Thursday, January 1, 2009


Posts like this one are only meant to vent out frustrations. They don't serve any other purpose, but I think it still is important to have such an outlet. Please bear with me, because narratives aren't an art I excel at.

A genuine respect of time, honesty and commitment are three virtues sorrowfully lacking in our people.

First story: It is the marriage season and nine out of ten functions are conducted well into the wee hours of the night. The invitation cards usually say "9 pm" but even the hosts will tell you, if you care to call, to come just a little before midnight. I remember arrving at the venue for a wedding reception at the time stated on the card. No guest, no host, and no arrangements either. The caterers were setting up tents, unstacking chairs they had just gotten off the trucks.

Time and Commitment
Second story: I needed to have some important papers - in the thousands - photocopied, for which purpose, I had them submitted to a copier yesterday, early morning. I was supposed to get them later in the day yesterday. A visit to the shop, and no success. I was told to approach them early morning today. Once again, no success. Ma'am, come later in the day. So I went again, just a while back. Once again, the response was negative and there were no signs of an apology either. Instead, I was shocked to witness an 'I-couldn't-care-less' attitude. I've been told my prints will be available in two hours' time. Whether or not, that fourth visit will be worth its while, is anybody's guess.

Third story: I went to the tailor more than a week back, and I was told my clothes would be stitched and ready today. I went, and need I say more...

Time, Commitment and Honesty
Fourth story: Last week, while I was busy trying to burn a few calories, my faithful 3-year-old treadmill failed on me and halted suddenly, almost plunging me into a pain. So I called an electrician in the area - who I thought was an honest man. He disassembled the motherboard, the panel and the motor, and said that the stuff would need to be treated in his lab. He then called and said the motor needed fixing, which could cost me about eight-thousand rupees. I told him that that was unacceptable to me and that he should bring the stuff back, to which, he generously responded that he'd try and bargain with the technicians. Another call, and he had reduced my expenses by about two thousand rupees. I was still in shock and unwilling to budge. Eventually, we settled at Rs. 3500. A week later, he came over, fit in the equipment, and then announced that only 5 per cent of the work needed to be done for which, I'd need to contact the shop from where I purchased my machine. Thankfully, for me, better sense prevailed and I told him that he'd have to explain the problem to the technician before I could settle accounts with him; my maching still wasn't running so having no sense of engineering, I had no guarantee as yet. He was left with no choice. Today, finally, the two men came face-to-face and it turned out that he hadn't worked on any of the equipment, and what he had done with my motor was worth just a few hundred rupees!

Since the last two years, my parents have been recommending that we settle abroad - somewhere in the West - for we still have our lives to build. Depression and hopelessness have never victimized our people as they now are. Similar sounds are resonating from other households. Parents are beginning to send their children out of the country, and those who are already out, are being well-advised to stay put. I find it hard still. I can't leave my parents, as they age.

What can be done? Can people be taught the sanctity and importance of time? Can virtues like honesty be taught? Can commitment be inspired? It is scary but I think, no, no and no! What happens to a nation when ethics and morality not only take the back-seat but are crushed under the hood altogether?

It is already happening. Happy New Year?

Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik


Saadia said...

The fourth visit to the photocopier was - AGAIN - unsuccessful.

Anas Imtiaz said...

These are the situations that may force an honest person turning in to a liar. Take me, for an example, when I gave a suit to be stitched, I told the tailor how badly I needed it after 3 days, while in fact I needed it after a week. And I got it just a day before I needed it!!!

I was surprised to see a treadmill motor costing eight thousand, but then again, that's because I have searched the markets for some kinds of motors. Similarly, once my car was out of order and I took it to a mechanic who said this and this and that needs to be changed. But somehow, I called my faithful mechanic (the one I trust and who wasn't there that day) who later fixed the problem without changing anything.

Saadia said...

Tell me about it. There arise a million situations when one feels compelled to lie. But what would be the difference between them and us, if we did?

The only problem my father faces in his business is the dishonesty factor. There's probably not a single labourer who can be trusted. False promises, misinformation, dishonesty... In fact, in his experience, he has found Americans and especially, American Jews the most honest, and Muslims, the least.

Kadri said...

It's strange how universal dishonesty seems to be. Here there is really no need for dishonesty for profit, the poorest person here is rich compared to other parts of the world, still people will try their best to make you pay more for less.

When it comes to business my father likes the eastern Europeans the best, the ones that was touched by the iron curtain once. They still know the value of hard work, he says, people in most other parts of the world all want something for nothing.

As for venting frustrations... I do it best in my backyard while talking to my best friend and neighbor, it's the best place since we get away from our families and all that, and not even snowstorms have stopped us.

Abdul Sami said...

oh my i just noticed me on the blog role :D

well... hmm... i totally agree with you there...

as far as time thing is concerned... in uk... somtimes u go to a desi weddin regardin desi times and well... u miss food :( ... lol... so if u do settle in the west... always DO DO call... :D

tailors... beleev me they frustrate men more :(

photocopiers... hmm... not too sure abt ur city but in lahore there are a few i could recommend... !

hope it works out in the end !!!

zeeshan rahat kureshi said...

today we were invited at lunch along with some other guests. The arrival time was supposed to be 1 pm and these guests arrived at 4 pm, even though they are here from UK. Can you believe this? It was so "frustrating".

Saadia said...

Where are you from, Kadri? Your profile doesn't say. And interesting observations about Eastern Europeans. Somehow, that part of the world seems quite neglected these days. Its not in the news - for good or bad reasons.

Sami, if I am there, I won't waste time calling either. Food is all I am at weddings for, so I'm not taking any chances. :-)

Zeeshan bh, it is quite believable. It is hard to bailout early from lunches, but I think one should leave weddings by midnight, as a principle, regardless of whether the show begins or not. Unless of course, one wants to stay!

Abdul Sami said...

saadia... the food is not worth much here... and the fact that they always have to include a vegetarian option like aloo bengan is a huge turn off...

i mean if u hav to go vegetarian ... how about some nice cholay or somin... !!!

Saadia said...

Then RSVP would be a good option!

Abdul Sami said...

a menu with the invite :D !!!!

Komal said...

The issue of sending kids abroad is on fire these days in almost every other family. Our nation is literally sinking and our neighbor country-India has established so much economically. The day isn't far when India will be a super power!