Modern management methodologies have tried to make meetings productive, to ensure the meetings are kept on time and to the agenda. In the mid-nineties, the concept of having a management meeting was such a novelty that it took a while of greeting, back slapping, hugging, handshaking, glaring at ones mortal enemies and exchanging family photos. In the days before mobiles, this was done with pictures printed on paper. Oh, how we laugh at it now. Of course, in 2007 I am a much more sophisticated, altogether authoritative and singularly brilliant, but back then, I was marginally less so. Despite this, I managed to deduce that the path to glory was in long, loosely structured meetings with no agenda.
Now the inner circle of the Hizb was an exclusively male one. However, those males were men of different types. There were no twins, or triplets or any sort of siblings-born-at-the-same-time. There was an associate body called the Sisters Circle, which met at the same time as us. They seemed to have much more fun than us but we had no idea what went on there. It became a bit of an obsession for us. However, as most of the senior members lived in quaking fear of their wives, they allowed the meetings to continue.
A perennial topic was the issue of the women’s modesty and problem with ‘covering up of the Womenses’. It wasn’t a theological issue, it was just an obsession. For example, it wasn’t enough that some women wore the traditional Pakistani dress, the shalwaar kameez was deemed unacceptable, as it proved the woman had two legs. Even the long loose robe, the jilbaab, was deemed not modest enough. A man, thinking about nothing in particular, could be mentally scarred by seeing a sister in a jilbaab. Some of the more hardline members of the Hizb wanted to go further and maintain the image that women floated by on a metaphysical magic carpet, like Mary Poppins, except covered up a lot more.
The women’s committee came up with a number of solutions. For some reason, the Hizb was dominated by IT graduates and medical doctors, so most of the solutions that were arrived at seemed to involve an electronic contraption of some sort.
The solution to the ‘Covering up of the Womenses’ was a full suit of metal that covered the entire body. Apparently under no circumstances were we to point out that the suit looked like a dalek suit sans ray gun. The designer, the husdband of Convener of the Women’s Committee, was very sensitive and had beaten his colleague quite severely after some ‘Exterminate! Exterminate! Jokes were made.
The first version of the suit had been made of a balsawood frame and thick fabric, but a sturdier contraption was needed. The next version was a metal exoskeleton with integrated wheelbase and lightning conductor. The management committee liked the suit and dubbed the phrase ‘Divinely Attired Ladies – Exoskeleton Kit’ – the DAL-EK. We didn’t tell the inventor.
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