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Monday, March 31, 2014

Pakistan - a nation of grumblers?

Before you get me wrong, I am not complaining (read grumbling), merely stating an observation, which might very well turn out to be a fact, if my hypothesis turns out to be correct, which I'm hoping by the end of this article, to attempt to find out.

So, are we a nation of grumblers? Who is a grumbler? And what is grumbling anyway? Well, the Oxford Dictionary defines a grumbler as a person who complains or protests about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way. And 'to grumble' according to dictionary.com means to murmur or mutter in discontent; complain sullenly or to utter low, indistinct sounds; growl. While you picture a grumbler with this description, let me tell you something. Almost all nations have a distinct quality about them, whether it be the way they talk, the food they eat, the way they dress, or the way they celebrate. To give you an example, no Italian will be able to talk without a good flourish of the hands and almost all Italian conversations will be dusted with a fair amount of gestures and sign language, that are as much a part of the actual words they are speaking. You just cannot separate the two. With a grumbler living in Pakistan, grumbling is not an act of choice, it is a way of life, of celebrating life even. For a Pakistani grumbler, grumbling ensures that he is in fact living, breathing and existing and going about their daily business of working/grumbling.

Now, there are many different types of grumblers. It is important to classify your grumblers so you can navigate between the different classifications and steer your way across them on your day to day business. You may come across the Occasional Grumbler, with an average grumble of about 4 to 5 grumbles a week. A young sapling. Not too affected by the grumblesomeness (yes, it's a word in my dictionary) of the Pakistani life.

Next, there are the Constant Grumblers, who in their own opinion are the champions of all grumblers (which in fact, they are not, they are succeeded by the Absolute Grumblers). The average number of grumbles these grumblers make is anything between a 100 and 500. And that's all in a day's work. The Constant Grumblers find it a personal mission in life to grumble about anything under the sun, or the moon, and you find all conversations with them centred around a big, juicy grumble. With this big, juicy grumble, they are also in possession of a big, juicy, grumbly expression that drips with a huge, grumbly, disdainful passivity. The grumbles are always coupled with this big juicy expression. It is often mistaken for a trademark of the Constant Grumblers. You name a topic, and they will find a reason to grumble about it, be it the weather, the news, their food, their work, their family/spouse/children/girlfriend/boyfriend, their pets, the government, the cricket match we just lost, the bijli crisis, the kaam wali, the sabzi wala, their body, their health, their hair, their skin, other people's food, work, family, pets etc. You get the picture.

Of course, the Constant Grumblers and the Occasional Grumblers are nothing when compared to the Absolute Grumblers. At best, I think it would be safe to not make an estimate, in case this is being read by one. Now, here is a grumbler worth a considerable amount of mettle. The Absolute Grumblers don't talk, they grumble. They don't smile, live, breath, move, they grumble instead. Grumbling was most probably invented, patented and packaged by them in the old days, and they are the rightful owners of the Department of Grumbling, passed down to them through the generations by forefathers bearing huge bellies, who dealt in shady businesses of grumbling in dark alleys, wearing dark suits, circles of thick smoke swirling about them. Ok, well maybe not the dark alleys and suits, that would make it sound right out of a Marlon Brando Godfather movie. But, you know, they take their family business very seriously and there's simply no messing around with them. In fact, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, the Absolute Grumblers never state it out, or even insinuate it in any way, but if you don't join in and grumble with them about something or the other, they will stampede you with the overbearing burden of their grumbling and won't stop until you admit defeat in the face of this towering adversary of grumbling. It is not an easy feat, there is a very tricky way of getting out alive, and you must do so carefully with a lot of planning in advance, in fact, I have little doubt that you will make out alive after all the grumbling business with the Absolute Grumbler. The trick is to put in your two pence of grumbling, but only in a way that doesn't threaten or (God forbid), attempt to antagonize or intimidate the level of grumbling of the Absolute Grumbler. Think of the Alpha male Wolf and his puppies. You must join in the howl, but your ears must be laid flat against your head, and your howl must be several octaves and pitches lower than your Alpha leader. And whatever you do, DO NOT try to mimic the Absolute Grumbler's grumble or their style, you must be creative and think of another topic to grumble about, preferably something the Absolute Grumbler hasn't grumbled about in the past week, for they are equipped with a very good memory too! And that is the reason, why I think it is so difficult to make out alive after you have had the misfortune of meeting and grumbling together with an Absolute Grumbler.

Quite simply, the best way to make out alive, is to just avert your gaze, divert your step, and quickly run in the opposite direction as soon as you make out an Absolute Grumbler, which takes a lot of time and experience and in my case, a lot of near defeats with Absolute Grumblers. If luck is on your side, you'll find it easy to distinguish and make out the type of grumbler coming towards you and take the necessary steps/precaution.

Happy Grumbling!

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