the great divide

foreign countries are pretty much the same, the world over. foreigners generally tend to have an anti-pakistani bias and we brownskinned desis who usually don’t speak fluent english, are either derided or patronised. we’re not considered as equals. even the shopkeepers and taxidrivers generally tend to avoid our business in favour of the locals. going abroad, for the average pakistani, is therefore seldom an ego-boosting experience.

clifton, to those who live on the other side of the bridge, is like any other foreign country.

and that’s not being molodramatic. try getting off a rickshaw at zamzama in front of any given shop instead of your own car sometime. even better, say you live in orangi or korangi when giving your address when you’ve paid the bill and notice how the sales clerk gives that subtle shake of the head. its the “oh-he’s-from-there-so-he-must-be-like-that” mentality speaking. and no matter how much we deny it, we’re all a party to the same hypocrisy. it’s got something to do with breeding i guess. wrong term. upbringing is what i was looking for. there’s no innocence in our lives anymore.

the average karachiite child is well aware of where his father’s political sympathies lie by the time he enters the second grade. without understanding the mandates, policies, ambitions and visions; he adopts the image of the party leadership as a role model, infallible and even sacrosanct. the child often uses racist mocking epithets without even understanding the words that make them up. most of all he adopts the concept of racial stereotypes which stay with him throughout his life. all biharis are cunning. all memons are stingy. all pathans are stupid. sindhis have no class. punjabis are the enemy. and so on, so forth, depending on who your grandfather was and what he did for a living. these stereotypes apply to particular localities as well. “azizabad ka hai, mqm mein hoga”. a fat child is to be laughed at. a darker child is to be mocked . and if a person manages to trip and fall, it’s a running joke for weeks. insensitivity is the norm rather than the exception.

why?

i don’t know. i’m no sociologist. i do know that this isn’t doing any good to our society. but something radical has got to be done. what do you people think?

26 Comments so far

  1. Inspirex (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

    Hi. First of all, welcome aboard.
    I guess we are used to generalizations and stereotyping.

    I was speaking to a friend a couple of days ago, and i said the same thing. We barely make an effort. I guess it ties in to the fact that most of us are lazy in every aspect. Sadly, in information too.


  2. verysmart (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

    WOW… truly impressive.. I myself has been trying to chnage things in my own family by mocking the streotypes.

    However i belive the problem is in the basis of our society, the institute of marriage has been corrupted and resulted in a dividing situation all over the country, people are being streotyped and we have no means of breaking this inherited stupidity.

    Try and marry outside your own family, clan or ethnicity and your own educated and idealistic mom and dad will tell you that “you are going to doa huge mitsake coz these other people are worthless beings and cannot be trusted.”

    And this is the same for everyone, Punjabis hold this agains Mohajirs (the word i would like to change to Karachiites, we the third generations are not mohajirs at all, we are locals) and visa versa, and the same is for the rest.

    I think the more the interculture and intercast marriages progress these divides will eventually evaporate.

    Long Live Pakistan….


  3. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 8:07 pm

    Firstly – Welcome aboard – I agree with you there actually does exist a division within Karachi, but to be honest, do all you might but its human nature to become an ego-istical slave once you earn enough money to “cross the bridge”.

    That every same person who was your loving neighbourhood friend literally becomes an air-head once crossing the bridge. Its sad but true.

    All I say F— them and go around your business, no one has given the authority to judge you, even if they do “who cares”


  4. quratulain khan (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

    i think stereotyping might have something to do with the fact that it makes people feel more in control of their worlds when they put things into neat little compartments. also, that way, there is less of a need to actually think. i imagine unfamiliarity breeds discomfort. and until we start breaking out of our shells and start treating people as individuals as opposed to falling under some general label, we will continue to resort to stereotyping. it simplifies the complexity of our worlds to some extent.

    stereotypes are fed to us very early on. and we will continue to do it until we allow an expansion of our mind through interaction and exposure and exploration. perhaps we all need a good dose of the desire to understand and appreciate those that are different from us. the lack of appreciation for diversity is rather unfortunate. it breeds intolerance.

    i am not a sociologist either. just airing my opinion. please do not attack :)


  5. Tee (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

    say all we might, we ourselves promote such stereotypes, or rather confirm to them. like u said, hardly anyone dares to actually let their richshaw enter the zamzama lane lest anyone see them getting off a rickshaw- oh just imagine! its funny how people tend to lie just to be accepted and just to confirm to those rotten standards. perhaps u r right, its the faulty upbringing……we are a society with lots of inferiority complexes and somewhere along the road…we lost our own identity.


  6. UnholySaint (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 9:58 pm

    GREAT THOUGHTFUL WORDS FROM INSPIREX.

    Frankly, I havent had an isolation problem in the US. People in general are nice here, atleast in the US. I am talking in general. And in general, I avoid desis or our brown ppl, because they are rude and ill-mannered, but still better than the blacks.

    Notice how I have stereotyped the browns and the blacks. No matter what you hear about how bad stereotyping is, I can tell you 1 thing that it WORKS. In general blacks are rude. In general desis are dishonest. In general Indian are more arrogant than Pakis. My statements are not ‘politically correct’ but thats the case in general. Dont get me wrong. I have come across some great blk ppl who were genuinly nice and so were some desis, but it isnt very common, and some of the nastiest white ppl. But in general whites are nice, atleast in my experience.

    Being politically correct has severed out ability to identify the problem. Lets not do that. Remember, we are tomorrow’s wisdom. You and I will create the next generations in our very own homes. And I see signs of great hope improvement.


  7. chicago red sox Rockss (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

    aaaaahhhhhhhh
    com on mam i visit this place for fun,,,,,,,,

    we all know how karachi is and we love it no matter what how shitty is the attitude
    i agree with teeth maestro…. who care what they think about you just dont give a shit.

    be happy and try keep other happy as well;


  8. SWA (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

    Thats true. If you stop giving a shit about your judgement, then the other person judging you will feel ashamed himself. The wealth divide exists everywhere. People who are richer and have more complex lives tend to look down on people less fortunate than themselves. I think the biggest reason for people’s attitude’s changing once they cross the bridge is because people’s perspectives change. The newcomers may become snobbish due to exposure to a different kind of crowd, but poeple who live there since some time have had very different experiences in life than people who havent. Therefore, its hard for them to relate with people who have not had those experiences… I hope it makes sense. Though if somebody is rude alongwith it, they just are bad natured.
    In fact, I think I will do this one thing next time i am in Karachi: go to some expensive restaurant in Zamzama on a Rickshaw and not care about it.


  9. Original-Anon (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 6:14 am

    @unholysaint : You say ‘Remember, we are tomorrow’s wisdom. You and I will create the next generations in our very own homes. And I see signs of great hope improvement’.
    Gosh, that is indeed frightening after reading your tirade of bias, prejudice and stereotyping. I surely hope the rest of the coming generations have more open minds.
    @Xill-e-Ilahi : Welcome but your name scares me!


  10. Kumail (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 11:28 am

    I sincerely agree with the comments of Unholy Saint and SWA. Having lived in Canada for the last three years and being surrounded almost entirely by Caucasian friends I would say that they are not only great, but open people. However they too have as many distinctions within them as does an average karachite. Its a reason of such compartmentalization that terms like white trash and white chocolate are used to refer to some segments of the society. Even in a city as progressive as Manhattan, a person from Queens or Bronx would get an unfamiliar stare at a Bergdorf Goodman outlet on Fifth Avenue.
    At the same time, there are a number of followers in ours and every other society. Such are their materialistic ambitions that they ignore mannerisms and acquire a blatantly rude attitude resulting from a new found level of authority that generally wasn’t exercised earlier by any individual in their family. Such Noeveau Riche do more to damage the social setup than cultivate it.
    One thing about Karachi, especially about the clifton and related side of the city, is that its faced an influx of feduals and other individuals who desire to demonstrate their financial prowess by the being rude uncultured and uncouth. This is not the attitude prevalent in families that have been progressive since generations. The cultured families are accepting and appreciative of the diversity where as the the noeveau riche are threatened and disrespectful of individual who form the broader spectrum of the city. That in my humble, albeit long winded, opinion is the cause for the social distress that the post is aimed at.


  11. mansoor (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    firstly.. Welcome to KMB…

    i’ve been reading the comments, and most of them argue that its the money which divides ppl from ‘across the bridge’. I agree, that divide is there, but theres more to it than just money.

    If you sample driving in clifton and then driving orangi, you’ll figure out what i mean.. what im saying is.. the rules change, and so does the attitude of the people. THATS what the divide is..

    i go out with friends to millenium mall, and nine out of ten times, i have to contrain myself not to fight with people because they either keep staring rudely at your female companions or take pictures with their mobile cameras.. you go to forum or park towers and this issue seldom arises.

    the problem (in my humble opinion) is the mindset people bring with them… where to them, its ‘ok’ to harrass, its ok to steal and its ok to be a bully. by the way, my office colleages are *all* from the other side of the bridge and they’re a few of the best people i’ve ever met.. so all fingers are not equal and im biased against *everyone* from that side.

    and to end i agree with unholysaint… stereotyping isnt the right approach, but it works most of the time


  12. Extiinct (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

    I have to agree with mansoor. Mentality is what makes the divide while everything else contributes to the bigger picture.

    Good post Xille Illahi and welcome =)


  13. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    Welcome onboard, Xill-e-Ilahi.

    Regarding our prejudices against everybody around us…I would say this – It is always good that we do acknowledge the bad traits among us and hopefully by discussing them so openly we may, inshallah one day would be able to rectify them.


  14. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

    Zilley:offcourse a good topic to ponder.But there are many other divides too which exist in our society.For instance the caste system.I am tired of listen shit like “Are you syed” ,”are you siddiqi?” blah blah.These things even cause trouble at the time of marriages as well.This is pretty sick and I know we can’t getrid of it.


  15. schawlaf (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    about being Stereotypical , i just got this on SMS , this is poem by a black kid , which I was told had won some award

    When I Born , I black
    When I grow up , I Black
    When i go Sun , I black
    When i scared, I black
    When i Sick , I black
    When i Die , I still Black
    & u white fellas
    Whe u r born , u pink
    When u grow up , u white
    When u go in sun , u red
    When u cold , u blue
    When u scared , u yellow
    When u sick , u green
    when u die , u grey
    and u r calling me colored


  16. Adnan (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

    And the kid won prize on that piece of writing.Was indeed a good stuff.bitter but truth.


  17. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

    thank you all for your comments. there are none that i particularly disagree with except the one that implies that my name is scary. ???

    however, mansoor’s comment about mobile phone picture taking at millenium mall seems to miss the point. i may be mistaken but i think you’re implying that most of the crowd hanging out “there” is what we describe as “maila”. wrong. it’s cultural difference. to most people from there, if i’m reading them correctly, a so called burger bachi who’s wearing low riders and a tight tee is showing off her curves for their benefit – and as such she shouldn’t mind bein photographed for posterity.

    but you’re right in a certain sense – they’re being just as open to diversity as the people in zamzama are (the ones who look down on them for doing what it is they do i mean).


  18. Dee (unregistered) on June 18th, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    Hi all, Good post Xill.I agree to disagree with you.Yes wealth does create a divide but it is not the only thing.I remember we had a masi(cleaning lady) back home and one point she was looking for a match for her daugther and told us she rejected one girl coz she didnt belong to her dhobi family :).Language, caste, sex and in North america race and religion are the big factors.People in North America do not descriminate openly but it exists not as much in back home though.One thing to keep in mind you dont have to fight the world to go against these(descrimination and hatred), you can decide not to descriminate people at the personal level.Hopefully by doing so world will be a different place.
    Peace everyone
    Dee


  19. Sheza (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 3:04 am

    Good post Xill! I definitely agree with you and everyone that says money talks on this side of the bridge. I remember back when we lived there, you’d find water sucking tanks coming to suck the water off kh muhhafiz right after a rain. and you could drive into any part of the other side, and still find water days after the rain. The city municipalities etc differ alot. as far as mentalitiy is concerned, ppl ont his side of the bridge did belong on the other once upon a time.

    i cant explain how we build this snobbish attitude within us, but somehow it creeps in silently once our address changes. its gross but its there. im not sure how khi is going to overcome it. but i sure hope they do!


  20. shady (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 8:07 am

    I think the most important aspect to this whole situation is education. If our goverment could come up with a program to implement quality education across Karachi over the next ten years, we’ll probably have a much smaller divide between our grandchildren and the grandchildren from across the bridge.

    It’s a complicated problem because Karachi comprises of lots of people who come from lots of different villages and have no “real” education.

    The goverment must do something to boost the standard of education in this country, and fast, or we’re all doomed to more riots and crime as the lower class grows and the middle class shrinks.


  21. Zain (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 10:04 am

    It’s everywhere my friends and the worst part is that it has started taking more shape. I was told by my friend working in Unilever Pakistan that the management has made some minor changes in the hiring policy that they will only hire management trainees who live in posh areas, whose family is rich, well known and influential, who socialize and drink (its hidden but its there)

    I am not sure in reality how much of this is true but I know that such factors play an important role in hiring for management trainee or top positions in big organizations. But the worst part is rejection of other brilliat people on such grounds.

    Its complicated and hard to change!! But in the meantime, I give a F**K to everyone who discriminates others…


  22. mansoor (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 10:36 am

    xil: just to clear up a misunderstanding… the girl i mentioned wasnt showing off anything.. she just happened to be good looking.. and was wearing a very conservative shalwar kameez…. thats wht got to me..

    i do agree with you that if someone is dressed up to show off his/her curves then they shouldnt mind people gawking at them.. but then, that would be the topic for another post ;)


  23. Checkmate (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

    Hey it is all about up – bringing and not money. Prejudice comes in all shapes, colors, castes, social classes. I live in DHA, and people stereotype me. They think I have to be stuck up. They think I only drink nestle water and eat KFC LOL….. We all put labels on everything. There is no reality only perception. I try and stop myself from labelling people but it just happens sometimes. I think it is human need to label, shelf and catalogue everything and everyone. So next time you go to PC ask for Doodh patti, and enjoy the stares ….. LOLLLLLLLL


  24. Hashim Abbasi (unregistered) on June 19th, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

    I agree with you dude…the problem is that in our society we are worth what we make. No one cares how educated or well mannered you are, the basis for classifying you is how much you make… look around illeterate persons with a high financial worth are more respected than the educated.
    If you try changing others you are awarded their category… this may not hurt me but look at it through a child eye, he will grow up beleiving it… correction in our norms begin from home and thats what all of us should be targetting


  25. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on June 20th, 2006 @ 2:13 am

    well mansoor in that case i’d like to blame that on another kind of faulty upbringing.

    sheza – thanks for the comment. nice to see people i know reading my entry. :)


  26. Omaer (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2006 @ 4:42 pm

    A very enlightening post… very apt.

    Apart from what we pick up during our upbringing and from our surroundings, dont you think a socially aware individual can easily differentiate between certian classes of people thus stereotyping independently and without any “influence” comes into being. I think it can be a natural trait, to generalize… yes, there are exceptions but… isnt it our experiences and interactions in life that make us what we are.

    From the way things are going and with the media influx, its our values and beliefs that have been completely skewed and the things that really matter, dont matter anymore. We are made to believe and applaud the most superficial of things and ignore the depth and character of everything.
    God help us and our Generations to come.



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