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Lost In Trancenation

Lost In Trancenation

Black humour alleviates rage as Pakistan copes with heartbreak

Lost In Trancenation Reuters (From Outlook, April 11, 2011)

Spring is the time of the year people in Rawalpindi stay outdoors late into the night, relishing the balmy breeze that spreads exuberance all around. On March 30, though, as Pakistani batsmen stumbled against Indian bowling, and a waning moon shone in the sky, an eerie silence enveloped Rawalpindi. It seemed as if a curfew had been clamped on the city, reminiscent of the troubled times of the 1965 and 1971 wars, during which wailing sirens would punctuate the interminable silence. This gloomy picture was in sharp contrast to the mood earlier, when Pakistani bowlers were spinning a web around the famed Indian batsmen—each dismissal followed by a volley of shots, optimism soaring even as stray bullets injured five people in Hyderabad.

Suddenly, loud bursts of firecrackers tore asunder the midnight silence in Rawalpindi Cantonment, a security ‘Red Zone’ where surely Indians couldn’t have descended to celebrate their triumph. Could the Pakistanis, under the sway of cricket diplomacy, be sending up rockets to share in the joy of the people across the border? As I ventured out to investigate, I saw boys distributing boxes of mithai. My confusion was dispelled as 13-year-old Rahim Ejaz, freely mouthing expletives, said sarcastically, “We had saved up these fireworks and mithai for Pakistan’s victory but we are now bursting firecrackers in protest against Misbah-ul-Haq’s batting, the terrible fielding and Umar Gul’s bowling. (Interior minister) Rehman Malik had warned against players throwing the match. We are suspicious.” A few expressed their anger by hurling down TV sets from their balconies, and some women wept.

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