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Monthly Archives: January 2004

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Seven in the morning there came

Six men to load innumerable boxes

Five laborers and a painter who asked for

Four cups of tea and carried

Three major appliances, filling the truck with

Two tons of weight resulting in

One cracked driveway

(wah wah wah)

I have a good excuse for not updating my blog on time. And the excuse in itself may even pass for a blog entry. Here I go. I could not update my blog because…my dog ate it. Whoops. Wrong excuse. Let me try again.

I could not update my blog because…my house was in a state of bedlam. Well, more specifically because of the way in which the furniture here in bedlam was moved to make way for boxes- the computer was unplugged. Now that the relatives have gone home, the house has been put back together, the floors have been mopped of giant, muddy manfootprints, and the layer of dust we disturbed has settled, I can blog properly again.

As I was blasting…errr..breezing down Jinnah road today I saw a hijabi standing in the median a few dozen meters away. I looked at her. She looked at me. Then she stepped directly out in front of my car. Tires squealed, the car swerved, and by the Grace of God she was spared from turning into an asphalt waffle.

Later today there was this man with the red sweater who made eye contact with me and then stepped jauntily off of the curb, nearly embedding himself in the front grill of my car. And then there was that cute kid near my house who stood patiently by the side of the road as I approached, and then just as I began to pass him, threw his ball in front of my tires and then ran after it.

The number of pedestrians I could’ve knocked the legs out from under staggers me each day. I’m shocked every time someone looks directly at my car and then steps out in front of it. I can’t explain it. It’s hard for me to accept that a large number of pedestrians have severe vision impairments. It’s even harder for me to assume that they’re all suicidal. I’ve tried to believe that they’re all suffering from delusions of immortality, but it just doesn’t work. The sanest, most logical explanation I can come up with is that there’s something wrong with my car. It must be invisible.

At first I didn’t think it was possible, since as far as I know, Suzuki doesn’t make a Mehran Stealth, but I have no choice but to believe it. The theory fits too, and very nicely explains why other cars, mostly gargantuan SUV’s, are always trying to merge into my lane even before I’m done using it. I know my car is small, but it’s not microscopic. It would show quite clearly in the SUV’s rear-view mirror. It would, that is, if it weren’t invisible.

And you know, the problem with owning an invisible car is that sometimes I can’t find where I’ve parked it. I come out of a shop and wander around the parking lot, trying to find a car that can’t be found. I check and double-check the place that I was sure of, and can’t find it. I peer uncertainly into other silver Mehrans, since there are always at least a dozen wherever I go, and head dejectedly back towards the shop once I’ve confirmed that none of them are mine. (Sometimes I peer into BMW’s too. You can’t stop a body from hoping…) Then, when I get back to the shop, Lo and Behold, there’s my car, and it’s visible again, right where I left it.

The other day I was standing in a line waiting for my turn at the supermarket counter when a man stepped in front of me and plunked his purchases down. After everything had been rung up and he was being handed his receipt, he turned around and said , “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there!” This leads me to wonder if the car’s invisibility isn’t contagious. Aniraz seems to be catching it too. Today we were standing in a bakery when a woman began walking straight for the bakery counter, the one that Aniraz was standing in front of. Luckily, Aniraz leapt out of the way, otherwise there might have been a head-on collision. The woman’s young son followed, and brushed past Aniraz so closely that he passed under one of her arms and came out by way of the other.

But this invisibility thing could be useful. Next time I’m in the bakery, I’m going to sneak behind the counter and help myself to some cookies.

Not only do we have relatives over, but we also have a painter and about a hundred boxes of various sizes strewn all over the house. This is the precurser to moving. No big change, we’re just moving up the road. But anyway, no time to blog right now. Have some shameless self-promotion instead. :p

oooh, aaaah, Mystery Link!

(be patient, it might take a few minutes to load)

Sensei Presents: Islamabad the Beautiful: Vignettes About Town

Scene: a traffic signal in a posh neighborhood. The light is red and a variety of expensive cars are lined up and revving their engines. The sun is glinting off of chrome and the curvaceous chassis of BMW’s, Prado’s, and the occasional Lexus. Observe the silver Mercedes in the rear-view mirror, and the well-dressed young man in the driver’s seat. Notice his index finger, busily employed in one nostril. Ah, the common touch…

Scene: a waiting-room in the lobby of an office building. An armed security guard is standing at attention in the center of the marbled entrance-way. People come and go around him, but none pass within a few feet of him. His radius of personal space is ensured by the severe look on his face and the conspicuous shotgun slung from his shoulder. At the opposite end of the hall, a janitor with a wide dust-mop has lined himself up for another push from one end of the room to the other. He begins pushing quickly, with his head down, intent on his work, unaware that his current alignment has him on a collision course for the armed guard. A few observant people gasp as the dust-mop is about to crash into the back of the guard’s left leg, but just before it does, the guard lifts it without so much as a twitch of his ferocious moustache. He stands momentarily with one leg raised, the most dangerous looking flamingo I’ve ever seen.

Scene: a four-lane divided road running through the center of downtown Islamabad- Blue Area. The median is planted with flowers and palm trees, which the Capital Development Authority (CDA) waters every few days. Two CDA water tankers are watering them now, having started on opposite ends of the road, and they are now converging towards the middle. The men with the high-powered hoses are blasting water at the trees and flowers, until the two trucks meet across the median, when the hoses are raised and the men begin blasting each other instead.

Scene: The shoulder of a road on a cold, rainy day. A four-legged man in a large, shiny jacket is driving his motorcycle slowly through the rain. The first set of legs appear to be his own, they are long and trouser-clad. The second pair of legs is short, neon-green, and wearing a pair of pink sandals. They appear to have sprouted from his puffy, air-filled jacket, beneath which a small child is hiding from the winter wind.

The End.

Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! The beginning of another week!

In exactly 30 minutes, it will be Monday again. I’m pretending to be dealing with it rationally, but sometimes Mondays just catch you off guard. Everything’s going all nice and smooth, you haven’t changed out of your pajamas since Saturday morning and then –BAM!- Monday hits you in the side of the head like a fast-flying chapal. And then you go to work rubbing your head all the way till Friday.

Ok, maybe that’s not you, maybe it’s just me. But this Monday ambushed me and I’m not ready for it. My lesson plans aren’t done, I have appointments that need to be made and clothes that have to be washed before I can even think about wearing them out of the house, let alone to class. *sniff sniff* Okay, so they don’t smell, it’s just that the ice-cream in the lap of one of my favorite jilbs isn’t the most professional of accessories on an English teacher. But then, I’m not the most professional of English teachers, so maybe I won’t have to wash it after all…

I should just stop griping and do what I need to do, specifically- print out my lessons and lick errr…wash the ice-cream off of my jilb. I also have to drag my sorry self to bed and manage to brush my teeth at some point on the way there. Well, at least I’ve already prayed Isha.

Who knew English teachers could be such losers. :p

The Importance of Praying Early

A one-act play

by Sensei

Left Brain: It’s 1:30 am.

Right Brain: What’s your point.

LB: Aren’t we tired?

RB: Yep.

LB: Then we should go to bed.

RB: Can’t, we haven’t prayed Isha yet.

LB: Then why not pray Isha already?

RB: Can’t. Too tired to get out of chair.

LB: Have we ever read Catch 22?

RB: No, but I think we might have written it.

-The End

Fingers recovered, blogs away!

Yasmine asked me about the book I had listed in the column to the left, Peace Like a River. In case you’re still wondering Yasmine, it’s a really nice book. It has an intelligent plot, a satisfying even if tragic conclusion, and best of all, it’s got a G rating. I don’t know if movies all over the world are rated the same way, but a G rating means that a movie is suitable for all viewing ages. Either way, I really enjoyed Peace Like a River and I highly recommend it. I also highly thank Chai and Apple Pie (who’s no longer blogging) who gave me the book to begin with.

Surprisingly, there are very few good books that would get a G rating if they were turned into movies, and you have no idea how hard that makes my job as an English teacher. I try to select books that are interesting, preferably classics, for my students. Any book I select has to be proper too, because I take responsibility for what I recommend to my students. There can be no vulgarity and no obscenity, because we read all the books out loud and define any new words and discuss what things mean.

Diplomat: And then Mr. Smith umm, Miss Khan, what is this word? (pointing to word on page)

Sensei: That word? Oh, uh… it’s means, uh…(starts sweating) hey look, a spy! (yanks book out of hand and runs out of room)

I can’t tell you guys how many awkward situations I’ve really been in while trying to answer my student’s innocent vocabulary questions. One of my Irani students very innocently asked me one day: “What is the meaning of the word hoar, h-o-a-r?”

“Hoar?” I asked her, confused. “It’s an old word for mold, that stuff that sometimes grows on old bread. And hoary means grayish or whitish. Why do you ask? Where did you read that word?”

“I know mold, but are you sure that is the meaning, or maybe I am spelling it wrong.” my student said, “Because that seems very strange.”

“Was it in a book?” I asked, trying to figure out where she had read it.

“No, I was watching a show, I can’t remember the name, and one woman said to another, You hoar. Ah yes,” my student said brightening, “The show was called, “Jerry Springer!”

We cleared that one up shortly. I’ve also been in weird situations where students have told me that their handwriting was illicit, when they meant illegible. One student told me he liked bees in his tea. He meant honey. It takes everything I’ve got to keep a straight face sometimes, and I don’t always succeed. I’m trying though, honest I am.

Who said teaching wasn’t a high-stress job? Hmmph.

Mortally wounded my fingers while dismantling 15-foot trampoline. Will dramaticize it later. Right now it hurts to type.

Have a laff instead: from www.funnycleanjokes.com

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!

-Dave Barry

We have women in the military, but they don’t put us in the front lines. They don’t know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms.

-Elayne Boosler

I am not the boss of my house. I don’t know how I lost it. I don’t know when I lost it. I don’t think I ever had it. But I’ve seen the boss’s job and I don’t want it.

-Bill Cosby

If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.

-George Carlin

Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.

-Lewis Grizzard

The problem with the designated driver program, it’s not a desirable job. But if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.

-Jeff Foxworthy

Don’t spend two dollars to dry clean a shirt. Donate it to the Salvation Army instead. They’ll clean it and put it on a hanger. Next morning buy it back for seventy five cents.

–William Coronel

Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.

–Paul Rodriguez

Some women hold up dresses that are so ugly and they always say the same thing: This looks much better on.’ On what? On fire?

–Marsha Warfield

I went into a McDonald’s yesterday and said, I’d like some fries. The girl at the counter said, Would you like some fries with that?

–Jay Leno

I’m desperately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets.

–Dave Edison

If it weren’t for electricity we’d all be watching television by candlelight.

–George Gobel

Suppose you were an idiot… and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

–Mark Twain

I just broke up with someone and the last thing she said to me was, You’ll never find anyone like me again! I’m thinking, ‘I should hope not! If I don’t want you, why would I want someone like you?’

–Larry Miller

My mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, ‘Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.’

–Paula Poundstone

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they seem okay, then it’s you.

–Rita Mae Brown

Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem. Maybe you should get rid of the body before you do the wash.

–Jerry Seinfeld

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I’m halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God….I could be eating a slow learner.

–Lynda Montgomery

Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?

–Lily Tomlin

The reason most people play golf is to wear clothes they would not be caught dead in otherwise.

–Roger Simon

Golf — a good walk spoiled.

–Mark Twain

I was offered a job today. (Never mind that I already have one, that ruins the story.) Anyway, a friend of mine informed me that a foreign NGO was looking for administrative personnel, and she knew the woman (we’ll call her Ms. X) who was hiring. The position came with room for promotion, a dynamic and challenging work environment and, most importantly, a very good salary- 35,000 rupees just to start.


With a 6,000 rupee bonus every three months.

But the job came with a catch. Since the position was in a foreign NGO dedicated to establishing freedom and democracy in Pakistan (this is a nice name for regime change) it would require a bit of confidentiality on my part. But that wasn’t the catch though. Nope, the catch was: I couldn’t wear my scarf.

(This is where Sensei’s eyebrow raised in polite amusement.)

I asked how my scarf could possibly interfere with my ability to work. My friend said she didn’t know, but was told that the job required a lot of going out and meeting and greeting people, and that somehow it didn’t seem to go with the job. She I had a good laugh though, over the irony of said NGO (struggling to establish freedom and democracy and liberty and justice for all) refusing to allow a scarf in the workplace. This, dear blogistanis, is good old-fashioned irony, and please make note of it.

I would like to report Ms. X to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Hijabis (if any), or maybe the Anti-Hypocrisy Squad or anyone who can see that a piece of cloth on my head doesn’t impair my work ethic, my social skills, or my brain. Not unless I’ve pinned it too tight or poked one of the straight pins into my scalp. Which I usually don’t. But I sometimes do. But anyway.

I remember this Ms. X, I met her last year at a national-day party, and as we stood around the tables shmoozing, the discussion inevitably came to my scarf, and what modesty meant, and what the whole point was. I came away from that conversation with the distinct impression that Ms. X did not like my scarf, not in the least.

I wish I could meet her again, and tell her that I already have a job (even in spite of my scarf!) and point to my head and clarify that it does not actually cut off blood circulation up there. I would like to show her how a little extra effort can put people at ease and help dispel any awkwardness they may feel when meeting you for the first time. This extra effort can even make valuable friends, because the discussions begun by the conversation piece on your head (ie: scarf) are a deeper level of interaction than you would ordinarily have with a colleague or business contact.

I would also like to ask Ms. X whether she actually expected me to accept the position in exchange for giving up my scarf. Yeah, the salary was good, but you’d have to tack on a helluva lot more zeros before I would even jokingly consider trading my morals for it. I don’t want to be melodramatic and talk about selling my soul for a monthly salary, but I do want to say that this is the equivalent of Darth Vader telling Luke to join the dark side.

Ok, so that analogy wasn’t melodramatic, just dorky. You know what I mean though. I’m not going to sell my modesty. God forbid that I should ever have to trade it for my life, or worse- have it taken from me, but I would not give it up freely. Not for any price. Some people sneer that hijab takes away a woman’s self-worth, but you know what? Right now I have 35,000 rupees a month worth of it.


With a 6,000 rupee bonus every three months. :p

Momma Zindabad!

The quest to fix Aniraz’s layout is still ongoing. For those of you who are interested, the template at www.degrouchyowl.blogspot.com and www.abeztestblog.blogspot.com are one and the same. However, the template at the test blog is fine, where the template at Aniraz’s blog is wonky. Or manky. Or whatever the British would say on such an occasion. A lot of very kind people have volunteered their help, but so far, no solution has been reached. If anyone else is interested in trying their hand at this template, they are most welcome to, I can be emailed and the html can be obtained. We now return you to your normally scheduled blog.


I’m going to make myself stand in the corner. Right after I finish typing this blog anyway. I’ve been bad. I’ve been a lazy but happy bum in a dirty room who’s running out of clean laundry. :p (Hi Mom! Have I mentioned lately how much I miss you? And not just because you used to do the laundry?)

Speaking of mommas, Yasmine had a lovely post on her blog the other day about why she loved her momma. I think my momma is splendiferous enough to deserve one too (even though she hasn’t updated her blog in forever!) so here I go, Sensei Presents:

Why I love my Momma

I love my mother immensely, and appreciate that when we were growing up she took us to the museum, to the library, to the beach, and then took us home and made us write up what we saw. My mother read to us when we were children, not See Spot Run, but the entire series of the Chronicles of Narnia. She gave us paper and crayons too, to put pictures into a book that didn’t have nearly enough.

My mother was a teacher, and when we were children she taught us the read and write and imagine, and when we got older, she taught us to cook and sew. She made fudge, we rolled cookies, she sent us sledding with a thermos of hot chocolate and had more of it waiting for us when we got back.

I love my mother because she has always cared, and she has always showed love through service. A few years ago I had my appendix out, and my momma stayed with me in the hospital the whole time. She snuck in chocolates, kept me company and ignored the aghast nurses who saw us both crowded into the same bed watching cartoons and eating contraband. We split the hospital meals, I drank the tea and she ate the desserts. Nothing else was worth consuming. She read to me and put my hair in two braids so that I would still look like a well-kept human being even with tubes in my arms and blood on my sheets from where the nurses frequently had to search for my veins. (they’re notoriously sneaky and difficult to pin down)

She kissed me good-bye when I went into surgery, and when I came out and woke up, the first thing I remember was my mother gently removing the tape that was left on my face from the breathing tube. It doesn’t sound very sweet, but seeing my mother’s tender, smiling face leaning over me and realizing that she was taking care of me even when I was unconscious was something that will stay with me forever.

Momma Zindabad!

3 am, it’s that time again. What time would that be? To sleep? Nope. 3 am is the time to eat a tangerine, write a letter to my grandmother, tip-toe around the house and then hog the computer. As my momma can testify, I’ve always been a nocturnal beastie, even as a wee babe my mother found me sitting up in my crib in the middle of the night, playing by myself. When I learned how to walk, I often wandered the house in the dark and scared my mother to death.

It used to be that at times like this, I could grab my older brother, who was nocturnal too, and we’d sneak out of the house and drive down to 7-11 for slurpees and junk food at 2:30 am. Then when I got my own car, I’d grab my little brother or sister and we’d go out for the same, sometimes donuts. (mom, don’t read this) In the summer, we’d sit on the front porch all night and just revel in the sneakiness of being out of the house (but not technically OUT of the house) in the middle of the night.

I don’t know why the middle of the night is so magical, why the emptiness that would be called loneliness in the daytime is suddenly transformed into something deliciously sneaky once night falls. When the lights go out, when more sensible people go to bed, then the world and all that’s in it is mine. There’s no one else on the computer, it’s mine. The whole street is empty, I own that too. I stand on the balcony by myself and assert my ownership of the night sky. Of course, Allah is the true owner of everything, but as far as the human concept of ownership is concerned, with no one to contest it, my 3 am rights stand unchallenged. And they don’t just extend to the road and the sky, my rights also extend over the refrigerator, and the half-empty bag of chips that’s sitting on top of it. I couldn’t eaten the chips at any other time today, but you know what? They just taste better at 3 am.

I’m just a weird one I guess, because as much as I love people, and laughing with my family and coffee in crowded booth with too many friends, I love the peace and the simplicity of a world asleep while I alone dance quietly on the rooftop.

You guys, I have a confession to make, I’ve become…a layout junkie! *sob* Seriously, I’ve been spending more time on FrontPage than is healthy, and as Binje, Sahar and Ahmed can testify, I’m probably going to give myself an aneurysm, and them too.

Though I’m not very good at the HTML’ing, I am quite good at making messes, like with Aniraz’s most recent template. I haven’t a CLUE why the columns are all crazy, and I’m just so original with creating previously unheard-of HTML problems that no one’s been able to solve them yet.

Well, I made my momma a layout, and a new url too. She’s now at www.da-momma-blog.blogspot.com. Which I think may be news to her as well.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


It’s funny how time can change a landscape. Forests become fields, fields become farms, a group of farms becomes a village, a hillside becomes the village graveyard and then the Capital Development Authority comes along and the graveyard is paved over and becomes a road.

I learned a long time ago, actually, that the dead aren’t given much consideration when it comes to property rights. The Chicago Historical society was built over a graveyard, a fact eerily told to me as I sat picnicking in the lush green grass one day. I wouldn’t have known except that had I turned and noticed a small stone building on the premises- a large mausoleum that was on the grounds but not in the way of the building itself. “But they moved all the coffins, right?,” I asked queasily with a bite of sandwich turning dry in my mouth.

No, they didn’t move the coffins. Just the gravestones. It occurred to me that I was sitting on someone’s grave, on the dirt over someone’s face, and we moved the picnic. I remembered that picnic as I was driving through town today, and noticed two small marble platforms in the median in the center of a road. They were graves, not more than thirty years old, and they are all that’s left of the village graveyard that was once here. A man we know from the village across the street has told us that this was once a large graveyard, but the stones were removed, a road was laid on the faces of the dead and the rest of it was divided up into housing plots.

I wonder, when I die, and I am buried in a cemetery, how long will it be before they lay tarmac and cars begin driving over me? How long before my stone is knocked down and my resting place is demeaned with a house or a store- like the strip-mall in front of Rosehill cemetery near my old house in Chicago. That whole area was once a graveyard, now it’s a K-Mart and a Payless shoes.

I’m sure that the whole earth is packed with the bones of the dead, that there isn’t a place anywhere where someone fell and died a long time ago. This whole planet is a giant graveyard. But that’s different. We can’t account for what we don’t know, we can’t respect resting places that we don’t know exist. We can, however, do our best to respect the limits of the graveyards we DO know about. I think we should at least avoid bulldozing them and building houses on top of them.

I don’t care what people say about the city expanding and there being a lack of space. The earth is a big place. It’s not that we’re overcrowded, it’s just that we’re crowding together too densely, and the property values of these graveyards in prime real-estate locations are the real excuses behind these desecrations.

I know this is a weird blog, and I know that it’s morbid and pointless at the same time. But I can’t get over those two lonely graves in the median of the road, turning grey from traffic exhaust. I’m thinking about those graves that are under the road, and it makes me shudder to think of being buried there, not even getting ‘AssalamuAlaikum Ya Ahlal’Quboor’ because no one knows you’re even there. And I think of myself, driving, living, and sitting on the faces of the dead, and I wonder what kind of monumental insult I’m doing to my brothers and sisters who have passed before me.


Alright you guys, here’s what’s new in Abezistan.

First of all, props and thanks to JazakAllah’s to Ahmed and Serenity who helped me with my new layout. 🙂

Second: I’m looking for someone who knows CSS and can help me tweak my tagboard into something that matches this layout more reasonably. Help?

Third: And now, the results of the poultry…errr…poetry competition!

In the category of Best Limerick with a Pakistani Flavor (specifically salan), the award goes to…Arshad! For “Gobi and Aloo!” :::applause:::

My friends call me bhaloo,

I eat gobi and aloo,

l like to blog,

even in the fog

and that’s what i do, yahoo!

In the category of Best Poem Remotely Related to Nature and Ennui, the award goes to….Uzer! For ‘God, I wish it would snow’ :::applause:::

This night I see,

with boredom and malarky,

lack of imagination,

and a distinctly silly word situation,

for what I write, I do not know,

Still you read? God I wish it would snow…

The winner for the Best Poem Related to Abez was a very, very tough decision between Bushra and BAQ, but in the end, the award went to….Bushra! Regardless of the fact that the engagement mentioned in the poem has been broken, you can’t deny that it’s good verse. :::applause:::

When Abez opened an account with blogspot

Did anyone forsee the hotshot?

She wrote, she scribbled, she dazzled them all

They’d check her blog in the cafe, the PC, the mall!

She wrote a few lines,

Wondering if it’d do,

But lets see what happened?

Did she mean to woo?

Oh of course she had fans

she blew them off their feet

But to the heart of one, she stuck…

and how she stuck, let us see.

He spent many a sleepless night

This girl,I cannot let go

A wonder! A miracle! A joy to behold,

This species of female I cannot let go

He approached her family with a proposal to make

And what a proposal! So much was at stake

But when he saw Abez, all fears washed away

Abez, Abez… I feel I’ve known you for all my days.

The rest, as they say, is history you know

Times go on, people come and go

The Abezminator as we know him has made his mark

And the couple wait their lives together, happy as larks.

And now, the award for the Best Overall Poem goes to… -click link for result!-

Aniraz and I were watching BBC today. Or rather, we were trying to watch BBC, but the program kept getting interrupted with a commercial that was rather carelessly thrown in, the same one every time. In it, a man and a woman walked purposefully closer and closer to the camera as they extolled the virtues of said cable provider.

They didn’t even wait for the commercial breaks, they just threw their poor-quality, badly-scripted commercial right into a perfectly good episode of Top Gear. And they did it precisely every five minutes.

“And the Lamborghini doesn’t at all compare to the…:::static::: Now! New cable service, 50 channels…:::static:::…car is an absolute beast, uglier than a camel with gingivitis and…:::static:::…First time, for you. Music, entertainment, and much more…:::static:::…But at only 75,000 pounds, is this car not a bargain?””

We patiently glared at the TV the first time it happened.

The second time it happened, Aniraz said, “Boy, that’s irritating.”

The third time it happened, I said, “I don’t care how many channels this cable company has, I’m going to boycott it.”

The fourth time it happened, Aniraz and I looked at each other and unanimously decided that if we ever met the people in the commercial, we were going to kick them. Really. Right in the teeth. And when we were done kicking them, we were going to kick whoever had hired them, and when that said kicking was done, we were going to kick the cameraman over and call it a day.

Then, somewhere in Islamabad, lightning flashed, a black-cat yowled, someone walked under a ladder and our doorbell rang. And the woman from the commercial appeared in our living room.

I am not joking. I am not even artfully fibbing. I went down the stairs to see who my father had let in, and it was the same woman that I had just vowed to kick. I bit my lip, stifled my heart attack and served tea and pleasantries. When I slunk back into the kitchen for teaspoons, I heard my father call Aniraz downstairs. From my vantage point behind the kitchen door, I saw Aniraz come down the stairs with hand extended and ready for a shake, and then go pale and wide-eyed as she shook the woman’s hand, the same woman’s hand from the same commercial that had been irritating the holy-heck out of us for the last half hour. (“I thought the people from the commercial heard us through the TV, and they were coming to get us!” she told me fearfully in the kitchen.)

I cautiously introduced the subject of the commercial, asking her whether she had cable tv? If so, had she seen the commercial? Yes. Was that her? Yes. It was. I swallowed my tea and nervously asked if the other person in the commercial, the man in the suit with the excessive hand-motions who seemed so disturbingly enthusiastic about digital cable, could he be the husband of hers that was standing outside of our gate at that very second? *gasp!* No. Thank God, it wasn’t. I breathed a sigh of relief. I might have been able to take her, her being petite and not so brawny looking, but that other guy, I wouldn’t want to try kicking him. You never know if all that hand-waving in the commercial was the product of years of King-Fu training.

As it turns out, she’s our next-door neighbor. She’s a legal consultant in the cable company, and when they decided to do the commercial, they just grabbed her and a man from a department downstairs and told her to say her lines and walk towards the camera. And unlike her TV persona, she doesn’t interrupt you every five minutes and talk about cable. Which is a pleasant. And she’s a very sweet lady, and not at all as seen on TV. I must shamefully admit that when Aniraz and I grew tired of seeing her face every five minutes, we started saying un-nice things about it. Which is back-biting, but we tend to forget that the people inside that little electronic box are actually people. (What can I say, we’re too stupid to handle home electronics.)

Seeing as how she’s just left, and I’ve given myself a severe headache from suppressing tears of laughter, amazement, and disbelief, I’m going to wind this up with a moral. Be careful who you vow to kick on TV. They may actually be nice people, they could even be your next-door neighbors. Or even worse, they could hear you through the TV, and then they’d come to get you!