Neelum Ferozee Badam, chairperson of Downtrodden Women Upliftment Society of Pakistan, Peelee Barood, chairperson of Freethinkers & Self-Advancement Organization of Greater Karachi, and Gulabi Akhrote, secretary general of Poor Childrens Enrichment Front of Rural Sind, are gathered at the Cafe Aylanto in Karachi’s Clifton digging into seafood fare – their planned diet of the week.
Gulabi Akhrote eyeing her grilled jumbo prawns drizzled with garlic oil and served with rice at Rs.1,995, starts her tale of woe, “What is happening to these servants … just this morning … and I haven’t even lifted my cup of coffee when my BMW (bartan manjhnay wali – dishwasher maid, to the uninitiated) starts demanding that I increase her salary by Rs. 1000 a month! Can you believe that!
“What is the world coming to? These women think that money grows on trees.
“Oh, so hot today …the other day, I was peeking in at Khaadi … their lawn suits are at such good prices … just Rs. 10,000 each… I picked two” she declared.
Neelum Ferozee Badam, always dressed true to her name in blue, fidgeting with her Lebanese mixed grill, a chef’s selection of lamb chops, kebabs and spicy aromatic chicken, grilled and served with hummus and pita bread at Rs. 2,985, declared, “So hot yes. I was checking into Gul Ahmed, and picked up three of their unstitched suits for just Rs. 7,500 a piece… just my kind of colors.”
Peelee Barood declared thoughtfully, “Oh, Gulabi what about your BMW’s demand? She doesn’t know that things are getting scary. This Imran Khan thing … uff … have you been reading all these American and British newspapers?
“He is going to kill liberties …
“I tell you they are going to squeeze him … cut off all their aid … definitely our checks will be affected too … the State Department and the British foreign office won’t be letting our financiers there pumping money into this country …
“Gulabi don’t get cowed down by this BMW of yours … what are you paying her now … oh, Rs. 5000 every month just do the dishes and pots and pans four times a day … there are lots of women going around looking for work … I am sure they will do it for three thousand.
“Our friend Kotwaal Botalwala was telling me that it will be hard for everyone. You know Asif Zardari was so considerate. In deserving cases, he was ready even to do things for ten percent. And the poor Sharifs … so straightforward, simply seeking arrangements in England … uff … this Imran Khan has brought this Asad Umar to run the finance ministry and he will keep reminding us that he gave up his $1.2 million salary and that too in Pakistan to serve the country.
“Last night I was talking to Kotwaal that Imran wants to put us under Saudi Arabia. He said no. It is this 6th or 7th century Madina. Uff … but there was no oil wealth then! What is his problem … this Imran Khan!
“And now what is this 6th century or 7th century thing of Imran and his Madina Charter? What was that? Did you too hear what he said that no country that has an island of rich people and a sea of poor people can prosper? Then how will we get servants? Uff, I have never stepped into my kitchen … may be they will demand air-conditioned kitchens too! All this talk is surely going to drive people like your BMW to demand more; not just a Rs. 1000 raise.
“I mean he wants turn Pakistan into a welfare state! Really! Trump is even working to kick out food stamps in America. Instead of learning from America, Imran wants to learn from some old thing. God save his foreign policy.
“Uff, I heard it was this Ayub Khan who moved the capital from Karachi. I would say that the three of us go to Islamabad and host a cocktail at Raani Malka’s house for all these foreign correspondents floating around there that they write that their governments should not prevent funding for NGOs working in Pakistan. She has the best embassy contacts and the best drinks.
“Why would we spend any of that money in Pakistan? No. See I have invitations to women’s welfare conferences in Las Vegas, Vienna and Geneva … and you told me about your coming child upliftment conferences in London, Los Angeles and Hawaii … and Peelee, you have those seminars coming up in Singapore, Paris and Tokyo.
“All these things need tickets and hotels and expenses … and shopping! Just imagine how can we serve poor women and children in our country without attending these events! Simply unimaginable!
“Matak Chapli was saying that very soon Imran Khan will be forcing everyone to dress like his wife … in a burqa!
“Uff … that will be hell. What will I do! I have nothing in sleeves! May be Trump takes him down soon.
“You remember when this oil thing started, every Tom, Dick and Harry … I would rather say, every Boota, Phajja, and Gama … was saying, “Dubai chalo” … lets go to Dubai … the Dubai chalo days are back again … at least you don’t need runners for seeking drinks… Nah, and you never need to put up a Muslim face for public consumption,” declared Neelum Ferozee Badam.