Our history is littered with half-confirmed truths, myths, and folktales. Scotland has the mystery of the Lochness monster, the United States has the Big-Foot, Nepal is rumored to have Yetis, and Pakistan has their own unique mythical creature, the Bara Aadmi (the Great Man).

These creatures are elusive. It is hard to confirm their presence by the standard scientific method. Under contemporary Pakistani desi culture, multiple methods have been devised, but they can be incredibly subjective. These methods have been scrutinized, deconstructed, and changed according to different eras. Some core truths have stood the test of time; however, the Bara Aadmi of today is vastly different from the Bara Aadmi of the 18th Century. Perhaps, the most troubling fact is that a normal Pakistani is susceptible to become a Bara Aadmi. [1] Unbeknownst to us, not everyone can be a Bara Aadmi, but a Bara Aadmi can come from anywhere. Let’s try to unpack this phenomenon even further.

Desi Classification Methodology

It is has been established that any classification, according to the scientific method is not accepted. Opinions greatly vary, but there are some common indicators of a Bara Aadmi. To pass the common desi threshold, a person has to be referred to as a “Bara Aadmi” by a congregation of aunties and some uncles. This acknowledgment is often enough for a person to be qualified as a “Bara Aadmi”. Some common phrases in this induction have been listed below.

  1. “Haan, wo tou ab Bara Aadmi hai” (Yes, he’s a great man now).
  2. “Dekho, wo Bara Aadmi ban gaya hai” (Look, he’s become a great man now)

These wording/language of these phrases might defer according to the different Diasporas within Pakistan. Nevertheless, we will discuss these thresholds on a case by case basis.

Common Variants

According to Najma, a Bara Aadmi is easily distinguishable from a distance. If one is grocery shopping in Itwaar Bazaar, a Bara Aadmi is the sole person who isn’t engrossed in haggling. All the sellers already recognize this creature and trip over themselves trying to sell their wares to him. [2] The radiance of a Najmian Bara Aadmi is so permeable that everyone in proximity comes to know of his presence. Rickshaw walas stop their rickshaws for a chance and yell out the best rates, but the Najmian Bara Aadmi already has his Civic parked in the parking lot. This creature can make doors open, whether they are automatic or not. This Bara Aadmi is fervently nationalistic and dons a Pakistani flag on the 14th. His understanding of politics is quite deep, and he even has a few MPAs in his pocket. The Najmian threshold for a Bara Aadmi requires an in-pocket politician [3]. In my research, I came to respect this version of a Bara Aadmi. However, there were even more enticing and intriguing variants of this creature.

The next variant, the Rashidian Bara Aadmi is a rare occurrence. Rashida states that a true Pakistani Bara Aadmi is one who doesn’t live in Pakistan [4]. Instead they visit home occasionally, as they have set up their life abroad. It is then impossible to see this variant haggling in Itwaar Bazaar or making small talk with rickshaw walas. Once in Pakistan, the Rashidian Bara Aadmi frequents malls, cinema, and any other spot that might remind them of their life abroad. Their minds are calibrated to deal in Dollar instead of the Rupee, and this benefits anyone who might ask for some money. For a Rashidian Bara Aadmi 50$ might be pocket change, but for his drooling young cousin, it is a life-changing sum of money. Rashida notes that this Bara Aadmi has no intention of setting up a home in Pakistan but visits back to meet his relatives for special occasions. His nostalgia for the homeland is palpable yet he may come across as incredibly conflicted. To the question of moving back, he often retorts with a simple, “Jab halaat behter hongay, tb ajaon ga” (I’ll come back when things get better).

Due to these circumstances and an incredibly rare territorial overlap, it is unlikely that the Najmian and Rashidian Bara Aadmi might have close interactions or an amicable relationship.

Professional Life

Although there are more variants of Bara Aadmi, our focus is to look at this phenomenon holistically. Bara Aadmi are categorized as people who have excelled in their careers to the extent that only a few others have. It should be noted that a Najmian Bara Aadmi has limited choices and is often either an accomplished Engineer or a revered Doctor. Businessmen are also in this category, but they have more conditions to meet before passing the Najmian Threshold. The Najmian Threshold for a businessman states that he must have multiple shops (an international presence is preferable) and have an income that towers above the average Pakistani. Under these strict conditions, the Najmian Bara Aadmi is considered accomplished, respectable, and valuable. The younger this creature is, the greater his wow factor becomes. [4]

The Rashidian Bara Aadmi has more lax conditions. Due to his ties abroad, the Rashidian Bara Aadmi need not adhere to these select few professions. Although a low-income profession does affect the brag-ability of this variant, he still passes the Rashidian Threshold. You might ask what this threshold is. The Rashidian Threshold relies on the sole condition of the person being ‘settled abroad’. Being settled abroad means having a permanent residency, or, even better, citizenship in any first world country. [5]

The Gender Question

As you might have noticed, the Bara Aadmi status has been solely attached to the male gender. This categorization has been widely accepted with only a few differing opinions. The base case for a male Bara Aadmi falls back to gender conventions. If the idea of Bara Aadmi is elusive enough, the very concept of Bari Aurat (great woman) is incomprehensible. However, there have been cases that have challenged this denomination.

According to Maira, a more modern aunty, Bari Aurat does exist within society. While a Bara Aadmi garners respect, the Bari Aurat is shot down with contempt and envy. The Mairan Threshold for a Bari Aurat is much more liberal and states that the woman should be content with her career/family life. Some other requirements are a mix of the Najmian and Rashidian conditions; however, these methods are still very much in experimental stages. [6]

In this paper, we have explored some basic and archetypal concepts for a Bara Aadmi. There is still room to discuss more implications of this creature, their impact on society, and some common perceptions.

Bibiliography

  1. A conversation with Muhallay ki auntiyan.
  2. During haggling with Itwaar Bazaar Sellers.
  3. Chai with Aunty Najma.
  4. Coffee with Aunty Rashida.
  5. Coffee with Uncle Imran.
  6. Cupcake with Aunty Maira.

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