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Anatomy of a Shaadi crash

November 09, 2012

So there we were – sitting on an unmade bed, with two laptops, seven spreadsheets, six quarterly and two annual reports, 25 unchecked assignments and very little time between us – and all she could think about was the smell of barbecue wafting through the windows.

My wife suffers from axial myopia, a consequence of her XL-sized eyeballs which can, in situations of duress, be manipulated to form the aesthetic form necessary to evoke sympathy. Try and imagine a puppy acting in a canine production of Oliver Twist, and you'll know what I am talking about. The fact that she rarely, if ever, deploys this look meant that the call of the shaadi-food was strong within her.

At this point I tweeted.

Some clearly tried-and-tested methods were soon sent back. As you'll see, the absurdity/genius/ambition of the suggestions continued to increase. (For a more comprehensive account of the twittersations from that night, check out this link).

At this point, I was still enjoying the instant validation that the growing number of tweets in my mentions (sorry, interactions) always provides. This whole shall-I-raid-a-random-shaadi was the kind of wacky, native spiel that is my cachet, my brand identity so to speak – if one is to speak like an idiot.

So, I tried to encourage the reverie a little further.

The fact that all this was taking place amongst the last dregs of the weekend-after-Eid, meant that there was a certain stupor, a pungent mystery hanging over the night. Predictably, the response belied this reality.

Moreover, it increasingly became clear that wedding-crashing is a common pastime amongst Pakistanis. In fact, not just a pastime, but rather an elaborate personal quest of ever-increasing audacity to sample illicit shaadi-khaanas that just about everyone was into.

Realising that students to professors to journalists (and lots more in between this axis of muftas) were all skilled practitioners of this fine art emboldened me. Surely I could pull this off as well.

With a skip and a jump, I ran off to the cupboard and put on my valimay ka suit, and decided that the scene was on. My wife, the brainchild of this daring operation, had apparently been planning for a chance to raid a wedding her entire life, and was full of tips and tricks. The heist was on.

As I parked my car in the muddy expanse outside the twin tents in dazzling golden velvet, my mind began to play the soundtrack to a heist film, and I stepped out purposefully in my valimay ka suit, holding a wide paper bag with the name of a famous designer on the outside, and several plastic bags on the inside. I gave limp, non-committal side-hugs to the men at the reception, seated myself next to one of the food tables, and got ready. In the meanwhile, I kept texting my wife, who relayed the messages on twitter, along with her own ornamental comments and hash-tags.

I had originally planned to tell the whole story here, and keep the tweets as mementos of what was unfolding that night, but I thought it better to let the tweets tell the tale themselves, while I go off on a tangential diatribe on what the Twitter experience really means.

One of the tweets I received that night was this one.

The tweet is a clever dig at the various activists and citizens-with-a-conscience who always, without fail, can be counted upon to unleash such platitudes on twitter whenever it becomes trendy to mourn a particular victim.

Now when something, anything, breaks on twitter that is even mildly interesting, there is a sudden maelstrom of opinions all over the internets. When the situation is of a political/social/serious nature, this sudden onrush of reaction and outrage is confused by the mainstream media and other outsiders as a virtual storming of the Bastille.

When people start claiming that all of us are Malala or Bou-Azizi or Salman Butt, journalists too lazy to canvas vox-pops in person latch onto these tweets as proof of the vibrant and powerful body of opinion on the matter.

Nonsense.

Twitter is unique in how it can create a virtual community, or mob, within seconds – with each participant genuinely aware of being part of a greater whole. But what the investors, reporters and intellectuals loath to admit, or realise, is that this semi-transcendental surge is not limited to revolutions or “where were you when...” moments, but also moments of complete irreverence.

The excitement and enthusiasm is not – I repeat, not – a consequence of the gravity of the situation, because otherwise a situation like the one above wouldn’t have happened. Rather, the enjoyment comes from the existence of an event on which we can all draw our own opinions, our own retorts, our own pop culture references, our own memes. And the very fact that such events are ephemeral and likely to be forgotten tomorrow enhances that appeal.

The moment is the celebration of the now, of the present, and of the knowledge that we’ll all shortly move onto something else. But before we do, let’s have some tikka laced with kheer.

 


Ahmer Naqvi is the Brian Lara of his generation – he’s a genius but his team usually loses. He blogs on his own property in Blogistan, and makes short films you can see here and here.

 


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.