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What shall follow below is a very short attempt at a book review of ‘ Welcome to advertising, now get lost’ by Omkar Sane.

Welcome to Advertising, now get lost – Front Cover 

Let me begin by giving a short background; it was friday evening. I was not looking forward to the long weekend ahead, so I took a walk to the local Liberty Books outlet near my apartment. The memories of the Karachi Book Club meeting quaint in my memories, I started browising through the shelves. I had little no or idea what I was looking for. “Surprise me” was my challenge to the books that lay dormant on the shelf, holding their thoughts tightly within their bindings. ‘Surprise Me!’ I challenged the books. Surprise me they did. I saw a rather colorful cover in b/w the shades of grey. Like a bride amongst the brides maid. The striking colors grappling at my vision, I slowly reached for it.

Now you must admit, the title isnt the easiest to read. The rather ‘retro’ cover art melds with the title, and it’s rather hard to actually figure out the name of the book! But notwithstanding all the gibersih, it struck me, this is the book chosen as Book of the Month – by the Karachi Book Club. Voila, problem solved. I had my pick. Now to delve into the delightful pages.

‘Acknowledgments are overrated’ thats where he begins. First impressions, this guy seems like a cocky 20 something, who thinks not acknowledging anyone is ‘Cool’ and ‘Funny’. I thought it was surprisingly immature. I cant even give him points for originality, because it seems an awful lot like forced slapstick humor. In fact, I wanted to say out loud -’ If your parents thought this was farcical, maybe they had a point’.

First bitter tastes in the mouth seem to appear. But to be fair, I don’t form a judgment. Maybe this book will ‘Surprise me’.
It’s followed by 2 prefaces by two ambiguous Indian men. Supposedly advertising gurus, but none of my concern. One even goes as far to say ‘The best thing I can say about this book is, I wish I had written it’. *cough*

I am sad to say, it does not get any better from there.   What I expected was a witty commentary on the Ad culture in India. Witty, humours, but with purpose. Sarcasm thrown in wouldn’t have hurt. What I got instead for the next 50 pages I managed to read through was something along these lines:

National Creative Director (NCD): So you have an idea?

Junior Creative: Yes sir, if we place the car…

NCD: Oh you mean like the Merceede’s I now own?

JC: Yes sir, so I was thinking if we place a car, like your Merceede’s,  against a hotel…

NCD: Oh you mean like the hotel i stayed at during my last visit to London?

JC: Yes.. exactly…

… Yes thats pretty much the content of the whole book. Each chapter is then diligently followed by a ‘quiz’ to check your knowledge each person plays, i.e. if you are the NCD you take credit for all the idea’s you’re juniors come up with. In essence you frack them over.

Now I might have been harsh in my judgements. But I do have a beef with wasting Rs 800 on a book that I cant even take seriously. Better idea would have been to have it as an article or a recurring column in a weekly paper or publication. It’s amazing you can write a whole book simply based on stupid imaginary dialogues and immature writing.

Yes I will probably burn this book if I manager to finish it. As a public service message. Please stay away from this book like a plague. And if you are one to like this book, then stay away from me for you are the plague.

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Although, when i said to my self, let me try and write something meaningfull, i had a few idea’s in my head. Mainly after a conversation with Wad, i thought i’d write something pertaining to it. In either case Wad, this is dedicated to you. And to you Dad, coz you told me. Write something. This maybe not be published in the TFT, but i am making a sincere effort. And you; Dad, never asked for more. No matter what i churn out of my Medula Oblangatas, this post is dedicated to the both of you.

21 guns-Green Day to fuel my creative juices.

He asked me if i was happy. Moving to another city, miles from my home, family, living in an apartment with a stranger. I said i am content. I guess the answer is not that simple.

If i track back on the other posts i have written, on this blog, I start by ranting on about how i dont have a career or a job or no direction blah blah. Now i have all of those things. I have a job at a very good company. I am getting paid enough to keep a good lifestyle, and i am living on my own. Independent to make my own desicions. All that one could ask for? Or is it? Is it right for me?

Yes. It is. When i ask myself, ‘what would I be doing back home’. The answer, inevitably is i would be either thinking about all those things mentioned above. Sitting in the window ledge, wondering, and slowly killing my air bags in the process. Then i would eat, lay infront of the tv. Or sit on the internet. Nothing productive. So yes compared to that, this is a much better deal . Specially now since i got a good place to live in, and that gives me a peace of mind. I have a decent, no wait, an excellent place to come back to after a long days work.

Ofcourse then, the exercise of this blog is not to let the corporate world drown out the tiny voice in my head. The voice that drives me to question social norms, status quo, in short, that gives me that individuality that i pride myself so much for. My ego. The stack of books on my bed are to keep me grounded. I am not comfortable with money or power. They corrupt people. They are the eccense of the consumerism that is killing out society and our minds. A slow creeping death. The irony. I am part of  the machine that is driving that culture. The catch. I wont let it get to me. I think it was in some Islamic reference that i heard, ‘Life is a constant struggle’. And so it is. No one said its going to be easy.

I stayed at PC and Avari, all expenses paid when i first arrived in The City by the Sea. My first reaction when i arrived at the hotel, PC, was utter discomfort and conflict. I cant do this, i told myself. I dont deserve it, I dont feel comfartable with people running around me, picking up after me. Its inhumane. Its below human dignity to be a servant to another man. But i realized after a couple of days, thats their job. They might not have chosen to have smiles pasted on their faces and fullfill every ridiciolous demand that the guest makes. But it’s their job. It fills their stomach, and their wives and childrens. In the end, all that we should/ even maybe are judged for is if we made an honest living. With our head held up high. Even though these poor bastards cant hold their head high. They do make an honest living. For the sake of their families they bear it all. All i can do is make it easier for them. Hence I humbly passed my time at both the hotels. Always being polite. Always greeting the staff with a pleasant smile. Always being grounded and not forgetting, this is not my place. It is only but passing. I was hazed and disoriented but i managed to keep my head straight. That has been how i have been brought up.

If Ali had been in my place, and he was talking to you, Wad, he would suggest Islam as a source of comfort for your troubled self. So would my sister, Gol. I would too for that matter. Although there is much lacking from me in that front myself. I am yet to get a prayer mat in my new room. I dont believe in traditional religion and rituals maybe. But i have a strong belief in God. It is an utterly personal thing for me. Not to be worn on your sleeve or displayed in your beard and piousness in wearing your shalwar above your ankles. It comes as all forms of respect and love must. From the core of your existence. It is very personal.

When i first got the call for the job, i remember sitting infront of the tv, watching, horrified, the news of a bomb blast in Peshawer. This was the second time some close had been so close in proximity to the destruction. Rabia’s windows and doors were shattered by the blast. Before this, Feryal’s parents were inside Marriot when it blew up. I asked my self, my country is drowning in blood, and i am going to go and work in a comfartable office, with people who live in a different country. Their worlds are not touched by such things. Mine has been. Or i choose to make it a point to register such things. I cannot live in a comfartable bubble and pretend my world ends where the rest begins. Politics is something every person must have a say in. It touches us all. But my justification, right or wrong, time will be a judge of it, was that at that stage, a fresh gaduate with no job experience, no money of his own. What can i do? I know, this is the question that we all must learn to answer to make a difference. I was writing those days. And i wrote a piece on the carnage of the current civil war that i saw myself at Malakand, ‘Damage Control’. I strongly believe in the written word, and its power to bring about change. But my part is not done yet.

What do all these seemingly random threads of thoughts come down to? I strongly believe i am made for things that are beyond working in an office, day in and day out. I strongly believe there must be more to life, then simply the nihilistic circle of making and consuming. We are, by God, or my evolution, in possesion of a brain. Rather a mind, the abstract concept of the slobby organ on top. The abstract which learns to say ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Why’, ‘How’  ‘When’, and all those questions. We are after all the only animal to ask questions about our own origins and look into science and spirituality for answers. For me, i believe it is writing. The power of language to express complex human thought and emotion in a way that others perceive  it and comprehend it is just fascinating. Must’nt we all have a higher purpose? That is a void, that can be filled with religion or science or art or any other thing of your choosing. Or let your intellect sink into a ocean of numbness and debauchery untill the tiny voice in your head is silenced.  Stop waiting for someone to show you the way. Make your own path. Think of Chris Columbus, or Alexandar, or Amstrong and his team at NASA, or Watson and Crick, or closer to my own heart and home, Abdus Salaam. There are many battles out there waiting to be fought. Pick one and get on with it.

I have a strong temptation to send this to TFT now that is has crossed the thousand words mark.

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So after much worrying, and delibration and again a little bit of worrying, i have finally moved into my own apartment. My own in the every sense of the word. I co inhabit this place. Which draws a thick line right down the rent and other costs. Hence making living a little bit easier. Yes it seems i have stepped out of shell and into my own. Flown from the nest so to speak. First staying at hotels, on my own, sponsered by the company ofcourse. But me. Not piggy back with my dad on one of his trips, but me! It’s all in digestion.

About the place. Well its furnished. It has a view of the sea and the sprawling city that is karachi. And its clean and has a lot of potential to become one of those living spaces one admires on tv. That requires work and commitment. My flatmate and I have already decided to paint the walls and jazz up the place. Right now as i am writing this, there’s a constant beat of the trance that blaring from the speakers in the next room in my ears. Not my taste, but its not vulgar. There is worse music people listen to out there.

I think i need to reaccess my blogging and writing, seems like it’s come down to chronicling my time here. Well maybe its just that newness of all of this that leads to this feeling like another ‘Dear Diary’ sob story.

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What you would ask does a man who is living at Pearl Continental have to complain about? Well to kick things off, i’ll start with my car ride, from the Karachi airport to the hotel.  The driver was a local. Myself not being used to the idea of being driven around by a driver, specifically for myself. I being a noob, started polite conversation. That apparently showed me as some rich snob who was staying at the pc on his own money. Now that never goes down well. He starting expecting a generous tip. I ignored it. If i have committed some unspeakable sin in doing so, amongst the elite culture of those who are used being driven around by chauffeurs then i humbly apologize.

I should however mention. This is me excercising the muscles of my mind to keep them from idling. After two online trainings at P&G about their brand equity and company values, (read brain washing), i felt the creeping fear in my bones that i was going to become one of them. This blog shall now serve the purpose of reminding me. This is just passing. I should not get used to it.

 

Driving past security, and a sniffer dog, a beagle if i am not mistaken. Used by the english in their famous fox hunts. A passing thought passed my mind, yes the irony.Why does not the islamabad police, in their vain attempt to hunt for bombs. Anyhow. Moving on, I entered through the huge glass doors. My luggage being catered to by men in uniform. The PC staff ofcourse, not the rangers stationed outside. I could’nt help but feel that this is what the Americans must feel like in the green zone, in Iraq and Afghanistan. A safe sancutuary, a world seperate then the one outside. Right in the soft lap of luxury.

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Serendpity?

DSC_0285And right after i finished my last post, lamenting on wether i would get into P&G, Omar called to confirm my job, and dispatched the offer letter while talking to me on the phone.

I havent digested it.

It entails alot of changes. Change is always good.

Its an adventure.

I am too tired to be all philosophical about it.

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