“I hate materialistic people, beta, but I love my designer clothes”

Published: August 20, 2016

It was a pleasant surprise to find another a Pakistani on that seven hour flight. But what came next was not pleasant. PHOTO: AP

Whilst travelling from Doha to London, I had a 60-year-old Pakistani aunty sitting next to me on my flight. To be honest, it was a rather pleasant surprise to find another Pakistani on board. What came next was a surprise, but not a pleasant one.

She began talking to me.


Without any breaks.

She started off by telling me that she is from a rich business family in Karachi and handed me her husband’s business card right after. She went on to tell me that her only son, who lives in England, recently got divorced. She let me in on the nitty-gritty details about how he was hoaxed by the girl and her family. She went as far to say that the girl was psychotic and created numerous problems for her son.

Then she asked me if I am married, to which I responded that I’m not. She took that as an invitation to tell me how to choose the ‘right girl’ for myself and lecture me on the flaws of aaj kal ki larkian (the girls these days) and said there are no sinf e nazuk (women) anymore. I could tell she had something against aaj kal ki larkian, who according to her, are not willing to do anything and everything for their husbands. They just don’t care about them is what she said.

She went on to elaborate how she still takes care of her husband herself, even though she has servants and has never cooked or done any household chores. I nodded my head in response, but she kept at it and further degraded aaj kal ki larkian by comparing them to herself.

The conversation then drifted towards the topic of materialism. Boy was she passionate about that particular topic. She told me how much she despised materialism, and how everyone around her is so materialistic. She narrated an incident about a funeral she went to, where a relative of the deceased hugged her as she was leaving, and then complimented her jora. She asked,

“Is it Asim Jofa?”

“I don’t know what it is. Could be Sapphire.”

She went on to say that she only buys her clothes from Asim Jofa, Sana Safinaz, and a few other high end designers, but at the same time, she despises women for being materialistic and that too at a funeral, taubah!

The conversation then shifted back to her son, saying how good it was that we brought him up in our conversation. Truth be told, I wouldn’t label this as a conversation, it was more of a one sided rant. She wanted to tell me more about him and she started telling me what a simple boy he is and is not brand conscious at all. However, she added,

Allah Ka shukar hai beta, aisee baat nahe hai. Har cheez hai.

(Thank God, child. It’s not that we don’t have it. We have everything)

“My son always wears shirts from BOSS. But recently, he has stopped talking about these shirts since I told him not to waste money.”

While she was saying this, I looked at my shirt, wondering where I got it from.

The horror would not stop. Even though my responses were mostly ‘okay’ or ‘yes,’ it did not deter her. As if a verbal description of her son wasn’t enough, she started showing me pictures of him on her phone. She asked me if I found him handsome and I nodded, out of politeness.

Next, she showed me messages from her niece, a scholarship student at IBA, all the while praising her niece’s intelligence and smartness. I somehow became privy to all her relatives details. She even showed me a text that her niece sent her – one that showered her aunt with adoration and praise.

“Look how nice I am,” she said to me.

Once again, I was left with no other choice but to nod.

Finally, the much awaited landing announcement reverberated through the plane. The aunty turned to me and told me to recite Ya Hafeezo a number of times along with her. I pursed my lips and nodded, again.

The reason I shared this painful experience was to emphasise how materialism has become inherent in our lives, to the extent that we don’t even realise it. A mature 60-year-old woman despises others for being exactly what she is. Isn’t that hypocrisy?

Most people have begun to value a person based on the brands they wear as opposed to the individual’s integrity and honesty. Relationships with inanimate possessions are more cherished than those with the ones with actual people. The worst part is we fail to recognise these flaws. What happened to modesty and humbleness?

This seven hour long ordeal made me realise how our society has changed. The aunty made me feel ignorant for not knowing high end brands that are oh-so-important. But then I realised, it doesn’t really matter.

As for you aunty, I think I now know why your ex-daughter-in-law left.

Abbis Haider

Abbis Haider

The author is a graduate of King Edward Medical University and has studied journalism and sociology from Punjab University. He is currently conducting research in health in the US. He tweets as @Abbis_Haider (twitter.com/Abbis_Haider).

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

  • Parvez

    That was a fast paced read……liked it especially the end.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    I would get a beer or two as that would shut her down.Recommend

  • syma fysl

    “The worst part is that we fail to recognise these flaws….” ..the main theme of whole piece…..sorry to say but many of the old people are double faced…..jealous of today’s generation. …because they did not have today’s technology and luxurious life in their past……I heard such stories from many….specially from mother in laws……we must make our heart and brain generous to accept others……whether it is mom in law or daughter in law…..or brother or sister. ….Recommend

  • ovais

    i thought the aunty wanted to set you up with her son .. :pRecommend

  • Manal

    hahahah that is so typical. Happened to me once as well on an international flight! Auntie started to tell me all about her son working in turkey. In hopes of a rishta may be lolRecommend

  • Sabika

    I know a bride who didn’t care about anything as long as her luxury shoes were the highlight of her wedding. If it were upto her, she would sit on the stage with her legs across a table in the front just so everyone can notice her expensive shoes. Now, her husband barely spends time with her but makes it upto her by buying expensive shoes and bags and she’s very happy with such a relationship. This is just one story. When marriage was talked about in a group of my friends, majority of the girls agreed that they wouldn’t mind their husbands cheating as long as their “high-end” needs are taken care of. I don’t hold the same opinion but people around me pressurise me by telling how money is everything now and i should also find myself someone very rich. You have no idea how much this nonsense is stressing me outRecommend

  • Patwari

    What’s wrong with a bored old woman prattling along? To be more precise,
    a well to do housewife. Woman like these, a housfrau, are in every country,
    society, culture. There was no need for the author to feel traumatized.
    And to use her as a yardstick to gauge a culture, a society, a norm, a nation!?!
    Once the flight took off, and two hours into it, the blogger, with a polite excuse,
    could have changed seats. Or, fervently, watched a movie, video, etc. etc.
    Get a life, There are all kind of people in this world. Some of them just simpleRecommend

  • Patwari

    Er, well, see, your friends are right, it’s true. MONEY is everything!!.
    The love disappears after 3 or 4 years. Then it’s the long haul.
    Hopefully with a caring, intelligent partner. Try making ends meet
    on a regular salary, or when the kids and bills start coming, then you
    wish you had married a comfortably well off OR even a RICH guy.
    Love does not pay bills, buy clothes, put food on the table and pay
    the rent. Living from paycheck to paycheck, is not on anybody’s agenda.
    After all, it’s still your decision, after the final analysis.
    This is just two cents advice.Recommend

  • Myrna Minkoff

    If I were in your place, I would be more annoyed by her insistence on talking to me and not the content of her speech. Airplanes are not for airing opinions in cramped surroundings!Recommend

  • No need

    I think you are confusedRecommend

  • Parvez

    Girl……you need the find new friends….and quick.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I am one of ‘ the old people ‘ you mention …..and let me tell you that my lot are not in the least jealous of ‘ your generation ‘ , as a matter of fact we worry about ‘ your generation ‘ just as our parents worried about us and when we see ‘ your generation ‘ prosper we feel proud…..because only we know that we had a hand in bringing it about. If you can’t see that…..look again.Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    The worst thing is, that it is coming like Tsunami – you like it or not, you cant get away without it. It used to be “some” people’s priority but today, it seems to be everyone’s priority. I was terrified a few years back when I returned home after a few years abroad – everyone was all about cell phones and cars, as if nothing else in life is left to discuss. Its not only girls, its everyone.Recommend

  • jawad syed

    That would be an extremely open aunty, or she prepared her speach for a girl and the author was unlucky to be thereRecommend

  • MR.X

    truth has been spokenRecommend

  • MR.X

    Good to know some women do realize this fact, Iqbal also wrote about people getting materialistic in the future. His prediction came true. Women are becoming more inclined to money these daysRecommend

  • Seemi Asif

    Despising others for being exactly what we are…….nothing can be more true for people who are hypocrites, superficial and fake! Sadly barring a few decent souls this is now our national traitRecommend

  • Sane

    You can’t judge the society by talking a lady in flight for just seven hrs company. What she talked was just normal and you can’t be judgemental about her and those she talked about.Recommend

  • Nerd

    Seriously,aunties like these are the sole reasons i dont attend weddings.They think that the well educated modern women are materialistic .The reality is the old generations including our parents have been fed upon materialism.If u ask me i think this aunty was jealous of all the young independant girls as she herself was’nt smart enough to get into a university.
    Aunty i pity you.Recommend