Being a bit of an anti shopper, going shopping anywhere in the world is a bit of a drag. Now when you consider shopping in Pakistan – Karachi; that is a whole new other ball game. You have to be prepared.
First things first, if you look like anything like you belong to the female species, even that of a goat, you will be stared at. Take a deep breath, let that sink in, accept it. Done? Ok, moving on.
Keep the dupatta on if you are the sort who likes to say, “My eyes are up here.” Trust me, without a dupatta, your eyes will have somehow skipped a major de-evolutionary process and dropped 6 inches or so below your neck. Ok, scratch that, dupatta or no dupatta, makes no difference. Your eyes will remain below your neck.
Be prepared to be called a ‘baji’ by a man at least twice your age with a beard white enough to rival Santa’s. If he strokes his beard while talking to you, RUN! The word baji means nothing. With Pakistanis marrying their first cousins at an alarming rate of 75%, chances are his wife called him ‘bhaijaan’ right up to the Valima after which he automatically became ‘Jaanu.’ So uhm… yeah RUN!
If one shopkeeper is able to pry his eyes away from the goat.. er… you.. and says “Baji, aapka rang to itna gora hai, yeh bohot acha lagay ga aap par” and he pushes a puke mustard yellow dress towards you (or places it upon himself to make it more ‘alluring’) don’t buy it… because no one else has. For good reason too! It’s nasty! And get a tan will you, pasty bhoot!
While walking from one shop to another, keep your arms neatly tucked in like in a football (American.. geez.. I would’ve said soccer otherwise) huddle, because that guy there… yes, right there with the center parting with more oil on his hair than Saudi Arabia.. will gently or maybe not so gently push a part of him up against yours. If he is the tame (ami maarengee) sort then it will just be his fingers brushing up against you with him singing some old Govinda tharki song. Or perhaps the ever so popular Akshay number “Tu cheez badi hai mast mast” under his breath. At this moment, you can ignore him, slap him with your desi chappal (have wipes ready to counter the oil) or remind him to update his music; we are no longer in the 90s.
Dirty looks are also counterproductive… but for this particular talent, I like to take my mother. She goes equipped with a dirty look, which she seems to think can take the ‘bad’ guys down more effectively than Batman in his Batmobile. And it does. Maybe. Ok no.
Keep your purses zipped, locked and placed inside another bag, squeezed tightly under your arms, because that lady there in the full burqa and naqab. is going to steal your money, cell phone and maybe that last stick of ding dong too. (ref: Gulf and Park Towers.) And no you may not ask her to take her burqa off to check if she did in fact steal from you, because that would just be inappropriate. De-veiling a burqa clad woman? What were you thinking! Also, just as inappropriate would be to ask EVEN if you thought it was a thick mustached man named Abdul in there posing as a penguin, ninja, dammit, I mean woman.
no wait, i mean
Lastly, if by chance you plan to go to a Lawn (clothes not garden, duh) Exhibition, tie up your hair, wear a helmet, knee pads, a neck collar to prevent excessive jerking, (I mean the neck not the behavior), a bullet proof vest and keep a baton handy, because chances are, you won’t make it back out alive. The shoppers there are more focused and determined than any fully trained soldier in the battlefield. So much so, if you have a problem with the accuracy of drones, put the “Season’s” lawn print on the terrorist and watch these ‘shoppers’ zero in and get the sucker.
Al right, I shall go and write my will now.
dupatta – long scarf
baji – term for older sister
bhaijaan – big brother
jaanu – darling
Valima – Wedding Reception
Baji, aapka rang to itna gora hai, yeh bohot acha lagay ga aap par – Big sister, you are so fair, this color will look nice on you.
Bhoot – ghost
Ami maarenge – Mama will smack me
chapal – slippers