Call Me:

I am wading through a legion of bellowing behemoths. Their heels crush my modest sandal-wearing feet, their sunglasses work like an extra pair of judging eyes that demand of me, “How dare you put your humble Service shoes into this pristine arena, you peasant?” I run short of air; the atmosphere is laden with competition and subconscious complexes originating from living for too long in DHA and similar areas. They flash their credit cards like swords in the air; whoever throws down the most bucks is the winner while the losers can go home in their shabby clothes. Shabby, mind you, by stinking rich standards which don’t seem shabby at all, if you ask me but my opinion doesn’t really matter; I’m wearing a replica of a replica of not-exactly-designer lawn which can be bought for 400 rupees. Four hundred rupees could buy you a meal, too. The more daring ones wield cold cash in their hands and this spells instant victory for them. They go home with a stack of designer lawn fabric. You would think I was stuck in a warzone and I wouldn’t correct you on the assumption because it really does seem that way every annual exhibition.

Have you witnessed a mosh pit? It’s a congregation of extremely sweaty and hormonal teenagers who find joy in head-banging to hard-punk or rock. But if you already have seen a mosh pit, you will know where I’m headed with this. The typical lawn exhibition is very similar to one. Imagine Fugazi singing Waiting Room on M.M. Alam Road. “I am a patient boy,” Ian MacKaye cries into the microphone, “I wait! I wait! I wait!” And so he does along with the confederacy of well-fed and snobbish women from Gulberg and related areas. These women have advanced scopes installed into their eye sockets; they know the price and worth of your entire below-average assemble of clothes before you can even open your mouth to say, “Hello.” Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.

But I don’t just observe. Like any dedicated anthropologist deciphering complex human behavior, I like to interact with this fascinating species and I believe twenty years down the lane – God willing I survive another exhibition – I will publish a book titled: “I Will Kill For Lawn – Survival of the Fittest in Gul Ahmed and Farooq Textiles.” Coming back to my point, I have met them.  They have a language of their own; it’s a passive aggressive vernacular based in fabric, design and finances. It is like poetry (except it’s not). When I met one of them, I could not contain my excitement just like she could not control her deliriousness while holding a sample piece of Asim Jofa lawn. She informed me that her raging battalion – sorry, her dainty coterie of lovely friends – had arrived at the exhibition three hours before it even opened. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, takes dedication. This species will etch itself into the annals of history as most devoted and driven by – wait for it – a piece of cloth.

My fellow anthropologists – of the bourgeois variety – complain that I am being too ‘harsh’ on this recently discovered species (the trend began only 6-7 years ago) and that I should ‘lighten up’ but it is a little hard to see the humor in things when you have been pushed aside by not one or two but three elite women just because they wanted to see a paisley pattern on breathable cotton. My 3-year-old nephew could draw a better pattern and call it groundbreaking art and still be less obnoxious about it.

Give it a Marxist spin on insane consumerism or just a plain take on it from a citizen who’s sick of this flood of unnecessary hype and brand-consciousness, it comes down to one thing: It is simply cotton-based, absorbent fabric that just so happens to be ideal for the kind of climate we live in. Sometimes retail therapy is okay, too. Come on, we live in an era of late capitalism and I can’t blame you. But really, you do not have to break my arm – or neck – to see that floral print. Trust me, it can wait.

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