Saba Ansari's Column

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Life in the Slow Lane..Eid ka Joara



It had been several days. Life stood still. The only sound you could hear was BRRR....

‘Speedy’ was visiting us from So. Cal ( Southern California ). Zipping from one room to another, he seemed flustered at being tied down.

How could life be so slow ? If I stay in Huntsville any longer I’ll lose all my zip’ he complained.

Well, what do you folks know about ‘seasonal adjustments’,’ I said.

What on earth is that, Ms Weather cock ? Speedy asked, obviously perplexed See Winter IS a slow time... to think, ponder, analyze, plan, I said and then you have Spring.. a season to burst forth with newfound ‘zip’, enthusiasm and ideas,” I concluded, obviously satisfied by my analysis.

So you actually account for everything like that? It’s all seasonal for you? Speedy could hardly believe his ears ! What about the sweltering heat ? Do you hide in your caves again...or wait, let me guess, the whole town goes on vacation to Minnesota, he laughed out loud at his own joke.

You’re disgusting, I said Summer is a time to work hard, sweat it out, play games... and then in fall you eat the fruits of your efforts.. you watch those beautiful leaves change color and marvel at the glory of burgundy, orange and gold .

Geez, if I sat there lending my life to a bunch of seasons I’d get nothing done. In So Cal we have the monotonous 65 degrees most of the year, leaving our brains free to attend to other important stuff, he concluded Such as? I asked

Such as determining, through effective cost analysis, which new model of which new car to buy he replied

That’s it ? I asked

Well, all you guys do is flip through the different weather channels and analyze the slippery road conditions he remarked

Know something Speedy? I asked, fuming by now, If you don’t have to weather watch for yourselves, why don’t you watch out for the world... devise strategies to overcome the inconveniences caused through cold and hunger... formulate plans to overcome the hurdles that incapacitate winter victims,.. do something constructive for a change..

Easy easy, Country bumpkin, I havn’t taken a pledge to become a philanthropist or a philosopher he said .Besides, we’re also talking about inefficiency here, he carried on Why can’t they DEAL with the snow? It’s only some water frozen by circumstances not some monster that’s making all of you duck and run for cover. For crying out loud, can’t they bulldoze it all away?

And reopen all schools and offices? How come you can’t enjoy some days off for a change?

I’ll enjoy my vacation in sunny Florida, Country Bumpkin, not behind closed doors watching T.V. and old movies on video” Speedy retorted

Oh, but I find that so relaxing, I said, sipping my hot chocolate... Care for some?

Hot chocolate is a drink for people who have a lot of time, he replied

Correction,Speedy, It’s a hot beverage enjoyed the world over during winter time... but then again that’s seasonal, something you know so little about.

Spare me the details, he said, rudely Don’t you realize I’m so rushed all the time hot cups of stuff would spill over and burn me!

Oh, for crying out loud, what important work do you do all day?” I asked

I’m rushing to catch meetings, scrambling to make plans and juggling to allocate resources, he replied

How do you deal with all that tension? I asked
Simple! I plan a meticulous vacation down to the precise minute... any change would throw me off completely

“So what’s the difference between you and a machine for Christ’s sake? Where’s the spontaneity?” I shreiked

“Spontaneity shpontaneity... If it doesn’t fit in, it goes” he said

“No silly moments, no impulsive acts, no romance and roses?” I carried on

“If I want to be silly, I’ll plan for a silly day in my list of ‘Things to do’... Tuesday.. Be Silly” he replied keeping a straight face

“Silly is not a planned event, it’s a feeling” I cried

“C.B, ever heard of The Survival of The Fittest?” said Speedy, sounding particularly emphatic “ In todays world, the fittest person is the Thinker not the Feeler... and hey, by the way, did you know that makes you extinct?”
“It makes me sick that’s what it does, “I said “Tell me Speedy, what excites you inspires you and how can you go on without these EMOTIONS?”

“I’m excited when my plans come through and inpired by...”

“Poetry?” I interrupted

“Nah! By my success of course” he concluded

“Know what flows in your veins instead of blood?” I said “Coca cola”

“Great,” he said” It’s the real thing!”


Bhai, Eid is just around the corner and I STILL don’t have an Eid kaa joara. For one thing , chic , with-it, stylish and peyarey shalvaar suits are so hard to come by when you’re in the States.... and for another, the’re so atrociously priced that the mere sight of the price tag makes my hubby dear gasp and hold on to his precious wallet like his life depended on it.
“Why?” is always his initial query when I’m thinking of investing in some treat.
“Why what?” I ask, without batting an eyelid
“Why wear new clothes? You already have enough to dress the entire community on Eid day.”
“But a new joara is a tradition on Eid....” I protest
“Not for that price it isn’t. What a rip-off” he continues
And unbelievably I agree. Of course it’s a rip-off. But do I have a choice? And then, baat waheen aa ke reh gaee... what to wear on Eid! After all, the whole clan of Pakistani-Indian Muslims will be decked up and phir upnee laaj bhee to rakhnee hai. What will they all say? I’ll be labeled a cheap-skate!

In sheer desperation, I dial the number to my mother in Pakistan and beg her to send me something decent to wear.
“How am I going to send it baita? Nobody we know is going to the States. Even Pinky auntys deyvars’ salees’ husbands’ chacha-zaad-bhai left last week.” “I don’t care ” I scream, the details of the rishtey making me nervous “just send it through UPS, Fed-Ex, whatever.”
“You mean DHL the joara? but you said you wanted bead work ,” Ammi exclaimed “So?” I ask
“Baita... the moti are so naazuk.. they might all fall off with such rough handling,” she said
“Oh for crying out loud,” I scream “just write FRAGILE- Handle with care on the package.”
“OK let me ask your abbu if they do that here in Pakistan,” she emphasized “But Ammi!” I yelled “of course they do! Please don’t act so paindoo.”
“That’s the whole thing,” she said “You people live there a while a then turn around and call us paindoo... how could you say that to your own mother..” her voice trailed into a sob...
Uh-oh, did I say something wrong... “Please Ammi, I didn’t mean that,” more sobs...Gosh, all I need is one lousy joara... why do I have to go through such a hassle? So I take a deep breath and say “OK Ammi, confirm it with Abbu,” and she does, just like she does with everything else, and then reassures me that it’ll be done. Whew! What a relief.
“Now,” she continues,” what color should it be?”
“Ammi we’ve been talking for 35 minutes. This is an LDC, remember?” I said “What’s that?” Ammi responded, amazed
“Long distance call. So just choose a color and send it over ... take Bubbly aunty along for a mashwara”
“But baita we all know how fussy you are. You won’t wear it if it’s not the right shade of the right color.”
“I will”
“You won’t”
“I will”
“Just pick a color and tell me. How about the dusty rose like the hyacinth your father planted once?” she asked
“Ammi, how am I supposed to remember that?” I shouted
“OK then how about emerald green?” she continued
“I have too many emerald greens” I said
“Then the asmaanee blue like Sherry auntys’ new car... that’s a pretty color,” she insisted
“You expect me to remember?” I shrieked
“Baita what has America done to your memory?”
“Helped erase some irrelevant details like Sherry aunty and other such snobs” I retorted
“Oh how awful! You know she always asks about you.”
“Frankly Ammi, I don’t see why you still meet her,” I continued
“Now let’s not even get into that. Coming back to colors, how about cherry red?” Ammi said
“No, it’ll be too warm for that, I prefer reds in winters,” I sighed, obviously bored by now
“Pastels?” she said
“No- too insipid”
“Too earthy”
“Too oldie”
“Too afsanvee”
“How about the unusual crisp green like our cordless phone? Speaking of phones, baita, let me remind you this time that it’s an LDC so hurry up and make up your mind,” Ammi said
“Oh no!” I screamed, “I totally forgot .. it’s been over an hour now...
hubbys gonna kill me if he’s kind. Khuda hafiz.”
There I sat, my hand clutching my head in relentless pity.
“Are you thinking of creating a new Pakistan?”
“Huh?” I jumped at my husbands’ voice
“Why the Allama Iqbal pose?” he asked
“Well I just finished talking to Ammi. Do you think I can call in for a credit?”
“Why did you have a bad one minute connection?” he asked
“No... I had a bad 60 minute connection trying to save money” I said, expecting him to believe me (about the saving money part).

And actually, I had gone and spent much more on the ‘made in Pakistan’ Eid ka joara just to save myself from a daisee American rip-off! What an ultimate daisee blunder!