The month of Ramazan dawned with a flurry of prayer messages on mobile phones from everyone as well as their aunts wishing the world peace and spirituality. As the usage of new technology has become commonplace everywhere, so it is in our part of the world (there are no eyebrows raised anymore at the sight of the most unlikely people using mobile phones most confidently and comfortably). The point I am trying to make is that while we say one thing, we mean and do the exact opposite. There is no sincerity of purpose in most of our actions or words and our lives have lost a lot of real flavour and meaning, as these abundant messages from the remotest of acquaintances indicate. The month of Ramazan, as I understand it, is supposed to be different from the 11 others in the year primarily because it requires a visible display of extra patience and tolerance, apart from fasting from dawn to dusk. While a lot of glib lip service is paid to the sanctity of the month, we continue to practice our habits of tolerating all the wrong things that we should throw out of the window and being intolerant towards what we should be more accepting. We remain tolerant of unfairness, inequality, corruption, injustice and have no real use for honesty, discipline, kind behaviour, good manners, truthfulness and suchlike, thus, making this holy month no different from the rest of the year. In fact, the price hike and other similar acts make this an exemplary month of how not to behave towards fellow citizens. And, on top of it, the vulgar feasts the well-heeled indulge in at Iftar time are to be seen to be believed. Each evening is treated like the very last supper by them with the hotels and restaurants having a field day all 30 days I am still away from the homeland in the decadent West where all 12 months of the year, most people practice all the values that Islam has taught us. It is amazing to see how every corner of every building and public transport is handicap-friendly and how all handicapped people are made to feel part of the mainstream. It is also equally child-friendly with play areas galore. Thoughtfulness for others is the key to behaviour pattern. We repeat this thoughtfulness for others ad nauseum in our lectures during Ramazan, because it is a major Islamic principle, but unfortunately there is no display of the same in our daily lives. In fact, all employers have a dreaded setback because it is a zero output month with, ironically, bonuses to be paid at Eid. Late to arrive and early to leave are the rules for the short work day in which most people struggle to keep their eyes and minds functional. (The only exceptions to the rule are the tailors, who have to stitch a new jora for just about everyone and who have to make a killing with their exorbitant rates so that they do not have to work much in the remainder year) News that filters in from home, via the satellite channels, indicates that nothing much has improved although the channels now try to outdo one another in the projection of piety and purity, in keeping with the spirit of the holy month. Our ability at finding humour in response to incongruous situations is the only thing that keeps us going. The news strip on a channel last night indicated that a Senior Advisor to the Punjab Governor had been sued by a tailor and his wife for high-handed behaviour, which resulted from the fact that they had been unable to deliver his clothes on time or some such reason. If nothing else, the freedom of expression taught by our liberated media to the unwashed millions is not to be overly threatened by the powerful or to take all their nonsense sitting down All this in the month, please note, when the milk of human kindness is supposed to be overflowing on all sides of the divide. Postscript: The convenience of getting from any point to any other point in a large city is made as easy as possible by the metro trains. The thought invariably crosses the mind when one is in a foreign country, as to why at least Karachi and Lahore do not have metro trains. Why have our city planners never planned on this possibility, not even Shahbaz Sharif, Mustafa Kamal, and Kamran Lashari, even though all three of them like to bring major improvements to the cities. New Delhi too now boasts of a well-run metro.. Much more than four lane roads we would benefit from in-city trains. But then trains, I guess, are a no-no in the Islamic Republic, judging from the ever sliding performance of even the regular trains running between cities. Another noticeable difference in our cities and others is how women can safely commute at all times of the day and night by themselves on roads or in public transport without anybody harassing them. I hope we can see that happen in Pakistan too and within our lifetime. n The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com