Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Offend a Rishta in Ten Ways

Sometimes when I'm bored I like to come up with hypothetical scenarios and things I could do in them. One of my favourites is the rishta scenario, mostly because you hear about so many daft aunties behaving in socially unacceptable ways to girls and their families when it comes to looking at marriage potentials. Like asking for a girl's height/waist size/weight before meeting her (I like to think that they're cheapskates and are looking for someone who'll fit into the walima dress they have mouldering away in the attic); or making a disgusted just-smelled-some-unexpected-faecal-matter-right-under-my-nose-oh-God-I-think-it's-in-my-mucha-hairs face when the girl walks in (perhaps to aid in negotiations further down the line - her face was an affront to my retinas, I felt physically nauseous when I saw her - I won't pay more that twenty quid mahr, final offer! Desis are born hagglers after all); or making her walk up and down the room so they can properly assess her physique (and possibly her ability to remain ambulatory without limping, dragging her knuckles across the floor, and/or drooling. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that, people are just so superficial these days).

I understand, though, that single British Muslimah sistahz seem to be suffering somewhat from a drought of decent marriage fodder, and offending the ones that do turn up would be irresponsible, immature and probably quite unIslamic. However, fantasizing elaborate scenarios that will never happen is a known analgesic and aids respiratory function (no it's not and it doesn't, I just like making stuff up) and besides, my daydream about winning 3 gold medals at the Olympics is getting quite old and I needed a new story. So here are a few ways you could be as offensive as possible during a rishta meeting:

1. Mid-conversation, give a polite excuse me, then get up and leave. Ideally through a window.

2. If the aunty (or, in fact, the boy) looks disgusted, play along. Make retching noises and really go for it - make them believe that you're struggling to hold your bile down. [Wo]manfully get yourself under control and say something like 'sorry, I just didn't realise faces could look like that'

3. Alternative to above: 'My eyes! The goggles, they do nothing!'

4. If the aunty asks your measurements, reciprocate. Bring a measuring tape to verify your findings.

5. If the aunty has come to assess you without even bringing the potential along, then lament to her about how hard you have been looking for a decent mother-in-law with a good education, good height and the complexion you desire. Ask her questions about herself. If she mentions her son, turn the conversation back to herself, because it's really the mother-in-law you're looking for, the husband's just a means to an end, right?

6. Talk yourself down - spectacularly. If they ask what you like to do in your spare time, tell them drink and drugs. If they ask what you like to cook, laugh and say that all the beatings you've given your mum have taught her to have food on the table. If they ask about your job, tell them you never actually got a degree and that you just drive your dad's car round all day with the windows down and the music loud. Make sure you deliver all this as sweetly and demurely as possible.

7. If the guy himself is an annoying show off, one-up all his stories. He likes to travel? Well, you've been to all the countries in the world, ever, even the ones that don't have names. Twice. He earns 6 figures? You earn 26. He likes his cars? You own Ferrari. Not a Ferrari, the actual company. He prays 5 times a day? You pray a bazillion and five.

8. If they place a lot of emphasis on looks, place a lot of emphasis on something else, like money. Ask if you can audit their accounts.

9. If (okay, when) the conversation gets boring, tell them you're very sorry but you have to leave urgently for a work thing. Then go outside and play in the back garden. Make sure the room they're in has a good view.

1o. Short and sweet: when the boy walks in, give him a dramatic thumbs down like a roman emperor condemning a gladiator to death.

Hijab Pants

You know bonnet caps right?

creepy mannequin faces not included

As a hijabi, there's two vital facts I have learned about them:

1) When left lying around, say on the sofa or on your bedside table or in the corner of the living room for no reason at all - anywhere! - they look like a pair of pants.

Yes, the underwear kind of pants. It's a recognised phenomenon. Here's an illustration for the visual learners:

please don't take this literally, it's potentially unhygienic

2) Much like safety pins, hijab hats fall into the category of irritating items that ALWAYS seem to be lying around when unnecessary but disappear off the face of the earth when you're actually looking for them.

Now, combine this with the law of the universe that I like to call McPagal's First Law of Baisteefication, things will always be at their most embarrassing in front of the people that will make you feel most embarrassed about it.

This may take some explanation, so let me provide examples:
-When you have uncontrollable giggles which develop into full-on uncontrollable raucous hyena laughter in a public place, there will be an angry looking bearded brother round the corner who will storm past you disapprovingly;
-When you have spewed on the bus and are trying to disappear off the face of the earth but need to find a toilet to clean yourself up in first, you will be approached by a Street Doctor crew asking if you want to be filmed
-When you've gone crazy in the sales and bought an armload of discounted bras and knickers from Primark, including the silly novelty one that made you laugh so you bought it in a ridiculously huge size because it was only 50p and you thought it'd be funny to give it to your sister as a joke; the only available cashier will be a young Asian male. Possibly one you recognise. And the barcode on the novelty bra won't scan properly so he'll have to awkwardly ask for a price check while you both stare at the floor and pretend like this isn't at all awful and making you want to sink into the ground and disappear.
And so on.

What results is at least 2 potentially horrible scenarios:

-People come to visit when you've not tidied up properly. People you don't know too well but need to make a good impression on for some reason. They see the hijabpants lying dustily in the corner where they have been hiding for the last 2 months, unmoved because you thought you'd lost them, and are disgusted that you'd leave horrible dusty pants around when people come to visit. You fail to make a good impression, and what's more, when you go to pick up the hijabpants when they leave they are nowhere to be seen.

-You are with people you know a little better, friends maybe, and go to put on your hijabpants. Only this time you misjudged and really did pick up a pair of pants. You are now wearing pants on your head.

These scenarios and countless others burn away at the back of the neurotic section of your brain for all time, eventually turning you into a jibbering wreck at the thought of all the untapped baisteefication potential there is in the world, ready to ensnare you when you least expect it, drowning you in a pool of awkwardness. This is what I live with. Who knew hijab hats could be so dangerous?