• Sat. May 18th, 2024

“Neither Ghar ka; nor Ghaat Ka”

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  • “Neither Ghar ka; nor Ghaat Ka”

Title of a book I completed in 2019. It is meant to be a mix of satire, humour rustic Lahori wit and presenting a non-serious narrative of seriously serious issues.

It wasn’t meant to be against or in favour of anyone. But humour needs a target to bounce off. We can’t have jokes about mountains, rivers or aeroplanes. In the end, only humans can make fun about humans or human related matters.

I intend to share some excerpts from the book from time to time. For a start, with immense gratitude to my senior service colleague, Mrs Parveen Qadir Agha, I am reproducing the Foreword she kindly wrote for my book. She went on to serve at the highest levels in civil service with great dignity at all times. I could not have imagined a finer Foreword than the one she came up with.


Although interesting, but the subject of taxes and revenue is somewhat dry and in such an environment if there is a ‘ray of humour’ it is welcome.  Back in the 1980s, the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) the tax collecting agency of the Government of Pakistan based in the aloof capital city, Islamabad had a handful of Officers, coming from all over the country but who were fated to be friendly regardless of seniority, being away from home.  To be posted in the CBR was somewhat of a penance as it was no one’s home town by that time.   Hence the formation in CBR of an amicable ‘inner group’ of Officers, including me, and the star of which was Zahir Kaleem.  A brilliant, smart, sharply intelligent “Lahori” boy with a mischievous smile on his face, he brought constant humour and wit in the functioning of the serious work of tax collection.  He had an unusual and interesting personality, a “Chalta Phirta” (walkie talkie) source of comical vocabulary.
Being a loyal citizen of Lahore myself, Zahir’s Punjabi/Lahori humour is and was close to my heart. He was junior to me in service, and never in my line of command, but there was a bond of friendship which transcended our differences of opinion in social tenets and beliefs.
Since he was an expert in international taxation, Zahir’s destiny took him away from Pakistan, where his professionalism and knowledge were appreciated and put to higher use in the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators. Despite going away, he maintained contact with all of us till today. In fact, he takes a keen interest in current affairs of his home country and has also not forgotten his Punjabi humour.  It is therefore no wonder that he chose to pen it down, write this book, “Neither Ghar ka; nor Ghat ka” in which he records our dictums, maxims and quotes, which would become a great contribution to the keeping up of our Pakistani sayings, satire and humour alive, not only in the subcontinent but for all the nostalgic Pakistanis living abroad. Our phrases, the anecdotes, their explanations, their relevance are now placed in safe custody (in his book) for our future generations. 

In this mechanical and computer age, what prevents us from becoming robots ourselves is the gift of humour. I had never thought of this until I read Zahir Kaleem pointing out “Man’s unique gift” in his book.  He says:

“Most people forget, some may have never ever realized that man is the only species blessed with a smile or outburst of laughter.  Some are further blessed with a sense of humour and spontaneous wit that bring joy and relief to stressed minds.  Try sharing a joke with a donkey, four or two legged versions and the point will explain itself.”

It is easy for us readers to read and sit back and enjoy a book, but I am sure, from the writer’s point of view, writing a book is a difficult task.  Be it satire or humour, it is complex and difficult, especially if you want to promote intelligent humour, which the author does unconsciously. Writing itself is creativity, whether serious or humorous, and creativity I believe comes as a result of a tormented soul, a person whose heart and mind is constantly in critical surveillance of the events around him.  Zahir Kaleem who lives in London, but whose roots remain in Lahore, Pakistan, has this quality of a torment and consequently the gift of writing.  His first book was on a serious note, “Personas of Holy Pretence” and he has now come up with this book of humour and satire, as perhaps he believes that serious literature is not popular any more.
My hope is that the readers will sail through the book with smirks, giggles and laughter.  It is easy reading with the familiar mix of Urdu and English words as have crept in, in our daily conversions and in the end will have learnt to appreciate the slogan “Lahore da pehla number”.

Parveen Qadir Agha

September 2018

Brief Book Intro

Case Brief

Siyasat hakumat khalaee makhlouk