Friday, August 12, 2011

Ramazan Reflections

Ramazan is the month of peace, prayer and reflection. At least that is what all the television channels propagate all day long. If morning shows weren’t enough, they’ve made special sehri and iftar shows to hammer 'goodness' into us besides the original responsibility of making us telly addicts. But from what I’ve observed these past ten days, reflection is certainly not on our priority list (prayer is, usually, by default and peace is a novelty, at least in Karachi and...London!).

The act of going hungry from dawn to dusk gives us a license to do anything. It means we can lax at work, break traffic signals, shout at others on the road, get cranky for no reason and generally act high and mighty, especially in company of those not fasting.

These behavioural changes are not limited to the duration of the fast. Come iftar time and we morph into different beings. Food is the only thing worth fighting for and, if need be, dying for. Everything on the dinner table occupies a space on our plate and we gulp it all down with lots of sherbet and water. Ramazan, it seems, is the holy month in which we exercise two of the seven deadly sins to the maximum; greed and gluttony.

Greed steals the limelight from the other sins during Ramazan. For a vast majority fasting translates into one word: Eid. All our energies (the little that are there during the day) are spent planning for this festival. We are grateful for HIS blessings, especially monetary ones. Our principle concern, though, is mostly about clothes; there must be three separate dresses, at least, for the Eid festivities. If possible, maybe squeeze in some furniture and new crockery; what better time to put everything on display than Eid? So we spend our Eid bonus even before we get it, thanks to our little plastic companion. And we justify our excessive spending using the premise of fasting. Aren’t we crafty? I wonder who we think we’re fooling?

It’ll be a grand idea of Ramazan came twice a year. Lawn brands will have a ball; collections for summer, mid-summer, and three Eids! All the musicians who have become religious and can’t sing for a living will have work. And there’ll be no traffic on the roads during the usual evening rush hours, in case you want to experience how it feels to drive at 140mph on the roads in Karachi.  

And maybe, with Ramazan twice a year, people might just reflect once.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The one lesson that you take away after reading this book is, “Don’t Panic”. Not even if you wake up to find bull dozers surrounding your house ready to break it down or when you are told by your alien friend, whom you took for a regular human all these years, that the planet Earth will get vaporized in two minutes.

Hilarious is the perfect word to describe this book.  Another perfect word is outrageous. Actually, the book is full of some of the craziest stuff. Arthur Dent, a regular guy, wakes up on a regular Thursday morning, only to come across the most irregular happenings. The local authorities want to demolish his house to build a bypass. To make matters worse, Dent’s friend Ford Prefect comes up the very moment when Dent is trying to stop the demolition to inform him that, well, appearances can be deceiving. Prefect is an alien, and a hitch hiker, who landed on Earth while on a research trip for his book (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, what else?!) and got stuck for a good fifteen years. On this Thursday morning, he finds out, through his alien gadgets, that the Vogans (a really ugly alien form) are coming to destroy the world and he has around two minutes to save his friend’s life.

What happens next is a crazy adventure in which Arthur and Ford find themselves imprisoned in an alien ship, thrown into space and then picked up within 30 seconds by another alien ship, The Heart of Gold. On board this ship is Marvin (a depressed robot who absolutely hates life!), Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Imperial Galactic Government, and Trillian, a slim, darkish humanoid. And to help Arthur make sense of this new life is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “an electronic book. It tells you everything you need to know about anything. That’s its job”.

The one thing Douglas Adams does, besides writing a very humorous book, is to provide us with the answer to life, the universe, everything. It’s 42.

Read more on aliens on the blog here.