I spent some hours in Karachi on my own.

What a fucking dump.


Siddiqi had gone off with some very unsavoury-looking characters to score a brick of heroin to pay for our return flights.

And in a dirty coffee-shop with an excellent view of the entrance to the Central Police Station, I ran into a young, long-haired Australian surfer-type making his way across Asia to Europe.

We chatted amiably about this and that. Having gained his confidence, I asked him how many hardcore pornographic channels there were on Australian television, but he didn’t seem to care. “That stuff is for wankers and poofters and Pakistanis, mate,” he said confidently. “I make my own action.”

“What sort of action?” I asked, hoping to be able to get back at him for this slight.

He grinned apologetically. “Acid.”

“This is not the sixties, chum. You won’t find any acid in this part of the world,” I said.

“You will, mate. There were a couple of old winos selling it in Peshawar,” he replied.

“What winos?” I asked.

“It’s true. I didn’t see them myself, but a girlfriend told me. Two college professors: one guy from London, and the other from the States. A seven-foot poofter in Spartacus leather shorts, and another huge, fat balding prick with a purple complexion.”

“Purple complexion, fuck!” I roared.

The Australian looked surprised. “It’s true.”

I would definitely have to get some more blood-pressure pills as soon as I got back to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I changed the subject. “So, anyway, what have you learnt about Pakistani culture while you’ve been here?”

“Culture?” he guffawed. “Test cricket?” He leant across the table and borrowed my cigarette lighter.

I was incensed. “That’s typical of you glib young people. You travel to a foreign country, yet you know nothing about it. You’re sensationalists.”

“So?” He slouched forward, unable to sit up straight.

“Well, that’s just it!” I said, indignantly. “You’ve moved into the sacred Realm of Islam—‘Dar-ul-Islam’—yet the finer points of Islamic civilisation are unknown to you. What’s more, I genuinely don’t think you care!”

“Maybe not,” he said, toying with a bidi.

“How dare you! My God, how dare you!” I roared. “While Europe was in the Dark Ages—with your ancestors holed up in caves, masturbating at every corner—Islamic civilisation was flourishing all over the Arab world. Islamic scientists gave us the camel harness, the concept of the sand dune, and the Bedu tent. We would still be jerking off in caves, otherwise. Islamic culture gave us God-endorsed, institutionalised cruelty, rote learning of the Koran, the hidden woman, the non-existent woman, the goatee beard, and the toilet-seat beard! Did you know that the Arabs have 25—or is it 65—distinct words for camel methane, whereas poverty-stricken English has yet to find a single one? Islamic character development taught the world how to take offence over nothing in particular, and how to derive slights from the most innocent-looking situations, and how to nurse trivial and imaginary grievances for thousands of years. Fuuuuck! Have you ever read the Koran? Ask yourself why not, if you have any shame!”

“Uh,” said the youth, looking chastened and becoming sullen.

“Did you know that the photocopier was an Islamic invention?” I asked, pointedly. “As well as the Kalashnikov?”

“What the fuck are you on about?” he snorted, looking annoyed.

“Did you know,” I sneered, cutting myself loose from strictly scholarly moorings—but what the hell—“that while your ancestors were still shitting all over their caves in the outback, the first mobile toilets had probably already been installed in Arab palaces? Did you know that Saudi jurists are incapable of making mistakes?”

He fiddled with his fingers, probably as a displacement gesture for enuresis; I didn’t take a course in fucking psychology for nothing.

I drove the point home mercilessly. “It seems to me, my dear young man, my fine friend, that your time would be more profitably spent in visiting your college library and in reading some of the great works of post-modern Islamic literature—Ahmed Harold Pinter, Mohammed Chuck Bukowski, Thomas Haji Bernard, Samuel Abdul bin Beckett—than in watching pussy on Australian television or in buying poor-quality acid off washed-up academics. You’re probably a common fucking drug addict! As well as being something of a clown. Overall, you’re a fucking wash-out!”

I let these insights wash over him.

“So where do you fit in to all this? You look like a Paki yourself,” he sneered.

High time for the coup de grace, I decided.

“Have you ever watched a sheep being slaughtered halal-style?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Maybe on TV,” he said.

“With a fucking arsehole sporting a toilet-seat beard, busily mumbling verses while the animal struggles for life, with its throat cut? What do you think he’s saying? Have you any idea? Could he be reciting supermarket rates for meat? Or the provisions of the health and safety act? Tell me, you cunt!”

Again, the head shake.

“Why fucking not? Tell me! Have you, for example, read the hauntingly beautiful sonnet by Mustapha Willy Shakespeare, ‘Ode on an Excised Clitoris?’” I continued, going on to recite a few lines, in a sonorous voice:

O exquisite barber, scimitar of Sheikh Hussain,
Who cleaned the bride, of the blob, that did reside,
Remained – unwillingly, betwixt the garland, purloined
Around the unsustained, in error withal, withdrawal,
My odour-free Islamic knob, the Koranic mane
in glorious Samarkand…

He said nothing.

What could he say?

“Mmm,” I said, smugly, nodding like a fucking donkey.

He looked crestfallen. He was clearly devastated.

I felt a little sorry for him in his dejection, and with his useless life. Stupid fucking first-year students; they seem to be everywhere these days.

I lent back on my wooden stool and casually took a mouthful of greasy coffee from a cracked plastic cup. Sometimes it takes a Professor of Islamic Studies from Harvard to put you in your fucking place.

Which reminds me: I must speak to the Registry about getting a better parking space for next term.

Suddenly, I could contain myself no more.

I stood up and, at the top of my voice, with all the testosterone my balls could muster, roared at the noisy Pakistani street. “Fuuuuuuck yooou! Fuuuuuuuck yoooooou! Fuuuuuck!”

A little man in khaki shorts who had all the time been standing at my elbow chirped up.

“Taxi, sir?”

It was all very silly, really.

Wasn’t it?


Some days later, one morning, probably at about the very time the Koranically-immured woman was beginning to decompose, Siddiqi and I were lying on a beach outside a village on the Arabian Sea, some miles down the coast from Karachi.

I’d just returned from jerking off in the bushes; Siddiqi was trying unsuccessfully to sleep off seven bottles of local brew.

We were startled by the noise of running feet. In my reverie, I thought it the arrival of the Mongol hordes.

Our contact with the Times of Karachi came sprinting along the sands, his face aglow.

“Good news, boys! More local sharia law!” he said, excitedly. “A public whipping in one of the villages!”

“What’s it all about?” I asked, sitting up on an elbow and trying to work out whether or not we were being arrested.

“A little urchin fellow; five years old, a little scamp,” he explained, breathlessly. “Caught stealing. They’ve tied him to a post. He’ll stay there all day until the village finishes work. Then they’ll bring a mullah, and then they’ll try him, and then flog him. Maybe 100 lashes. Maybe 150! Maybe 200! The Saudi ambassador is flying out from London to watch. Some test cricketers will be there. I will video for distribution on the internet. You like come see? You like come see?”

I turned to Siddiqi. “Let’s get out of this shithole while we still have out sanity. I’ve had a fucking gutful of this Islamic gore-chasing and necro-tourism. Let’s research something else.”

“Like what?” asked Siddiqi.

“Let’s go to Vegas,” I answered.


“Offer to lick any woman’s crack anytime, without payment, on demand. Squander our research grants on experienced middle-aged ladies with great tits. See which one of us will be the first to fuck Demi Moore. Jerk off in hotel rooms. Check out the very best in Western civilization, while it’s still here.”

“Yes, fuck, you’re on!” shouted Siddiqi, springing to his feet like a young man and doing a foolish dance, but farting violently as he did so.

“Okay, now you’re talking!” I roared, punching the air.

“Bags we go and see the Beach Boys, if they’re still playing,” said Siddiqi, breaking wind a second time.

“Bags we go to Siegfried and Roy,” I added.

“Fuck them. They’ve retired. Gorefest!”

“Cannibal Corpse.”


“Fuck, this is going to be good!” said Siddiqi, rubbing his hands excitedly.

“Do you think, Master,” I asked him suddenly, “that other than suicide, there is a way out of this godawful fucking life?”

“What exactly is the way in?” he answered, convincingly.

Good old Zen; never lets you down.

He was still farting as I picked up my belongings and started towards the bus station. In a truly bum-plugging society, God would not have been able to understand a single word we said.


For all installments of “Love You, Zyra,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3