Karachi Calling

Streets by Morning

The Morning

Its 5 am…Calls for the morning prayers would be coming from the nearby mosques shortly. This dark long night, is about to vanish to welcome a new dawn. Everything appears peacefully silent and haunted, as I try to see the city through the glass window; but it still glitters like a bride living so up to its name as, the city of lights.

The icy dry winds of winters have almost swathed Karachi firmly— though pretty late, like every year. This coldest season of the year, brings enchanting moods and shades. For some, it brings out romanticism; for some this is the best part of the year to sit with cups of hot chocolate and their winter coats on, ready to dive into the pool of memories; for some this is yet another winter to celebrate the New Year.  But, for many it’s just a season.

The night is dull and breezy. The man with a whistle, the night watchman of streets and the bad man for kids, who don’t sleep easily, is dragging his bicycle slowly from one lane to another. The loud resonance of his whistle can be heard miles away. Stray dogs in the area, hate him and as usual are woofing at him. So, he better leave the area. Police van, routinely stationed at the corner of Rashid Minhas road, is nowhere to be seen; as if their toll for today’s bribe is done.  Heavy vehicles are still running madly on roads, tearing the lifelessness of the hour. The off-road tea shop, always full of customers during daytime; who sip their cups of tea along with freshly prepared parathas, is also abandoned.

No one can be seen at this hour, but few drowsy and exhausted guards of nearby buildings. Bored to death, they are wearing every possible thing to protect their bodies from cold. And of course, their neighbours are the poor, who use roadsides, as their sleeping or resting places. They must be dreaming more soundly, under thin sheets of clothes; wrapped around their bodies than the ones sleeping on soft beds; beneath warm blankets; behind those closed doors. Here comes the first man from an adjacent building, with a piece of cloth on his shoulders and a small bucket of water. He will be giving the parked cars, a fresh and clean look, before their owners would get up for their offices and works. Morning prayers have been offered. The dark sky is transforming into slightly greyish blue blanket. Few people are coming back from mosques after prayers, showing early emblems of life. The rest is still quiet. More daylight strikes in, adding to the gorgeousness of sunrise. Some of the people have already emerged out of their houses, looks like their day has already been started, but are still looking snoozing. The aged newspaper man is assembling skillfully packed newspapers in his shop, picking them one by one from his bicycle. Taxis and rickshaws are also gathering at their stands; waiting for commuters, while buses are on the roads. The UBL sports complex’s caretakers have started watering the cricket and hockey grounds, along with some assistants.

Another hour passes away and the city begins to awake. The tea shop is being cleaned with water while a boy places chairs and tables outside. The stove is on with a big teakettle over it. Another man warms a big pan and prepares dough for the breakfast Parathas. Soon, customers begin to pour in. The streets are full of people; men, women, and children, young and old. School children are on their way. The shopkeeper, at the only bookstore in the area, is gazing at the children; anticipating they might would come and buy something from his shop. The pedestrians are crossing the overhead bridge hurriedly, to go off the road at the earliest.

The sun shines brighter, as the life enters another sixty minutes; illuminating everything around that even, far away, the well-known Civic Centre building is also visible. The tea shop is now crammed with customers. Other hotels and shops are also opened and busy in receiving their respective clients. More and more people rushed to the bus stop. Noisy and hasty busses are coming in and taking passengers away, one after another. Off the road, is a small but demanding furniture market, consisting of around eight shops. Workers, at the market, are placing their furniture outside their shops for the advertising purposes. A new bedroom set is also being loaded carefully into a vehicle and will be on its destination soon. Am…probably, it’s for a girl’s wedding. While more boys enter the UBL sports complex, ready to begin their sporty day.

11 am…now is the time for the shopping mall to open. Salespersons, generally expect their customers at this hour, as their large proportion consists of women. For the big eaters, chicken corn soup and burger points are being set up outside the mall. Abruptly, a burst of tyre is heard from a mechanic shop. But, no one seems to be bothered, as the hotchpotch of Karachi enters the glare light of the high noon.

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