Thats just the way things are…
Its been 11 months since I arrived in Pakistan, and the best phrase I had to describe what I call the ‘Pakistani way’ is just this: “Thats just the way things are…”
It all started with bowling. Area 51, as many who go there will recognize it for its music, sheesha and bowling lanes rather than their impeccable service (which leaves MUCH to be desired) regardless, bad service is not criminal, however, inability to make decisions without consent of the ‘Man in charge’, to me is. I asked for an order of fries, now I like my fries with Masala, and since I picked up the European habit of eating fries with Mayo, I asked for Masala fries and Mayo.
“Well, im sorry sir, that’s not on the menu”
“Yes it is, here, masala fries, and here, mayo fries” I informed the waiter.
“Yes, but sir, which one do you like?”
“Masala and mayo fries please”
“That cannot be done sir, it’s not on the menu” he, now a bit more stern, replied.
What ensued was a brief conversation with the management who then tussled over the ordeal for awhile, and then finally came to apologies that I would have to order two fries.
Now I may be culturally insensitive to asking for such flexibility. The fries meant nothing to me, it was the dialog that I will never forget. Customized orders are a no go, and area 51 isn’t the only place to deny me my masala and mayo fries…
Then it was the garbage artwork that so many fine artists contribute to the cities flourishing and blemished streets. I I was driving along Shar-e-faisal with a friend, who rolls down the window a bit and then tosses a chocolate bar wrapper out the window, astonished, I said that was wrong and he shouldn’t have done such a thing. To which he replied,
“Yea i know its not the best thing to do, but look at it this way, this road is cleaner than most, and that is because many people are hired to clean it. Do you think that if I threw this wrapper away in a garbage can that it would find its way to a landfill?”
“Well, thats the idea isn’t it?”
“Well no, most garbage bags just get tossed on the side of the road anyway, this way if I throw litter on shar-e-faisal, I know at least that the garbage is going to be picked up and put in the right spot.”
An interesting, and all too true excuse for why things are..
Then it was the movie theater. Cineplex Seaview is a great spot to hit once in a season, since that is how often they update their movie selection. Regardless, one day I was particularly feeling homesick, and when i’m in need of an escape I would goto the movies alone and just forget everything for those 90 minutes. This time (approximately 3:00pm on a Friday) I went to the theater. However upon entering, the manager kindly came up and informed me that I could not watch a movie by myself, that this was a family place an if I didn’t have a girlfriend, mother or sister with me, that I wouldn’t be entering. Now I can respect the family policy, last thing any family wants is to go somewhere and have a bunch of immature rowdy men causing ruckus. However on a Friday at 3pm, with not a single other patron in the theater, I was representing that batch of rowdy men. The only solution the manager could come up with was that I enter with another couple, who agrees to accompany me in the elevator up to the theater. After finding a nice young couple that entertained my request, I got to see my film (Movie title was ‘Cursed’, and personally I wouldn’t highly recommend it).
Each case had its good reason for why these policies and methods are in place. So does this make me a vain gora, or is there something inherent in this society that goes unnoticed, and unchecked? A general apathy towards doing anything away from what they are told to do? And sticking to policies, even if they don’t make sense in some situation.
I have many more examples which I may share in later posts regarding this “Thats just the way things are…” series.