May 252008

The day the video of the dancing chairman went up on YouTube, my phone would not stop ringing. It came to a point where I would pick it up and say, “Yes, thanks, chum, I’ve seen it”

On behalf of all expatriate Pakistanis I express our appreciation to the anonymous gentleman (or could it be a lady seeking revenge!) for the recent entertainment provided to them on YouTube. God bless Madam Nur Jehan to whom the nation owes a collective apology because one of her best-loved numbers was subjected to some of the worst dancing ever recorded by a camera. She must have rolled her eyes as she sat by the banks of a flowing canal in heaven, cooling her feet in its waters, while on the giant plasma screen across from her flashed images of a tinny-voiced young woman in pink singing Madam’s memorable song about that girl on the bridge who has been stood up.

Madam was never without a sense of humour but she could not have been amused by this gentleman who is master of all our revenues as he danced out of step with the sure-footed beat of the song. Perhaps he should not be blamed at all. Nobody can be expected to keep his balance when he has fire water coursing through his veins.

Out here in America – and Europe for that matter – if a cop suspects that you have had a few while you are in the driving seat of a moving car (moving like a snake on the run from a stick-wielding schoolboy), he flashes his red and blue lights in your rear-view mirror (which means stop dead in your tracks), asks for your driving licence, checks it out (for unpaid parking tickets as well) and then asks you to step out and walk a few steps down a straight line. He may also ask you to touch the tip of your nose. Had our dancing chairman been subjected to these tests, it would have taken the cop in question two minutes to move him to the clinker and produce him before an unsmiling magistrate the next day.

Having had the privilege of knowing Madam the Great, I can assure those who have read so far that she would never have gone to the “nehar vala pul” to meet someone answering to the description of the chairman. Madam had taste and she was extremely snooty when it came to this particular department. The chairman would not have made the grade.

In fact had Madam been informed that he was hovering around that home of hers with the black steel gates in Liberty Market, she would have had German Alsatians set after him. A run down the Mall all the way to the old Gulberg market would have done wonders for the chairman’s waistline.

The day the video of the dancing chairman went up on YouTube, my phone would not stop ringing. It came to a point where I would pick it up and say, “Yes, thanks, chum, I’ve seen it.” There were 37 emails on my inbox on the first day, all giving me the link to what one Pakistani from New Jersey called “the mother of all videos”. On the second day, another email sent out to everybody I know advised, “Save the link or see it before it goes off the air because the Government of Pakistan has descended on YouTube like a ton of bricks, asking for the dancing chairman video to be taken down.”

While it is true that some links did not respond, with one saying that the video had been removed at the request of I-forget-who, the video (sorry chairman) is still there for anyone to watch. Try it, in case you missed it.

There are a number of things I don’t understand. If it was a private soiree, why was it being filmed? In fact, at one point, the singer suggested that the cameramen should stop filming. This most sensible bit of good counsel was disregarded because so high and happy the revellers were that such wise words could only have been ignored. The president was there as was Shortcut (who could not stop clapping) and other bigwigs whom I did not recognise, but obviously the pecking order being what it is in Pakistan, nobody lower than Grade 22 or its commercial or other equivalent slipped past security.

The chairman was dancing as if there were no tomorrow. God bless the people, the soil and the pristine water of Scotland for giving so much happiness to the world. On judgement day, all past, present and future inhabitants of that bonny land are going to be conferred with sainthood and transported to the Askari Villas of heaven for making so many of God’s creatures happy, though for a few hours at a time.

I don’t think the chairman’s talents can be allowed to be misapplied, indeed wasted, over such trivial pursuits as tax revenues to run the country. He should be made head choreographer of the PIA Arts Academy, which, having been abolished, should be re-established. Or he may be given Zia Mohyeddin’s job. After a performance like the one we have seen what better captain of the performing arts can we hope to get than him. As for Zia Mohyeddin, he should be required to read out prose and poetry every 31st day of every month that has thirty-one days.

There is just one regret I have. The video goes blank the moment the chairman pulls out a reluctant president to the floor – or what there is of it. But we can always let our imagination take up from there.

Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent. His e-mail is\05\25\story_25-5-2008_pg3_3

 Posted by at 10:31 am

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