The politics behind the new “top secret toys for highly mature adults!”
First you could eat them (‘Nawaz Sharif’s Chatpata Churan’ and ‘Tabdeeli Ka Nishan Imran Khan Churan’ — both purely Lahori creations). Then you could flash them (remember the cheap torch-equipped lighters that would project the image of your chosen political leaders on the wall!) And now, you can play with them, pummel them or just watch their oversized heads wobble.
Anything is possible in ‘Naya Pakistan’, especially when a budding new enterprise comes up with an ingenious concept: buy your own politician.
“And why not?” ask the men behind Bobble Dobble, a new online venture that sells limited-edition bobblehead dolls in the shape of our politicians. “They’ve bought and sold us many times, so now we’re going to sell them instead. We wanted to show these people, who were supposedly ‘in charge’ of us, in a fun light.” Their business was only 1.5 days old when I met them, and they had already gotten 20 orders — each one for a multiple set of dolls.
It was at a café in Zamzama (the location of which will be kept secret for security purposes) where we met the men behind this ‘daring’ yet loveable enterprise. Unwilling to use their real names, they chose their own aliases and shall henceforth be referred to Victor McPherson (Irish mafia), Don Pablo (Ecuadorian lover) and Mr Mister (mashoor rap-star). Yes, seriously.
On top of the table is their first batch of toys: a strangely slim Nawaz Sharif waving his hand, Shahid Afridi with both his arms up in a permanent state of triumphant joy, Imran Khan flashing a V sign (construe what you may from this) and Asif Zardari with his perpetual pearly-toothed smile. In fact, this particular Zardari had the ends of his moustaches fashionably tweaked upwards. It turns out that each Bobble Dobble doll is unique in its own way. In short: if you change the doll, you get a new moustache.
But how did they miss out on creating an Altaf Hussain doll? “Altaf Bhai ko kaun khareed sakta hai?” asked McPherson immediately, looking over his shoulder. Point noted.
Their website states that they sell ‘top secret toys for highly mature adults’, so what made them enter the adult toy industry, I ask? The men burst into laughter. Five whole minutes later, and they’re still laughing. “This is basically humour for adults. If you’re an adult, you’ll understand it,” said McPherson, wiping tears from his eyes, “that’s why we’ve classified it as ‘toys for adults’.”
“These toys are supposed to make your day better,” said Mr Mister, “if at the end of the day you’re really angry and frustrated at these politicians, you can take it out on the dolls.” Oh, okay. “But we don’t encourage violence of any sort!” he added forcefully.
Their website states, ‘You can put them on your car’s dashboard, office desk, or burn them in protests. We don’t care once you’ve bought them.’ “Yes, absolutely,” said McPherson, delving into how the idea of creating bobblehead dolls on politicians came about.
It all started some time ago when he was driving down a street in Lahore and came face-to-face with a poster of Asif Ali Zardari. That led this young man to question: “If politicians can exploit us to make money, why can’t we exploit them?” And thus, a Pakistani bobblehead dream was born.
Meet a real life Bobble Dobbler
Shakir Husain, (almost) 38, is a Karachi-based entrepreneur and storyteller who dabbles in capacity building. When he first came across the toys on a social media website, not only did he decide to place an order of dolls for himself, but he also wanted to share the love: he ordered extra units as presents.
What compelled him to place his order? Who did he buy? “It seemed like something fun and interesting with a political bent,” responded Husain, “I bought the three politicians and skipped out on Afridi.”
Did he think he got a fair bargain? “A thousand bucks a pop seems quite fair,” said the satisfied customer.
How did it feel buying a politician? Did he feel a surge of power rush through his veins? Like the ‘king of the world’, maybe? “If only they came so cheap,” he lamented, “When buying a politician, one must ensure that it’s one which can get some SROs passed.”
Did he see his favourite politicians up for sale? Who did he miss and would like to see up for grabs in the future? “Unfortunately, I didn’t,” Husain responded ruefully, “I would like to see Wasi Zafar, Abida Hussain and Shaikh Rashid. I think Benazir Bhutto, General Zia, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Nawabzada Nasrullah and General Musharraf should all be there.” Evidentially, he was just full of helpful suggestions. “We need to learn how to laugh at ourselves,” he finished.
What exactly is he planning to do with the politicians err … dolls? “I’m going to see how they work out,” he said, “I’m going to put the three politicians in my kid’s room so they understand why they need to study and do well in school.” And hence begins a family tradition that is sure to be passed down for generations to come.