It was Friday, October 26, 2012, just a day before Eid-ul-Azha, when I was sitting comfortably getting my eyebrows groomed at Nina G salon in DHA, Lahore. Before this day, I had a good opinion of the salon and the service they provide to their customers. I was only five minutes away from getting done so I called my husband to come get me. The young receptionist at Nina G walked up, with a sense of urgency, to the girl who was meticulously grooming my eyebrows at the time. The receptionist spoke the following words to the girl in a loud voice (not very characteristic of her), “You are still doing this, while I asked you to get ready to do a manicure”.
I was a little confused as this girl was with me for the last one hour and nobody had talked to her besides me. Perhaps seeing my bewildered face, the receptionist whispered to me, “I am sorry! I have to do this because a client is getting very angry at us”. I smiled, understanding her situation. I could imagine the agony of trying to satisfy the unreasonable demands of women who are often not that educated or too cocky about their money or social class. They love to throw their weight around even a day before Eid when everyone is running on a tight schedule.
Lo and behold! A lady walked in with extremely aggressive body language, getting annoyed at everyone and everything. Guess who? Spot on! Our Foreign Minister herself – Ms Hina Rabbani Khar! Her ever so familiar filmy hairstyle with the side partition and her facial profile was enough to recognize her from a distance, let alone the 2 feet of thin air between us. She was fuming with a frown on her face saying, “I have to get somewhere by 3 o’clock and you guys are just not doing your job”. Oops! It was already past 1 pm. Clearly, someone has to teach Ms Khar some manners, courtesy, and the importance of planning and time management. At least three female staff members who were already busy with other clients left to beautify Ms Khar’s hands and feet. As Ms Khar got comfortable in her seat, she perhaps remembered her ‘political’ getup and draped a maroon dupatta on her head.
Prior to this encounter, I did not have a bad opinion of this ‘face of Pakistan’. Although, I did think that she was more hoopla than substance. Her fashion sense is a bit much for a country struggling with just too many battles at home and internationally. I feel that Benazir Bhutto and Margaret Thatcher had an aura of wanting to do something far more significant than merely making a fashion statement.
With my husband waiting outside getting all worked up about the delay, I sat there hoping someone would finish doing what I had gone to Nina G for in the first place. The girl grooming my eyebrows had excused herself to do Ms Khar’s manicure. How convenient for Ms Khar! I didn’t see Ms Khar look around her even once. In a room full of female customers and staff, Ms Khar didn’t feel the need to charm her audience at all. You are a politician, woman! Don’t you feel that people should want to remember you as someone worth remembering, as someone who is charming, and who wins over people’s hearts somehow? Oh let me guess, you do not have to win over Pakistani people by charisma or your political mandate, you can win them over by the power of your daddy’s name and your money. You can wow international audiences by your chiffons, pearls, and exquisite designer bags, but I am deeply unimpressed. Whatever education and exposure Ms Khar got, clearly didn’t do her much good. Or perhaps LUMS only taught economics to her; seemingly a dated lesson entrenched in making money at the cost of everything else.
Nobody wanted to meet her or get a photo taken. Nobody was OK with her throwing her weight around. There were customers who wanted the parlor to have CCTV cameras to document the wrongs that these political figures commit when they visit. I reckon, thanks to the recent Ms Sharif incident at Sweet Tooth Café.
A customer wondered if anyone else would get their work done at the parlor during Ms Khar’s visit. She added – why do such high and mighty people not get their manicures and pedicures at home. I wonder too. While Ms Khar and I may pay the same amount of money, small businesses in Pakistan would extend more courtesy to her than to me. Why? Does she pay more? Does she pay so much more and create such positive word of mouth for Nina G that they leave all other customers to attend to her uncalled for tantrums? I teach Marketing and Brand Management to the promising youth of Pakistan who tomorrow will be determining the fate of companies here. Of course, I should be the last one on the priority list. The writing is on the wall for me. I have to become a sleazy politician to get work done on time in my own country. Becoming a leading professor just isn’t going to cut the deal. God bless Pakistan!