Contributed by Syed Anser Ahmed

Disclaimer: The Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education (EACPE) encourages critical and independent thinking and believes in a free expression of one’s opinion. However, the views expressed in contributed articles are solely those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the EACPE.

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My advice for all ‘shareefs’ in this world, especially those in my beloved Pakiland:

“If you are a shareef in this life, know at least one badmash.”

Why? Because sharafat can only take you so far whereas you need to get things done and you need to live your life. When you can no longer go beyond the niceties and the courtesy, then you need help.

I like to consider myself a shareef guy basically because: 1. I don’t pick fights. 2. I’m honest. 3. I stop at red lights. 4. I curse at people who throw garbage and/or spit paan peek out of their car windows. However, more than often, people like to take shareef guys/gals for a ride. When this happens, any consequent confrontation is like speeding up and braking at the same time. This is because sharafat and badmashee usually don’t go together. However when a shareef guy employs badmashee to safeguard his right, he doesn’t become a badmash; he becomes a goodmash.

Here, I will elaborate how one day society forced me to become a goodmash.

One evening my wife ordered some pizza from a recently opened pizza joint, a UK chain, near our house. Though the first few visits there had been very nice, I noticed a change in ambiance at the last visit. Clearly, the business had changed hands. This time we also had to ask for napkins and straws. Things had changed. Buy hey, no sweat.

But when the pizza finally arrived, it not only looked a day old, it was also a bit cold. However, we could only manage a few bites before giving up. I think it cost like a grand.

I now considered my options. Do I just let it go, throw the pizza in the bin, and go to sleep? Or do I go to the parlor, and get our money back. I also knew well enough that in Pakiland, asking for a refund is like asking for trouble. Because it was basically my wife’s treat, what I really wanted to do was to hide under the bed and let her ‘handle the situation’.  After all, it was her money!

But then something spoke to me. Being the man of the house, I had to resolve the issue regardless of how squeamish I felt. Plus, any money, wife’s or mine, earned in a respectable, honest way, has the right to be rescued. The final stamp on the decision to retaliate was the nagging thought that when one pays a grand for a freaking pizza, then that pizza needs to go down smoothly, titillating the respective buds in the process.

“We will go to the joint now and get our money back!” I exclaimed resolutely, opting to fight vs. flight. Cortisol started pumping in my blood stream and Adrenaline swept my brain. It was time to have an eye to eye contact with the pizza people. I was further charged by the time we arrived there.

Initially I did the talking. As expected, there were grand excuses from the manager.

As also expected, I got pissed. This tripped the English language switch in my head. I forgot my Urdu, getting stuck with the litany,

“I don’t care, I want my money back!”

My wife told me later that among the many other things I had told the manager, I had also told him that the pizza had tasted like cow dung.

Needless to say, my verbal assault completely annihilated the opposing force. Considering the battle won, I sauntered back to the car with a pumped up ego and chest, feeling like a new born Christian child who had been baptized in luke warm water at Amjad Massih’s Neighborhood Church and Javed Miandad after his Sharjah chakka (sixer) rolled into one. My wife followed three and a half minutes later with the refund. I considered this one of my winning performances. The last time I remember feeling this good was when I dabbled with theatre at the University of Nebraska a decade ago. I was on top of the world. It felt wonderful.

Not only was a goodmash born that day, I also succeeded in gaining a certain degree of respect in my wife’s eyes henceforth. I had become her man. Also, the pizza joint closed down after sometime. I like to humor myself with the thought that it was because of other goodmashes like me who had finally decided to stand up to cow-dung flavored pizzas.

The second legendary tale happened a few months later.

Now, my wife is not the most technical person in the world. So, she needed a simple USB cable and goes to this posh electronics store in Clifton. The store owner hands her an ordinary USB cable that usually costs about Rs. 150 and charges her Rs. 1000, and says that it is a Sony original.

I come home looking forward to some exciting cyber time when my wife tells me about her trip to the electronics store.

“You have been ripped, my dear.”

At that moment, right after I said that, it all started flashing before my eyes.

Here we go again, I thought to myself. The churning of my insides had begun.

“You should’ve asked me before you bought the cable as to how much it usually costs”, I said to her, thinking that maybe my doing so would solve the problem. I further said that the cable did not even have the Sony logo on it.

My mind was trying to ignore the situation that was upon us, but my body was clever this time around. It had started preparing for the ‘assault’. The cocktail of Cortisol and Adrenaline was making its way through my blood vessels. The time had come. I was battle-ready.

I took out my dusty veteran army cap and off we were to the electronics store.

“I need to return this, please.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t do returns, what is wrong with it?” was the store manager’s reply. He was quite relaxed as probably he had achieved his daily target of rip offs.

After going back and forth with the store manager, it became painfully clear that we will not be getting our money back.

At that point I realized something. The electronics store was near Punjab Chowrangi and MQM’s Unit 6 was very near that. What I said appeared like a bluff, but I was serious.

“Look”, I said respectfully, yet authoritatively. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“You have a nice shop, here in the Clifton area,” I continued. “If you don’t give me my money back, I will go, right now, and tell my MQM friends from Dehli Colony to pay you a visit.”

“And you know what happens when those boys pay a visit.”

As soon as I made the threat, the temperature in the room dropped almost 3 degrees. All the 3 or 4 employees hurriedly gathered behind the manager and his brother.

I repeated.

“Look, I don’t want any trouble.” “Just give me back my money, and we’ll leave.”

“We will also call our boys from MQM,” said the manager.

I said, “Ok, you do that and then we’ll see what happens.”

“Look, I don’t want any trouble,” I added again.

This time the manager cracked and finally said, “Achee badmashee hai,” and returned our money.

We took our money, got in our car, and came home.

Yes! We did it, again.

Goodmashee had paid off once again.

There’s a lesson here for the shareefs reading this. Don’t let people take your softness for granted. You must become goodmash and stand up for what is right. For the badmashes out there, beware! Because some goodmashee is coming your way!

Contributed by Syed Anser Ahmed

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