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While Rome burns the Quarter-Pounders rule – by Zachary Latif

In a Troubled Country, Still Time for High Society. Pakistani High Society exerts a unifying influence along the same lines as Bollywood does for India. Pakistan’s elite is predominantly English speaking, convent educated and with strong overlapping ties to the political and military establishment with much religious & ethnic intermarriage. The term “Burgers” is brilliantly subdivided here, A Note on the Typology of Burgers – because broad and silly generalizations make things easy.

The “1000″ families, which is the ultimate social class (not economic or political however who have to retain more of the indigenous influences), are the “Quarter Pounders.” They are the ones usually quoted in the foreign media (Ahmed Rashid, Moni Mohsin; same Lahori QP circle) about Pakistan; the “1000 families” are fairly exclusive (will not socialise marrying out of their circle to wealthy families who aren’t QPs) and are the quasi-aristocracy of Pakistan. While seemingly attractive and enticing after a while one realises its a bubble that one can’t step out of so many of the “Quarter-Pounder” kids can’t make it in the West simply because they’re hopelessly addicted to their Guccistani lives in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a country small enough to have a cohesive elite but large enough that that elite has critical mass to subsist on its own; almost the right size to stay afloat. I hear from sources that lots of these families are looking for visas/properties abroad simply because this quasi-Victorian (take Oscar Wilde’s novel Dorian Gray, read it in Karachi and the similarities are breathtaking) structure is going to break down sooner or later.

There are three distinguishing natures of a QP in Pakistan:

(1.) English speaking household with Urdu to the domestic help. Urdu is acceptable but actually knowing any of the other local languages (Pashtun and Sindhi are very borderline but still a minus) is an automatic disqualifier from QP Status.

(2.) As stated below QPs are only found in Isb, Khi or Lhr; vacations taken abroad to Europe & the US not to the goan or smaller cities. QPs are found in F-sector in Isb (even within F there are specific breakdowns where you are can find them), Defence/Clifton in Khi & in Lhr I think Calvary Grounds is the epicentre. There are certain schools that produce QPs in abundance and these aren’t necessarily the best schools but just have achieved the right mix (KGS probably sits at the apex of QPness).

(3.) Alcohol is the key distinguishing factor; its the ultimate shibboleth. Its what separates the QPs from the broader society & I haven’t yet encountered a QP family that is entirely teetotaler. This super-relaxed attitude to social drinking is very different to the surreptitious attitude towards drinking in other Pakistani families. It also demonstrates open-mindedness to religion that is almost mandatory in QP; Sufi Islam is in vogue and atheism is more acceptable than “harder” forms of religion.

The bun kebab

Another interesting characteristic of bun kebabs is that a lot of people in Pakistan’s entertainment industry fall here. These include the actresses and fashion models types, looking to break free from a traditional, conservative family culture and embrace fully the vices promised by Quarter Pounderness.

The crispy chicken burger at AFC

This lot is a bit confused, but would be too proud to admit it. The AFC crispy chicken burgers did not have the luxury of going to the elitist of private schools in the country. Instead, they went to the second tier schools, which incidentally are still too expensive for most Pakistanis. You know, the Beaconhouses and City Schools of the world. Invariably, they believe that those kids who went to the elitist private schools are complete burgers (and thus don’t realize that they themselves are also quite burger, but just not burger enough).

The Quarter Pounder

Burgers belonging to this group are the easiest to spot, and are the most despised universally. They will only use English as a language of communication, unless speaking to their driver, guard, cook, or staff at their favored DVD shop at the market, in which case they will use Urdu that is often accented. Invariably, Quarter Pounders have studied at the elite private schools in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad (there are, by a law of nature, no Quarter Pounders from any other city) which their parents have paid an arm and a leg for. They can either be first or second generation Quarter Pounders (see ‘bun kebab’ section for an example of how first generation Quarter Pounders come to be).

Oh, an interesting aside. Even though I have labeled them Quarter Pounders, which is a McDonald’s brand, they are mostly likely to consider McDonald’s as a slightly ghetto joint which is too often frequented by the crispy chicken burgers. Thus, when craving a burger themselves, these burgers will only visit a McDonald’s joint via drive-thru, or will get home delivery. Or, they will simply go to Roaster’s in Zamzama and have expensive-as-shit burgers there.

For Quarter Pounders, looking down upon the other classes of burgers is considered standard and often encouraged. However, this attitude seems to be getting a bit passé now, and there appears to be renewed interest amongst this community in understanding the complex socio-economic problems inflicting the common man in Pakistan. Because we must help. Somehow. Like, you know, go back and do something meaningful.

Quarter Pounders probably don’t know that hockey is the national game of Pakistan. In fact, the only hockey they are likely to have seen is the kind played on ice, during graduate studies or regular family vacations to the United States. (Yes, it is indeed quite a fast game, and great fun to watch when drunk. I know. Shahbaz senior can kiss my chuddies.)

There is no point discussing cultural preferences and shit like that, because the only time they watch Pakistani TV is when the cricket team is playing some important match. (Incidentally, whenever they go see a cricket match live, they will sit in the enclosure that allows other Quarter Pounders to congregate. They are thus insulated from the aam junta (or, mango people. Oh man, Love Aaj Kal really outdid itself in this one! Pure brilliance.) and can enjoy the match with insane amounts of poondi to entertain themselves during boring periods like when Salman Butt is trying to bat.

In terms of music, they are likely to know more about the history of jazz music than the average American. Regarding movies, Bollywood is obviously considered to be a joke. However, Aamir Khan tends to be one Bollywood actor that is respected, and ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ is considered a good film. Because, well, it’s relatable. Shahrukh is considered a chootiya. Interestingly though, all the pomp and show of Bollywood comes alive for Quarter Pounders every wedding season, when pretty ladies do the sexiest dances to hits from the previous year wearing very-very tasty clothes.

On the Pakistani side of entertainment, Quarter Pounders are likely to have watched ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ once and found it a bit preachy but relevant. Because, you know, “it shows our religion in a positive light and shows the true face of those barbarian bastards, methinks.” Quarter Pounders also have vague recollections from when they were young of their mothers almost getting wet while talking about some random godforsaken dead guy called Waheed Murad.

Most readers of this blog fall in this category.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits