Caps and Hats

To tell you the truth I don’t know the difference between a cap and a hat. I just read a discussion about the difference between a cap and a hat. The majority agreed that a cap sits on the head snugly. It is inexpensive in comparison to a hat. It does not have a brim like a hat, sometimes just a kind of visor.

Since hats are superior they have the airs too, they have ribbons around them, have brims and ostrich feathers which are considered to be rare and expensive. These hats are carried in boxes, which proves that they are as snobbish as the people who wear them. If by chance they lose their shape you have to reshape them with steam and care.

A sage said about ladies’ hats that no two hats are made alike because nobody wants to make the same mistake twice. This could be true for both kinds of caps too: the once which decorate heads and those which go on necks.

There are caps on the bottles too; they are worn at the top most part of the bottle, which is wrongly named as neck. It should be called the head.

Once I visited the most fashionable shopping center in Los Angeles with my nephew. A well-dressed young sales girl approached me and said, “May I help you?”

“Yes,” I said promptly because I did not want to disappoint the girl. Though I knew in my heart that she would not be able to help me in any way as far as my purchasing power was concerned.

“What is the price of this perfume?” I pointed to the first bottle which was right in front of me.

The sales girl somberly lifted the bottle, examined it and said, “The actual price is $ 700, but since the cap is slightly damaged we will charge you only $5oo.

My nephew who has a unique sense of humor said very solemnly, “This means that the price of the cap is only $200. The bottle is expensive but the cap is not. Then he turned to me and said with a very serious face, “why don’t you buy the cap only, I think you can afford that much.”

I would prefer a cap to a hat any day, be it sunny or rainy. It not only….

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Americans are punny people

Americans are Punny People, by Razia Fasih Ahmad

Book Review by Patricia J. Esposito

As early as the prologue to Americans are Punny People, by Razia Fasih Ahmad, I was charmed. As the author relates how she came to write the book, she takes us on a journey of creativity—what she calls explorations and explosions—and we’re ready to take that journey with her…into a book of humor, insights, and imaginative anecdotes about everyday living.

The chapters are divided into Ahmad’s experiences with people, things, relatives, ideas, tests, places, health, and finally the grave, and each section begins with a short introduction that philosophizes on the topic in Ahmad’s friendly and humble style that makes us feel fondness toward our human connections and condition. From the misunderstandings of long-married couples to people’s universal bemusement with weather reports to the meaning of the phrase “starting over,” the chapters shift not only in subjects but in tone, from light humor to dark satire to winsome storytelling. My guess is that different chapters will appeal to different readers more or less dependent on what each of us brings to the book, what insights and humor most reflect our own experiences as well.

I enjoyed the book’s structure, offering insights at the start of each section, such as distinguishing “things” as either necessities or luxuries, and then delving into the various kinds of things in a manner that seems governed by whatever has taken Ahmad’s fancy. We begin to see that it’s Ahmad’s imagination that created the need for this book. An imagination that doesn’t stop asking, “but what if,” that can develop a relationship between machines and their creators, in which machines are shown to have intellect and a less than friendly agenda, or imagine the “truth” about those purveyors of junk mail, “people agonizing over your problems” so much so that they mail you constant solutions. Part of my delight in the book comes from watching what the author has deemed curious enough to explore, such as fences, literal and figurative, surprising us what all she uncovers.

The humor often comes through exaggeration, in taking an idea to its extreme, like how to make bulletproof vests popular or create game shows from junk mail or assert the birthright of cockroaches. There are laugh out loud moments, particularly, for me, in her discussion if in-laws, in which Ahmad names relatives by character traits that we all clearly recognize: Ms. Foresight, Cousin Smart, Ms. Misery. There are also quieter moments, in which Ahmad sheds light on human interactions and fallibilities within the many aspects of our everyday lives.

Ahmad displays an obvious love of language, creating her own puns throughout, such as discussing the “whether” in “weather,” and also a love of curiosity. When she’s brought down 1,120 feet into the earth, without being told what she’s there for, she reveals a person willing to take the ride, to observe with open mind and active imagination whatever comes before her. There are poignant moments, such as when she tries to read the faces of the people returning from this 1,120-feet journey below earth’s surface, to search for disappointment or excitement, finding only mystery, and then becomes one of the returning faces herself.

Anecdotes abound, from insights into learning new languages, getting plastic surgery, or handling confessions at the gravesite to meeting strangers who beg favors or arguing with a spouse about the strangeness of the creative mind. It’s hard to imagine what Ahmad hasn’t covered, yet I’m sure her mind has already thought up much more. This is the kind of book I’d like sitting on a side table, something easy to pick up and read for short moments, a break in the day, a delightful rejuvenation when the everyday world might seem boring, because Ahmad seems never to find it so.

Razia Fasih Ahmad has published some twenty books in Urdu, from novels to travelogues to short stories and poetry. She has won the Adamji Prize, Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi Award, and the Urdu Board Award. Her books can be found in the Library of Congress and in universities.