January 15, 2011

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya Woh Jamiya Nahin

The final frontier for the nomadic bong was always his neighbouring nation, not because he lived near the Antarctic Circle but because neighbours at times are not the best of friends. But then, he believed in Qayanaat and it conspired to convince people across borders that a well nourished bong was not a threat to the peace process amongst their countries.

And so he went, to the twin city of Mumbai across the Arabian Sea, the city of Quaid, the bride of cities. And his long held beliefs were proven right. Economy and the common men were the two key ingredients of easing international tensions.

Krokola, one of the ancient ports in Sindh today is the busy city of Karachi. As I moved around its streets, it felt as if I had not left Mumbai. It was just like any other city of the sub continent, alive and kicking, passionate to make up for the lost time, hesitant to hope for a better future, believing in God, believing “Inshallah, sab thik ho jayega.” And that’s the difference between perhaps a Colombo and a Karachi. Colombo today is confident that tomorrow is a better day, Karchi today hopes that tomorrow is a better day. Karachi is also so close to India perhaps because it has the highest percentage of population born out of immigrant parents and I see the same longing in their eyes as I have seen in an old lady’s eyes in Delhi when she speaks about her house she left back in Peshawar.

On the flight back in an article, I read a poem by Rais Amrohvi – O! Hind Jane Wale Mera Salaam Le Ja.

‘Jab se bichhad gaye hain us khuld-e-rangabu se

Mehroom ho gaye hain, dil shauk-o-aarzu se

Baaz aayenge musafir kya zauk-e-justaju se

Ab tak wahi hai rishte, Dilli se Lucknow se

Ajdaad ke watan tak itna payam le ja

O! Hind jane wale mera salaam le ja.’

It’s a city however where as a SNDU employee you feel nice. The ghosla company is not stronger; we play on an equal footing. But then, those are boring talks. But if I were not in SNDU, perhaps I would never have visited the city.

The landscape of Karachi is defined by Teen Talwar, and perhaps this symbolizes the dreams of a nation that was born a day before us. Unity, faith and discipline – the 3 principles on which the Nation once hoped to build itself. Having been to the city at its most brilliant weather conditions, I found the sea faces pretty clean and the main roads broad enough but public transport is near zero making life troublesome for the common man.

Of course there were two differences from Mumbai. The air was cooler and the food, it was mind numbing. The Kebabs, the pranthas, the naans, the raan, it was a feast beyond imagination. In all the restaurants I went, finding a vegetarian item was a task that would leave Sherlock Holmes panting. And their rolls – if ever Calcutta can face competition, it will be from Karachi.

The issues between 2 countries ensured that my cell was not working and it felt so liberating. And I decided to go shopping. That was disappointing though. There’s nothing I could see which seemed unique. Of course, if you are looking for good quality and reasonable textiles and leather goods, then Karachi offers some good deals. Also the carpets and their intricacies have the capability to blow your mind away.

As for me, I can afford only some nice original Audio CDs from every country I visit.

It was an important trip of my life, one that made me feel complete in my job. One that told me I now truly knew the sub continent I call home and there is hope one day of peace uniting us all.

But Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya… reminds me that I have to come back.

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