[Gentle Readers, let me introduce to you another member of the CM family:ਮੁਟਿਆਰ مُٹیار mutiyar who prowls the streets of Lahore in a bael-gari and whips any machar she encounters. She is currently finishing her B.A. She is the best. We like her. We hope you do, too. – sepoy.]
I’ve met students from LUMS who have participated in those popular “Paindu Day” and “Daaku Day” festivals where youths dress up like stereotyped Punjabis, Sindhis, Pashtuns, etc to show their self-proclaimed “appreciation” for aforementioned cultures in Pakistan. The appreciation, however, is lost somewhere in translation and ends up only becoming trite and typical of mostly rich students studying in a university located in a gentrified housing residential area. Obviously the last detail is conveniently brushed aside. The usual trajectory of such a conversation goes like this:
Interviewer: So, tell us more about the motivation to “appreciate” rural culture in this particular way?
LUMS student: Well, yaar, dekho. My driver na? He’s from some duur daraz village and he talks in such a funny way like he bumps off words and sounds like your typical paindu. Then there’s Sheeda Tulli or Bhatti in your Punjabi movies and even Urdu dramas, and they all look so hilarious and happy despite not having much na.
Interviewer: You decided to appreciate this culture by wearing excessively bright and tacky garb, black marker moles on your cheeks and keeping mid-parted oily hair?
LUMS student: Aho! That’s how paindus say it, right? AA-HO! Ho, get it? I’m hilarious. My friend laughed at my brilliant mimicking – I mean appreciative impersonation – of the jaahil painday for, like, hours, yaar.
I: And you saw nothing wrong with it?
L: Yaar, please. Racist hogi tumhari dunya mai. Idher scene chill hai. Only over-sensitive uncles and aunties will be offended at our appreciation of rural people. Ek to you guys want representation and then tum laug fauran bura mana letay ho. Look at this black mole I put on my cheek to look like one of them. And check out my pagri and my fake mustache that I’ll twirl dramatically like every done-to-death Punjabi villain in movies does. My girlfriend here put on a tub of makeup to look happy and cheap si like those paindu girls. Someone really needs to teach them what to wear, you know?
L: My other friend appreciates Sindhi culture so he dresses like a Daaku (bandit). I love the diversity in Pakistan, man. Another friend of mine pretends to eat niswar and wields a fake machine gun to look like a Pathan and –
L: Yeah, whatever you call them. They smell weird, hai na? This is appreciating cultures in Pakistan. What’s the big deal! Khocha, come on! Maybe we could find a bachi who puts on a topi burka for the day and acts like a subservient Pathani wife which is so hilar –
I: That’s racist.
L: Lighten up, yaar! We’re appreciating culture. Besides, we do pay the dhol wala a good amount of money and I’m sure the janitors on campus love to see us copy their accents. They know we’re appreciating them.
I: I’m sure.
L: My idea of showing interest in the cultures of Pakistan is by acting like them. Don’t lie. You know they’re misfits in the city. I don’t hate them, though! I certainly do not have a superiority complex either…
I: But you would never let them sit on the same couch with you, right? Or embrace you on meeting because, you know, they smell “different” and you don’t want your peers to see you in questionable company, correct? Ever considered taking them to Gloria Jeans with you? Maybe for dinner at CTC? Or will they be told to wait in the car?
L: Dekho. That’s different. Kuch farq bhi hota hai hum mai aur un mai.