Let me ask you an unusual question to start with. No, no, it’s not a million dollar question. It’s much more affordable. Maybe just ten rupees. Though my hunch is, not many of my learned friends may have ever paid attention to this important question.
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The question: Is coconut a nut? Or is it just a misinterpreted and misunderstood nutcase?
You contemplate the question the next few minutes, while I beat about the bushes of a few other nuts.
In Pakistan, the cheapest self-affliction and self-punishment is to regularly watch a TV talk show, any of them. If you are one of those who regularly watch, you may have noted that in almost every show, one of the participants would say, “Its a million dollar question!” Then, this question is never answered.
If we count all the unanswered questions since 1947, the state and all governments by now owe its people a few trillion dollars in the form of millions of unanswered million-dollar questions. I wonder whether the state and governments in Pakistan would have been far less indebted to the citizens if all these questions were answered. And we, the people, may have felt far richer, and far better.
The other critical aspect of TV talk shows is their impact on viewers’ mental health. That’s where I love to contradict the PPP leadership in their trademark aphorism Democracy is the best revenge. It’s not. In Pakistan, TV talk shows are the best revenge; by some who talk, for all who watch. Elsewhere, TV informs & entertains; in our case, it instigates, angers and saddens.
So here comes a million dollar question: can we use ‘best’ with revenge? Should it not be worst! Or is it my odd English prodding me oddly on a minority trivia that doesn’t matter in democracy?
In some countries, politicians are called nuts; in others, bureaucrats are considered so. But all over, media-persons are believed to be nuts. Of course, along with bureaucrats and politicians.
I guess, the phrase, a hard nut to crack must be inspired by some honest bureaucrat who could not be cracked by corruption – which means, this coinage must have preceded Pakistan, and occurred outside pre-partition India. For, in our dear homeland, and in our not-so-dear neighbour-land, there is a way to crack everything – by sentimental affection, if not by corruption.
The hard nut to crack may also be prompted by an almond or a walnut! By the way, America is said to be the largest producer of nuts. Over the years, they have softened all their nuts. Even Trump is no exception; his cracking is so visible and audible now. The American establishment seems to have very strong teeth and a great grind.
In many countries, there are thousands of people who have allergies to nuts – original, edible nuts, like peanuts (moongphali), walnuts (akhrot), and pine nuts (chalgoze). In Pakistan, I have not met anyone who has any allergy to these. Pine nuts and walnuts are quite expensive, and even if one has allergy, one wouldn’t consume so much that allergies could raise their head. In case of peanuts, we eat them so much, so ferociously that the allergens in them are crushed too.
Now, getting back to the subject, and cheap question – the coconut. Almost every Pakistani has seen and chewed a coconut. As part of a sweet dish, if not at its own. It is brown from outside, white from inside, has beard-type hair around it, which is very hard to shave off. It’s very soft to chew, sweet in taste, but very hard to crack.
Metaphorically, Pakistan’s contemporary modern, urban, English medium generation is like coconuts: white from inside, brown from outside. They don’t appear to others the way they look at themselves from inside. Their relation and correlation to other youth in Pakistan is the same what coconuts have with other nuts – a nominal and phonetic relation.
Our politicians and bureaucrats who make and implement public policies see all youth as nuts. A country where various nuts are not treated and valued differently is a nutcase.
But the question remains, is coconut a nut?Share: