Encounters with ridiculousness

Karachi never ceases to amaze. Despite its many problems it is a truly cosmopolitan place, where several subcultures exist in a truly teeming melting pot. Here people from both ends of the political spectrum are represented, as well as everyone in between.

Yet at times the juxtapositions one sees are so truly bizarre that they deserve to be repeated and shared. The other day a friend was in a hospital waiting room waiting for his turn to see a doctor. Two gentlemen — they seemed to be quite overtly religious considering their skull-caps, high shalwars and with one sporting a flowing beard — were waiting ahead of my friend.

Suddenly the bearded man’s cellphone rang. My friend was in utter disbelief and quite thoroughly amused when he heard that the man’s ring-tone was in fact a Christmas carol (We wish you a merry Christmas)! Now there were two possibilities for this.

The first was that the bearded man, defying stereotypes, was a great proponent of the theory that all religions should come closer together and motivated by that noble ideal had caught the Yuletide spirit. The other possibility was that he had no idea what his ring-tone meant.

What would have been really funny, says my friend, is that if the Christmas caroller’s younger, not bearded but equally religious-looking companion featured Hava Nagila, the popular Jewish folk song, as his ring-tone. In this city anything’s possible.

The other bizarre thing that I have personally witnessed was a message scrawled on the rear licence plate of a motorcycle.

Now Karachi’s motorists are known to decorate the rear windows of their cars or their motorcycles with absolutely ridiculous
slogans. Why tell the whole world the car belongs to ‘Sweet Zeeshan’ or whether the chap riding the motorbike is a ‘Fanter’ or an ‘Enconter spechalist’.

But though these and other idiotic messages are mildly amusing, what really got me was the message ‘drink and drive’ pasted on the back of a motorcycle. Apart from the fact that this is really bad advice, what was shocking was the fact that the man riding the motorcycle was amply bearded and was old enough to be someone’s grandfather, not the type I’d associate with drinking and driving.

From these few experiences I have arrived at the conclusion that a large majority of this city’s citizens have no idea about what they’re talking about. It might look cool to have something in English scrawled on your car’s rear window or an exotic sounding tune fed into your mobile, but many of us are absolutely clueless about their true meanings.

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