Sometimes this country is so ridiculous that I don’t have to make up anything in my fiction writing. In fact, most of the fiction I do write, or have written, including magical realism, has been inspired by Pakistan’s reality. And although I’m terribly self-hating, I appreciate that just sitting back, watching and listening can sometimes really amuse me & give me some great ideas. Considering we sorely lack amusement as a nation, I thought I’d share this.
After Laal finished performing at the Karachi Literature Festival, I joined them for dinner at the Carlton Hotel where we were staying. It was very late by then and the buffet had closed so we had to order a la carte. Our waiter, tired like us I suppose, was utterly confused and had quite a hard time taking our order. When someone ordered coke, he immediately nodded and said, “Yes, you want fish and chips,” totally oblivious to the perplexed look on her face. But the conversations Mahvash Waqar and I had with him had us laughing out loud.
MW: Grilled trout kaisee hai?
Waiter: Jee beckti hai.
MW: Grilled trout beckti hai? Beckti to koi aur fish nahin hotee?
Waiter: Grill kartay hain.
MW: Acha aur grilled fish with creamy sauce kaisee hai?
Waiter: Woh fish ko grill karte hain aur uss kay saath creamy sauce hoti hai.
MW with a slightly annoyed, mostly amused look on her face: To fish & chips?
Waiter: Jee fish & chips mein fish & chips hotay hain. Woh kha lain.
MW, defeated: Acha phir fish & chips hee la dein…
Then it was my turn.
Me: Yeh chicken steak with mushroom sauce kaisee hai?
Waiter: Jee, chicken hai aur us kay sath mushroom sauce hai.
Me: Magar kiss tarah kee hai? Sauce kaisee hai?
Waiter: Mushroom ki sauce hai jee. Mushroom say banee hoee hai.
Me, confused: Aur fried chicken mein kaun sa piece hota hai?
Waiter: Jee boneless nahin hota.
Me: Acha laykin kaun sa?
Waiter: Us mein hadi hotee hai
Me: Haan, magar taang ya breast, kaun sa?
Waiter: Hadi wala.
Then I showed him a picture of a chicken leg and thigh: Kya aisa piece hota hai keh kissi aur tarah ka?
Waiter: Jee, hadi wala. Boneless nahin.
Me, also defeated: Acha phir yeh friend chicken hee la dein…
One day, I suppose, I’ll adapt this and use this in a story, yet again pawning off fact as fiction.