Raja Ovais has become popular overnight. So has Cannoli, a little known restaurant in Islamabad’s posh Sector F. Female owners of this restaurant made fun of his poor English speaking skills on camera, setting off a storm of criticism. If natural, the storm, as is logical, should have turned into a sympathy wave for Ovais but it has not. Interestingly looking very sympathetic, Shahbaz Taseer Tweeted him a job offer at Pace. In an interview with VLoger Muhammad Imran, Ovais confirmed that Shahbaz also called him to make the offer but he thinks that he is comfortable working with Cannoli, which he says is like his home. A wise decision, indeed. And in this VLog, we will evaluate these two developments.
Having been associated with the profession and research on media, I have no doubt to state that social media trends, especially on Twitter, are not made naturally. Copious reports have shown that trend making has become a multi-million rupee industry in the sub-continent.
If you look at the Twitter trend, it is Boycott Cannoli. Ovais is not in this trend but his misery is there and Cannoli is there. It seems to me that this trend aims to market Ovais’s misery in a blatant manner.
This trend means to generalize that other than Cannoli, all restaurants in Islamabad where we go do not make fun of their staff. It is absurd. The abuse of staff that we witness at other restaurants in the same market as Cannoli is raging and you need to do a brief survey of restaurants in the SuperMarket to find it.
Not only restaurant owners, we consumers subject restaurant staff to a good amount of abuse and insult. Ovais has also thanked the Prime Minister believing that he has spoken on his behalf when he stated that no one should be insulted because they cannot speak English.
Time and again, the PM has said that English is just a language and not a measurement of intelligence. At the same time, he keeps on narrating examples of lifestyle and governance in English-speaking countries and appealing to Pakistanis living there for donations.
Like him, many others who sympathize with Ovais take pride in their English speaking skills and their working experience with European and American people. So much so that Australian wife of Wasim Akram threw the gauntlet to the owners of Cannoli calling them to a contest for speaking English with her. Vow.
Had all these sympathizers an iota of sympathy in them, they would have arranged for Ovais and others like him special classes to learn English. But if they do it, they know that the line between them and the likes of Ovais will fade off. So for Ovaises of Pakistan, they have the lollipop of profound Urdu literature. I am in contact with many activists for Punjabi language. I know that they send international donors their proposals in very good English for promotion of Punjabi but they do not tell their Punjabi audience that their English skills do matter if they have to be bosses like them.
English is like power that our power elites do not want to share with us their subjects. As for the job offer by Anglophile Shahbaz Taseer, somebody just showed Ovais the replies to his tweet. There is a volume of employees of the Taseer family who have not been paid. Employees of their newspaper have been fighting their cases in different courts of law. But their family feeds an army of lawyers to keep their employees out of pay. Even after winning court cases from this army, the employees are not paid. The ID Card of his brother Sheharyar Taseer has been seized by the government in a case for payment of dues but even then the payment is not made. I will leave as you read out a few replies to his Tweet without making any comments on my own. And the decision lies with you.