Category Archives: Travelogue

A Walk Down Tariq Road In Karachi

‘Defense of Pakistan conference’. First thing I was greeted with, obviously, given the dates I was there. The streets of Karachi provide a lot of political capital. The walls, the poles, the dumpsters; they’re all covered. If you stand still long enough somebody will probably stick a banner on your ass.

‘Sunni Tehreek or…? Death!’. I would be very happy to oblige them by the way, if their alternative is really that. Of course, the feeling is probably mutual. An ‘ST’ graffiti denoting Sunni Tehreek was ubiquitous on Tariq Road walls. I was tempted to buy a bucket of paint and add a ‘D’ at the end of all of them.

Not to say however, that these streets are just the province of religious and political power brokers. Even appeals for motual aid can be made…or self-advertising done. Which leads to some interesting sights.

Mazar-e-Quaid per oontni ka doodh dastyab hai. Apprently. Baba-e-Qaum tau suna tha, Baba-e-Shutr ab sun rahay hein.

Of course no post on Karachi street culture can be complete without the master propagators. From inside those tents blared loud musical tributes, no doubt extracted at gun point, to the greatness of Altaf Hussain; and speak of the man himself.

There he loomed imperiously over a Chowk, holding out just a solitary admonishing finger, forbidding you; from breaking the traffic signal, from spitting on the road, from cheating on your wife, from wiping your hands on your trousers after a hearty meal. You must not pick your nose. You must not pick up hos. You must not forget your tax returns. Where ever you go, Brother Altaf is watching you.

Since it was a Thursday, there had to be free food somewhere. They had a a ‘degh’ up and everything. Unfortunately, it looked like the gentleman on the far left had already emptied it on his own, every Thursday for the last decade.

Though no one can enjoy a good meal if they have unhappy teeth. What a name too! Sharia compliant dentistry? All instruments Islamized?

On the subject of names, you’ve got to love this one. You go into their shop thinking you’re buying jewelry when you could come away with anything really; often it’ll be vegetables, or used underwear and sometimes a rare species of crossbred spaniels that like to shit from a height. Surprise!

Some things just name themselves though; I mean, if you had the choice, what else would you call pampers, really?

Spiderman owns a shop in Karachi too. The recession in the States must have hit the crime fighting gig real hard.

And finally, Misbah’s ride was parked outside a gym, where he was no doubt practicing his grimaces in front of a large mirror.

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