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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ramzan Diaries : The Judgmental Iftar

The holy month of Ramzan is definitely in the air in the city by the sea. Everywhere one looks around, all we can see are advertisements for special Ramzan programming, Ramzan specific consumer goods, Eid shopping alerts, or for the food lovers all the so important Ramzan special Iftari and dinner deals. Through out the city by the sea, countless medium end and up scale restaurants have offered their patrons a variety of deals catering to the diverse taste buds that people of Karachi have. One expects that when one dines out during the holy month, there would be a sense of calm and harmony in the air and people in our fair city would be breaking bread over over a collective spirit in view of the blessings this month brings with it. Unfortunately peace and tranquility during the holy month it seems is asking too much, it appears that we as a nation can not keep a lid on our very judgmental attitude.

It seems that we as a nation to love to judge others, we like to find excuses for disliking another person even if we do not happen to personally or indirectly know the other person in Question. Very recently a video was  sent my way through the Social media website YouTube about an incident that happened round about iftar time at a restaurant in Karachi not far from where I live. This video has managed to go quite viral and has managed to be seen by quite a few people. I was not personally present at the establishment around the time but based on the video on YouTube itself and on eye witness accounts an ugly incident occurred which involved a young family and a couple of young women who were dinning at the restaurant. What appears to have happened was that a young family dinning at the restaurant had very judgmental remarks passed towards them around iftar time or shortly afterwards. According to some of the eye witnesses the women who were dinning as a group passed in appropriate comments about the young family sitting next to them and when confronted by the young family these women got needlessly hostile and aggressive.

In the video, we can hear the voice of the male member of the household retaliating towards aggression and hostility that was melted towards them by these women after repeatedly requesting they mind their own business and not pass judgments. Seconds later the video which was shot by a fellow patron using their mobile came to an end, but not before some really harsh and impolite words were exchanged between both parties. This incident also reflects failure of the restaurant management to intervene and manage a crises situation involving their customers. It is not uncommon in Karachi for restaurant management to fail in reaching to a mutually acceptable resolution that accommodates both parties should a conflict of the type arise.

However that is the secondary point in all this, this is not about poor management by staff at a restaurant, the real point off the matter is that we as a nation are very judgmental and we pass judgments onto others without respecting their boundaries, their individuality, their personal space or even the diversity they bring with them. I am certain we all at some point or the other in our lives have experienced the judgmental attitude of others towards us or other people we know, where people we know are needlessly looking for an excuse to dislike another person. There are many examples which can be taken from how our society as Pakistani's plays out. Whether it is liberal fascists judging conservative old school types, whether it is religious people judging the non religious type, whether it is people judging others based on their political views, their education, their socioeconomic background, it all happens all the time, the right excuse for judging, criticizing and marginalizing the other person or group of people is always there.

When we have made our mind up about the other person or group of other people in Question regardless of how others are different to us, not only is there no changing our thoughts and perceptions about them, but at the same time even standard day to day events of their lives are seen with suspicion and a biased vantage point. At times I feel like raising the Question, those that judge, are they naturally judgmental? or is this a form of coping mechanism for them, i.e. disliking another person to feel a sense of worthiness or empowerment, or is it just plain intolerance transferred to us by people we interact with on a daily basis. Now coming back to the restaurant, since I was not there I am going to try and not pass judgments and I hope the matter was eventually resolved, if not I sincerely hope at least the restaurant management offers an apology to the family that was mistreated by its other patrons. It is not realistic for the management to force an apology out of one customer for another, but they can certainly show some common courtesy and compensate through an apology for their what it seems failure to manage the issue when it happened. As far as the family is concerned, I hope they can put this ugly issue behind them and be mentally prepared we live in a very judgmental nation, one has to experience judgmental treatment to know how wrong it is. Finally for those rather feisty ladies, if they are reading this, I hope in the future they would not be so intolerant and extend some common courtesy to people around them, a little act of common courtesy is really not that hard.

The URL for the Video on YouTube is below:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp4EIPl6ja8

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