Shehzad Ghias Shaikh

Actor. Director. Stand up Comedian. Improviser. Lawyer. Writer. TV anchor. Trainer. Journalistic scholar.

Shehzad Ghias Shaikh, the founder of Cogito Productions and Room for Improv-ment, has a decade of experience working in the theatre and television industry of Pakistan. He is also a journalistic scholar on theatre in Pakistan.

Shehzad performs stand up comedy all over Pakistan, the United States and Canada. He also tours with his improvisational comedy troupe and writes comedy and satire for various organizations.

Shehzad has degrees in law, arts and theatre. He offers workshops, trainings and speaking sessions on confidence building, communication, personality development, idea generation, team building, writing, acting, directing, improvisational and performing.

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Aunty Shadi Kara Day Gi (Satire)

Originally appeared here:

I am turning 26 next month. I see how aunties look at me at weddings and mehndis. Even for a guy, I seem on the tail end of the perfect shaadi age bracket. No longer am I the choicest meat at the supermarket; I fall somewhere between that and expired meat, which is then sold at cheaper prices.

It seems ironic being compared to a piece of meat, the look in these aunties’ eyes gives me a window into feeling how girls feel going to Aashiana or Liberty market to buy the latest lawn print. Mehndis are no different than shopping malls for many aunties; the Hyperstar of people.

Looking around is window shopping, relatives serve as customer support helping them find out the necessary details. In lieu of any such relative, I believe people carry a device like the device that helped Ash Ketchum recognise Pokemon. One look at the dress enables them to recognise the designer, year of print release and price of the dress. And just like Pokemon, these people seem to be driven by a desire to Gotta catch ‘em all.

My mother has made new friends with random aunties calling at the house. I cannot get my burgers as customised as professional match makers are able to provide for potential matches. I thought my mom was ordering the new Ipad, when she asked for the “white, smart and sleek model”.

No country values intellect more than Pakistan. We use smart as an adjective to appreciate somebody’s looks. The top most demand is a doctor bahu (daughter-in-law). The five-year MBBS degree serving as a crash course to prepare you for anything else you may suffer from in life. If you can dissect a frog, you are welcome to marry our son.

My mother has collected a notebook of phone numbers with parents with eligible daughters. I am convinced there is a Facebook group somewhere passing around these lists. These calls seem to be the sole reason landlines still exist in Pakistan.

I wonder if there is a ‘Tinder’ like app for parents in Pakistan that lets them swipe left or right at other parents they like. The app would let them see the financial, religious and ethnic status of other parents. If both parents swipe right and like each other, only then are they allowed to exchange pictures of their children.

Come to think of it, Pakistani parents should sue Tinder. We have been making matches based solely on photographs for ages. If westerners think they have it awkward at first dates, we arrange the most extravagant first dates inviting all our families and friends; these first dates are called ‘weddings’.

There are also greater chances of these first dates leading to something in Pakistan. One minute you are enjoying a Hanif Rajput chicken biryani and the next you are cooking chicken biryani for you, your spouse and your two children.

I completely feel ill-equipped to go through this experience; it seems rather daunting. I do not even know how to ride a horse. If somebody hides my shoes, I have absolutely no qualms about walking in my socks. If you know they are going to get stolen, why not just go wearing a pair from Sunday bazaar?

I don’t photograph well, I hate ladoos and my shalwars keeping slipping off. I would make the worst dulha (groom) ever. I might just start performing if I am on the stage for too long. And nobody wants their daughter to get married to a comedian. No amount of claiming you were ‘kidding’ would save you, if you jokingly tell somebody you like men just to get out of the ordeal.

If you are to risk it, I would recommend doing it right before the final family picture. You know, the one meant to be framed by Jimmy’s and put up all over the house compelling all guests to compliment it.

I told my father about my difficulties at understanding all of this. He said we will talk about it later and instead took me to the bakra mandi (goat market) to buy a goat for Eidul Adha. He taught me how to check if the goat was pure bred or not. I soon realised any animals tracing their lineage to exotic foreign lands like Australian cows were valued way higher than the locals.

The teeth are the best way to find out about the age of a goat, which is why my dad insisted on the goats smiling for every single picture. The goats need to be a certain age for them to be the ideal sacrifice. The height, the weight and the colour of the goat, all have to be perfect. There are hundreds of goats in the market but you are looking for that one goat that would make suffering through the stench of the bakra mandi worthwhile.

Eventually, I had no say in the matter; my father selected a goat.

I have no idea why I had to endure through all of this. My father tied my hand around a string attached to the goat and we were handed a document signifying that the goat belonged to us. My father put it under my name. I was happy to give the goat my name.

As I sat there at the back of a truck lying next to a bakra staring into the starry night on that cold winter evening, the bakra snuggled next to me. All of a sudden I felt something. It is then that I realised what my father was trying to teach me. All I can say is: Well played, dad, well played. I now know why he insisted we buy a neutered goat instead of an unneutered one.