I have an ex I'm very fond of. We got together back in high school in Kathmandu and broke up some time after it, but more because the relationship just died a natural death and there really wasn't any point continuing it. No dramas, no scenes; just a see you later, take care of yourself and hey, keep in touch. I was about 19 back then. Over the years, we've seen each other through various relationships, mistakes, breakups, fallings out, disasters and ultimately each of our 'holy shit I think this is it' moments.
I have and have had similar relationships with what I now realize is a fairly large number of men. To be clear, I never dated any of them, but I absolutely adore them because they're all some combination of intelligent, creative, funny, sweet, talented, silly, downright weird (on occasion), gorgeous (in the 'I have my shit together' sort of way), great to talk to, supportive, generous, well-read, able to listen, interested in things I find interesting (animals, cars, motorbikes, books, music, politics, history, physics, whatever), well-travelled, kind, honest, inventive, original and so on. In short, they're people
. Real, functioning, thinking human beings around whom I feel challenged, switched on, comfortable, safe and happy.
I'm all for the whole imprinting on one's parents thing because my relationship with them is basically a repeat and expansion of my relationship with my father (and arguably all of that formed a blueprint for my relationship with Ameel). It's always a bit silly to say 'if not for X, such and such wouldn't have happened' becuause X was there and whatever it is did happen and you have no real way of knowing whether your statement is true. But, coming from a relatively 'conservative' nation (for lack of a better word - I wasn't born in Pakistan and spent more time outside the country than in it, so I feel that, if anything my passport makes me from Pakistan-the-idea rather than Pakistan-the-place), I lucked out. I'd always thought so, because bad fathers are an unfortunately world-wide phenomenon, but I realized just how much when I went back to Lahore for college and discovered the utter monsters that are allowed to raise children there. Some had attitudes similar to those of my father (after all, he's from there too), but what the apparent majority of men(with the collusion of their wives and families) put their children - particularly their daughters - through was appalling.
With some notable exceptions, the men my own age that I met there were just as appalling. (So, too, again with some exceptions, were the women, so ultimately I guess they pretty much deserved each other.) I made an effort. I really did. But seriously, if a man's fool enough to pull the macho crap and try to tell me what to do...
But that's just it. They really, honestly don't seem to know any better. The few that tried it with me probably still don't know where they went wrong (or what hit them), and I doubt that they really have any need to seeing as how they're probably now with women who do the whole subservient little woman thing anyway. And everyone involved is probably quite happy with things too, which I suppose is fine. Just because it's not my thing doesn't make it automatically' bad'.
But what does make it bad is when this crap spills over into my life. The web makes it possible for me to reconnect with all the wonderful people I've had to leave behind because our lives went in different directions. I've found people I haven't seen or been in touch with for ten years or more through things like Facebook and Orkut and have, thanks to them, actually managed to stay in touch with people. They're good applications, specially for us wanderers, because they bring all our different worlds into one easy to manage space. It's more of a home than any real place I can think of because everyone from evereywhere is there. Virtually.
Along with all of that, unfortunately, comes the aforementioned crap. Because my network or nationality or name or friends or some combination of these usually place me within reach of the 'desi' presence on the web, I am occasionally pestered by men seeking to be 'friends'. Now in desi-speak, 'friends' (or 'frraands' as it is generally pronounced) does not mean friends who chat once in a while, perhaps even over coffee or drinks, or friends who know each other a bit better and are interested in each other's lives, generally helpful and kind, and mostly truthful except perhaps when concerning an unfortunate haircut, etc. A 'friend' request from a desi man to a woman he does not know means simply that he thinks she's hot and that he has a chance of getting into her pants (virtually or otherwise) for some reason, be it that he thinks she's 'western(ized)' and therefore a 'slut' (read: a woman who has clapped eyes on a man not of her family oh, maybe once?), stupid enough to fall for his 'friend' routine, or so starved for attention that she will immediately fall to her knees in gratitude. Need I mention that these men are quite often also delusional?
Unfortunately, they obviously have some measure of success because they just don't go away.
When faced with a 'no thanks', they first begin to pepper you with messages asking you why not. When you don't respond, they beg for reasons why their oh so manly manliness hasn't had it's 'normal' effect (excuse me while I snort). When they still get nothing ( I don't believe in feeding the animals at a zoo either) they go and steal pictures they find of you on the web, put them in their own photo albums on said networking site, usually with some kind of inane caption, and then leave you a link to it. Now, this generally does get a lot of (desi) girls to contact them, if only to ask them to remove the picture because they're usually compromising (sometimes the mere fact that a perfectly innocent picture is in the possession of a 'stranger' is enough to get them into a world of trouble). This generally gives the harasser a 'way in': he's achieved his objective of getting a reaction and can now blackmail the girls into further contact, whether on the 'net or, more dangerously, in real life.
The problem that these shits run into with me is that I'm not too fond of being harassed or blackmailed and I'm not one to run from a fight if provoked. I'm also not liable to stop till I've ground them into a pulp. This is why I generally stay away from physical fights. I don't need the lawsuits or the possible jailtime, thank you. But in the virtual world, you can kick someone's ass from here to next Tuesday quite nicely, and all without getting your hands too dirty.
So when this particular idiot took a picture of me off this site and did the usual (on Orkut, this was), he didn't get the expected hysterical messages. Instead, Ameel and I
- put all the messages I had from him up on my Orkut page,
- messaged my friends about his harassment, pointing out the stupidity of 'stealing' a picture that is already in the public domain (under a creative commons copyright),
- asked them to check out his nauseatingly pedestrian profile, his visible harassment of other women on Orkut (scrapbooks are publicly viewable), his messages to me, and then
- invited them to come express their opinion of him on my page.
It was hilarious
to see him scampering to delete his trail and remove most of the pictures from his album, all the while leaving idiotic messages in his defense. The last was the usual 'I just wanted what was best for you and promise me you'll be happy always and I would have been a true and devoted friend'. When that got nothing but jeers (Thanks, mate, but I already have all the dogs I want.), we were all told that this person had had a terrible accident and was in intensive care and that we should all be ashamed of ourselves for being such meanies. When that didn't get a reaction, we received another message saying that he had died and asking if we were happy now. From his account. A 'friend' of his logged in for him you see, because obviously the first thing you do when a friend is dying in hospital is log into his Orkut account and inform all the people there who have expressed overt dislike for him that someone they don't give two shits about has had a completely random accident, most likely caused by the stupidity he so blatantly exhibited online. Naturally.
If any such thing happened at all. Since I've had similar crap pulled on me before (I know. But I didn't fall for it then either.) I knew not to take it seriously. Sure enough, a while later a person with the same name starts commenting on this blog. Nothing untoward was said, so I didn't react. Then someone, again using the same name, sends me a friend request on Facebook. Now, I like Facebook because you can ignore requests and keep these people out of your circle and therefore unable to harass you (other than by private message, and that's a bit of a bother to do. You have to, like, articulate
All was well until lo, one day I get a friend request from a Nadia Niaz whose profile has a picture of me (again from my website, and this time from Ameel's photo page) on it. Another friend had also received a request and was wondering if it was some kook. So I reported it. Obviously. And so did a number of other people. Facebook removed the account. Bye bye, troll.
Or so we thought. Now there's a Nadia Niaz on Orkut whose profile picture is the same picture this loser first took off my site (and which I was using on Facebook for a while). Oh and get this, this Nadia is also 28, is single, and is only interested in women because she has had 'bad experiences' with men in the past. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. I think I'm meant to be offended or something. I mean, my goodness, a lesbian
. How very original. Hands up the women who've been called dykes by men they weren't interested in? I think it's even funnier because, really, I have no issues being called a lesbian. I think women are lovely. The person I ended up committing to happens to have been born male, but it really wouldn't have made much of a difference to me personally either way. So umm, no, sexuality's not really an issue kiddo.
What I would find fascinating, if I could be bothered to investigate this phenomenon more, is why these people don't give up. It's not just on the 'net that this happens. While in Pakistan, pretty much the moment I got a cell phone was when I started getting random phone calls from people who wanted to 'get to know' me. How do these people have the time
? Are they really all at that loose an end? No wonder the country's going to shit. And really, how pathetic and frustrated do you have to be to do this ad nauseam? Eventually, I wouldn't bother hanging up. I'd put the moron on hold and let him talk. (They always want to talk - one of the made up this very entertaining story about why I wouldn't speak. He probably wouldn't have figured out he was on speakerphone addressing not just me but my husband and a few friends as well if someone in the background hadn't burst out laughing.)
It comes across as cruel at times, I realize. But I've tried being nice, and I've tried reason, neither of which I think they're entitled to. I've also tried ignoring them. And yet he/they seem to think their lives are some shitty bollywood movie where the hero (them, of course) must pursue the heroine (whatever woman they're fixated on) even though she claims to not be interested in him because, of course, she either is secretly mad for him and is simply too dishonest to admit it, or is just too stupid to realize how great a catch he is and so must be repeatedly dazzled with his...er....well...nothing much really...but...it's just....well...he's male dammit and he wants her so how dare the impudent female say no? That's not what happens in the movies! And movies, specially big bollywood productions, are absolutely realistic. Oh yes they are!
Anyway, I've reported the creep again. Let's see how we go. Orkut is apparently less stringent about such things, but then most of my friends have migrated to Facebook already, because it affords one more, obviously much needed, privacy from such fuckwits.