It was embarrassing how badly I was losing a round of Trivial Pursuit, the board game that asks you general knowledge questions. I kept getting questions about 19th century English football, about which I know as much as a panda who doesn’t care. One question I got wrong made me angrier than the others: How much did a single luxury First Class ticket cost on the Titanic in 1912? Your choices are a) $4.35, b) $43.50, c) $435 or d) $4,350. Choose wisely.
If you chose ‘d’, many congratulations! You just won a yellow wedge and I desperately want to sit next to you at my next inevitable defeat. A single ticket on the Titanic cost a whopping four thousand dollars in 1912, which in today’s money is upwards of $50,000. One-way no less, though the passengers were hardly to have known that was guaranteed. Two things now make sense to me about the movie Titanic: One, how understandable it was for Rose’s mother to freak when she started dating below steerage, and two, the internal financial logic of that big bloody diamond at the end.
Trivial Pursuit can be tons of fun if you don’t get questions about English county sports. Sadly, I have the UK version of the game and it keeps asking me about British daytime TV celebs as if the world knows them. Nobody knows them. The last question I got before losing was the slightly less interesting ‘Who invented dynamite?’ I had no idea and so said “Tew Hawt, The Tranny Warrior Queen of Upper China” but that was wrong (and sad) because such a personality never existed. It turns out the answer is Alfred Nobel. That’s right: the same Alfred Nobel after whom the world’s most important prizes are named.
That the man who endowed the Nobel Peace Prize also invented dynamite is endlessly amusing to me; and I am surprised it hasn’t come up more often, considering how many people have in some part of their brains phonetically associated the sound of Nobel with the quality of being Noble; and also given how much that prize has been talked about this week.
[quote]The Nobel Peace needs Malala way more than she needs it[/quote]
You know by now that Malala didn’t win it. (awww, tears.) It doesn’t matter in the least. The Nobel Peace needs Malala way more than she needs it. The Girl Who Lived has become Pakistan’s own magical-powers-exercising Harriet Potter, a teenage manifestation of innocence thriving (and enduring, and triumphing, in the 3D American version of this story) in the face of evil darkness. She is a global brand, walks those corridors of power that we don’t even know exist yet, and is currently the most famous Pakistani/Bright Little Girl on our planet (with the possible exception of Miley Cyrus, but one is counting on the assumption that “twerking” will only get her so far).
Most people thought Malala would win the Nobel Prize for peace and were disappointed that she didn’t. Well, at least most people outside of Pakistan were disappointed.
We, meanwhile, tried to distance ourselves from Malala like this was first grade and she had the cooties. (Something we did with extraordinary cruelty to the only other Pakistani Nobel laureate, the Ahmadi-and-therefore-unloved Dr Abdussalam.) The more attention Malala gets abroad, the more her home country wants to disown her. She has been accused of espionage, treason, bringing a “bad name to Pakistan” (you know, ‘coz the word ‘Pakistan’ represents, like, roses and napkins and cocktails). She has also been accused of corruption, collusion, being a press-junkie, an American agent, an Indian agent, a sleeper Russian agent who was born in the States but sent to Swat as an early Christmas present, a part-titanium android, a drone, a robot and, finally, an Over-Intelligent Girl, which is one of the most dangerous and dreaded things in Pakistan. I’ve read Urdu op-eds detailing how she was never shot at all, how she has been pretending that the Taliban are her enemy because that’s the easiest way out (of what? This country?). She has been accused of being “against” her own country, and the more the West loves her, the more plausible the “proof” of her “real intentions” seems to become in Pakistan. If I go on any longer in this vein I will become clinically depressed, so I’ll cut it short and summarize my feelings for the naysayers:
You might not like that the symbol of Pakistan is a schoolchild that got shot in the head, but that’s the country you live in. And who cares what you “like”, anyway? I don’t “like” how Pakistanis blame 9/11 when their crazed countrymen kill Christians and Shias and Ahmadis and women and children. As the Stones said, we can’t always get what we want. But if you try sometimes you get what you need.
We need Malala. The fact is – and I know most of you are in the habit of believing extraordinary things – that she did get shot by a man who didn’t want her to go to school; and she survived and now lives away because y’all want to kill her again. It’s not rocket science. Yes, there may be “thousands like her” in this country (that’s not something to be proud of, btw) and yes, she isn’t the only schoolchild to be almost murdered for going to school, but she is singular – and always has been – for not staying silent about it. Admire that, you half-wits, because it’s the opposite of what most of you Facebook-friendly, Twitter-savvy hypocrites have done in your lives.
When there was a shootout that killed citizens in a Kenyan shopping mall recently, party leaders and the head of state made statements about how sorry the nation is, and how all of Kenya will band together to mourn and heal. We, by comparison, do nothing when there are blasts against Christians. That’s not true; actually, instead of undiluted statements of support, we try and figure out why the Taliban “feel this way” and what “drove them” to this in the first place. It’s as if the government has decided the “minorities” are not really “us” and so deserve no mourning. It certainly feels that way. And so I say to them: grow a pair, cause Malala has, okay? Would it be so difficult to get up there and say “Those deranged beings murdered our people for no reason other than that they exist, and that’s really horrible of them”?
As far as the Nobel (Ignoble) Peace Prize goes, I’d rather see the Edhi Foundation win it for the selfless work they do everyday with little or no fanfare.
As it happens in Pakistan (“Caught Between Fashion And The Taliban”), the Nobel Prize was the topic du jour at the L’oreal Paris Bridal Week in Lahore. Though the title is evocative, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the name of a fashion week in Paris. It most definitely is not. It’s a fashion “weekend” in Lahore. Obviously none of the shows started on time, so people were chatting in the meantime and you could hear the syllables “lala” (as in “ooh-lala”, yes, but this was not Paris) whizzing past you like the freshest gossip. Within moments of settling down in one’s “row” it was apparent that everyone (who’s anyone, naturally) was talking about her. Then, suddenly, the lights dimmed, and skinny models walked out in beautiful clothes to the, wait for it, music from the opening credits of Downton Abbey.
It was like a Tea Party near the End of Days.
This is my third fashion week in Pakistan – I know I won’t, unlike Malala, live to tell the tale every time – so I have no judgment left in my system. Why the heck not, I thought to myself as the supremely confident models rolled out, one after another, each filled up with Fashion and undeterred by Terror. Let’s be Lady Mary, coz God knows we’ve got to have some distractions while this ship is going down.
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