Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

The ‘wisdom’ of Ordinary People

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Feryal Gauhar (who doesn’t know who she is) in the course of a conversation with me once said, ‘Ordinary people are just that: ordinary!’

Now, Feryal is a very clever person and one of those rare women with a sense of humour – that too sharp and scintillating as sharp and scintillating can ever be. On the face of it the above statement by her would seem very class-conscious and discriminating, but look deeper and you’ll find she made a great deal of sense.

Nowadays ordinary people are not even simply ordinary; they are plain stupid. But let me take you back many years. It was the August of the Auspicious Air Crash which rid us of vermin in khaki uniform. This incubus had infected and raped this sorry nation for eleven long years and was thankfully eliminated in a fiery trice. And this did not happen by an act of God. It came to fruition by the cunning machination of the one who took the chopper back to Rawalpindi. On that happy day, a C-130 was ‘mangoed’ out of the skies above village Tamevali near Bahawalpur.

In those bad old days we only had PTV and for days on end moronic TV reporters went about interviewing ‘ordinary people’ about what they saw. In the flood of the most idiotic things we heard, there was this one elderly craphead, obviously some village elder much respected for his supposed wisdom, who was shown repeatedly in order that his sagacity might not be missed by anyone of us 130 million happy souls. Yes, there was time when we were only that many people.

He told the moron with the microphone that before the C-130 crashed, it teetered and tottered this way and that. And, wait for this, loud arguments emanated out of the open windows. Though Elderly Craphead could not make out what the row was about, he was in no doubt that some really serious shouting was going on inside the careening C-130. I am so glad he did not tell us that he even saw men coming to blows. Then, said he, another window was opened and someone shot a whole sheaf of papers out of it.

The poor bastard had never been aboard an aircraft and he imagined the windows of a C-130 were much like those on the Manthar Travels bus he used that one could open and close at will. I hope that blighter is dead and I only grieve that he might have lived many more years after the Auspicious Crash to tell people how things worked. By the way, I think that was the last time I ever watched television.

And now the unfortunate and very sad crash of the ATR-42 near Havelian occurred. This time round we have private television channels galore. And if I had thought PTV was rock bottom, I should have waited. The current crop of private channels crashed through rock bottom on the day they were inaugurated. They are now hurtling down the dark, dark black hole of empty space.

I hear from television-watchers that hundreds of Morons with Microphones are prowling about the crash site interviewing eye-witnesses. And the rubbish the idiot eye-witnesses have to mouth is unbelievable.

Why don’t these idiot television reporters understand that ordinary observers cannot tell them anything other than the plane coming down. To ask an ignorant village bumpkin what he thought went wrong is the same as the moron who does travel shows on a private TV channel. He arrives at a site and says, ‘Right, we are in Taxila and I see a chowkidar. Let’s ask him about the history of Taxila!’

The poor, ignorant, ill-educated bastard does not understand that the chowkidar knows bull about the site he is supposed to be minding – and which he does not. If he knew enough to educate a television audience the blighter would be curator of the site and not the bloody chowkidar!

Now the other day with half a dozen foreign experts visiting the site and pottering about the remains of the aircraft and then departing left the reporter of the paper I read (I read only one daily) very distraught. Almost forlornly the poor man reported that the experts did not even bother to consult any locals.

Well, good for the experts they didn’t. Mainly because they did not have the time to fool around with dozens of morons who did not know their elbow from their backside telling them what must have gone wrong with the ill-starred ATR.

This brings me to a summer some years ago when I was in Hyderabad in a room with a television playing. The breaking news on at that moment was about the crash of an army chopper not far from Hala. Since I had a friend then serving in the squadron at Karachi, I called him to ask if he and his mates were okay.

Several hours later it turned out that the breaking news was rubbish. Some bumpkin following the tradition of the then Chief Minister having stoned himself on a liberal few glasses of bhang saw the chopper pass overhead. Now, the illusion of a receding flying object appearing to descend is commonly known. And so, having seen the helicopter disappear behind the trees on the horizon, the bhang-drunk idiot phoned some equally bhang-drunk and evermore foolish reporter in some television channel.

And so we had the breaking news of the army helicopter crashing near Hala.

QED: ordinary people are not just ordinary; they are utterly stupid.


posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 19 December 2016 at 11:06, Blogger Unknown said...


At 19 December 2016 at 16:29, Blogger Unknown said...

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” George Carlin

At 19 December 2016 at 16:45, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Interesting, Gill sahib and very true.Gone are the days when an elder actually had sense. We lost all that wisdom with the coming of banal television.

At 20 December 2016 at 02:07, Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Mr Rashid,
Thank you for your amusing and insightful article. Your sharp wit never ceases to impress.
However, the question of the stupidity of the ordinary Manthar Bus commuter is sort of obvious. A more interesting question would be the following: if there is demand for that travel show about Taxila, if the average television watcher is showing interest in the whys and hows of the plane crash, why is his/her curiosity fed with rubbish? What is it that has further lowered this rock bottom level, even though the literacy rate and the number of ppl with access to TV and Internet - and hence the demand for information - have increased significantly as compared to the Auspicious August?

Would love to hear your opinion.

At 20 December 2016 at 12:01, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Nauman Raashid, Old Carlin was always precise and bluntly so! Never truer. Thank you for sharing.

At 20 December 2016 at 12:51, Blogger Ashfaque Dasti said...

What would you expect from a commoner, lured by idiot-box and who got this once in his lifetime opportunity to be on National Media, would do? He has to make most out of it, Had he simply said I know nothing about how and why plane crashed would he be on tv.

At 20 December 2016 at 13:52, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Ashfaque Dasti, you hit the nail square on the head. That's it,my dear friend.


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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