28 February, 2021

Time’s Bitterest Jokes

In an inspection of identity, influences and civilisational pull, Sardar reclaims ‘desi-ness’ for the Pakistani, craving a new binding of old unifiers

Time’s Bitterest Jokes

For the Greeks, nostalgia meant a mix of sweet and bitter pangs that humans suffer in search of their roots and identities. From what was once considered a ret­urn of pain or some sort of sickness, relived nostalgic moments are now said to improve mood, increase self-esteem, strengthen social bonds and imbue life with meaning. It does so for Ziauddin Sardar, as moments of reckoning through sights, scents, and sounds of the lived past reveal his true self as a ‘desi’, an identity sans ethnic lineage and national boundaries. Why should my identity be limited to a mere seventy years and a vaguely samosa-shaped area on the world map? As a compassionate critical thinker and an accomplished author, Sardar traces his identity in the macrocosm of culture and civilisation beyond the body politic of the nation-state called Pakistan.

Ways of Being Desi pieces together those aspects of history and culture that have either faded from peoples’ imagination or lie marginalised in the percepts of territorial identity. Such an identity has cast an unmistakable...

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