Umair Kazi

A strategist who blogs at

Aunty Pussy, butterflies and social shenanigans

Don’t get the wrong idea. Aunty Pussy is just the title character in Tender Hooks, a book I just read – and what a crazy read it has been. This little paperback is a piece of work that’s sure to be misunderstood on many levels. I’m not what you call a hardcore reader (I manage to consume one or two titles a month) but this is surely the finest example of “don’t judge a book by its cover” on my bookshelf. At first glance, one co-worker described it as a Pakistani erotica. Another thought it to be an attempt to “undermine Pakistani ...

Read Full Post
December 17, 2010

Why do you wake up in the morning?

In the 70s, there lived in a make shift two bedroom apartment in Mumbai, a lower-middle class family who did small-time trading with Arab merchants for a living. Today, that family owns not one, but two of the biggest private sector conglomerates in the world. Today, two brothers from that family control the biggest fortunes in the world. The elder of the Ambanis, a fiercely competitive Indian called Mukesh, is worth an astonishing $29 billion. Here’s my question: why does the 53-year-old magnate still go to work? According to the regional averages, he has about 10 years to live. Even if he stopped ...

Read Full Post

What brand are you?

If you fell off the face of the earth tomorrow what would people around you say about you – once they got over the fact that you were gone? Would they remember any particular aspect of you? Would you be remembered as the guy that kept people entertained at the office? Would you be remembered as the girl who wouldn’t quit talking? How about the guy that kept taking too many pictures with his cell phone? Or just an annoying brat that asked too many questions? Or the guy that immediately adds you on Facebook after a brief meeting somewhere? Like ...

Read Full Post

The real entrepreneurs of Pakistan

Shakeel operates a DVD rental shop in the building across the street from where I live. It’s nothing too fancy, just a couple of shelves in a six-by-four feet space, in a market dominated by tailors and kapra walas. He comes in at about 4 pm every day, and takes the 10 pm bus back home. All day, he rents out pirated copies of the latest Hollywood and Bollywood flicks to clients at his little shop. Shakeel’s a young guy, maybe 24, with glasses that look remarkably similar to mine. His mother doesn’t let him go to his shop if ...

Read Full Post

Wanted: Trophy wife/millionaire husband

I have this strange habit of reading while sitting on the toilet. It doesn’t need to be anything in particular; as long as there are words to read, anything will do. In a hurry, I often pick up the nearest piece of newspaper on my way to the washroom. While that may sound gross to some, what I read in today’s early morning ritual is much more so. The reading of choice today was the last page of the classified section: the page that contains the “Matrimonial” segment. In the neatly divided “Bride”, “Groom”, and “Marriage Bureau” subcategories, were entries that ...

Read Full Post

How to win boardroom battles

There are two ways to sell a solution. The first is the one we’re trained at school with. Do your homework. Learn facts. Test a hypothesis. Come to a conclusion. Create a data set to prove that the proposed solution is logically deducted and scientifically designed to work. You spend ten days finding out everything you need to know about a problem and summarize it on to a piece of paper that suggests a solution based on that data. You show said piece of paper to the other person. Here’s the suggestion, and here’s proof that it’ll work. But there’s another way, ...

Read Full Post

We don’t like coffee, we like the idea of coffee

Between Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi, a new coffee place opens just about every week. From a marketing point of view, I find this to be fascinating. We’re generally a tea drinking nation. The caffeine that runs through our veins has been passed down though generations via a karak cup of tea. There is no Pak Coffee House. And yet, today we’re all gung-ho about the coffee, a tleast in the higher rungs of the social ladder. Places like MM Alam Road and Zamzama are littered with these little cafes. How come? I think it’s a triumph in product positioning. We like the idea of ...

Read Full Post

‘The Zionists did it’ and other conspiracy theories

I’ve heard more conspiracy theories these past couple of weeks than I would like to care for. It seems that the Zionists, Freemasons and Indian spy agency RAW have been collaborating on a series of coordinated strikes on me and my small yet suspiciously detrimental-to-the-future-of-the-world social circle. Conspiracy 1: Did you know that there were four Blackwater (now called Xe but we still like the old name because it sounds more evil) agents on board the doomed Air Blue flight? Presumably they were forcing the pilot to crash into the nearby Kahuta nuclear base but the heroic pilot crashed into the mountains ...

Read Full Post

Dear (name), Eid Mubarak!

This eid, my mother got an sms from my aunt’s number. It was signed “From Sobia”. Funny thing is, that’s not my aunt’s name. Upon further inquiry, we found out that my aunt had really liked that particular message and had forwarded it as eid greetings to everybody in her phone book, without bothering to change the name. Welcome to the age of automated emotional bonds. Thanks to technology, “Send to all” will be the weapon of choice for every occasion. I predict that very soon, phone manufacturers will simply build an “Auto-wish” feature into their cell phones. Right out of the ...

Read Full Post

The trouble with ‘all you can eat’ deals

They got it wrong again. This happens every Ramazan. Every upscale eating place in Pakistan starts advertising their “all you can eat” offers. I think it’s a poor choice of words. It should be “All you want to eat”. Brings back memories of when we used to say stuff like “Teacher, can I go to drink water?” and they would scold us and tell us that it should be “May I go to drink water?” I can do a lot of things. Like leap off a building, for example. But the things I can do and the things I want to ...

Read Full Post