On my way to work today, I saw a somewhat discreet advertisement for a new cafe-cum-art gallery-cum-designer clothes store in Islamabad. This is not the first of its kind. It might be the first to combine all three under the same roof but we have plenty of other establishments of the same ilk. Swanky eating spots, exclusive clothes boutiques and high-brow art galleries showcasing some heftily priced artwork – seem to be sprouting up with alarming speed and frequency in a country that by all accounts and estimates is headed for an apocalyptic social and economic meltdown along with a revolution led by self-serving bigots parading as men of God.

I’m confused.

Countries about to explode or implode (take your pick) shouldn’t be busy trying to provide goods that are unaffordable and potentially capable of being declared illegal in the near (shaped by a revolution led by bigots) future.

So are these entrepreneurs completely clueless or callous or both? Or are we all just kidding about impending doom?

In a country where bombings take out scores of people on a daily basis, where political leaders are shot dead in broad daylight, murderers are crowned heroes and the list of heinous crimes committed against humanity and the state by all and sundry is too large to list in one blog post; such economic activity seems like an anomaly.

Maybe these swanky establishments that open up with such great speed in even a sleepy little town like Isloo suggest that the rich are so far removed from the problems of the real people of Pakistan that they live in an alternate universe and this is one of the many signs that the day of judgement is surely upon us.

But I have had the opportunity to go to some of these establishments over the last few years and while on many an occasion, I have seen the same old crowd at these places, I have also seen growing numbers of young and not so usual people. The membership of these places seems to include a newer set of younger faces. There is a market out there for such products and there seems to be a growing pool of buyers. At least in Islamabad, these are the young people who work in the development sector or in the small corporate sector. Many a group of the average cheemas and seemas you will see enjoying a cup of overpriced and not so tasty coffee at Gloria Jeans in the evening in Isloo.

But are the consumers of modern, usually western and high-end products growing fast enough? And are higher individual incomes enough and evenly distributed enough to offset the fears of revolution? And  also does consuming a western brand of coffee mean that you also drink the democracy and live and let live kool-aid?

Probably not. And that is what worries me more than it confuses me.

And I guess we should all be worried because while the rest of the world seems to be breaking out into youth led protests for greater democracy, peace and human rights we are the only place in the world where the young people are coming out to demand an end to democracy, a military takeover and blood for blood. That’s sad.

What’s absurd is that they are holding banners saying Tahrir Square too. Guess the coffee at Gloria Jeans might give you a caffeine buzz but not a higher IQ or the ability to figure out that what the young people in Tahrir Square were demanding was the exact opposite of their demands. And by that logic, at least don’t hold a Tahrir Square banner! It makes you look stupid and not just messed up!


Pakistani Born Confused Ideologues - Courtesy Express Tribune

Read the article about this protest here


2 Responses to “Confused”

  1. Usman Gul March 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    The coffee at Gloria Jeans is actually pretty good.

    • Sehar Tariq March 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      I actually hate the coffee and the food there!! Overpriced!!

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