Here’s a blog from a few days back, before we got the phone line.
Blogging Today: An Exercise in Futility
By Sensei Incensed
Well, our phone line still doesn’t work, but at least we now know what the problem is. See, this whole time we’ve just been calling the PTCL (Pakistan Tele-Communications Limited) people and politely asking that the phone line be fixed. Apparently that’s not the way to do things.
My father has been calling the in-charge, and asking for over a week that the line be fixed. The in-charge said yes, of course, right away. I’ll do it right now. And of course he hasn’t. My father has been calling (from his office) him every day since then, and today my father called and said, “Sadaqat (actually name of actual loser) you’ve promised to fix my phone line every day for the last five days, why hasn’t it been fixed yet?”
In response to this question, Mr.Sadaqat told my father to piss off. Why? Because nothing was going to get done unless his palm was greased first. And still nothing will be done because my dad is not going to bribe the slime-ball.
:::gnashes teeth, tears at garments, pours dust on one’s own head out of angst:::
GRRRRRR! I am SO mad right now, first of all, because some loser had the nerve to tell my father to piss off. That’s completely uncalled-for, my father is an exceedingly polite man, even when he’s angry. My father has the right to be treated with as much respect as he treats other people. Everyone does.
Secondly, I am cheesed that bribery is so common here. I know, I already wrote a blog a while ago about how everyone keeps demanding to be bribed. Well, nothing has changed since then, it’s just infuriating that people are so shameless about it, like it’s their God-given right to take advantage of you. A friend of the family sent their son to study here at an Islamic university, and we were trying to help him get his paper-work and admissions taken care of. For some reason, the admissions office would not give him the letter of acceptance that he needed to get his student visa, they were withholding it but would not give a valid reason why. (I would know, I called them every day for a week!) Finally, some of his other friends went down to the university to see in person what the problem could be. It turns out that there was one thing missing, money. They paid the bribe that the clerk at the admissions office was demanding without telling him. (Eventually he found out.)
This same brother faced the same kinds of obstacles at every step, each obstacle causing him a few days delay, each few days eating away at the deadline for admissions. After a week, he was so fed up with the corruption he found in what was supposed to be an ISLAMIC university that he actually packed his bags and went home again. And I must say, his impression of Pakistan (it was his first time here) has been irremediably scarred. He has an uncle who lives here, who unfortunately shares the same opinion, that all Pakistanis are corrupt Rashi (bribe-takers) and cheaters. Since he was a foreigner, every Pakistani that dealt with him did their best to double and triple their prices for half of their services.
It’s a sad truth that this is very common, and it makes me depressed when I ask my foreign students (out of formality) what they think of Pakistan. They all say the same thing (thinking that I’m just American) that the country is beautiful, and the people are all cheaters. The only that I can say in defense of Pakistan is, “Well, not all the people are cheaters, maybe just eighty percent…” Then I give them the names and addresses of the pitifully few shops here that do not cheat foreigners.
All of my students have been Muslims. True, they’re Muslims from places like Turkey (where Islam is watered-down to say that least) and former Soviet-Bloc countries where Islam was illegal for decades, but even they can say that Islamically, something is wrong here. Not a single one of them prays regularly, and all but one drinks, but every single one of them has told me that their own secular gov’ts back home are doing ten times a better job at running things than this ‘Islamic Republic,’ and in their view, this is a potent argument for why secularism is a perfectly acceptable philosophy and Islam is a perfectly useless one. (See how much good your silly Islam does you?)
Of course, I explain that the problems in Pakistan are due, not to terrorism or sectarianism or anything that a secular government would prevent against (in theory), they’re due to the fact that we’re ignoring our own religion. We’re not practicing ENOUGH Islam. We need more, not less. And we also need a healthy dose of education, literacy, accountability and maybe a little helping of bloody revolution. Yeah, Sensei sounds mad, but she really has it in for those gov’t officials who take themselves and their families to Hajj every year on ZAKAT money when there are still people here in Pakistan who starve to death and children who die because they were too poor to afford medical treatment.
I know that every culture has its own favorite vice so it’s not like I’m saying that Pakistan stinks while the rest of the world smells of roses. This is just so depressing because it’s a prime example of how not enough Taqwa (God-consciousness) can ruin a whole society. If Sadaqat D. Loser had one ounce of fear of Divine Retribution (or the tiniest hope of Divine Reward) he would rather die than be a hard-core rashi, especially since bribery and corruption are such HUGE sins in Islam.
Aaak. See, I’m typing this blog and I don’t even know how soon it can be posted. Who are we supposed to ask to fix the phone when the area in-charge (Sadaqat D. Loser) himself flatly and rudely refused to do anything until we bribed him?
Well, chances are, if I post this blog, it’ll be because I printed it out at home and have typed it up at the internet café. If that is the case, I’m glad this one’s a long one because I have no idea when I’ll be getting the phone line and y’all be getting an update. AllahuAalim.
I’m going to go rage against the machine now. And I’m taking Aniraz’s slingshot.