The Laoo Scene in Pakistan

Love

Love is in the air, as it shall remain wherever virile young men and women coexist. But over here it has been suffused with religious and social impositions which makes an outright expression of love an unlikely proposition. What results is many diluted forms of highly idealized love, or laoo, which serve as substitute vessels for this most basic need. Based on exhaustive study and analysis, I have concluded the following categories of laooers:

The Bollywood lovers: these folks have watched enough Shahrukh Khan movies to demand a happy ending of their own and will fight tooth and nail to make it so. Often girls subscribe to this more than boys, but I know several boys personally who unwittingly reenact scenes straight from Bollywood 9mm. This includes such things as absurd, over the top gestures of affection like fighting with other potentials to ‘save the girls izzat’ or buying gifts for each other which are disproportionate to the depth of the relationship, a grand meaningless fight followed by an intimate makeup, walking 30 paces behind a girl but talking to her on the phone (hello Shifty), starting off hating one another and then finding a deep laoo in that situation, giving each other furtive little smiles at Mehndis and Shaadis and getting the best friend to be the middleman/woman to pass notes and messages between the two star-crossed lovers, and so on. They are cool playing it out thus; if they get married, it’s a Bollywood ending, and if their parents intervene, that’s still pretty Bollywood too.

The rich westernized kids: these are least interesting because the nature of their interaction is directly borrowed from American high school movies which they reenact in full, often entirely unaware of how inappropriate their antics are in the local setting.

The suppressed lovers: They want it but are religiously obligated not to want it, so they don’t want it, but hey you can’t just rationalize away your desires, so they actually do want it. This leads to serious internal conflict made externally manifest as awkward behavior, pendulum-ing between love and disgust for the other person, lies, obsessions, equating lust with love, lots of masturbation…These folks tend to either get married early just to avoid the turmoil they feel or break free of their religious obligations and go on a frenzied laoo spree.

The ‘fraands’: This dynamic is interesting. Guys and girls will hang out as just friends, but really the guys are secretly hoping to friendship their way into ‘fraandship’. They can’t be blamed for this; there is a stigma attached with just expressing your desires to members of the opposite sex over here, and of course a more than average probability that you will be rejected and face ridicule. So they play nice, they joke and laugh and act friendlike but there is always a sexual subtext beneath their actions. The girls, who are always better at understanding these matters, know what’s going on, but they too can’t say anything either way since the guy is just ‘being friendly’ and calling him out on that is more cost than benefit. And besides, the attention they get from these ‘friends’ is pretty nice. Naughty naughty.

The hijab wali aaunty and the CT-70 wala uncle: I LOVE these guys ! They appear to be very shareef; the lady is donning a hijaab, the dude is donning shalwar kameez and a mooch. But if one walks through local parks – F-9 Park for me – you’ll see them hanging out under a tree, the mooch wala with his head in aunty’s lap and her hand in his hair, both laughing and enjoying themselves with Indian music blaring from the little Nokia headset sitting on Uncle’s potbelly. That is laoo in its truest form, and always refreshing to see, until the thullas come by and the lovebirds have to go back to pretend propriety.

The Mommy-Knows-Besters: After living in a veritable bubble and getting so used to Amma and Abba making every decision for them, after being coddled and spoiled and enjoying the good life under the tender protection and care of overbearing but clever parents, these kids would rather let their parents decide their laoo scene also; they’ll stay celibate and wait until their parents get them Nikaah’d to someone so that they can live happily ever after. Because Mommy knows best.

The Obsessives: This is an umbrella category; obsessives can be found in any of the above classifications. These are the folks that will cook up an entire relationship inside their head based on a glance, a smile, friendship, working at the same office, seeing someone at a funeral, whatever. They’ll then proceed to make a nuisance of themselves, either acting inordinately awkward or getting upset when the real life object of their affections isn’t behaving the way they want them to based on their made up relationship. They’ll get mad, they’ll get sad, they’ll get sullen, they’ll get mean, since each rejection in the real world is a bruise to their dreamy ego. It’s usually the ladies that are put in a tough spot because of this since they can’t call a guy out on something that he hasn’t expressly stated and will never own up to but that both of them know is there. It then becomes a guessing game to try and determine what the other person feels about you and how you can defend yourself against it.

There are probably more classes but I haven’t run into them yet. And even though the laoo dynamics can be interesting to observe, I really wish the game wasn’t so fuckin convoluted and people could do as they damn well pleased.

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