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.


jammie said...

i dont think ive enjoyed a post of yours this much ever- this was real. heart-stoppingly real.

Cocaine said...

:D - i was enjoying writing it to - i already miss KHI :(

insiya said...

this is brilliant. :)

so, when you sms-ed me around 6 or 6:30, i was in our car which had so much water that i turned to abbu every few minutes and apologized for being a bad daughter and a really shitty human being and i apologized for all the wrong that i might have done. and the wrong i was sure i have done!

at 11:30- when we finally reached home i felt like a big, thin- loser who did not die! damn those apologies! :s it still feels awkward talking to abbu! :p heehee.

Shezalldat said...

i love this post! very well written! i think despite all the hatred against pakistan's justice and social systems, i do like to visit my family often too!

been reading ur blog for a while, somehow never realized u were from toronto as well!

pandora said...

this is exactly how i felt about khi when i went back this time..i got off-loaded the first time i went to the airport, so i had to go back the next day. at that point, with standing water everywhere, i was really pissed. i couldn't wait to leave!
but i miss khi now :(