The old friends were supposed to meet at a new coffee shop. ‘I wonder what he looks like now,’ Nostalgia pondered. He refused to join any social media website because that would mean losing the sense of an era he cherished deeply. He wondered if his old friend would notice how he had advanced from a toga to a shalwar kameez. ‘Even us lovers of the golden days, have to upgrade at some point.’ He smiled to himself whilst sipping his favourite tea. Not realizing he was humming the jingle of an ad, long gone by. The door of the coffee shop opened and in he walked.
‘Pakistani Television!’ Nostalgia shouted, half getting up from his seat half waving. They had not seen each other in a while but the well-lit space allowed them to take a good look at one another from a far. Pakistani Television took off his sunglasses and walked over to his friend. His jeans tight, his shirt tighter. His toupee an unconscionable colour combination. ‘Nostalgia!’ he exclaimed, hugging his friend, a peck on both cheeks.
‘Too long it has been’
They both said as they sat down, gearing up for what was going to be a long conversation. That was the thing about old friends, they could always pick up where they left off. ‘Oh come on! That is such a cliché!’ Pakistani Television screamed. Nostalgia wondered if his friend was going deaf (perhaps that was why talk shows these days were so loud). ‘But it’s true.’ He stated defensively. ‘I suppose, and clichés are really in these days.’ His friend responded distractedly as he studied the menu.
‘So! Did you find this place okay?’ Pakistani Television asked after finally placing an order for an almond milk, matcha latte. ‘Yes,’ Nostalgia sighed. ‘What?’ Pakistani Television inquired knowing full well, a tirade about something old was around the corner. His friend had a way of romanticising the past. He remembered how, during Zia’s time, his friend would pine for the days of strong female characters such as Shehnaz Shiekh in Ankahi. 20 years later, when they had met at a library he was yearning for a time where women and men both were more modest in their attire and political opinions.
‘Oh nothing…’ Nostalgia paused. ‘It’s just that, I miss the good old days.’
‘Which ones are you referring to?’ Pakistani Television asked dryly. ‘The days where one could watch television without getting a headache. Just the other day, I wanted to watch the news, instead, I thought I was being brainwashed. The male and female comperes kept repeating the same phrase over and over again, in different tones, all under the garb of ‘Breaking News’. I miss the days when the phrase ‘Breaking News’ actually meant something.’ He complained. Pakistani Television hated to agree with his friend, but he did. He didn’t know when the daily news bulletins had gone from being his most cherished to his most embarrassing offspring, still it hurt when someone else pointed this all-too-obvious fact out. ‘Why don’t we talk about something lighter?’ He begged.
‘Oh don’t get me started on the new comedies. Gone are the days of Aangan Terha, 50/50 and Loose Talk. I don’t think we will ever get a power pair to challenge the likes of Moeen Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood. Their style, their delivery, their ability to assume the role of the character. So much so that you forgot they were acting and just thought that’s who they were. No one, no one can come close to Bushra Ansari’s ‘Air Hostess Sketch’. Class, poise, character!’ He gushed, excitably, without pause. ‘Now days humour is so crass, so vulgar.’ He criticized.
‘Speaking of Bushra Ansari,’ Pakistani Television continued, ‘She’s still such a powerhouse. Her performance as Saima Chaudrey in the Baraat series makes one laugh so hard, one can’t breathe. Acting with her, in one of the seasons was another talented performer, Hina Dilpazeer. You should watch her drama Quddusi Sahab ki Bewah. She wrote it and played more than thirteen characters on it; all different from her portrayal of the beloved Momo on the super-hit show Bulbulay.’ He ended, triumphantly.
‘Okay but what about the dramas we grew up watching? Now days everyone is so hell-bent on portraying the role of the good girl being saved by the strong man’ Nostalgia continued. He was not used to being bested. But his friend countered again, ‘Sammi, Udaari, Baaghi…’
‘The list may be short,’ said Pakistani Television, ‘but the trends are changing for the better.’
‘People are trying. They are coming up with new scripts. So many of the new actors want to make a positive change in society and that is reflecting in the kind of work they are doing. What’s better, still, is that viewers are encouraging this. That means, if things keep going the way they are, your argument will become redundant in a few years.’ He ended.
‘What about the actors? Remember Tanhaayian? Asif Raza Mir as Zain was such a dream boat… According to my girlfriends’ Nostalgia coughed.
‘Take a look at Fawad Khan or Fahad Mustafa, Ahsan Khan… the list goes on’ Pakistani Television countered, ‘lets just say, you have a lot more to compete with.’
‘Oh no.’ Was all Nostalgia was able to muster. He made a mental note to actually watch everything his friend had recommended. Nothing could take the place of the shows he had watched growing up.
But perhaps, the way to get something better was to demand something better.
‘Maybe,’ he stated, after a long pause, ‘Maybe you could teach me how to make an account on Facebook, so that we can keep in touch and I can keep up to date on television show trends?’
Pakistani Television knew this was a bittersweet victory. On the one hand, Nostalgia was finally entering the 21st Century. On the other hand, it meant a weekly status on ‘how far society had regressed’, a barrage of pictures from the ‘golden days’ and, perhaps, most likely, a debate on any and every post his friend came across.
But that, he realized, was their good friend, the Internet’s problem.