Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Diary of a Social Butterfly

Recently I have read a book named - "The Diary of a Social Butterfly". The author is "Moni Mohsin". She is from Pakistan and she used to write a satire column with the same name in a leading Pakistani news paper. This book is actually a collection of her published work. From the cover, the book looks like a kind of girly cheeky fancy, but beware - 'Don't judge the book just by its cover'.

We, as Indians, have grown up in an environment in which our emotions towards Pakistan are pretty straight forward which, in one word, is hatred. But through this book, we come to know Pakistani people in a rather different way. She writes about the life of her own people. We cannot imagine the people in Pakistan living a day to day normal life, just like us in many ways. They also go to their offices. Inflation and price hike hit them too. I have always a belief that "Truth" is not just a single word but rather a much more complex phenomenon with lots of hidden layers attached to it. This book enlightens about the kind of thoughts, intellectuals in Pakistani media have about everything. The book's central character is a woman called Butterfly. She lives in Karachi. She likes parties, celebrations, expensive accessories just like any random page 3 elite in Indian metropolitan. She calls herself socialist because she attends lots of social gatherings. She is very proud of her Convent English as well. She resembles the character Maya Sarabhai, played by Ratna Pathak Shah, from the epic comedy Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, but not much. Her husband is an intellectual called Janu, about whom she thinks is a bore man who just doesn't watch anything other than CNN and BBC. Janu has very strong opinions about politics. He hates radical Mullas, who are taking Pakistan towards 16th century; The Army, which topples the democracy every now and then; The US, who runs behind the oil every time and also the corruption in Pakistan.

Butterfly also wants peace with India so she can come to Bollywood page 3 parties and do a lot of shopping in Khan market. Also, at some places she criticized India for traditions like Sati pratha. But I guess that's natural because Hindu Code Bill is actually passed after partition so they might have these stories told from their fore fathers about India.

The best thing about the book is humor. The satire work is just awesome. Be it about Janu's sisters or Janu's mother, or her own mother or even her friend circle; everything is just fantastic. Also, there is this guy called Dabbu, who is her Mausi's son, and his wife has run away taking all the money in his home and now she has to find a nice girl for his second marriage. Butterfly has an opinion on almost everything from Al Qaida's suicide bombs to Arundhati Roy's Sari. She is very frustrated on Osama, as because of him US is not giving visas to anybody and she has a long list of shopping from New York this season. The language is like a blend of English with Urdu and just gone superb. The lingo from all around Lahore, Karachi, or Islamabad (or as Butterfly calls it Isloo) go side by side and takes the writing to another level. For example, like in India a beautiful girl is 'Qatil', whereas she's a 'Tabahi' in Karachi. The book creates a new image of Pakistan which we never knew that it exists.

After reading the book, the cover makes sense too. It's a fantastic humorous book I have read in a long long time. Get it from Amazon. The price is Rs. 192/- ONLY.