So I was totally supposed to be famous by now. According to my math, October 2009 was to see me performing two shows at the Australian Comedy Festival, using the momentum from that to generate some press coverage, maybe do some television appearances and then take a few weeks out to write a novel. By December 2009 I would become the darling of the international comedy circuit, a celebrated wit and generally adored by all.
My math was off by a few numbers it seems. Didn’t put the decimal point after the right zero and forgot to carry the two. Oh and I forgot that I’m a Pakistani and thus generally shunned by immigration departments worldwide (except Sri Lanka it seems, which makes you wonder why they are so keen to experience the joys of avoidable terrorism).
Apparently the Australian Immigration Department thought I was too much of a security risk to grant a Performance Visa.
What’s scary about a comedian? Where they worried I would literally bomb on stage so hard I’d take out the whole front row! My pun’s would blow up in their faces? My witticisms will slice them like shrapnel?
Or maybe they thought this was all part of Osama Bin Laden’s elaborate plan? Take a skinny unassuming Pakistani, make him practice stand-up comedy in the caves of Jalalabad. Teach him classic extremist terrorist jokes:
What’s the difference between an American and Satan?
It’s funny ’cause it’s true!
Then get him to perform in obscurity to audiences who hate comedy for 5 years and then let him be invited to a comedy festival in Australia. Once he is on stage then kaboom!
Okay, now that I say it out aloud it sounds kinda plausible.
So anyway, with no visa I ended up not going to Australia, not performing on stage and not becoming a world famous comedian who people write sonnets and epic poems about.
This feels like an appropriate metaphor for my life right now:
Oh shut up and let me wallow in self pity.
In the meantime, I decided to try my hand at finally starting my second attempt at a novel (after college I decided to put my English degree to use by writing a terrible terrible book called, with no hint of self-conscious pretension, “Summer Chai.” Thankfully I tossed the completed 300 page first draft into the dustbin shortly after finishing it). So far I’ve written three separate First Pages of three separate novels. One is the first Pakistani sci-fi novel, one is the first Pakistani fantasy novel and finally there is a noir mystery. You will find no epic South Asian family dramas here, nor a love story between a rich housewife and her lower caste driver or some such nonsense. Here, exclusively, are the first lines of each of these stories. Enjoy:
The rickshaw lifted into the sky, probability thrusters leaving contrails of info-vapor behind.
Atif Shakoor’s father was a retired businessman and his mother was a djinn.
“I’ve been fucking him longer than I haven’t been fucking you,” she said, just before walking out the door.
So there you go. Maybe I should let a public vote decide which story to continue. Democracy seems to be all the rage these days after all.
Ah well, now I need to figure out what to do in 2010.