‘Keep the 2000 Rupees and forget this ever happened’

November 8, 2010

By Flora Xavier

As usual every time I head to Lahore from Toronto I make sure I dedicate some if not all my time to social work. This time I decided to volunteer for a new organization that was just setting up camp and use my past experience with humanitarian organizations to help them register and get the process going of at least starting up a charity. They had already bought their first office on Mall Road and started construction work on their first school in a rural area of Punjab.

At this time I fell into a nasty issue of transportation. My mother who migrated to Canada two years ago as well would not let me travel to any place in Pakistan alone in a Riksha or Taxi so I had to contact all my old friends for help. Unfortunately everyone was very busy with work or studies or if like me with social work.

In a few days I was losing hope and was going to rent a car when a chance meeting with a friend’s friend solved the problem. We visited a restaurant and she invited a small group of her own friends with her too, some I knew, some I didn’t. At dinner I asked about rental car companies in Lahore. Another friend asked me why I needed to rent a car and as I talked about my issue one of the guys on the table offered to pick me up from my Gulberg house and drop me at Mall road. I was reluctant at first but he seemed like a nice guy and my best friend on the table was encouraging of the idea so I agreed.

There! The transport problem was solved by a gentleman who agreed to pick me up from Gulberg and drop me at Mall road and then drop me back for a few days. Problem was I made the mistake of thinking it was an act of kindness.

The first two days went okay. We talked a little and he would drop me as promised. He asked me quite a few questions and we learned a little more about each other since we met at the restaurant. Quite normal but on the third day he started opening up and flirting. At one point he asked me if I had a boyfriend. That’s weird but I just told him to concentrate on the road. It was like treating him like a driver but what else could I do?

But I should have guessed what was going on in the guy’s head when he offered to take up the noble task of transporting me. There’s a girl in the car. Man oh man! What a perfect opportunity. I mean she’s from Canada right? Perfect. She’ll be an easy catch.

That’s the mindset anyway. On the seventh day when he was dropping me home he began to show off.

“Do you like racing?” he asked.

“Not a real fan of it. Why? Am I missing the Formula 1? I heard it was going on.” I asked innocently.

“No, no I mean like real racing. We guys always have them on the New airport road.”

I sighed. How stupid of me.

He looked at me “I can do a 360 degrees spin right here. I can even teach you. And you know you won’t have the same chance in Canada.”

I sighed at his grinning face “No, you were going to drop me. That was the plan. Remember? No distractions please. I came here to meet family and do some social work.”

That over thankfully a few minutes later he told me there was a brilliant place for Chaat.

I insisted on the NO but for a person who hasn’t tasted Chaat in Lahore for 1 year and 4 months the idea was appealing.

He finally managed to convince me by saying he would also call my best friend (my restaurant best friend was his friend too) My friend lived across the corner from Shadman road, the place we were at the time and I felt a little relieved that she would be there too so I agreed.

All this time he kept increasing the speed and taking hard turns just to show off his skill. That continued till he crashed into a bush when avoiding a car taking blind turn.

He went out to inspect the car. He was in the mind of just leaving but a police man had been standing right across the corner and he came over.

They argued for approximately 15 minutes while I clutched my head in frustration. The cop’s first observation was that two unmarried adults were in a car together and he started yelling while my gentleman friend argued back in colourful language. At one point the cop said he would have to take us both to jail. A more sweet talking man who happened to be a bystander somehow got involved and tried to cool both the cop and the gentleman. A small group of about ten people had gathered while the cop shouted Haraam over and over again. The bystander was the only one who calmed things down rather than take them a level further.

Finally when the cop was going to write a report Mr gentleman took out his wallet took him a little to my side of the car to avoid the small group of bystanders and said “I am a powerful person and if you write a report you will get into trouble. Keep 2000 Rupees and forget this ever happened. Here.” At that moment the cop forgot his good Muslim talk, his job and justice for his 2000 Rupees. I on the other hand had had enough and got out of the car to get a Rikhsha and went home as people stared.

I came home and cried for a few minutes which I had been doing in the car too. Then I just lay on my bed and thought how we are going down as a society because of our attitude. We have accepted corruption as a daily part of our lives.  We have time for everything else but helping out own people. We use every opportunity to flirt, cheat and deceive. We live our lives in disregard for the 120 Million people of Pakistan who are living in poverty while we live our lives in richness. I just thought when if ever will thing’s change for the better and how they can change if Pakistanis themselves are not willing to change them. After all the middle and upper classes are the ones that can help the poorer ones are they not?

Can small groups of Nationalists change the way things are being run across our country or are we too weak to bring any real change to the country and if so why?

I just lay there and dreamed of a corruption free society, a secular Pakistan where tolerance was promoted as a quality, a Pakistan that was prosperous and united where rules and regulations were implemented and followed.

I wonder when this dream will be fulfilled.


2 Responses to “‘Keep the 2000 Rupees and forget this ever happened’”

  1. Nice post Flora. Do note all hope is not lost. As long as the Nationalists remain we will always keep working and striving towards the general direction. We know our responsibilities even if others don’t and we will serve the motherland.

    Corruption is an unacceptable crime which even if certain groups of society have accepted the PNA will never accept. Interfering in the personal business of others and judging them is no right of any policeman.

    By the way I will post it on my own little site just so we can also get some humor from the situation as well.

  2. pakistanitilldeath said

    A well written article. Keep it up Flora.

    We all have the same dream. For corruption best way is to start from ourselves. Refuse to take bribe ever from anyone

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