made more convincing to me when my friend disclosed she had taken a “How to say NO and stand up to your peers” course online!

Even though we’d like to thing that this is a problem that only concerns a certain strata of society, upon closer inspection this gets proved wrong. From daily-wage earners to salaried drivers, sometimes it is their life in their mobile phones, which keeps them going.

With people Instagramming to add filters to their photos to cropping out their photo-bombing friends, our appearances online have started to matter just as much as our real selves – if not more.

Who are we turning into and who are we leaving behind? The question in these times to ask your self is, “are you for real, bro?”

If you think I’m exaggerating, here’s why I am not:

Mark Zuckerberg’s sister thinks you should register a baby’s online identity at birth.

Published in The Express Tribune blogs here.


Mafia Wars

I woke up to my cellphone’s call for attention – the occasional ping of a social media website that sends a shiver of excitement down anyone’s spine each time it’s heard, only to often end up being an invite from a food group that they had forgotten to unlike.

With partly open eyes and a mind still clouded with the last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, I clamored to find the phone from under my pillow – my hands reaching out as if a drowning man calling for help – frantic and all over the place.

“Fauzia Arif,” the notification read, “has completed 56 levels of Candy Crush. Post on her wall to congratulate her.”

“How difficult is it to have a life these days?” I questioned angrily before, logging in to Sims Freeplay to check if my Sim was well-hydrated after the hours of virtual gardening I had put it through.

Now that I was finally up and getting my daily installment off the newsfeed, I scrolled down to spot familiar faces doing things that I only wished I could.

Sofia “Princess” Mir, the first update read: Just got updated to an iPhone 5, thanks to my hubby to be <3.

This was my friend from school who I had lost touch over the years and what remained of her memory were just the ugly bits that still stung like an evil bee. The status, as if spiraling me back to that time had me wanting to reply, but I couldn’t just comment on her status. That would just prove that she had my attention, which she didn’t of course.

I decided to update a status of my own.

“How cute. People are just beginning to get an iPhone 5. Steve Jobs is dead, folks!” I wrote.

And just as I was thinking my passive aggressive rant was done with, a new notification checked my smile that hadn’t fully appeared on my sleepy face.

“Don’t compare yourself to me. I’m someone they couldn’t even dare to be.”

“Whoa! Who is comparing who? Wait, where is that picture of Ali with that goofy smile of his where everyone thinks he resembles a deer?” I thought immediately scanning my desktop for saved pictures from yesteryears.

I had posted of photo of Ali and I at our best. The caption read, hubby already. It was the only picture of him where he hadn’t lost those few extra strands of hair covering his forehead and when his smile was just a genuine show of good countenance and not a silent question of “What’s for dinner?”.

The photo even though misleading was gold. Contented, I thought this would shut her bitch fit up but here’s the thing about social media: You can never be too sure – about anything.

And sure enough, a new status update from Sophia had followed: “I pity my friend who ended up with someone who has such an ugly face.”

My head was now reeling. I felt betrayed, backstabbed, insulted – all at once. This person, who had more asterisks in her name than my computer password was actually having fun at the expense of me? Me? Who had always scored the highest, got the better job, gotten the guy and had real friends for a change.  Who does she think she was?

My mental blabbering was interrupted by another ping from my cell phone.

“What? Is she not even going to wait for her turn now?”

It was a notification from my high school’s principal who thought tagging both of us in a status would be akin to calling us in to the principal’s room. She had proceeded to give us an online scolding – caps lock and all and said something about how our failed attempts at trolling still gave her nightmares.

If our online spat with each other wasn’t embarrassing enough – well, it wasn’t quite embarrassing, I am known to be more challenging on Facebook, that tagged status took the cake.

I quietly switched my phone off, pretended the online me was going on a hiatus and proceeded to tend to my real life responsibilities – the first of which included me getting out of the bed.

(This was done as part of a creative writing course at SZABIST)



Into The Vile

It’s so bad, I can smell it!

From extra-long curly toe nails to phantom arms that originate from nowhere, everything that could possibly be disturbing manages to find a way in your newsfeed. You scroll down your Facebook page with a cup of coffee in hand, probably munching your breakfast snack and all of a sudden, a sight as hideous as Voldemort’s poo greets your gaze. What do you do? Scroll down as fast as you could? But it seriously cannot be fast enough. After all, you’re not done scanning the entire feed for weather, traffic and strike updates. For what good is using a social networking website in Karachi if it doesn’t give you the necessary information to start your day with? Err..

An influx of highly disturbing, vile, sometimes utterly gross and often, offensive images seem to have found a way to attract people enough to share them on their profiles for everyone in their list to see. If it’s not your Facebook people, then it’s some “insert-emotional-quote-here” page you had somehow liked for a friend that doesn’t think filtering images for quality is a good enough idea. From comic pages drawing almost real-looking poop to images of people with missing limbs (that seem to be funny to them, for some reason), there really is no knowing what type of content could come up next that you’d have to wash your eyeballs thoroughly for.

If it’s not the outright grotesque, then there are photos “commanding” you to like them or you’re likely to burn in hell. Seriously, isn’t waking up a Monday morning to get eyed angrily by your boss, only to be “surprised” by your favourite relatives while you’re on your way to head out hell enough? Apparently not.

Maybe imagining a world where people would rethink the kind of things they post online is actually day-dreaming, but do we really want to go down the road where everything we lay eyes on is a vomit-in-your-mouth kind of content? Clearly, the day isn’t far when you’d see surgeons uploading pictures of their patients when their stomachs are half cut up and consider it their contribution to the world of daily humour. Who am I kidding. I already have.

Mall’d Up

It has been a while since I ran into somebody I knew. As much as I want to say this, I can’t, for the many Dolmens and The Malls that have sprung up in our city have not only brought with themselves a fresh supply of I-will-have-to-sell-a-kidney-to-get-things-from-here brands but also a million opportunities for one to run into all sorts of people. Now avoiding Sunday Bazaar like the plague doesn’t cut it. Gone are the days when you could roam around window shopping with an iPod hanging by your neck (not in the way you just pictured) sporting last night’s slept-in PJs. The non-brushed ponytail look can suck it for not only are the likelihood of you running into someone you know increases disproportionally to how ancient you appear but even just lazing looking around shops and trying new shoes get you nasty stares from the shop-keepers.

“I may look homeless, but I do have a job, hello!” (Or probably the only reason I look homeless is because I have one.)

Since I refuse to mend my ways until I absolutely, completely have to, it was  just last night that I found myself going around the same shop in circles to run away from an estranged ex-employer only to end up running headlong into a friend’s bhaabhi (brother’s wife). For someone who doesn’t even know the names of their own extended relatives, stopping to exchange pleasantries with someone else’s is a moment that calls on you to undertake an intense episode of self-reflection.

And then, the cherry on top goes to the designer bag sporting thirteen year olds, texting away with their groupies and roaming around with cream dripping cupcakes making you feel like you are the only one figuring life out while others are busy living it.

When all is said and done, maybe one can bring themselves around to wearing iron-pressed clothes when they go out but getting yourself to laugh at the “a relative, school friend and ex walk into a mall” jokes is surely going to take a while.


Lipton’s Mega Disaster

Lipton’s Mega Disaster

Lipton’s Mega Daane – a mega disappointment

Imagine the wind blowing in your hair while you drive past the many shops and traffic lights in the city, only to come to a staggering halt in the face of mini-boards and bill-boards that hang around the cosmopolitan like a curtain. National Fruitily, the countless Iftar Deals, the “exclusive” eid exhibitions and Lipton – Mega Daane, Mega Taste. Your mind wants to snap shut but can’t. This has to be some kind of a prank. Is tea really being advertised owing to the strength of its Daane? Thoughts about oversized pimples come unbidden to mind. Daane. Ow.

Besides, whoever knows anything about tea beans? A quick internet search would tell you that even Google hasn’t heard of them. Even considering the fact that Pakistan has become the place where the impossible happens, talking about tea beans is taking things a bit too far.

Tea is an essential part of not just our routine but our lifestyle. It’s no longer just a beverage. You seek tea the moment you enter your work place, the moment you binge at a dinner (which happens often) and whenever you think you are going to lose it at someone.

While it’s true that the aforementioned has been used as a concept by a number of tea brands and Lipton itself has come out with really memorable ads (Remember, Chaye Chahiye?), a new ad campaign should have been a welcome change considering the enormous run that the old jingle has enjoyed. Unfortunately, the Mega Daane, Mega Taste has instead of engaging the local community established Liption as a brand that is aloof and distant from what the consumers want and understand.

If one really thinks all it takes to succeed in the ad world is a portrait of a woman enjoying a cup of tea and a tagline boasting about how mega your beans are, you really need better research or maybe just a new ad agency.