I would rather be the 99%

Published: May 21, 2012

I would rather be the 99% than the 1%, any day, in Pakistan or any other place – if only I had the choice. PHOTO: AFP

When my husband and I moved to the US,  we knew that it wasn’t for good. Contrary to everybody’s assumptions, we knew that we were going to return to Pakistan, at some point in the meandering, distant future.

But we never imagined that it would be now, so suddenly, so unexpectedly, and under such sad circumstances.

As I sit here in the study of my in-laws’ house in Lahore this sunny April afternoon, looking out on a sumptuous garden decked with purple petunias, crimson lilies, snow-white roses and bright bougainvillea, listening to the chipper of birds and the low chatter of servants in the kitchen, New York seems like another planet – another time, another dimension, a past life that may or may not have even happened.

So many times we discussed this, our move back to Pakistan, my husband and I. Living in America, in a little 1-bedroom apartment complete with leaky faucets, mousey kitchens and batty landlords, independent for the first time, had unalterably changed us. While Occupy Wall Street was raging on in New York, we used to joke with each other about being the “covert Pakistani 1%” in the enthusiastic, indignant ranks of the “American 99%”.

“But I don’t think I could go back to living like the 1% or 5%  in Pakistan, the way we  grew up,” I used to say.

“I hate the idea of being waited on by a troop of servants when I know I’m perfectly capable of doing their chores myself. I hate the idea of  living in a two-story, four-bedroom mansion while a whole family sleeps, eats, dresses in a single cramped ‘quarter’, dusting and sweeping a dozen rooms that nobody uses. I just could not live in such a disparate situation.”

It wasn’t just upper-class guilt and a stubborn sense of egalitarianism rearing its head. There was also something else – the beauty and indelible satisfaction of doing things yourself, of building your physical world with your own hands. Of chopping the garlic, peeling the onion, painting the wall, scrubbing the bathtub,  carrying a nice heavy bag of groceries upstairs to your apartment.

Sure, I complained about it sometimes, but I was secretly proud of it too. For somebody who had never even fried an egg by herself (for lack of need), the daily struggle was a revelation. It was something you shared with those around you. You felt a camaraderie with the people you rode on the subway with, the people who shopped at your neighbourhood grocery store, the cab drivers, the receptionists, the waiters at your favourite restaurant. No matter who they were or where they came from, you had something more meaningful in common with them than just the colour of your passport. Call it class blindness or class ignorance, I loved the feeling.

And, naively, I believed we could replicate that sense of camaraderie and egalitarianism with the ‘common man’, in Pakistan. That we could forge an alternative, healthier, more rewarding way of living, different from that of our class and our our parents; we could live in a smaller house or apartment, for starters. We could learn to take public buses, and walk to the bazaar instead of taking the car or sending the a servant. We were young – we didn’t need servants obsequiously lingering about all day to feed our lethargy. If we had money to spare, we could put a poor man or woman through school or a training course for a skill he or she had always wanted to learn instead. We could live comfortably, but simply, with less material things, less “luxuries”, fewer TVs and cars and expensive dinner sets. It was possible, I insisted. We could reinvent ourselves in Lahore too!

My husband was sceptical, realistic.

We are who we are in Pakistan – the privileged. And it’s pointless to try to be anything else, because that can’t change. We just have to do the best we can in the roles we’ve been given.

I didn’t agree. I believed every person had the power to change their situation, even if in a very small way.

But now that we’re actually back in Pakistan, all that seems like selfish banter, a pipe dream, wholly insignificant in the larger picture. Suddenly, we find ourselves thrown into roles, situations and relationships that we never envisioned, never planned, never wanted. We find ourselves perpetuating the status quo, the class consciousness we wanted to break. I feel the Lahore lethargy seeping into my life, my mind, slowly sapping the vigour and determination I felt before. I don’t want to walk to al Fatah any more, people will stare. I don’t want to take the public bus, it’ll be hot and uncomfortable. I don’t want to iron my own clothes, because I’d rather sit at the computer or read a book or take a nap; besides, that’s what the maid is there for…right?

I often wish I was immune, the way people are, to the unpalatable realities we live with in Pakistan. I wish I could authoritatively give orders to the servants like they’re used to, shoo away that pesky beggar like she’s used to, tip the al Fatah boy with a crumpled Rs20 note because you have to give something, gloat over the few hundred rupees you “saved” from the cloth merchant because you always get a bargain – I wish I could occupy the upper-class woman’s “role” with ease and flair,  but if after 22 plus years of living in Pakistan I’m still not able to do it without extreme discomfort , will I ever be?

That’s not me. And I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want that “power”, that patronising, suffocating power, and the guilt that comes with it.

Perhaps it’s impossible after all, to create that kind of life in Pakistan – the kind of life we had in America. For all its problems and its flaws, life there taught us not to take even the basics for granted. It taught us the value of hard work and instilled in us a sense of equality and humanity we had never experienced in Pakistan – a kind of class blindness. We could live in any sort of neighbourhood we chose, make friends with anyone we wanted, eat and shop where we liked, do any kind of job; and there was no judgment, no binding social norms and family legacies to contend with.

It’s true that there will always be someone who is less privileged than you. But the divide need not be so wide, so unjust, so tragic it makes you want to cry, if you only think for a moment about the difference between you and the man who cooks for you in the heat of the kitchen all day. I would rather be the 99% than the 1%, any day, in Pakistan or any other place – if only I had the choice.

To view the original version of this post, click here.

Read more by Manal here.

manal.khan

Manal Khan

A freelance writer and photographer based in Madrid, Spain, who loves old cities, tall trees, dark chocolate, and being inspired. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism and a Lahore native. Manal blogs at "Windswept Words" (manalkhan.wordpress.com)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muzzamil asad

    Great article but watch out pseudo intellectuals are loading their weapon of criticism to shoot you. you might get first aid in the form of appreciation but trust me it wont be enough. May God be with you Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    hate to sound cynical….but bharey pait ki baatein hain….its really not that easy living poor, hell even lower middle-class and ‘connections-less’ in this country….nicely written but i just don’t buy it. sounds too much like another starstruck upper class member of the bourgeoisie romanticizing the idea of being the proletariat….Recommend

  • Samuel

    The psychological research of Zimbardo-The prison simulation is very appropriate here. Oh, and I you need to be terribly stupid to come back to Pakistan. NY is the dream. Recommend

  • Adeel

    Good for you…
    Now do something about it.Recommend

  • Abbas

    Good read, thanks.Recommend

  • SA

    Well, actually from within you don’t want to change. Who’s stopping you from making your own dinner, washing or ironing your clothes, riding the bus or taking a rickshaw? Nobody. If you want to live a poor woman’s life in Pakistan, you can do it but you don’t want to. Every other night you want to go out for a dinner with your spouse to some plush restaurant on Main Boulevard, Gulberg or to the Intercon. Why don’t you go to the hotel at the Railway Station? Who’s stopping you? People staring at you? Come on, that’s a lame excuse! Dress and walk like one of them. They won’t stare at you. You want to be pampered around by servants and maasis. Why don’t you give her a day off and live her life for a change? While writing this article, I’m sure, some one else made a cup of coffee for you, some one else prepared the dinner for you, some one else made and dusted the room for you. Wake up Madam, come out of your cocoon, feel and live the world you want to live. Go to an orphanage, see if you can help them with all your affluence. Go to a nearby village, dress up like those women and sit with them for a while. They’ll welcome you. Ride a bus to Moghulpura. Nobody will stop you. Get up and go ahead instead of dreaming about NY where men, women and rats live the same lives!!Recommend

  • http://thedabbabrigade.wordpress.com RiffyR

    I felt this too but always thought of it as something unexplainable until this article. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Excellent piece.

    I moved to Pakistan a few years ago. But it was only a few months back that an apparently insignificant event opened my eyes to the reality of my existence here and my relationship with my “other countrymen”. I gave a ride to a police constable standing on the rode in my civic. I was trying to be all brotherly with him, trying to explain to him my occupation and trying to convey to him how much I value his services as a police man, basically trying to find a common ground between us. And here he was thinking about just one thing and guess what it was. When I dropped him he said ” oh big officer, can you please give me 100 rupees, I will use it for the fare to my town. May you office grow”. At that moment I realized that he and I inhabit two different planets, though physically being at the same place. Since then, I know , I may dislike the current setup, I may wish for a social revolution, but I must not pretend that the 95 % are part of/ are alike to the 5 % and that is the reality I should live with.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Reading you after quite some time, not very convincing. You know that you’ll are privileged and you say you are uncomfortable with it in Pakistan and can’t do much about it, now that’s not true. Satisfaction is to be comfortable in your own skin, be it in New York of Lahore it’s up to you and really not that hard.
    Like the way you write and the topics you chose.Recommend

  • akka

    Why don’t you have the choice to be the 99% in Pakistan?

    “I don’t want to walk to al Fatah any more, people will stare. I don’t want to take the public bus, it’ll be hot and uncomfortable. I don’t want to iron my own clothes, because I’d rather sit at the computer or read a book or take a nap; besides, that’s what the maid is there for…right?”

    Sounds like you don’t have the courage of your convictions.Recommend

  • Clarus

    there is a divide because you believe there is a divide. Please accept the fact that you are not a Greek shipping heiress, which should ease and mitigate your upper-class guilt. Always meet, greet, respect and value people according to how they are towards you, and you likely to find some quality people who think in the same (indifferent) wave length. Recommend

  • Good Read :)

    If we had money to spare, we could put a poor man or woman through school or a training course for a skill he or she had always wanted to learn instead

    Halle-actual-lujah!! More people need to think like exactly this.
    You seem to feel bad about coming from a good background, you shouldn’t, a lot of people want to be in your position, but tbh you seem level headed and more importantly in a position to be able to help! A lot of people object to people having servants, you’re putting a roof over their heads and giving them an income for a job that is safe and honest…but that shouldn’t mean that for generations to come the servents are still servants, they should be allowed to progress too…and with the quote that I’ve quoted above, it could probably happen! So don’t wish to be of the unfortunate, but rather to bring the unfortunate out of their misery and up to your level if not further than you.

    Good read though. :)Recommend

  • Asad

    We tend to become model citizens when we are overseas. Take the first step invite your maid to sit with you on the dinning table and have meal with her. Will you do it?Recommend

  • Rus

    Impossible to live a simple life with money in your pockets ? Are you kidding me ? You want to live a life of comfort and servants doing all your work, You just love it, so stop pretending you don’t like it. Our servant quarter is used as a store room and we have only 1 part time maid who just cleans the house. Everything else we do it ourselves. I maintain my garden everyday, I make my own breakfast, I make my own tea, I clean my dishes, I buy my groceries, I installed my own UPS, I clean and polish my cars, I water 55 plant pots in my balcony everyday. I maintain my generator, change its oil, put diesel in it everyday. and so on. All of this when I am 26 year old man with a very successful business.
    Yes I do get asked why don’t I hire servants. My answer, I love doing my own work. So just please stop pretending you life doing your own work, because you don’t.Recommend

  • Salma

    LOL – this person is on a short lived guilt trip – she will get over soon and start enjoying the privileges.Recommend

  • anas butt

    Manal, you do have a choice. you could donate all your wealth and move to a village in the rural pakistan and start over. Recommend

  • American

    Though I’ve grown up and spent most of my life in the US (with many years in New York), I did spend a few years in Pakistan. And unlike the posters above, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. You said it better than I could.

    To be honest, the differences in the work and school/university environment are unfortunately, just as profound. My friends and I also made commitments to one another that we would maintain the same work ethic we had in the US….. but the environment in Pakistan just works against you.

    Anyway I wish you all the best if you decide to remain in Pakistan and thank you for the read. On a side note, I do hope that Imran Khan’s promise of bringing meritocracy into the society comes to fruition… it might lead to the good changes that you want (with the blessings of Allah of course). Recommend

  • Bilal

    Excellent article Manal, I also recently returned from the US and feel the exact same way you do. Dont mind the haters comments, they never had the chance to see the real world and experience real life which is why they pass such judgements.Recommend

  • rav

    AOA,
    TYPICAL female Pakistani ungrateful , thankful and unhappy.with life u all ways find a reason to complain and their is no situation perfect for u. Instead of complaining about s tart doing some thing Recommend

  • Mak

    You do have a choice. Donate the majority of your money to charity, and live your dream.Recommend

  • Umair

    My bro is an MD in NY. When he visits Pakistan, he sometime cooks for everybody at home. He’d help in other home-tasks. He’d often walk in the nearby areas instead of car. He’d meet with poor people as friends with no class-divide. If there is something that stops a person doing this all, it is ego and laziness, nothing else.Recommend

  • Asad

    @Bilal: If people who have seen the ‘real world’ are like you i’d rather not be one of them.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Excellent piece ! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    I am very curious about life in Pakistan. I have a very close pakistani friend in lahore and i’ve seen pics of her house ( more like mansion ) in lahore, they have a huge lawn and their house looks like a Karan johar movie set to me.Her dad’s a lawyer and somehow my interactions with her have left me wondering about the middle class in Pakistan.Is there one ? :P
    I’ve come across the filthy rich pakistanis and pakistanis living in abject poverty. But where is the middle class ? And how would one define the middle class in Pakistan ?
    My friend’s told me that people do NOT live in apartments in Pakistan ? :O So does everyone live in independent houses and bunglows? Aren’t such houses expensive?

    In India, atleast in the metros, only the filthy rich can afford bunglows or independent houses- usually the business class.Even a reasonable/medium or even small sized bunglow costs an absolute fortune in India. The middle class ( including the IT professionals, doctors, engineers,mbas, teachers,lawyers and other professionals) lives in apartments. We do most of our chores ourselves and don’t have servants waiting on us hand and foot even though we can afford them.

    My comment might seem silly but i’m so curious. In a country like pakistan where the concept of apartments does not exist, where does the middle class live? Is real estate real cheap in Pakistan ? Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Bilal: I just have to respond to your comment and say you are not just wrong but your comment smacks of immaturity and misplaced values.Recommend

  • manish

    there’s no use repeating the thing that has already been said.
    you want your country to be the best nation in world. and there is no problem in this.
    but you simply do not have the courage, conviction and will to work towards it.
    so, madam just chill, there’s a new movie in the theatre close to your house. enjoy it.Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    ^Gross generalization bilal….even more stark given you don’t know anything about anyone who has commented here…..some of them may have more ‘real’ experiences than you might think…Recommend

  • Vikram

    There is a saying in India “Dhobi ka kutta, naa ghar kaa naa ghat ka”. Once some one has lived in a country like US it is hard to go back and live the same life. Manal you do have a choice,to start with go volunteer in hospital for poor people.Recommend

  • Amrita

    When I went to Pakistan (Islamabad) I went to sadar in public van, 10C I think, much to the horror of my friends who think weird people use public transport. I also walked over to my aunt’s place 3 km away instead of driving there. Why? Because this is the kind of lifestyle I follow in Canada and I like it.
    All these people ranting about how it’s impossible to live in Pakistan like you would in Western countries, and even on a side note, women who think they don’t have any liberty in Pakistan just like to complain. They are too used to their sheltered lives, and blame the environment for their own inability to do what they want to do. Recommend

  • dante

    If you actually cooked something for everyone rather than throw your two American cents at us, it would have been an actual change.

    I know exactly what pathetic life Pakistanis live in NYC. Move south and you’ll find better living conditions.Recommend

  • papoo piplia

    NYC is a cosmopolitan city like Karachi. Hard to replicate that in a local place like Lahore.Recommend

  • http://pakistani-revival.blogspot.com Ovais

    OMG !!! i dont waannna be rich … I had no choice …. Invest in Pakistan its ailing stock market… invest in entrepeuners to increase that to 2 percent then 3 then 4 and so on .. stop whining , OMG i never wanted to be rich … grow up ..Recommend

  • http://pakistani-revival.blogspot.com Ovais

    and if you really wanna see a city where class difference is diminishing … kindly check out the heart of pakistan karachi Recommend

  • Saad_K

    It is so hard to have a privileged life in Pakistan. One cannot understand the torture and suffering that goes with having servants and maids at your helm. Don’t even get me started on the agony that is experienced by our class for not being able to take a public bus ride or go to the local shopping mall on foot. It’s so unfair. Recommend

  • Bilal

    @parvez, asad – bitter truth hurt much?Recommend

  • k-h-a-n

    @Manal
    For starters you can shed some of your guilt by donating this fur coat you are donning…that’d give you some boost…I assume you don’t have kids yet…lets see if you still have the same zeal left in you when you have a couple. besides I didn’t buy it because it seems you always had a privileged life and don’t know how things work in a joint family which I think your in laws are..so wake up tomorrow, quit your job if you have any and start by cooking breakfast for all of them, then start cleaning, by the time you are done prepare lunch, and then start ironing everyone’s clothes. now look back and check your guilt…if its still left you should attend to that beautiful garden you described in the article…and then its dinner time. Now if you still have some complaints left about your first world problems, don’t whine…tomorrow, you can resume the same duties. now lets see how long it lasts and how soon you get all your servants back.
    @ Nandita
    Lets just start with, Pakistani people are rich, their government is poor. By rich i dont mean OC rich..its just that no body dies out of hunger..this can be seen by the fact that our people still havent started something like French revolution. If I m not wrong, 50% of people in Karachi live in apartments, But in Lahore majority live in bungalows. No, the real estate is not cheap. its just that Pakistani people will live hand to mouth but they sure as hell want a roof over their heads so they manage it by hook or by crook. and as far as the servants are concerned, we have them due to shear laziness or the women in our houses cannot keep up with the amount of work in a joint family system so they hire helpRecommend

  • Sadaf

    @Nandita.:
    Middle class does exist in Pakistan although it is almost negligible when compared to India. Oh and apartments definitely exist but you will find them mostly in Karachi.Recommend

  • Hassan

    Lovely article.

    Dont lose the dream. The change always starts with one person. Change yourself and you will watch others change around you. And thats a little pleasure i always enjoy whenever i visit pakistan. Little acts of kindness all around go a long way and folks return kindess much amplified.

    Show them all it can be done! There is another way!!Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Bilal: The truth as you see it, is making you uncomfortable. I on the other hand have experienced a lot and the truth is what I chose to make and comfortably live with. Recommend

  • Vigilant

    @Nandita.:
    Yes real state in Pakistan is cheap. i had an Indian friend from Mumbai who told me that the cost of apartment his family living is more than 10million Indian rupees……i was shocked as in similar price in Pakistan u have a good independent house or mansion at good location. Most of the Pakistani middle class live in independent houses or mansions. Recommend

  • Vigilant

    @Author
    Your Article is good but in the end excuse is not acceptable as excuses are for weak or lazy people who just want to talk.

    Here in KSA cars are cheap and petrol will cost you less than water but i never bought a car because i don’t need one and i love to walk to my workplace, malls and other places.Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    No, don’t just give up everything. Be thankful to God that He has provided you all of this when He can easily take it away from you, the time you spend thinking of becoming the 99% (what is this anyway, Wall Street?) will be more fruitful if you just thank God for all that you have. If you want to kiss that life good bye, then fork it over to me. :PRecommend

  • Vikram

    @Amrita: “When I went to Pakistan (Islamabad) I went to sadar in public van, 10C I think, much to the horror of my friends who think weird people use public transport. I also walked over to my aunt’s place 3 km away instead of driving there”

    There is whole lot of difference when you have dollars to spend and you go visit Pakistan for few few days / few weeks then live all your life there. You walked to your Aunt’s house because you thought walking was good for you. If you use public transport in Canada what is a big deal if you went to sadar in public van.Money can’t buy one happiness. Manal is trying to find that inner happiness but little things like taking public transport make her feel like “going to moon”.Recommend

  • Confused

    Enjoy luxuries while you can, stop feeling guilty about it. And stop with the public musing too, you’ll only enrage the envious.Recommend

  • Bilal

    @parves – your post and most of every other commenter proves the point that I was trying to make. People who have been exposed to life in the real world and experienced the way of life in advanced countries have developed an open mind and are more receptive to other peoples points of view even if they are not in line with their own. What you all said reflects the closed minded, intolerant mindset that prevails in Pakistan due to lack of exposure where anyone who says something that doesnt appeal to you, or is against your beliefs,, is immediately subjected to criticism or beaten up. This is why we are still in the stone ages while other countries are developing cures for diseases and launching space exploration missions to Mars.Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    Lol, first time I’ve heard about someone not being able to live like a poor person…. I’m sorry, but you are either a liar or living in some kind of highly romanticized fairy-tale Pakistan.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Nandita.: “The middle class ( including the IT professionals, doctors, engineers,mbas, teachers,lawyers and other professionals) lives in apartments. We do most of our chores ourselves and don’t have servants waiting on us hand and foot even though we can afford them.”

    There is nothing wrong with doing chores for ones family. Things have changed. Millions of people move to work in cities away from families and need a place to stay. Now a days new professionals have money to buy their own houses/apertment style condos. Apartment type homes are much cheaper may be around $40,000 and up, for some one who just started working. An apartment in Karachi or some place may be quiet different from one in Gurgoan. Apartment homes may be like 3-4 bedroom with 1-2 bathroom, air conditioned, with washing machines, stoves, referigerator.

    I think some rich people still have servants and drivers. Modern professionals may not like that life style.

    Many people still own single family homes and mansions. One of Ambanis brothers has most expensive house/mansion in the world. I think he spent $2 billion dollars to build his house

    An apartment can mean different thing to different people.
    Check out the following website for what apartments look like in India.
    http://www.apartmentsgurgaon.in/Ready-to-Move-In-Apartments-Gurgaon.phpRecommend

  • Parvez

    @Bilal: …and what makes you think that you alone have this exposure ?
    You contradict yourself by this comment of yours. OK, lets drop this as it will go nowhere.Recommend

  • Anaa

    Sounds like someone just needed an excuse to write. LolRecommend

  • geeko

    @Sadaf:
    Proportionally, the middle-class is virtually the same as in India, which floats around 35-40% (read “Consumption conundrum” published in Dawn News, 23/03/2012) and it’s not limited to Karachi (lol, some here really take Karachi for, well, NY) but to Peshawar (to some extent, astonishingly), Lahore and esp. Islamabad too.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Samuel:

    Some times people have to go back because of their Visa requirements.Recommend

  • H Chaudhry

    Manal, there is always a choice ! You made one choice to go back, now you can make more good choices. You say you are priviliged ! If that means rich, how about helping some childern go through schooling ? You can just go to SOS village and sponsor a child or two. How about helping childern of your servens, cant you help them with education, skill development so they dont have to be servents ?

    Similarly many many other initiatives. Look at the women in Pakistan. Perhaps, thats the area you can help some. There are always choinces.

    Perhaps, some day people like me who are living in US and wants to go back can come back because of example set up folks like you ! Good luck.Recommend

  • http://merapassionpakistan.com/english/talking-back/ Kenneth John

    the article cover many shades of life but you do not get what you always want, but we can always fight for our rights and stand by our moralsRecommend

  • Hassan

    @vikram:

    Ive been to my friends appartments in india as well as in pakistan. There is no difference. However, on average, i would say the appartments are pakistan are larger and more luxurious. There is a whole range of prices and types. Here is an example of some available in karachi for the profesisonals you mentioned:

    http://www.emaar.com/pakistan/crescent-bay/Recommend

  • Vikram

    One can be a part of 1% and still do great things. I mean1 % that actually works to change lives of poor or needy people. I bet there are many people doing such things in Pakistan as well as India. I remember watching story about a school in Indian Punjab. It is a girl residential schools which is doing lot of things with minimal help from any charity or government. A part of education process is girls grow their own food, cook and clean in turns. Older girls take turns teaching younger kids. Girls wake up early in the morning and start their day with prayers. there are real teachers also. During examinations no one watches the kids. School management .is so confident about their students that they offer Rs 25000 to any one who can catch a single kid cheating..

    One of the girl in this residential school is Muslim. She is free to read Quran or say prayers or fast without any restriction.Recommend

  • John B

    Welcome to America, any time.

    It is not the issue of hiring the 99%, but are you doing it properly and fairly-with mutual dignity and self respect. Does the 99% when hired by the hour does a honest hour of work?

    It is not the colossal structures that make America. It is the self dignity that makes America and you can see that emerge in the faces of all present day immigrants, every day.Recommend

  • http://struggle.com.pk/ Imran Kamyana

    It’s true that there will always be someone who is less privileged than you

    And who told you so? Do something else than doing to catharses by writing this type of “sympathetic” articles for the proletariat and lower class. You just want to lower the level of their pain and not want to change the system which throws majority into such misery and pain. You are one more beneficiary of this rotten class based capitalist system. Recommend

  • Gul Khan

    The questions of today can’t be solved by speeches, but only through blood and iron.Recommend

  • Hira Z

    You are good a soul Manal A Khan.Recommend

  • My Two Rupees

    @Author
    I do understand, albeit somewhat, how you feel. You feel the guilt of being the elite, of being born privileged in a world of under privileged. That is good.

    However it should be noted that there is NOTHING whatsoever stopping you from doing what you want to do. Unlike some situation where breaking of norms results in physical backlash, the only opposition you will face, for say using public transport and doing other common-man things, will be stares and gossip from your so-called ‘friends’. We all face this issue of wanting to break away from prevailing conditions and yours is quite easy to do. So I’m not going to be very critical of you right now, you can choose to change. Although if you don’t change after this and keep making excuses for your lack of will power and self-control you deserve no sympathies at all.Recommend

  • Bilawal Tunio

    Geeko, the cities of Punjab are local cities with a homogenous population. The fast pace lifestyle of Karachi, its multi ethnic and multilingual population, its liberal culture, it being the economic heartland and the financial backbone of Pakistan can directly be compared to NYC. Karachi even has its own Bronx called Lyari. Just as people from small town of the US call NYC dangerous, people from pinds of the Punjab who have little idea on cosmopolitan living call Karachi dangerous. Lots of similarities. Just as Newyorkers call village immigrants as rednecks, Karachites call them paidoos.Recommend

  • Cynical

    Like your spirit.Keep it up.Recommend

  • Critical Thinker

    It seems to me that some have missed the point.

    The author, frankly, would prefer to be a member of the “99%” “over there”, as opposed to the “1%” “here”.

    First, one must keep in mind that the quality of life for most of the 99% in the US, is at a level that many of the less fortunate in Pakistan can only dream. A truth that, unfortunately, many Americans seem to take for granted.

    Second, and I am only guessing, there is a freedom in being free that cannot be explained or communicated adequately, and a satisfaction in being a part of a 99% that can still experience that freedom to be who one chooses to be, that can accomplish great things on one’s own, and that is a part of the larger “99%” experience.

    Third, on the other hand, there is nothing to prevent those who live in Pakistan from helping those less fortunate than themselves.Recommend

  • Chun

    Hi,

    While I liked the thought behind the article – the fact that at least you are aware and sympathetic of the realities of a common person in Pakistan – I feel that everyone has a choice. Remember our college professors who went to Ivy Leagues and belonged to upper middle class families, but rode public transport, in Pakistan? Didn’t have cellphones, did not have extravagant weddings and actually empathized with the real working class. And sure, you can try and be the 99% in whatever way possible within the ‘lifestyle’ that has been thrust upon you or expected of you but you can also,as many people here suggested, maybe a few days a week, take a ride on the Daewoo to work, help someone who needs it etc., just to remain sensitized? Even though it may sound like a field trip, maybe it’ll bring that much needed dose of reality we all crave for in our daily lives? :)

    Also, it has alot to do with living alone. I have moved to Karachi without family, and while my inlaws’ house provides me with all the luxuries of life back in my hometown, we live in a flat here, pay our bills, work to support our lifestyle, get pipes fixed and cockroaches exterminated, cook, the works. If you put yourself out there, the challenges are the same, but probably less romanticized in your home country. But it does keep me real, so maybe you should try it out? Anything is possible! Recommend