Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave your shoes at the door!

This is an article I wrote for the humor section of Dawn Images (Newspaper). Leave your shoes at the door! 

My shoes are at the door, and I put ‘his’ on. He has tips for bachelors, desi style!        Glossary for non-desis:                                                                                                       Saas-Jee: respectful for mother-in-law                                                                               Sali: literal: sister-in-law. Slang:jerk                                                                                          Salla: literal:brother-in-law. Slang:jerk.                                                                            Susur: father-in-law. Susura: jerk/idiot etc.

Marriage

So you are about to take the big step?? You’ve given Mom the go-ahead to find the perfect girl. Good for you — it is time you settled down, not getting any younger right? Just some advice, don’t go for the looks (God knows what they look like under all that makeup), don’t go for the modern girl (she’ll keep you at the end of a leash), don’t go for the status (daddy will always be downsizing you at get-togethers). Go for the orphan. Really, I am not joking. Go for the orphan.

I know what you’re thinking, that this is some kind of pathetic joke; that’s because you haven’t met the in-laws yet. So you’ve seen a girl or two and met their families; nice quiet folks, polite and interested. It’s a trap, all part of the plan to snare unsuspecting, happily unaware innocent guys like yourself into the most complex and thorny role in the history of man. The son-in-law.

You think I am some jealous, lonely, scheming bachelor trying to keep you from marital bliss? Believe me man, there’s no such thing! I’m in it up to my neck, trust me. Married for five years now, or should I say I was sold into slavery five years ago by my parents with the connivance of my married friends. They couldn’t deal with my freedom — traitors. I am doing you a favour, giving you the inside story.

Before you are married, your soon-to-be mother-in-law calls up your mother to ask how you are and how your job is going. She cooks nihari (your favourite) and sends it over with your soon-to-be respectful young brother in-law. She and your future sister-in-law pick up the latest designer shirts for you when they go shopping and hope you like it, if not they get it changed. Future mother-in-law knows all your likes and dislikes; after your mother, she is the one who is most concerned about your well-being. Until you get married.

You remember that story about the kids who get lost in the forest and this nice little old lady lets them into her candy house? That’s the stuff I am warning you about dude!! She’s gonna sink her teeth into you. After you get married the only time your mother-in-law phones is to listen to her daughter’s complaints about you and your family. She doesn’t talk to your mother because your wife always reaches the phone before anyone else, no matter where she is in the house she can hear the phone ring and it’s always her mother calling.

When Saas-jee does talk to you on the phone, it is to inform you that she needs to go somewhere and she’s giving you the honor of driving her there. While you are driving, you will have to listen attentively as she tells you how to live your life and the errors of your ways. You will be required to make sounds of agreement, and nod your head in the affirmative; never, ever speak, even to agree. What you have to say is inconsequential, you must only nod.

Gifts will be bestowed upon you on birthdays, anniversaries and Eid. The apparel is usually last year’s sale leftovers that were going at 80 per cent off. And if you think there is no way you would be caught dead in a parrot green kurta, think again my friend, think again! You have no idea how your sali searched every shop in Ramazan, whilst fasting, to find you the perfect kurta. Sali.

The only dish your wife’s rude little brother brings over is your wife’s favorite, which coincidentally, is some weird tasteless concoction with an even weirder name. You are informed it is French and given a patronizing look by your sala, who has incredible tolerance in dealing with your inexperienced, simpleton ways. Sala. Beware of Daddy (susur jee), the once jovial, back slapping, ‘so pleased to have you as part of our family’ gentleman. You whisked his princess away, you don’t treat her right, and man he is no longer pleased to have you as part of his family. He will let you know this, often and publicly. Be prepared beforehand and have your doctor prescribe you some heavy antidepressants. Always take at least two before attending his dinner parties, that way you’ll be totally out of it and won’t realise you are the butt of all his jokes. Susur(a).

Never think of older sister-in-law’s husband as an ally just because you are in the same boat. Big mistake; he’ll sink your boat to ensure smoother sailing of his own. He lets you believe he’s on your side, but after you get married, he gets promoted. He’s Big Daddy’s spy, he’ll sell you out just to get an approving nod from the old guy.

And that’s the inside story, just a second, phone’s ringing, “Hello? Yeah I’ll be there in 10 minutes. What? Be there in five? No, no it’s no problem at all. Five minutes, I’m coming.” Sali. Do you have a painkiller?

Apartment Life in Karachi

When I was living in Karachi (which I just googled and found is no longer on the most dangerous cities list since we moved) we lived in a large comfortable house. But I also had the opportunity to live awhile in an apartment or ‘flat complex’. It was ….an experience.
Link for article in Dawn newspaper:http://archives.dawn.com/archives/69571
meet the neighbors
Flat out: Meet the neighbours

By Khaula Mazhar

People who prefer living in a house rather than in a flat have absolutely no sense of adventure. Where else can you find so many different types of people living in the same place, constantly getting on each other`s nerves? Where else can you find such an interesting environment?

For starters, look at the amazing artwork that goes into the décor of even the most average, normal, everyday flat. Notice the dramatic red streaks in corners and on the lower parts of walls? You may call it disgusting, I call it artistic. Only a paan addict can truly appreciate its beauty.

The leaky plumbing is another amazing aspect; the designs caused by the water slowly seeping out of the pipes and into the walls give the place a lot of character. And there`s so much to talk about once your tiles start falling out due to the water damage; at your next family get-together you can hold the audience spell bound as you narrate how a chunk of plaster fell on your head while you were in the loo.

There is constant activity in the complex parking areas, and if you live on the ground floor you`ll never be far from the action; be it the Peeping Toms, who always appear at your window the second you open your curtains, or the cricket crazy delinquents who keep the window makers in business. But all this pales into insignificance once Eidul Azha draws near. The sights (animals of all shapes, sizes, personalities and all of their recycled food lying around in cute lumps), sounds (baaing, mooing, moaning, groaning, screaming, pleading, all seasoned with a few spicy swear words) and SMELLS (let`s just say `organic` shall we?) Who needs a vacation to exotic locales when so much is happening at their doorstep?

Living in a flat also engenders a feeling of togetherness with your neighbours. They know everything about you, you know everything about them. For example, I know the timetable of the lady who lives upstairs. She starts cooking when it`s my bedtime. The second I fall asleep I am awoken by the gentle scraping sound of her `sil butta` and I can picture her grinding away at all those aromatic spices. She`s so considerate, she always brings me a plate of her Bihari kebabs, making sure I get them no matter what — even if she has to pound on my door for twenty minutes, while I try to drag myself out of bed, at a quarter past midnight. Her persistence amazes me; so does her timetable.

There`s a very caring family in the flat opposite ours. They care about what I`m doing, why I am doing it, who has come to visit me and why; what I have cooked and, since it smells so good, can I send some over? Of course, they keep me informed of all their goings-on as well. I feel like I`m part of their family. When a baby was born at one of their relatives, I felt like a proud aunt. A family feud left me indignant. I now have more things to worry about than I need and I doubt I will ever run out. Isn`t that great? They also keep me from getting lonely as someone is always dropping in. If “Bhabi” can`t come by, she`ll be sure to send over her four different sized children to keep me company, no matter how much I insist that I don`t need it.

No flat would be complete without the `been there, done that` family. I know they are very popular, and they are a real favourite of mine. No matter what you have seen, heard, done; no matter where all you have been, you`ll find they have seen that, heard that, done that, been there, and of course, all on a much grander scale. It really boosts your spirits to be associated with such sophisticated people.

Life in flats is never boring; there`s always something going on to keep you distracted. Either it`s an aameen or a birthday, sometimes even a mehndi in the reception area. If you don`t feel like cooking you can always attend one of these functions without the hassle of fighting traffic or driving a distance; just skip downstairs.

So, if you are bored of your large living quarters, your privacy, your beautiful lawn, your own, undisputed parking area, your peace and quiet, don`t despair; excitement is just round the corner! Pack up and move your family to the nearest flat complex.

Terror in The Classroom

This is an article I wrote for Dawn Newspaper but had forgotten about. Dedicated to teachers.
Humour: Terror in the classroom

By Khaula Mazhar


It`s the start of a new school year, a much awaited time for many a harangued mother. Ironically, come September, while one group of women take a breather, another group is constantly on its toes the teachers. Just like students, teachers too come in all types and they will all be gathered in the staff room at 10am, the universal tea time for all teachers. So let`s eavesdrop and hear what they go through during a typical day at work.

Ms Strict and Stern
“Students these days are really getting impossible to teach!” (She doesn`t realise it`s because her methods are so boring). All those excuses for unfinished homework. Weddings, lost exercise books, absences, misunderstandings, guests in the house… there`s no end! Just give detentions and minus points, that`s my method. It does wonders.”

Ms Whiner
“You think that`s bad! You guys should try taking class one. They can drive you nuts with their non-stop questions, and don`t even ask about their homework! Parents must think we are going to drop by their place in the evening to get the homework done ourselves.”

Ms Senior Class Teacher
“I invite you all to my grade eight boys` class after break time. It`s like nothing you`ve ever smelt in your life! It makes me wonder if they actually ever shower at all, besides they are so rowdy and worked up after their break it takes them twenty minutes to settle down to start work. By the end of the class I feel like my voice box has been damaged.”

Ms Nursery Teacher
“By the end of my class, I feel like most of my body has been damaged. Sitting on those little chairs and getting down on my knees to listen to my tiny little munchkins. By the end of the week I feel like a rheumatic hag, and all those little munchkins seem more like a bunch of gremlins.”

Ms Sour Puss
“What a horrible thing to say! Why, nursery children are such little angels!

Ms Nursery Teacher
“Excuse me! I am human, you know! Do you realise how hard it is to get little kids to do things? They can`t even make a straight line! You have to spoonfeed them everything.”

Ms Other Nursery Teacher
“Heck! You have to spoonfeed some of their parents as well! Important notes and circulars come back in their bags unread, it`s like parents expect you to tell them to check their kids` bags everyday! Then you have to write extra reminders for them separately or make phone calls, and then they actually have the nerve to tell you they never received any kind of notice! Why don`t you check your kids` bags?”

Just then a young frenzied teacher bursts into the staff room and collapses into a chair. Her hair looks like she`s been trying to pull it out. Everyone is dead silent.

Ms `I Am Definitely Going Nuts`

“I can`t take it anymore! I just can`t take it! It`s a madhouse I tell you, a madhouse!”(This is the pre-nursery teacher, whose students have just come to school for the first time)

“They are so small, and they are everywhere at once! I can`t pick up the crayons off the floor fast enough before they are into the blocks, then all of a sudden there are blocks all over the place! I wipe one nose and turn around to find six more runny noses! As soon as I tie a pair of shoelaces, five have tripped on untied laces and are whining like crazy. One girl keeps running out of the class and the guard keeps bringing her back from the gate. By the time I send one little girl to the washroom, three more have peed on the mat!” Here she pauses for a breath but before anyone can get a word in, she starts off again.

“Snack boxes! I hate those things! Why do parents buy lunch boxes that need a rocket scientist to figure them out? And everyone wants their lunch box opened at the same time. And the smell! Oh the putrid smell of a hurried breakfast of milk and eggs that has been regurgitated by a screaming, howling, coughing, vomitty child! And then, when they finally come to collect their brats, each parent wants every little detail of their darling`s day. I am going to go nuts!”

She then breaks into heart wrenching sobs while everyone quietly edges out of the room — they all have their own troubles waiting for them in their respective class rooms; taking care of a hysterical teacher is not on their day`s schedule.

Immigrating Granny

This is an article I wrote for July 1st’s Dawn newspaper, the editor asked me to write about settling in a new country. Since I was moving back home and it was not a new experience for me, I wrote from the view point of an old lady moving abroad from Pakistan for the first time. If you want to read about interesting things that happen when you move out of North America go and visit this great blog : http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/

http://dawn.com/2012/07/01/rant-and-rave-allah-tauba/

House Sold

I sold my house before I moved back to Canada, it was quite an experience and I discovered things I couldn’t imagine about people I have known all my life.

Click to read: http://dawn.com/2012/05/06/humour-house-sold/

I Write

I’ve read blogs, but this is the first time I am trying to do my own. I love to write, so that is why I am here. I hope this gets easier with time. Right now I am lost. Anyway I guess I’ll just start by putting stuff up I have already written. Some articles I wrote for Dawn Images, posting their links.