Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It seems that one of the side effects of fever is the foot in mouth disease. Earlier this morning, after suffering from varying degrees of fever, I decided to visit the doctor. By the grace of God, I dont fall sick too often. So I dont really have a fixed doctor to go to, in fact I havent been to a Doctors in at least two years. So I ended up at the nearest walk-in clininc that I could find.
The lady the reception registered me and I waited. The door to the doctors office opened and I saw the face of an angel.
Yes, Dr.Goldstein was a young beautiful doctor and when she called my name it sounded like heavens summoned me. I was caught up in her looks and her pregnant glow. Yes, she was on the family way as well. But that glow just left me spell bound. Like we used to watch cartoons that would float with the waves to find the food, I floated my way to her office on the seat across from her. And so she asked "How are you doing?" and in my state of spell-bindedness the only response my mind came up with was "I am doing well. How are you?". Dr.Goldstein laughed and asked what I was doing there if I was well. And then it hit me, I stepped out of the trance, albeit quite embarassed and explained what was bothering me. She did a check up and told me all was well. But if you ever read this Dr.Goldstein, it were your wonderful eyes and your face that can put any man in trance, that made all things better for me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

This Whole Thing About The Bugtis of Balochistan

If you are a Pakistani or an Indian who is exposed to propaganda machine called media or even someone who just takes interest Pakistani or South Asian politics, you would have seen the news that a certain Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed yesterday. The government called him a rebel a title that obviously does not please his supporters like the handful of agitated Balochis who ran amok in Queeta or the Indian media and security agencies who used Bugti time and again for create unrest around the Pakistans most critical energy reserves.
So who was Akbar Bugti and why did his end come in such a horrid fashion. To begin with, I am saddened by the fact a human life was lost in an unpleasing fashion but this however is no reflection of my feelings towards his exit from the political fray of things. As you might notice on his Wiki site, he belonged to a family of the ruling elite of the Indian Sub-continent and later Pakistan. He basically inherited his status of a so called political leader and more or less aptly labled by the government as a rebel leader. His great-grandfather, was an ally of the English prior to the 1947 partition and the whole family came to significant lime light when natural gas resources were discovered in their "tribal area" which pretty much remains under the control of Nawab Bugti and his band of trigger happy men.
His end was a long time coming. In Urdu there is a saying that latoon kay bhoot batoon say nahi mantay, which can be translated to the tune of some people just wont learn without physical punishment. Akbar Bugti, under the guise of a protector of Baloch rights butted his head with several governments before. There were times in the 70s when he was bombed by the air force. Then to control him he was put in power of the province as well. Yet he continued to be a pain in the governments already painful behind. And so it goes that Musharraf drew the line and decided that it was time to get rid of this malignancy developing in a region of increasing importance for Pakistan as well as South and Central Asia.
So what he did do? Well his demand was to seek royalties for the gas being pumped from his fields and going to the entire nation. Which is a fair demand. As long as the moeny earned in return goes to the people who deserve it, those who love on their land and not their sardar. Who is actually the feudals who more or less "owns" the people of his tribe. He is the king and his word is the final word. This in a soverign country is not acceptable. Now you may argue that fedulaism is at the root of the weed thats keeping the country from progressing so why only him. Well the answer is simple, other feudals have managed to work without calling for rebellion for their personal interests. They havent been working at the behest of other nations to challenge the national security situation. And so, they get away with it, hopefully not for long.
So who is the "foreign hand" in this equation. Primarily India, but as one goes on to think may not neccesarily have been the case this time around. There are basically two schools of thought on this situation. One that looks as historical events and recent developments and points at India and the other that points at some vested interests of some Arab states. Lets deal with India first.
I just remain astounded by the fact that a country as progressive as India recognizes the destabilisation of its neighbour as key aspect of the foreign policy that goes around in the secretive strategic circles of that nation. They are enourmouse, much more huge than Pakistan. They are economically a lot more stable. But yet, they continue to counter the Kashmir situation with creating insurgencies within Pakistan. Their first and foremost was the Balochistan province which is known for its mineral reserves. Think of it this way, it comes very close to being the Texas of Pakistan. India starting supporting the insurgencies by covertly funding, Bugtis "Liberation Army". Weapons were purchased people were harrased and killed, key infrastructure were threatened and the situation came to the level that Prime Minister Bhutto (the senior)had to order bombing of Dera Bugti in the 70s. Gen. Zia, succeding Bhutto, tried to calm things down by putting Bugti in official posts. That was when India started funding the "Mohajir" insurgency in Karachi. Eventually, that insurgency was brought under control by similar brutality by the governments, ironically it was the Jr. Bhuttoo who had to face the music this time.
With Bugti out of the present governments favor and Indias continous strategic drive to support insurgencies in Pakistan, the Bugti found a new more resourceful financier in his ill concieved plans. There were some skeptics who suggested that the IPI pipeline project would require that India withdraw its support of the Bugtis so that the region could be stablized for the project to go through. However, we all know the US does not support Iran and the sweetend the Indian energy pie with a significant nuclear energy deal which put IPI on a back burner. Hence the Indians continued their shenanigans in the Balochistan area causing the serverly restrained security resources of the country to be further burdened. That is what some may suggest to be an Indian hand theory.
So what about the Arabs. Why would our muslim "brethren" think of destablising our nation. The answer is economic interests. At this point of time, the Gawadar port project is somewhat behind schedule already. See the great vision for Gawadar was to be the new Dubai, at least logistically speaking. Pakistan is located at a very geographical location in a very interesting shape. We are a passage way. A passage way to China, a passage way to cenrtal Asia. The western chinese border and a good number of central asian states are either land locked or do not have access to a major ocean. At the moment, what ever trade that these regions indulge with the Atlantic side of the western is, happens through Dubai. It has by far the strongest sea faring logistcal set up to support the international demands. Gawadar, had it started operating on time, would have been a direct threat to Arab port. Hence the consipiracy theory that the Bugtis were being financed were Arabs.
In either case the Bugtis were seeking financing from external source which harboured malicious intent for the nation that they were a part of. It is but a simple of principal of gurellia warfare that has been seen in use time and again in some shape or form since the begining of history. If that was the case, then the government had the right to eradicate any threat to internal security and infrastructures of national importance.
As always, there have been protests. There were protests when Castro attempted his first revolution of Cuba and failed. There were protests when Shoko Ashara was arrested for gassing the Tokoyo subway. And so there have been and will be protests in light of this development as will. However, it is high time that the Baloch, the Sindhi, the Punjabi and the Pashtuns all develop a nationalist sentiment and realize they are an amalgamation identities on common grounds of religion. It is religious and thus social harmony that should bind us together in making out nation a strong prosperous nation that it deserves to be. Lets keep our dirty linen within the confines of our border and be cautious of all those international interests that intend to malign are social integrity.
People are using this opportunity to once cry fowl against the Musharaf government. But whatever the case maybe, he did set a strong example for anyone who bore such rebellious intentions. If you have to rebel, rebel against the extremisim, rebel against illitreacy, rebel against all the social ills that are plauging our communal fabric. Dont rebel against the nation, because if push comes to shove, the people who stand gaurd for the nations security, will definitely shove you out of existence.

You Know You Are Not At Home When

You have to get up and do the laundry and pay a buck-fifty for it as well, all this while running a fever!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Homeland Hangover

Its a common occurence. An evening of indulgence, mixing of several brews and liquors, followed by a morning of severe head and in some cases body aches as well. A dry throat, limbs that resist motion, eyes that arent party to opening in short a body thats facing retardation. This is a physical hangover. I recently came across an emotional version of the same phenomenon.
It took me three years to become used to Canada and start enjoying life here and it took one 20 day trip to Pakistan undo all that. I miss Karachi aggresively. Its in my thoughts and whatever I do and whatever I see is compared to Karachi. The food and its relative lack of taste, the house and the significantly dirty room mate, the job, the comfort, the feeling of being home, everything.
And this, this whole thing about constantly reminiscing the good times become an impediment it gets in the way of a leading a normal life, it gets in the way of being able to do work, it gets in the way of organizing life and moving on. This is what makes it a hangover. Sadly, asprin and coffee wont take care of this hang over - I got to live it through, drag my feet through it and then possibly one day, I will wake up fresh and ready to take on Toronto once again.

Inspire for the Wanderers

I have said it before Ill say it again - Karachi is my muse - and every time I step away from Karachi it takes a very long time to find inspiration again.

A life without Karachi is a life without Inspiration!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Son and his Soil

I am currently sitting in a place where I am somewhat out of element. The thought that I paid money from my own pocket to be here makes it even more uncomfortable. But the comfy cushy chair that I am sitting on, the manhogany wooden table thats my workstation, the filipino attendant who smiles every time I ask for a drink makes it a little more comfortable. It is Saturday the 19th of August, I was supposed to be in Toronto today however, nature had other plans since it poured in record amounts all over the city of Karachi, paralysing the city and immobilizing any movement along the major traffic arteries. Long story short I missed my flight. But whats that got to do with me being in the place I am ? Well read on my friend, since today I have some more time than usual to write and it seems I have caught your interest as well.

Let me start by describing what had been a bit of rift, a tussle, a fight for rights between a son and his soil. Karachi and I met up after 3 years in end July. It was like a mother meeting an angered son who had returned home after learning some golden lessons in life, probably something on the lines of the "subha ka bhulla" philosophy in Urdu. She, it seemed had been angered a bit as to how the son estranged her but was still rather happy to have him back. She didnt complain and embraced the son whole heartedly, the breeze was just to his liking. The days were mixed with the right amount of sunshine and clouds. She kept bringing people around that the son would have enjoyed meeting, she kept creating opportunities for her sons entertainments and new found indulgences. She was trying very hard it seems to keep him back. But the son had plans of his owns. He was now a bit of adventurer, a bit independent, with a taste of freedom and as much as he loved the soil, he wasnt so far convinced about returning to it for good. And thats when it seems that the soil, the city, the country that I had occasionaly refered to as mother collaborated with another mother, nature, to delay the my departure.

All analogies and freaky writing aside, the rain was the worst thing to have hit Karachi. I have never seen things so bad and watching the city detiriorate and suffer was the worst feeling. That added to the fact that I was wading through atleast a feet of rain water mixed with sewage and other liquids that I really dont want to know about, while looking for a cab to make it to the airport annoyed me to no extent. Emirates said their flights were on time, Geo said that the city was facing the worst traffic jam ever, Radio Cab said they werent in service till next afternoon, Aaj said that people were getting electrocuted, AK said that I cant make it, Sab said that I should relax, Naj said that I should keep trying for alternate flights through the night, Adnan said that he was stuck forever at Schon circle, my mom said that I should call a cousin who has a jeep and while everyone said all this stuff, I kept looking at the clock and kept dropping the F-Bomb with every passing minute. It moved from 6 to 7 to 8 thats when I went looking for a cab or finding a cop whom I could bribe into using his car to drop me- no such luck. 9PM and I am sulking now. I started hating the city I loved, the soil that mothered me to quite an extent. I started hating it like theres no tomorrow. 10PM AK walks in, his clothes covered in water, his car - a survivor of yet another brutal monsoon, his face a smile from ear to ear brimming with stories about the evening. I wasnt thrilled, it was evident, written all over my face. I kept quite for a while and then I snapped.
All the shit that had been accumulating in my head about the city came out, in epic proportions. From blaming its residents for choosing incapable useless mayors to blaming the federal government for putting the countrys biggest city in such a position. And so the day ended. Me annoyed, hungry and pissed at the arm twisting tactics of mother nature. The city logged with water over twenty dead. An emirates airline flight 603 that went to dubai with one less passenger.
I woke up from what some would call sleep and what I would call, a brief passover into another state to recharge the body enough to function the next day. In my view, my eyes were closed, my brain wasnt functioning and my body was unwinding from the physiological stress that it had been through a short while ago. I woke from that state bright and early. I started calling Emirates, I started calling my travel agents. I started getting scarier news with every call. "No Dubai-London flight is available till the end of the month" said the Emirates folks. "Cant do anything for another 2 to 4 days" said the travel agent. "All flights till the end of the month are fully booked" said PIA and Etihad who go straight to Toronto. I suddenly saw my life crumbling down in front of my own eyes. Loosing my job, not being let into canada, not having enough money to pay my dues, become a hobo and finding myself with a bottle of malt liquor lying in a box outside a salvation army office. Life suddenly lost all meaning and pleasure. I called my partner in crime, my disciple of windsor, the robin to this batman, the one and only Adnan Haroon who took it upon himself to make sure that I get a ticket by 1PM.
In the meantime, AK got the ball rolling on his end aswell. He could sense the gravity of the situation and started approaching his contacts in the business of travel. Naj kept calling to find out what the latest was and kept providing much needed moral support. At 1230 PM I got a call from Faizan at the travel agency. He had a proposition, an offer, the kind I couldnt refuse. He said he has a ticket available that left within 24 hours. Emirates. Karachi-Dubai-London-Toronto. He could issue it by 3PM. Is this real I thought to myself and as though he had heard my thoughts, Faizan presented the pincher the in this proposition. I would have to take the Dubai-London route in business class, that would mean upgrading my ticket and paying 25,000 rupees for the upgrade. I had no option and I agreed.
You must be going - WTF Mate - 25K - holy crap - ah well but your misery might be over so its almost worth it. Ah but its me we are talking about, Mr Last Minute Man. If I were Catholic Id be a Murphy, since all that can go wrong does go wrong with me. Like the line of thought that I had assumed a smart reader of this post would come across, I agreed to the 25K deal. I asked AK to take me to main Citibank branch so that I could use my debit card to get the cash out (the canadian cards only work in those machines for some reason). But as luck would have it. The machines were out cloud. Frigging Rain. I went to the consumer banking division hoping they could help, but it was friday, they leave at 12:30. Once again A Haroon came to the resuce with a cheque for 25K that I used to get the ticket at 5PM PST.
There were still talks through out that duration about predicitions of rain. Naj advised that I should go to her place which, relative to where I was living, is a stones throw to the airport. I took her up on that and after an almost teary eyed farewell hug with AK, Robin aka Edward aka Adnan drove me to Naj's residence at almost 11 at night. The rest of the night was spent in a lovely conversation with Naj's hubby Nabeel and Naj herself. At the end of it, I once again realized why I always looked upto her as my bestest bud you rock girl!
So alls hunky dory, things are going well, I think I have started seeing the silverlining on this dark cloud, even though it cost me 25K but still it seemed it was there or so I thought. At the Emirates counter at Jinnah terminal, the gentlemen checking me in told me that I was overweight. No not my own weight, I know I myself am overweight, but he was referring to my luggage. So I had to indulge in a quick commando action to spread the weight between my two suticases and my hand carry. I was eventually still overweight, and ended up paying another 4000 to the emirates folk. Total additional billing is 29,000 for the day. OUCH!
So if you are still guessing where I am. I made it to dubai - no problems at all thank god for that. I looked around the DFS with a maxed out credit card and 29US $ as well as a little over a 100 Pak Rupees. Then I walked around looking for the internet and thats when I saw, the Emirates business class lounge. Got to get a return on those 25K right. So I ended up here. Free food, buffet (it was breakfast when I got here) free internet, amazingly comfortable chair, clean and lovely bathrooms, free news papers from around the world a few good looking and charming ladies to add a bit of spice to the whole thing. The only other time I travelled in Business Class was in Pakistan on Karachi to Lahore, so such Pampering is alien to me and I am going to enjoy every ounce of it till I am here.
So what of the story about the City fighting with her son. Well the son lost it on the city, called it the worst names, suggested that everybody in their right minds should alienate her for such an attitude. All this while the city listened, with a bit of pain I am sure. The son was still mad for a good part of the next day. But as things slowly started to fall in place, he realized how helplessness had cause him to lash out in anger. He went to meet the city, saw a good number of things he loved about her. Saw how robust and rugged she was in the face of all the wrong things and realized, that it is she that he truly loves, it is this soil who's son he can truly claim to be. In the mean time the city also realized the sons need to explore and seek adventure and thus they resolved there differences and parted on a merry note. The son promised to try and return more frequently and the city hoped she could keep progressing and developing to make the son proud wherever he maybe. The lost song the son heard was mujhay yaad aya meray watan tu yaad aya and with much fond memories of bitter sweet moments they bid each other adieu.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free - Blogword For The Week!

The first time I felt I was free my mother put a diaper on me. The next time I felt I was free the teacher sent a note to my mom calling me a cheater (god forbid if that should happen). Another time I felt free the girl pushed me back and screamed at me for kissing her. The next time I felt free I got a boss who constantly told me what to do. There was another moment of freedom which ended with her asking what I thought about marriage and where the relationship was heading. And the last time I felt free I was at a friends wedding and I saw him sitting next to his wife smiling a smile that would last as long as the crease on his suit. Thats when I realized, freedom is relative, it changes its shape and form and hence the rules that determine it. So maybe I should look up that girl and see if her current definition of freedom would allow for that kiss to go through without the the kicking and screaming ;)

Last Day in Karachi

I should have written this post on Sunday but thanks to all thats been happening in London and the travel agents in Karachi whom one cant really trust for a solid advice, I ended up delaying my trip for few days. I leave tomorrow back to Canada for an indefinite period of time, who knows when I come to Karachi next. The classic line came from Jammie who responded to my SMS about the delay in departing with "shes a keeper". Cheers to that and to all the good things the city has kept.
I think its a bit premature for me to be penning or typing my thoguhts down about the trip since I am still enroute to the conclusion of it. I would like to snuggle in my armchair in Toronto and reminesce over the past three weeks before categorically spewing out all that I loved and loathed about the city I call home.
At the same time I would like to thank all those of you who took time out to take me around for shopping lunches, dinners and breakfasts. Most of all the Two Ks, Kabeer and Kiran and their family and their dhaishatgard of a son who kept the dullest moments alive. I hope I can reciprocate the hospitality when you folks visit Toronto.
The saddest part of the trip was the the fact that I lost my camera, ah what Irony. I make it back home after 3 years and loose my camera. Theres no real pictorial proof that I was here. How sad is that.
Anyhew, to all Karachi friends, old and new, single and married, parents and pregnant, its been a pleasure. I will undoubtedly miss the great times that were had over the past few weeks and would look forward to more merry moments in the days to come.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Much Belated Blog Word: Rain

Almost in time for the next one. Ah well I am on vacation so I assumed I could be a bit tardy.

Rain - it cant be just a shower
Rain - its got to have some power
Rain - dark clouds, cool breeze and the smell of soaked sand
Rain - comes out of nowhere, spontaneous, unplanned

Rain - it brings smiles to many faces
Rain - it brings joy to many places
Rain - Its blamed for choked traffic and absent power
Rain - it treats all the same, Defence, Gulshan or Mereweather tower

Rain - you got to love it, its natures big surprise
Rain - you got to revel it, with samosas,pakoras, all things fried
Rain - for it cant come too late or too soon
Rain - so lets sit back and enjoy the Karachi Monsoon

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Soaking In Karachi

Almost a week into my trip - I lost my camera somehow so sadly no pictures - but there are some random observations. Enjoy!

Its been about absorption ever since I landed in Karachi on the 26th this month. Absorbing the new layout of roads, absorbing the humidity and heat (of which there hasn’t been much so far), absorbing the bacteria in the city air, absorbing the elaborate sequence of dances at weddings, absorbing the fact that friends are now, parents, spouses and fianc├ęs, basically just absorbing what Karachi is all about.

Things have changed, both for the good and the bad. It is difficult for me, at least right now, to give in an overall opinion of where things are heading. There is a slightly positive and hopeful attitude among people but this again is the opinion of the people I have spoken to. It may not necessarily represent the opinion of the masses. None the less there is lots of construction taking place. Roads, bridges, underpasses and that is always a good sign.

The purchasing power for the rupee has gone down significantly. Just last night, I spent 85 rupees to buy a small bottle of water and a big bar of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate However the consolation was that it’s a mere buck and a half in dollar terms. This does make me think about the Pakistanis who don’t earn in dollars, could they not occasionally spoil themselves by indulging in a luxury like chocolates.

Shockingly enough, as the prices have risen so has the level of consumerism. The concept of branding is being implemented across the board in all possible interpretations of the idea. Everybody is a marketer here. Engineers, Doctors, dentists, gardeners, cab drivers, they all “know what they are talking about” when they talk consumerism. Sadly, I am may not always be an ally to their opinion. Also embracing growth is the media industry, which has what some called boomed and what I would call bubbled, over the past few years. The number of radio and TV channels has multiplied in a very short span of time and the direct result of this expansion is an industry wide extrapolation of the law of crappy people. If someone is not a marketer there is a good likelihood that they maybe a producer, writer, director, of a segment on the plethora of channels that vie for a share of consumer viewing along with a huge number of international, primarily Indian, TV Channels. The quality of the content in such an environment is not surprisingly poor however, the availability of such channels suggests that aspirants wishing to develop high quality content would have an avenue to do so. If I were an investor Id wait a while before investing in the media here. I foresee that in a year or two, the bubble would burst, the underperforming stations would go under and there would be significant consolidation in the industry, with bigger players buying smaller stations and maybe even boutique channels coming into play. That maybe the time when the focus actually shifts from the channel to the product and in this case content alone.

Among other things that I have had to come to terms with is the fact that my good friends are now parents. Its one thing to hear about the children or see their pictures and a completely different ball game to watch the little critters in action. They are a bundle of joy to say the least. Leading the cast of the brat pack in my circle of friends are Najla’s Affiyah and Kabeer and Kiran’s Basim. They are just a super duper pack of energy, who go around frolicking in their care free lives like there is no tomorrow. What beautiful little things they are.

Aside from meeting a handful of old friends over the past few days, I have also ran into in some new people I had never met before, and would probably not have met had I been living in Karachi. These are the faces of a newer Karachi. People coming from all corners of the city and country and dwelling in the safer, better managed areas in the southern part of the city. They socialize with new people all the time, they drop names like there is no tomorrow, they supposedly rub shoulders with the who is who of city. They recreate and they procreate amongst themselves. They are gay, they are straight, they are sweet on the face and would stab someone in the back. They kiss each other every time they see each other and they talk as though life is an episode out of sex and the city. The level of plasticity in their life is beyond belief. Yet another shade of this ever growing city.

And in the past 2 days I have been experiencing the monsoon. That exclusive rainy season that graces this part of the world at this time of the year. Sheets of rain pouring down with unbelievable strength virtually without a break at all. Aside from the usual corners and ravines that would gather water in this season, the rest of the city or at least the locality that I am living in, has stayed much the same. This is a far cry from the Karachi of the yesteryears where a pour would imply roads clogged with water, immense traffic jams and a huge number of stalled cars. One thing that hasn’t changed about the season is the power outage. When rain comes, the power goes, but the coolness of the weather doesn’t make it unbearable. Update between the time I wrote this and uploaded it there has been additional rain and a good part of the city is water logged. The newly built Clifton underpass is being termed as the biggest swimming pool in the city.

Finally, so far, I haven’t fallen sick in Karachi (touch wood). I am only cautious about drinking water, but other than that I have freely indulged in consuming all the gastronomic delights that I have been offered. Halwa puri, Kebabs, Chicken Makhni, biryani, qorma falooda etc etc etc.

So I am of now, to enjoy the downpour a bit more. All this while Kiran tries to keep her one year old indoor, out of the rain. She seems to have control of the situation. Its unbelievable that a mere few years ago Kiran was one of the girls privy to all our naughty antics and pranks that we played in the college days. Karachi, its people, my friends, have evolved rapidly while I was away and like a sponge in a basin of full water, I am overwhelmed and bloated by the level of change that has come about. I missed some changes, but I am loving being here to see some more things in the process of change. Heres to Karachi, may you always change for the better and become the best.

In Transit

I wrote the post below while sitting at the Abu Dhabi airport waiting for my flight to Karachi.

I am currently sitting in the waiting lounge between gate 21 and 22 at Nadia International Air Port in Abu Dhabi. The temperature here is 32 degrees and its not like the Toronto 32 where the night cools down or Karachi 32 where the sea breeze would temper down the evenings. As I stepped out of the aircraft at terminal that didn’t have Jetway facilities I was welcomed by the hot desert air. At first I thought it cant be that hot, its probably just the engines, but I realized in a short bit that that was not the case.

If I were to give an award for the cheapest, tacky and ill equipped airport that I have been to, Abu Dhabi would be it. National flag carrier did not have access to jetway facilities, the security staff can barely communicate in any language other than Arabic. I asked one of them a question about the location of the gates and got a “yes, yes” in response. The maintenance staff is primarily south asian, Pakistani, Indian, Bengalis, and all of them are familiar with Urdu/Hindi so that’s a bit of relief.

Another sign that I am currently in Asia was the lack of civic respect that other travelers had towards the folks waiting in the lounge. There were several individuals smoking away under a no-smoking sign. When requested, they said “this the last one.” The attendants weren’t too bothered either, they walked passed these smokers without giving it a second thought. A norm for them I am sure.

The funny thing is that no one seems to paying attention to the PA systems. There are regular announcements about reporting to gates but people only move when an airline representative comes in the waiting area and shouts “anyone traveling to (put destination here)” He shouts a few times, gathers the bunch that he can and like a cowboy managing his herd, leads these passengers to the relevant gate.

At the moment, the terminal is full of Pathans, I have nothing against them except their stare which is rather disconcerting. To add to that, I am wearing shorts, I guess they like to watch bare legs on anything that walks up right. Me, the stewardesses, maybe an ape even if it passes by here. I have walked to gay neighborhoods of Toronto, Montreal and New York but have felt such piercing stares (Ryan, I can feel the pain of your Pizza Panzerotto experience).

And another feature exclusive to our part of the world, the physical expression of male bonding. Men walking around holding hands of other men, others holding each other by their wastes. Throw in a few dykes and fancy floats and we can have a pride parade UAE style.

My flight will start boarding in another 45 minutes. I would then be heading home after 3 years. There are 3 people in my hometown who are aware that I am coming, the rest would be get a surprise, hopefully a pleasant one, when I call on them. The thought of that, the anticipation of the responses and mostly being in Karachi with childhood buddies make all this worth it. And to be honest, its not bad, but rather a very amusing experience. Cant wait to breather the Karachi air, and maybe cough afterwards, but still breathe on.