JournalismPakistan.com June 2, 2017
So I land in Delhi to a warm welcome from my sister and she says migoodness, brother dearest, you have lost your hair, you are growing bald.
I haven't, I say, I have just put them in the fridge to chill so I can have a cool style.
Why do people do that? Get so personal when all they want to do is wreck your mood?
In the great social scramble for pole position, one of the sharpest rapiers is this personal remark. There you are, enjoying the evening, when along comes this person whose name is on the tip of your tongue but you can't retrieve it and he says, look at you.
Okay, so I am looking at me, now what.
He says, look at you, what have you done to yourself, you look truly haggard, not looking after yourself, bags under your eyes, so stressed out, tch, tch.
Tch, tch yourself, mister, go away. And haggard is not a word that springs to my mind when I see myself in the mirror. Haggard is like the human equivalent of a used-up candle, you know, squished and leaking down the side and all out of shape.
But they never go away, this lot, deriving dollops of pleasure in making you feel bad about yourself. Their main thrust comes about weight. And they have many ways of doing it.
They have nothing to say about the mess the world is in, about the latest movie sensations, about business deals, only about you.
Baby talk: Tum tum, huh, little paunchy waunchy commmmming out (oh, go jump in the lake and pull a wave over you). As if that isn't bad enough, they now call others to share their view.
Hasn't he put on weight?
Others now gather round and start making assessments. Well, now that you say it.
Thanks very much, this is why I shaved and got dressed and drove halfway around Dubai for a pleasant evening - so you could slag me off. Was telling my wife, let's go, feel like being put down, someone will say something rude and make my day.
The most hurtful one: you're looking so much older suddenly. This is said with glee cascading like chocolate on one of those wheels.
Honesty disguised as concern: Put on some weight, yes, face has filled out, at least five kayjee (what are you, a portable weighing machine?).
In your face: Good lord, what have you done to yourself, you have become fat. (Sorry, I am a blunt type, I call it as I see it, I can dish it out but I can't take it...). We all know one from this tribe. Why we take it and grin fatuously and make inane denials when we would rather smack them across the face beats me.
There has to be a reason we allow people to trample over us and wreck the mood.
The humorist: So, too much of the good life, ya, cut down on the goodies, mate, we aren't getting any younger (Speak for yourself and I am not your mate).
Friendly advice (?): Have you seen a doc lately, you are really looking run down.
The professional mood-wreckers now begin to canvas support. Hey, was just telling Bik here how run down he is looking, isn't he looking run down? From party guest to a medical specimen in one second. People are now checking you out. Hmmmm. All thoughtful and pondering as they assess your potential for being run down.
At which point the comments start clattering like hail on a tin roof.
You do look a bit pale. Sunken eyes. Not getting enough exercise. Better take care of yourself. Now they get into a debate amongst themselves about your condition.
Then someone chimes in about how Arun fell ill and he was only 52 and you are wondering, why are we doing this, we were supposed to be discussing Donald Trump and stuff.
Women take it to another level. Hair, skin, complexion, eyes, all are fair game.
Along comes the party pundit. There is always a party pundit with his homespun philosophy, and he says, ease up, my friend, life is for living, take time to smell the roses (who is this guy?), no point running pell-mell through life if there is no repose, life is a soap bar, it rubs out into a sliver, enjoy the scrub before the froth melts into nothing. Who is this man?
Take him away, please, before I strike him.
All you had planned was a pleasant couple of hours eating peanuts and munching on kebabs, not a dissertation on life and your pathetic role in it.
If someone has figured out why people do this, do let me know.
Meanwhile, I am off to rescue my sunken eyes.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
The Express Tribune, September 3, 2018
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