Saturday, April 02, 2005


I am very allergy ridden these days. I spent decades in Karachi inhaling sulphur dioxide and lived to tell the tale. Then I arrived in Islamabad and discovered the kind of havoc a little stray pollen can wreak. This year has been particularly bad as pollen counts have reached record highs. I am sorely tempted to buy those surgical masks that the Japanese wear. Alas, this is where vanity kicks in. They are really nasty looking and come in three colours: white, baby-boy blue and baby-girl pink. I will have to wait till Burberry begin designer masks.

D was over from Karachi and we did two reasonably quiet dinners, both of us being inundated with work The first involved D, me, a Pakhtun banker from Peshawar and a journalist formerly from Karachi. Dinner 2 involved D, me, an Italian Pakistani, a South African economist and a Karachi businessperson. All these men are gay. The wonderful thing about homosexuality is that it cuts through the various divides that exist in Pakistan and brings together an eclectic mix of people. Considerations like age, province, social class, educational background etc. become fairly meaningless. Sexuality is the common denominator, the glue which brings it all together. The mix can either be a mélange or a biryani depending on how you blend the basics.

The sexuality-as-glue formula has pros and cons. The big pro is that I end up meeting people I would “normally” never have met in my work or my social life. My metro hetero friends are always going on about the “interesting” people I have around me. The big downside of the sexuality/common denominator is that sometimes it takes a little more than being gay to bring you closer to someone you really like. Gay chalk and gay cheese still retain their essential otherness. In the long run, I’d sooner take the risk and have the possibility of meeting new people.

Urban Pakistani life tends to work in a series of bell jars. There is really no café culture at work (though Karachi is bravely on its way there). Bars are out of the question. Strangers rarely strike up conversations with each other. Hey. People don't even smile at each other. There is a social complacency at work – married couples being the worst offenders. Decades later, many continue to hang out with school friends. A bit like having one’s youth lacquered or bronzed- the school yard dynamic crazily foisted onto a much later era. Hang on. It is in this sense that gay life has distinct advantages. Social freedom prevails. Things like this put the happy into gay. Peace.


Blogger Jalal said...

So, will I be invited to dinners when I am in Islamabad?

9:15 am  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

But ofcourse :)

11:47 am  
Blogger Sin said...

Speaking of, give me a call sometime this weekend, or let me know when is a good time to call you. Am thinking of flying up for a week or so to Lahore and then coming to Islamabad to see you as well.

2:51 pm  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

Aye Aye. Will do. I am DESPERATE to come to Karachi but seem to be desperately stuck here with loads of work. Off to London and Paris around April 20.

4:32 pm  

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