Posts Tagged ‘running’

I had been meaning to write for a while but you know, work, life, travels.

So, when I first came to Karachi, I used to share a flat in Clifton with an old friend and her new friend. It was terribly complicated. I had five years more than the new girl but they had been living together for two years. So I was defensive to begin with in the first few months. They (these two) had lots of other friends that I didn’t know (I knew no one in Karachi other than cousins and family friends with whom, initially, I was reluctant to share my laissez faire sensibilities) and they all used to live in the same building or around; they used to congregate every evening, playing Pictionary and I used to sit in the corner, wondering when I would be fired from my law firm since my boss wasn’t looking too impressed in early few weeks. I was missing the pubs, smokingup or doing anything that was not so bloody kosher. I mean we were all in our early 20s and without parental control but here were these men and women, failing to procreate or do anything fun.

They, the gang, as they liked to call themselves, were all imports from other parts of the country. All in Karachi to work for the MNCs and the other big set ups that made up the city. They had gone to big schools, had big ideas and all were on hunt to find the perfect mate to settle down. I used to dread coming home everyday to face their incredible drawing skills. They were very good people. I hope they remember me as fondly, as I remember them. But what struck me was that they would not engage with the city. They would order in from boat basin and hang inside and play. And I was going mad. So, in 2003, Karachi had the air of being very safe. No one I knew had been car jacked or robbed. The last murders of people I knew had taken place in 1986. I had just financed a KIA Pride. I was my own boss from 6 pm to 8 am and hence, to avoid coming home to the happening bonhomie, I started taking sneakers to work and would change into tracks and drive from work to Zamzama park, which was referred to as the General’s park . It was not as constructed and had an air of risk around it. I was harassed countless times . That didn’t bother me much. I am much tougher than I look. Occasionally, to alter the routine, I also went to Nisar Shaheed Park in Phase IV. That hasn’t changed much. It was not covered with stones and was smoother. I used to bump into my uncle a lot and we d talk about Musharaf, legal profession, pharma industry, Nihari. But soon the brisk walks or trots in these parks lost their charm. So, to make it more fun, I started going to sea view; I would park the car at one end (close to the Village restaurant) and run from one end to some distance along the beach. It was breathtaking. There were the camels, the popcorn walas, the early daters (it used to be still evening by Karachi standards, even past 7 30 pm and we are speaking of late autumn months) and I felt utterly free and safe and no one would give me a second look. I became friends with a flower kid. He’ d give me a rose every day.

One day, I got up early and went for a run around 6 AM. It was an utterly different scene that early, no cars, no camels, no kids. A police van was doing the rounds. It was the van and me. So I braced myself and did what I had to do. And got out of the car and started running. And very soon I saw that the van was trailing me slowly. I was on the beach but I could see that it was following me. It was one of the eerie pre dawn hours when, the KMC garbage pickers had not come out. There was nothing I could have done at the time. It was just me, and the sea that could have provided some protection. My car was parked on one end. I could not turn around because this Police van was with me through out. I can’t remember if McDonald was around at the time. I can still remember the horror of what I felt at those moments. I was trying to remember all the past crime reports that I had come across that week. I could not remember anything but knew there had been incidents. I wasn’t afraid of attack so much as I was afraid of being taken away for questioning. I didn’t have any identification and had told no one that I was out there. I was not carrying my phone and my parents with all their military connections were in Morocco. That was it. I was about to become a statistic; I am sure I was convinced of it at that time. I know kept running. But then, I remember, the van stopped and one police guy came out. He started hollering. And it was clear he was shouting at me. So I stopped turned and walked to him. He was your generic Karachi Police Cop. Moustache, paunch, red eyes. He asked me what I was doing there at this time? Asked to see my ID (I had none). Then he stared at me long and hard. I heard snickers from the van, (there was one more in the front and maybe one in the back). Then the police man started on the idiocy of people in Karachi. He spoke at length on how people like me were asking to be raped and killed and create all sorts of trouble for him and his brothers. He asked me if a fisher man had decided to attack me what could have I done (it was not appropriate to tell him then that the only threat, I faced was from him). Anyway, it went on and on and he asked me what I did. I told him I was a lawyer. He said he had a kid in A levels and that was it. That’s the end. He walked me back to the car and asked to see the car papers (and I had none of those either-I kept them in the office for some moronic reason). He gave me another lecture and went.

Soon afterwards, I discovered some mischief makers in my fraternity and that was the last time I got up before 6 AM. I no longer know where the two roommates are and how life has panned out for them. And  for the life of me, I can not remember a single name from the other members of the gang.

The End.