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My Pakistani Black Friday experience

November 28, 2015


In Lahore, people were waiting outside the store hours before the doors opened on Friday. —Twitter
In Lahore, people were waiting outside the store hours before the doors opened on Friday. —Twitter

‘Hello, are you OK? Can you hear me, Ma’am?’ a fading voice asked me again as my vision began to blur, a sea of faces was closing in on me as I lay motionless on the floor.

My palpitating heart was beginning to slow down, perhaps this was it: my mind flash-backed to all that I had endured to get to this state.

‘Forgive me if I’ve ever hurt you, I just want to go in peace now,’ I said to the woman bent over me with concerned eyes. Her hand tightly clasped around the kurti I was sprawled on.

Bas kariye, aise karke aapko yeh medium-sized kurti nahin milne wali,’ she huffed. (Oh, cut it out, you aren’t going to get this medium-sized shirt this way.)

I gestured for her to lean forward and with my trembling hands caught a hold of her hair with all the strength I had left in me, I pulled like my life depended on it.

The sale was on fire. No one ate the Thanksgiving turkey but we were all here to fullfill our moral obligation: hoard more clothes!

A Pakistani woman can mortgage her jewels, house and sometimes, even her kids for the latest in fabrics. Lawngasm, as we so fondly refer to it, is what keeps her going — her infinite love for all things textiles.

Everything at the store was 50 per cent off. The line-up would’ve shamed the visa queues outside foreign embassies.

Pata hai, I got up very early, skipped my yoga, gulped down some almond milk, nudged my mother-in-law out of her slumber, and threw the kids on her lap to babysit,’ chortled one high-heeled lady to me as we stood in line.

The staff at most of the stores looked liked they needed paramedical services: out of breath, confused and at the receiving end of vile profanities. Here, in this shop, the well-groomed had finally revealed their inner uncouth.

Shoulder-to-shoulder, neck-to-neck, it was a hanger versus hanger medieval-style combat.

Online websites, which had made tall claims of Black Friday sales kept crashing as well. Maybe the husbands of the ‘Sapphire ladies’ were assigned duties to purchase gadgets and appliances for the household?

The retailers and the websites, it appeared both mismanaged the event on the whole. In their eagerness to compete with each other, they didn’t foresee the colossal traffic, both human and virtual that gushed in on Friday.

Also read: The curious case of 'Black Friday' in Pakistan

The temperature inside the store scorched up a few notches but it didn’t matter for we were just here to buy the tags. These labels on the kurtis is what sets them apart, otherwise these items hold no more value than Rs 500 each.

‘This is dhandli!’ shouted one lady at the counter, when she couldn’t find what she desired. For a second, I found myself wondering if Imran Khan would hold a press conference tomorrow about the Black Friday sales fraud.

In another corner, an elderly woman kept stashing clothes into a homemade sack sheepishly.

‘I’ll call the Rangers helpline and report you, dadi jee!’ I threatened, but one stern look from her was enough to set me scurrying away.

I looked around the battlefield; it would be safe to assume that when remains of the current Pakistani civilisation would be unearthed some thousand years from now, the archaeologists would be astonished to discover just lawn and then some.

The narrative of the modern day Pakistani woman would revolve around ‘long arduous hours spent planning her look’ and ‘striving to beat them all socially’.

Also read: Why I am breaking up with designer lawn this summer

If all these women who showed up with such commitment to avail the sales contributed with the same zest to uplifting lives of the economically struggling then some sense of equilibrium would come into the picture. But in Pakistan, we’re not interested in any of that boring stuff.

What I witnessed at this sale was that the Pakistani society is increasingly turning consumerist, much like the rest of the world, and that is at least great news for the retail industry in the country.

A short distance from me, two women stood fighting over one brown kurti.

‘Leave this, behen, I saw it first, have some fear of Allah, we will go back to him in just a kaffan (shroud),’ shouted one to the other.

I looked around nervously to see if a retailer or designer may have overheard what I just did.

Imagine a world of kaffan lawn — would you prefer it embellished or printed? Something tells me the advance booking for this too would surely skyrocket.

But, let’s not give them any ideas.