6 types of people on a PIA flight

I remember one hot summer when the entire Pakistani community in London was buzzing with excitement. A huge event consisting of performances by various Pakistani artists mixed with a glamorous fashion show had been planned at the Royal Albert Hall. Numerous posters had been pasted all over, flyers were seen littering the roads  in the desi localities and the South Asian radio station was going into overdrive by repeating its dates and ticket hotline.

Nearing the event date, the entire Pakistan entourage decided to go out and enjoy the sunshine. A Pakistani TV channel was following them around and interviewing various artists. So far, so good. But what was most interesting was what each artist replied when they were asked about what the true spirit and essence of Pakistan and its people was. Each one replied with the usual clichéd answer of “peace, love, fashion, motee sitara, gol gappy, samosay, miss meera jee”.

Not too ‘bright’ huh?

Quite frankly, for if anyone ever needed to capture the essence of Pakistan and its people, they only had to look at a PIA flight. A mixture that leaves the spiciest of curries behind, one flight from the UK to Pakistan showcases the best of our people. Here’s a few of my favourites, in no particular order:

6 – The East Enders

Children of migrants from the 50s and 60s. They are the ones who are credited for making terms like “Innit” popular. One cannot miss them because they deck themselves with sparkly clothes and all the jewellery they own as a means to show how well they were doing in a grand country like England. Chances are they are going back to see family with whom they have only ever corresponded with over the phone, or worse in photographs.

Try to blend in when we get there, dear.

One does wonder, looking at them, which one will eventually become the next arranged marriage horror story on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

5 – The rich and beautiful

There is always a begum or two who insists on shopping from Harrods Duty Free just to prove her wealth and taste. Never mind the fact that the bag itself contains little more than Kit Kat chocolates but the label says it all for her. Nothing grander than arriving at Lahore airport with a fancy bag in tow to show the locals what they’re missing out – other than roti (bread).

4 – The Mirpurs

Sprinkling their loud conversation about beemers and mobile phones with literary gems such as “Kasmey” and referring to Pakistan as “Pukstan”, our Kashmiri bruvs are a sight to see. No matter how many times I travel to Pakistan, each and every time the Mirpuri family would be dressed the same (surely the stability in dress compensates for the lack of instability in Kashmir?)- tracksuit bottoms topped with a football shirt and hoodie, drenched in enough cologne to put any Arab to shame, sporting hairstyles that made Posh and David Beckham look boring and donning enough silver jewellery to open a shop.

3 – The new borns

These are the pious people who despite being born pre 9/11, took their first breath in the world as the planes crashed into the twin towers. Suddenly this group realised they had found their calling – a new found belief in political Islam. Yep, these are the born again Muslims. They insist on praying loudly enough to be heard throughout the plane, to prove their ‘holiness’ you see.  It is even more irritating to see them when they start competing with one another on who can pray the loudest.

Psst! You think they can see us?

2 – The drama queens

This group of new borns has to be credited for giving its women a chance to be loud – the drama queens. These are the women who usually hold up entire flights causing delays that go beyond an hour for the most heart wrenching of reasons. Being a seat away from the aisle; being a seat away from the window; being a seat away from the bathroom; being a seat away from a family member (despite the others sitting right next to them!); and most importantly, being a seat away from the kitchen.

What particularly adds the spice to their woes is their manner of pleading. Often accusing the stewards and hostesses of conspiring to separate them from their loved ones by refusing to accommodate seats, tears and screams of ’hai hai’ are sure to follow. If anyone dare tell them that they are all in the same plane, going to the same place runs the risk of being tainted with the accusation of being a heartless soul who does not understand the pain of a woman – a Muslim one specifically.

1 – The tourists

Even though it may be October and schools usually reopen in August or September there is always a family who ensure that their children miss the first couple of weeks of school. These are the parents who want more for their children to speak English than attend school. The children do not disappoint.

How many times must I tell you? Bruv not brother!

Sporting newfound accents they walk around with JanSport backpacks brimming with goodies such as Walkers crisps and Dairy Milk chocolate. They are the kids who ensure they speak loud enough for everyone to hear , not realising that their vocabulary and grammar are as shallow as their accent is deep. Which is a shame really, because otherwise they can make careers out of mimicry.

Pakistan zindabad!



Categories: The World I Know

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.


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6 Comments on “6 types of people on a PIA flight”

  1. Doggstar
    August 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    “It is even more irritating to see them when they start competing with one another on who can pray the loudest.” yeh been around those, unfortunately decapitation is apparently illegal or some shit.

  2. July 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    I lol’d at ‘lives out of a suitcase’ more than the article

  3. July 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    which class do you suppose, you belong to ???
    Honestly i can’t find my class over here

  4. Faiza
    July 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Very interesting..Pakisan kamal hay bhai! BTW I did take two weeks off from school for my kids only to have a long stay in Pakistan hehehehehe…but trust me I desperately want my kids to learn Urdu;) Nevertheless very funny and amusing piece of writing;)

  5. Najaf
    July 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    so true..reminded me of my time when was in British Airways dealing with all these kinds of people..the london / manchester wallahs!!

  6. Alliya
    July 8, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    so true. pakistan zindabad indeed 🙂

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