Friday, September 10, 2010


There are plenty of negative things people associate with living in Pakistan-security concerns, loadshedding, food poisoning. One item which really needs to be added to the list is uncertainty. Uncertainty dominates life in this city, if not the entire country. Our government loves to surprise us: we never know for sure if we will have electricity or not, if schools will be open or not, if buses will be running or not, if roads will be flooded or not, if tomorrow is Eid or not. I won’t digress by going into the macro-level uncertainties of whether the judiciary is independent or not and whether parliament is supreme or not, I’ll save that for another day. The last of my micro-level concerns (is it Eid or is it not) is my favourite one on the list.

Well, is it? I sometimes forget that we see the same moon in Pakistan as people in Saudi Arabia or America or Indonesia. You would think that each Muslim country is apportioned its very own special moon, with varying levels of brightness and visibility. Kind of like a lucky-draw system: who’s going to get the visible moon this year? Joke’s on you if you’re the one commissioned with an extra day of fasting, but your moon didn’t really cut it this time. Somehow, southern Pakistan is always the team with the no-show Eid moon every year, with our fairer-skinned brethren up north joyfully declaring it a day before everyone else, almost traditionally. Apparently, the north-south divide can’t even agree on the date anymore. Peshawar will continue to gallop ahead into Shawwal while Karachi will freeze its shami kebabs and kheer for an extra day.

It’s not the actual fact of it not being Eid which I’m classifying as irritating. If anything, the country’s failure to decide if it wants to celebrate Eid or Jummat-ul-Wida is just funny, and since we’re only 29 rozas in, one can’t really complain. The irritation lies in the perpetual what-if game this country plays with your head all the time. Can someone just offer us a tiny bit of certainty around here? Maybe not a macro level, but please, please, on a smaller level? Just figure out a way to decide if schools will be closed after bomb blasts or not. Start quantifying how terrible violence needs to be for the city to shut down. Maybe even be super-efficient and announce load-shedding schedules in the newspaper? How about ditching the Ruet-e-Hilal committee and following a country which has less controversy around celebration?

At the end of the day, it’s the little things which save (or compromise) your sanity. Larger problems can be dealt with on a crisis-basis, but the smaller ones whittle away at your patience and make you wish some things could just be set in stone, for once.

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