Where the streets have no name
She is gone for a month and the eerie silence is getting on my nerves. Over the weekend stayed out most of the day. Went for a haircut and got a new marine look to beat the Karachi heat. There is a customer bitching about the salon not having a mobile charger. The hair-dresser pleads that he is a poor man who cannot afford this luxury. "Ask your seth - he must surely have it", barks this customer. "Saab is out at the moment and he keeps the charger in his car", the hairdresser retorts. The grumbling goes on - something about customer service. By this time another first-timer is rudely reprimanding a hair-dresser for not following his instructions. Throughout the day I observe people bitching for one thing or another. About not paying the parking attendant a paltry 10 rupees. I ask one attendant at Regal how many folks pay him and how many take up a fight with him. "Saab there is every kind that we meet. Not everyone smiles and talks to us like you have. Some say we are robbing them while this is roozee (livelihood) for me".
I told him that I saw a parking attendant at Boat Basin riding the hood of a car fleeing away from him for not wanting to fork out the parking fee. "It's sad what people do for just 10 Rs.", this guy tells me. To think that most parking attendants are physically handicapped makes it even more painful for the regular mistreatment meted out to them.
The Audio Repair guy at Regal who I was collecting my turn-table from confirmed that I could collect it. He was kind enough just to keep the shop open for me. The most odd father-son shop in one of the narrow lanes. Speak to the customers with such care and courtesy that it feels like a breadth of fresh air. The old man, the father, is fluent in English and they have an enviable collection of vinyl. It is good to meet people like them even if it is at the expense of not being able to find parking anywhere close leaving me to carry the bulky turn-table a good 100 metres.
Its almost 9:30pm and I wondered if the music shop in Saddar would be open. All the other streets wear a deserted look. As usual I park quite far to avoid the narrow lanes where no one followed the one-way sign. Everytime I have been to this shop I have bought Prabha Atre an indian classical singer. Paid a good amount this time to get it convered on to a CD. I am sure father is going to love it so would the everyone else who have loved to listen to it for so many years now. On my way out, the streets are dark and deserted and there is a surreal feel to these narrow lanes.
I remember that this is the same street where I used to change the bus for Tariq Road, what more than 20 years ago on my way to French class. And the day that I saw Shehla for the last time as she sped away in her car. Whether she saw me or not is another matter.