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buhut chaas lagee hai yaar November 5, 2009

Posted by Xill-e-Ilahi in lingo, people, social, urdu.
5 comments

this post is intended to be a sequel to inglish cheetay.

one of the few drawbacks to being from karachi, apart from the fact that there is no real urdu version for the term “karachiite” – though “karachvi” would be the linguistically appropriate word – is the problem that you don’t really fit in if you don’t drink tea. not that tea is a homegrown concept. its one of the enduring vestiges of colonialist times like cricket, gora complex and the design of the suzuki mehran. but tea has become so entrenched in karachiite lifestyle that it forms an essential part of family life, social ettiquette and business for the advertising industry (the tea wars are far more severe than the famed cola wars of the west). such is the common addiction to tea that most karachiites above thirty, no matter how they might feel about the rest of the white race, would probably excuse sir thomas lipton from the fishaar-e-qabr if they were given the option to.

of course, such an obsession spawned a new vocabulary. we have all heard of doodh patti and karak. bollywood introduced us to cutting. evn the most illiterate and underexposed street kid on a karachi street is aware of what bag wali chai is. and this brought the word “chaas” into existence. a combination of pyaas (thirst) and chai (tea), it is used to denote a strong desire to have a cup of tea and usually strikes a person with extreme severity after meals and at the times of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

without too much ado, i would like to present the second (and very belated) instalment of karachi’s own version of an urban dictionary.

hut jaana also tap jaana, bhin hona, bhinnot ho jana, meter ghoom jaana, sitak jaana, pin ho jana, and sulag jaana: the term is used to denote entirely the same sentiment as the english term “pissed off”. the usage is elementary – hamid ko mat chhairo, us ki buhut jaldee hut jatee hai.

tafreeh laina or simply laina (with the past tense tafreeh lay lee or lay lee): not to be confused with the rather more obscene laina as it is used in northern punjab this refers to cracking a joke at someone’s expense, making fun of someone or making someone look like a fool after playing a prank on them or doing something calculated to tease them. e.g. hamid ki laina buut aasaan hai, bus woh bunyaan wali baat yaad dila do.

chhoka: literally a boundary (4 runs) scored in cricket, it refers to a choice wisecrack which is likely to be remembered and frequently quoted. it normally follows what is known as a loose ball (a statement that could be liable to much ridicule) much the same way as it would in a real game of cricket. e.g hamid bhi itni loose ball karata hai, bacha bacha chhoka maar ker us ki lay leta hai.

chikna (superlative = madan chikna): no karachiite should call him/herself a karachiite without knowing what this means. literally meaning slick (the normal use not the slang use), it is used to refer to something cool, nice, desirable or hot. if used to describe a man it is complimentary and if used to describe a woman it is rude, risque and somewhat derogatory in the sense that it completely objectifies the female. not to be used when addressing your girlfriend. as in yaar, hamid jaisay chumpoo nay itnee chiknee bandi kaisay pata lee?

tight: a slightly more polished version of chikna, it is closely related to the north punjabi “fit“. used when being appreciative of something or someone, as in hamid, yaar, aaj tu nay baree tight kitting ki hai, koi bachi se setting chal rahi hai kya?

set: well. picked from the english “all set” it has become very popular as a cheery enquiry about someone’s health and conditions, in the question form of “sab set hai?” the term acquired even more prominence after  a sitcom called sab set hai hit the airwaves in the first half of the current decade.

setting: not even remotely related to set, it refers to an established romantic relationship between a girl and a boy. hamid ki rukhsana se setting chal rahee hai. the verb form, set karna,  is used to describe the act of courtship. hamid ki setting nahin hai, abhi to rukhsana ko set kernay ki koshish hee kar raha hai magar woh lift nahin kara rahee.

chhanraybaazee: a term slightly hard to decribe in english, it is something between flirting and strutting around to attract a girl’s or several girls’ attention. normally used to refer to the antics of the louts who hang around near the girls’ colleges in the city. hamid aur us ke dost roz rukhsana ke college ke baahir chhaanraybazee kernay puhunch jatay hain.

jaan pe hitler ho jana: a reference to hitler’s notorious regime of terror, it is used to refer to the act of persistent nagging. abay yaar, jub se hamid ko pata chala ke rukhsana ka meray ghar aana jaana hai, jaan pe hitler ho gaya hai ke us ka mobile number day.

chingum ho jana: chingum is the desi pronunciation for chewing gum and the term is drawn from the stickiness of a discraded piece of gum (often a tool for pranks at karachi’s schools). it is used to describe the act of being clingy to someone. rukhsana bata rahee thee ke aaj kal hamid us se bilkul hee chingum ho gaya hai, jaan chura nahi paa rahee hai. a variant is qambal (blanket) ho jana.

A story behind every name October 21, 2009

Posted by Halai in brits, history, karachi, landmarks.
1 comment so far

The following is an article printed in The News on Oct 21st, 2009 reproduced here without permission from Fasahat Mohiuddin.

While the face of Karachi may have changed rapidly during the last few years, the bedrock of Karachi’s existence and growth lies in areas developed for migrants arriving from India in 1947. Millions arrived in Karachi after Partition, and the government of the time was faced with the task of rehabilitating them.

Historian and former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official M. A. Tatari told The News that successive governments purchased land for the purposes of rehabilitating the migrants. “Nazimabad, a population of Mohajirs, was established in the name of late prime minister and governor-general, Khawaja Nazimuddin, in 1952 to rehabilitate the public and government servants who migrated from India. This work was carried out by the Pakistan public works department,” he said.

“The migrants had to be given some land to make their houses. The land rate at the time was Rs3.50 per yard while a bag of cement cost Rs3 only. But many were apprehensive of coming to this area because of the wilderness. This place only had bushes and wild trees. No one was prepared to purchase land in Nazimabad,” he narrated.

Another story is that of modern-day Liaquatabad, an area many continue to refer to as Lalukhet. According to Tatari, the area came to be known as Lalukhet because it was once the agricultural land of a man named Lalu. The government of Pakistan had purchased this land from Lalu, but this became an area where people started haphazard and arbitrary construction, he said.

North Nazimabad was originally established in 1958, Tatari said, with Karachi Improvement Trust (KIT) starting that housing scheme. “Land was purchased from Masti Brohi Khan, and the official name given to the area was Taimooria. The public name, North Nazimabad, emerged because quite simply, the scheme was being built to the north of Nazimabad,” Tatari said.

However, Ayub Khan became Field Marshal and KIT was declared defunct. A new body, the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) was then created, which started its own housing schemes. The first one, KDA Scheme No. 1, was built at Karsaz, but the second one, is what developed into modern-day North Nazimabad. “Both housing schemes were prepared by a Greek architect named Mr Polo,” he said.

“Just adjacent to Lasbella Bridge was the official house, or consulate, of Nawab Lasbella. The area was called Lasbella because of the Nawab from much before Partition. The bridge existed at that time as well, and was known as Lasbella Bridge,” he continued.

Talking about Federal Capital Area (F ‘C’ Area), Tatari narrated that former prime minister Mohammed Ali Bogra had initiated the housing scheme for low-paid government employees. At the time, Karachi was capital of the country, but there was a shortage of houses for government servants. Houses were then made of ‘G’ and ‘F’ types in 1958, and some government employees retired and settled there.

Tatari said that Federal ‘B’ Area was also initiated by Bogra, and a 120-square-yard housing scheme was launched. The official name of the scheme was Mansoora, KDA scheme No 16, and citizens could acquire a plot for Rs5,000.

According to the retired bureaucrat, Federal ‘A’ Area included the modern-day areas of Jacob Lane, Jet Lane and Bazerta Lane. All these areas were barracks of small army officers which had been constructed in 1888, but the Army later handed this area to civilians.

When asked who proposed the site of the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Tatari said that former Karachi chief commissioner Syed Hashim Raza had proposed the location as it was on a higher plane. The land was then occupied by Kutcha hutments, and these people were allotted alternate space in Korangi and Landhi.

When asked why the government of Pakistan had to purchase land from Lalu and Brohi agriculturists, Tatari said that when Pakistan was created, these two were in possession of large tracts of land that were identified for the rehabilitation of the migrants.

Tatari said that Drigh Colony was established by late prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, and after cordial relations were developed with late Saudi king, Shah Faisal, Drigh Colony was renamed as Shah Faisal Colony.

He said that Lawrence Road, now Nishtar Road, was where the houses of different Nawabs were situated. Nawab of Bhawalpur, Nawab of Khairpur and other Nawabs all had their homes and offices on the road.

Talking about Pir Elahi Bux Colony, Tatari said that that land for the colony was donated to Mohajirs by a major agriculturist. A private contractor, Mr Hasan, was then awarded the task to make houses. “In those days, and I’m talking about 1948-49, Hasan made 150-square-yard houses at a cost of Rs1800. These houses had bedroom and wash rooms, but no roofs,” he said.

Tatari said that Firdous Colony was made by a former MLA from Bihar, who made a cooperative society with the help of friends. He purchased land from the government in 1948, and the land was sold at a rate of Rs3.50 per square yard.

Usmanai Colony was established by those who migrated from Muradabad (India). One of the official Hakims of the Pakistan government, Hakim Syed Zakir, is credited with conceiving Usmania Colony, while 99 per cent of the residents of Muradabad were provided land and houses in this colony. Tatari said that those who built the society were affluent people, as they were adept at making utensils.

Rizvia Colony was made by a school teacher of Sindh Madressah, Maulana Aneesul Hasnain, along with Advocate Qazalbash in 1948. Their concept, maintained Tatari, was to provide plots exclusively to Shias, and not to people of other sects.

Tatari said that Gurumandir was known because of a Hindu temple situated near Islamia College, a structure that still exists. He said that many Hindus came to worship here, and thus, the place became famous as Guru ka Mandir. The road adjacent to Islamia College was named as Pandit Lal Nehru Road back then, but this was changed to Jigar Muradabadi Road when the municipality came into existence.

The retired bureaucrat revealed that there was a substantial population of Hindus, Parsis and Ismiailis who lived in the area now known as Patel Para. “Whenever any Hindu died and had unclaimed property, the Patels would automatically become the custodians of that property. At that time, Patels in that area were in a majority, and thus this area became Patel Para,” he said.

To another question about Soldier Bazaar, he said that it was an area inhabited by small Army officers during the British era. These soldiers would shop in the area, and thus, the vicinity became famous as Soldier Bazaar.

karachi hai, karachi hai September 24, 2009

Posted by Mystic in history, karachi.
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i found this video on youtube some time ago and really wanted to share. while it may not be the most up to date video as it dates back a few years, it still gives a pretty good uhmm tour if i may say, of the city and definitely provides a few laughs! got to give the guys props for their confidence though🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwQQVMlAuEU

for some reason, i am not able to embed the video, so follow the link..

kro thio bha? September 1, 2009

Posted by Mystic in food, history, karachi, lingo, people, social.
2 comments

Contributing writer, Mystic, writes about his community members.

okay so as suggested by abbas, here is an attempted post on the most influential business community of karachi, the memon community!!

yes i am a memon, but not quite. i do not speak the language, nor do i understand it. i do not follow the typical customs and traditions and usually i do not sound like a memon (awaiting comments where people cite examples of me sounding like a memon…go ahead, make my day!). but yes, i am a memon. an insult to the community because of the above factors but the fact remains that i am one of them.

so here goes a small history lesson on memons where i attempt to understand them and find myself somewhere along the way.

did you guys know that memons are defined as an ethnic group? how cool is that! i mean i’m not just a plain urdu speaking pakistani from karachi, i belong to a distinct group, though one that does not enjoy a very good reputation being the butt of plenty of jokes. but who cares, i’m different!

annyywayyy, memon is an adaptation of the arabic word “momin” meaning faithful. who knew that? i have to thank abbas for suggesting a post on this because am learning some new stuff here.

there are various theories in history as to the origins of memons but there are two that are the most common. one, that the memons were originally arabs and came to the sub-contitnent as part of Muhammad bin qasim’s army where they were known as “Maymenah”, meaning right wingers. over time, as is the habit of our people to ruin names, Maymenah became memon.

the second theory is that the inhabitants of thatta converted to islam and were banished by their hindu brothers and were invited by the then ruler of gujrat to come and settle there. note that this is 1548 that we are talking about. upon conversion they were called momin which was again modified to memon by the winds of time.

whichever theory u choose to believe, there is a rich history there including faith, spirituality and war and conflict.

i belong to a group of memons called “cutchi” memons who trace their ancestors to kutch in gujrat. then there are the “halai” memons who trace their origins to kathiawar, again in gujrat and then there is third group which stayed back in sindh.

the language is as foreign to me as is malayalam or tamil. it sounds weird though i do regret the fact not knowing the language because often there comes a time where u want to say something u do not wish for another person to understand. but oh well, ab nahin aati toh nahin aati.

interestingly enough, it is only the halai memons who speak the language called memoni. the cuthci group speaks a kutchi dialect while the group from sindh speaks sindhi and the memoni language is actually a combination of the two.

the word “jamat” is heard quite often when referring to memons. the role of the jamat is considered quite important within the various groups of the memon community. the jamat basically serves as a social welfare centre for the group and provides rules and guidelines and includes the issuance of marriage licenses and resolution of matrimonial disputes. i have to admit that i have only been to the jamat once in my life and that was also during ramadan to give alms. i have never attended a gathering there and so far that is not something i regret.

memons have had an important role to play in the development of not just the city of karachi but also the nation as a whole. however, sticking just to karachi, the memon’s  have contributed immensely to the growth of the city (i am choosing to ignore the corrupt factors). you can go to any gathering of your choice, any school or college or a place of work, and you are sure to run in to a few memons. the biggest players of the karachi stock exchange belong to the memon community, some of the biggest business groups such as the Adamjee Business Group and the Fecto Group of Indsutries to name a couple of long running groups and the JS Group and the Westbury Group of Companies to a name of couple of the more recent market forces.

did you guys know that iqbal qasim, former pakistani cricketer from the 1980’s was also a memon?

then there are Abdul Sattar Edhi and Mushtaq Chhapra, founders of the Edhi Welfare Trust Foundation and The Citizens Foundation respectively.

and to all those, including me, who consider memons kanjoos, here is a list of their social contributions:

  • Larkana college of commerce established by Late Abdul Fatah Memon (1920-2002), former MLA Sindh Assaebly (1952), Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and Somalia (1963) in early fifties.
  • The Jama Masjid of Durban built by the Memons, is the largest MASJID in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Abdullah Haroon established Hajiyani Hanifabai Girls School in Karachi in 1914, which was the first girl’s school in Sindh for Muslim girls.
  • Hajiyani Khadija, although an illiterate widow, was the founder of Raunaq-eIslam chain of girls schools, colleges and industrial homes under the banner of the Pakistan Memon Women’s Educational society
  • well social contributions aside, i still consider them kanjoos😛 now i guess i’m moving on to the fun/mean/rude part for a bit. i cannot help it. whereas i admit that i am part of the community and their contributions above, if they are the butt of jokes, then its not wrong because for most part of it, they deserve to be! u see a guy walking down the street with hair patted down with pints of oil and having a side parting and he’s got a paan ki laali on the corner of his mouth, you can rest assured that he is a memon! racist? no. stereotypical? maybe. fact? yes!

     the accent does not help them either. there is this certain twang most of them have not been able to hide when they speak a language other than memoni/kutchi/sindhi that easily separates the memons from the non. but what i realised is that they are oblivious to this fact and i am going to borrow something from russell peters here.

    “i dont think that they know that they’re being made fun of. even when you say a memon joke to their face, they think that there is this one person somewhere on the face of this earth who is being made fun of. i seriously believe that is what they think the reality of it is!” poor bastards!

    and well no post of mine is complete without a reference to food. some of the most amazing desi places in town have been setup by memons, such as meerat, noorani kabab house, memon food centre and baakra hotel. how can i forget the gola gandas in dhoraji going by the names of salim qadir ka uncle gole and qadir salim ka amla gola! but these are outside places and i know i do not appreciate and follow a lot of the traditional customs but i do enjoy a good plate of khowsay (a mix of a different sort of qeema with the traditional desi curry minus the pakoras and noodles topped with slims or any other sort of crispy garnish you like..sounds weird but dont knock it till you’ve tried it) and a few maal puras which i like to call pancake ka baap (small round sweet fried flour thingys, crispy on the edges, soft in the centre)! sorry but food excites me..

    i guess this has been quite a lesson. hope i made some sense out of it. don’t think i got anywhere though. oh and as for the title of this post, it means “kya hua bhai?” or for some of the english, “wassup brother?”

    let bygones be bygones August 27, 2009

    Posted by Halai in food, history, karachi, landmarks, places.
    3 comments

    so we’re past the glory days of living in karachi when parents told us stories of yore and tales of liberal partying and fun days when karachi had trams running through it’s arteries. now comes the time for me to tell the next generation about what we used to enjoy which they never will.

    let’s try and cover food first, because, as i mentioned before, i love to eat, and i always have. now let’s get one thing clear, i grew up in clifton. most of the exposure to major landmarks and institutions have been in this region. feel free to add your own institutions from your locale in the comments below.

    there were a bunch of eateries in clifton which aren’t around anymore, and eating in clifton has historically  been synonymous with boating basin. this was when people actually used to take their boats within the basin from the karachi boat club. this was when we used to take long walks along it’s shores and get scared of the big crabs coming out of the rockery and not the hooligans down at the other end of the park, and when pink flamingos could be seen flying in the horizon. nowadays all you get is a road named after a woman who may or may not have been the lady the city is named after, and a sorry excuse of mangroves which have been hacked away by land reclamation killing a thriving shrimp industry and loss of migration of swarms of migratory bird populations.

    boat basin is very different today than it used to be about 20 years ago. first of all, as kids the only cool place really was Mr. Burger. they used to have a very fun orange theme which isn’t around anymore, but they’ve expanded and changed it to a pinky purply look. they used to hand out stickers and colouring penciles and have cool posters and pictures of characters famously stolen from mcdonaldland. now mr. burger is still around and hopefully remains so for a long time to come but the KFC right next to it, used to be a restaurant called Red Carpet. that’s gone. used to have atypical pakistani bbq and nothing much else, but used to be a staple landmark of boat basin.

    if you kept walking along the footpath towards the other end of boat basin, coming next was Sagar video game arcade. all the goonda’s of the area would reside there. if your parents found out the kind of people you hung out with at Sagar, they wouldn’t really let you go back there. but arcade games were 5 Rs. for ten tokens so entertainment was cheap.  But what came right after was another restaurant, this one with VERY dark tinted windows was Seagull. i know absolutely NOBODY who ever went in there, though it remained there for the longest time.

    a few stores over you come across mezban. it’s the proud standing store that’s been around ever since  i can remember, and always been the go to place for the best kabab rolls and chaat this side of  (insert favourite bridge here).

    and of course the hidden prize of boat basin ended it up with kings and queens, the only pizza in town at the time. (claims arise that jacana in PECHS on tipu sultan road was there prior and better but thats purely a debate up for another time).

    another wonderful restaurant at the time was a bit further down the shoreline called Dolphin’s located on 26th street. i still remember the amazing beef stroganoff. too bad since it got replaced by a petrol station.

    if you were interested in dessert, the only ice cream parlour in town worth going to was baloch ice cream, and the only reason i say this, is because theres nothing funnier than a mallu waiter trying to pronounce pistachio. if you were a bit more uppity in the social ladder, you may ended up having a few ventures over at Carvel’s parlour too but it wasn’t as fun there (people on the other side of the bridge would say kaybees but it doesn’t count since it’s still around).

    there’s a whole bunch of other places that i used to hang out at, places that just aren’t around anymore. places that people still fondly remember and talk about, but those days are long gone. they are just memories. there are many other such landmarks that people talk about today and refer to by name which aren’t around…places like submarine roundabout where a submarine used to hang out at, lighthouse (though not really a lighthouse, but the fact that the cinema there was lighthouse cinema), and many other locales, but i suppose that will have to wait for another post.

    feel free to mention other fun places below in the comments or anything in the clifton area that you remember that i missed out on. actually i think i only really spoke about boat basin. oh well. *shrug*

    jugalbandee August 24, 2009

    Posted by Xill-e-Ilahi in history, karachi, lahore.
    5 comments

    of all the things that make pakistan what it is, including saleem javed and sohail warraich, perhaps the most fascinating aspect is cultural diversity. we have more languages than the number of uncorrupt officials in the national police force – urdu, punjabi, sindhi, pashto, saraiki, balochi, kashmiri, potwari, gujrati, memoni, brahvi, hindkoh, balti, kalash and burushaski to name a few – and the speakers of each language average at least four to five disparate cultural groups each. compound that impact with the different heritages each group has from the thousand year old warrior culture of some pukhtoon tribes to the generations old gaddi nasheen mystic lineages in southern punjab to the familial agrarian tendencies in some areas of sindh to the settled spiritual lifestyles of the makranis who’ve been settled on the coast since the slave traders dumped them there centuries ago.  it goes without saying, then, that there is also a perpetual rivalry of sorts between various regional groups especially since racial bias (and maybe an idle mind) is probably the only uniform national trait shared by all pakistanis.

    when one talks of competition, one talks of the olympics, of world cups, of arms races, of national space programs, of wars of succession. it is rare to talk of majid and basit and their rivalry in the epic race for who gets the black dastaar at the end of the semester for best performance in the third grade at their madrassa in chak 57, tehsil shahjehanpoora. and so, while there is a heated debate about whether the kababs in topi are better than those in peshawar the only real rivalry anyone actually cares about in pakistan is that between people talking about whether lahore is better than karachi or vice versa. cyma talked about it in her last post and hemlock has sort of touched on it earlier on her own blog, here and here.

    i was born in karachi at a time when partition (both from undivided india and the later loss of half the country) was ancient history. the earth of karachi is now custodian to the remains of four generations of my family. and while my parents were both born in what is now india – immigrant children of immigrant parents – and while i retain in family history and tradition the lore of araby, the culture of persia and the magic of india; it is that very combination of bloodlines and history that makes me a karachiite. dirty, yes. polluted, yes. violent, yes. unsafe, yes. acute power crisis, yes. and yet, karachi is so much more than just that. karachi is where ladies sit on the rooftops sipping chai, comparing the voices of muezzins echoing from all over the city with their dupattas on their heads, minutes before they discuss the latest fashions. it is where you grow up with the smell of diesel smoke and barbecued kebabs and of raat ki rani and rotting garbage. it is where kids learn the difference between the sound of gunfire and the sound of firecrackers before they lose their innocence and where five year olds play safely unchaperoned on the streets. it is where annual conferences on islam and islamic life seem to take place every day – as do concerts and melas and plays. karachi is home to over 18 million people; rich and poor, old and young, literate and illiterate from a thousand different roots and places. the richness of karachi’s tradition is not encapsulated in old buildings and folk stories – it is in the people themselves. in their language, their behaviour, their belief, their dress, their cuisine. the people of karachi claim links to the majesty of the mughals, the bravery of tipu sultan, the religion of the sufi saints, the tales of sassi and marvi, the pride of the pukhtoons, the hospitality of sindh and, above all, the magic of urdu.

    for all that – is it the cultural capital of pakistan? no. alexander the great camped here but does it have great historical significance? no. it has a patron saint supposedly protecting its shore from the cyclones that mysteriously turn away just before lashing the coast, but does it have its own culture of mysticism? no. the fragrance of flowers wafts from a million florists’ stalls every evening but does it have its own greenery? no. maybe it could be prettier. better planned perhaps. definitely cleaner.  

    but its home. do i need more reason to love it above any other place on earth? no.

    and yet, does that mean i don’t love lahore? does the love have to be mutually exclusive? i don’t know.

    i fell in love with lahore around thirteen seconds after i first stepped on its land. if karachi’s soul is pluralist, lahore’s is as singular as you can imagine. lahore is the city that gives pakistan its share in the history of the subcontinent. supposedly founded over 4000 years ago by a son of the lord ram of hindu mythology, lahore has never witnessed the cycle of rebirth – simply because it has never died. akbar the great’s capital, lahore is the capital of punjab in more ways than just political. it is the city of ali hajveri, of dara shikoh, of anarkali, of iqbal, of faiz. it is of the lawrence gardens and the red fort. it is of the badshahi mosque and of the courtesans and dancing girls who live behind it. lahore is of greenery, of mysticism, of hospitality, of food, of history and of love. the cliche goes that you haven’t lived until you’ve seen lahore. it’s a fact. lahore lahore aye.

    if this were a court case, i wouldn’t want to be the jury.

    Be Karachi August 20, 2009

    Posted by cymarkhan in people, places, social.
    3 comments

    Contributing editor Cyma writes about the age old Karachi vs. Lahore debate.

    You know what they say about Lahore: Lahore Lahore hai. That statement basically tells you a few things. One that Lahoree’s simply happened to patent that line before any Pekhawarites or Karachi walas did. Two; that many statements like that don’t really mean anything if you come right down it. Three that statement can be used negatively any time of day. I could probably go on with a list of reasons that tell you why Lahore Lahore is. But you get where I’m going with this.

    I have nothing against Lahoree people apart from the slight fact that they all consider Karachi-wala’s mean and selfish. This is quite a lot like a farmer from the potato fields of Iowa considers a Manhattan based New Yorker mean and selfish. What was that I hear? The grapes are sour you say? Precisely. Have I gone too far with the potato fields in Iowa analogy, perhaps. But you cannot love your home town enough and be a true Karachiite unless you happen to be unnecessarily, unfairly proud of it.

    The other day while out getting a really late dinner, I become a little choosy while ordering my low calorie version of a chicken recipe. A Lahoree bloke on the table breaks into a hearty laugh.“God! You are such a true Karachi HITE…” yes people you heard that right – Karachi-Hite. Yet I was kind enough not to stop him and correct him. So basically just because I’m trying to eat healthy it seems I should apologize for it since there is no such concept in Lahore?

    Another time, a guy came up and he goes: “I don’t mean it as an insult, and I’m not talking about you in particular, but Karachi girls are real bitches.” Can you believe that? When did that happen? When did Karachiites become so much of a threat to mankind? I’ll leave you to decide who the mean and selfish one here is (hint: Not Me). Either way, enough about Lahoree’s.

    Oh dear dear dear Karachi. The sand, the sea – albeit a little uncared for but still – the sea none-the-less. I needed sea shells for my home décor a while back and being a Karachiite you do take sea shells for granted. Then you come to Lahore and realize with some amount of sadness that sea shells can be costly and hard to find where there are no seas in sight. Zamzama with all its sensational glory and the taste conscious food palates of the people in general – I could go on and on. The parties at French Beach where you could sit by the sand for hours and feel the fresh breeze just blow, soothing your nerves and the remnants of any stress and depression in your relationships in the real world. The raves which you attended by mistake only to end up trying to stop your friends from popping strange pills, which in fact, made you look like an ultimate party popper.

    Those were the days huh? Yes. They were. I’ll be writing more = )

    the name’s golden, very golden! August 15, 2009

    Posted by Mystic in lingo, people, social.
    7 comments

    Contributing author Mystic writes about the wierd nicknames popular in Karachi.

    as illustrated by the exalted xill-e-ilahi in “hush cat”, there is no lack of creativity and inventiveness when it comes to giving names to food and retail outlets. however, this does not end at that and not surprisingly, extends to people as well!

    One of the earliest stories i’ve heard, came from my dad. sometime in the late seventies/early eighties, my dad went to one of the cinemas in khi with a friend of his who happened to be wearing a yellow cap. it seems like caps were not a norm in those days and while waiting in queue, they heard a shout from the back saying:

    ” arey peela topi defence hai re”

    and so peela topi was born! (this also reminds us that the from defence and not from defence rivalry is nothing new!)

    so anyway, i’ve come across a lot of weird nicks and this is a recollection of some of those and this by no means is an exhaustive list..

    1. Spitface/Spitty/Spits: well i can relate to this one cuz well its kinda mine. reason? this female friend of mine who i had just met at the time, wouldn’t shut up and was going on and on and on and i just stuck my tongue out and went “pbbbbbttt”! and guess what? some spit came out and hence the name!

    2. Archie: yup we have our very own archie in k-town. red hair, freckles, clumsiness personified, basically the works! the guys at archie comics would be lucky to have him as the lead role if they were to make a movie on the comic.

    3. charya-in-chief: a name given to a friend of mine by our a’level accounts teacher! not very flattering ofcourse but appropriate given the fact that he wrote a big “YES!!!” at the end of his accounts exam as his balance sheet tallied!

    4. rafhan jelly: dont ask me why but yes, there is a guy called rafhan jelly! basically used in the same sense as “lucy”!

    5. mozay mozay: literally, socks socks! the guy’s real name: muzammail. so i guess i can understand how its been derived but mozay? and tht too twice? now try calling out to him. “mozay yaar baat toh sun!”

    6.yeti: obviously for the guys height and size.

    7. biscuit: don’t really know how this came about, but i find it damn funny! biscuit? would u believe it started off being cream biscuit?

    8. bumboo: school elections, intikhabi nishan: a bomb..hence the not so flattering handle, bumboo! “kaisa hai bumboo?”

    9. matka khan: this nick name, given by me, belongs to our very own, xill-e-ilahi! i think he can better explain😛

    10. golden: a name i heard two days ago and it sent me and xill in fits of laughter! we still haven’t figured out why he is called golden, but abbas tried calling him out saying “chal bhai golden” and trust me, it was something to be heard! and btw, this is the guy that threw a bowling ball back while trying to roll it forward!

    11. goti seth: u’ve heard chotu, chotay and now u’ve got goti! one look at this guy and u’ll kno why. people actually play around with this guy.

    12. kaju: khwaja turned kaju..there is a song dedicated to him too. “kaju mere kajuuu”!! lame i kno, but it works.

    more to come and this is dedicated to peela topi for well, simply wearing a peela topi!

    a time to remember August 14, 2009

    Posted by Halai in arts & culture, brits, history, people, places, politics, religion.
    3 comments
    image001

    Cover of TIME magazine dated April 22, 1946

    as the years go by, more and more people seem to forget why the country exists as it is today. more and more people know that they are pakistani and will proudly say the same when the national cricket team takes on india or australia, or when they get confused for an indian while being an expat, but not many remember what all happened to make us where we are right now. this is august 14th. a time to remember. hopefully we can sort that out now.

    let’s start at the beginning. 1947. jinnah has now fought long and hard and convinced  muslims, hindus, indians, parsi’s, christians and all the other indigenous peoples of the sub-continent that aside from the brits leaving india, the muslims of the region need to have a separate state of their own. whether he chose to convince people of this for reasons to better his career (he was a terrible lawyer apparently) is still debated today. why he chose to do this when indians (muslims, hindus and other peoples) had lived harmoniously in the region for centuries is not known either. so on aug 14th, 1947 he manages to succeed and a state for muslims is formed.

    it’s called pakistan. for some idiotic reason nobody really notices it’s in two parts divided by another country the size of a mini-continent and nobody really cares (will play into importance in a couple of decades). the name apparently has a double meaning. 1) the land of the pure. 2) p is for punjabi’s, a for afghan’s, k for kashmiri’s, s for sindhi’s and tan for balochis(tan). the mohajir’s are evidently left out. [ed.note: about 14.5 million people crossed the borders between india and pakistan in one of the bloodiest immigrations of peoples ever]. karachi is made the capital of the country.  by the way, at this point it’s not an islamic republic yet. nor is it a republic at all. it’s only the ‘dominion of pakistan’ for muslims and anyone else who feels like living here.

    the national anthem is now written by a guy called hafeez jalandhry. the reason most of you don’t understand it is because it’s written in farsi (persian). apparently, there was another one that was used when jinnah was alive until 1948, but not many people care about that either. the flag is cheesily designed with an islamic crescent and star and giving the easiest excuse of dimensions by saying the white is representative for minorities and green for muslim majorities. the flag does not at this point, nor has it ever had any state governed dimensions. anyway, now jinnah is the first governor-general of pakistan. [pakistan never had an elected prime minister until zulfikar ali bhutto]. india gave that honour to it’s last viceroy, lord louis mountbatten.

    fast forward to 1956 and four prime ministers and governor-generals have gone by. the dominion is now dissolved on march 23rd (that’s why you celebrate pakistan day) and pakistan officially becomes an islamic republic and we now have a constitution. it didn’t last long and was dissolved in a military coup two years later by iskander mirza and ayub khan was made president. this began a long history of pakistan’s military coups and martial law’s.

    after ayub came yahya, and yahya  (another fellow who had martial law going) was the fellow in charge in 1971. a blemish amongst the many in the country’s history, 1971 was the year bangladesh was formed and east pakistan finished. the bangladesh liberation war as it is officially termed occurred and resulted in the hundreds of thousands of deaths of bengali’s, east pakistani’s and indians (bengali authorities claim that upto 3 million people were killed, whereas the official word from pakistan is as low as 26,000). as per the guinness book of world records, the atrocities of the bangladesh liberation are amongst the top 5 genocides ever. hear that? we’re right up there with the nazi’s and rwanda and cambodia.

    after the war, bhutto was handed over power. and thus began the wonderful bhutto legacy that is still the ruin of the country today. to his credit, zulfikar ali bhutto was a man who had the ability to move the masses and speak to them like no other (do watch the entire clip, the last 30 seconds are worth it). he was arrogant and well educated. within a month of moving into office, he began nationalizing pretty much every thing possible. his government promulgated the Nationalization and Economic Reforms Order nationalizing 31 key industrial units. he said “I had made a pledge to the people of Pakistan to implement industrial reforms. I am now beginning to redeem the pledge”. it was indeed only a beginning, and big business was to receive successive jolts during his six years rule and paving the future of rubbish beauracratic government offices. leading industrialists went bankrupt overnight and were either put under house arrest or imprisoned. you can read more on the impact of the nationalization on the pakistan economy here. rest assured, had it not been for nationalization, pakistan would have a very different economic landscape today. oh by the way, he was also the father of pakistan’s nuclear arms program, another terrific waste of resources. bhutto was also the loser behind the farcical amendment in the constitution under pressure from the psycho fundo’s of the time to falsely reflect that the ahmadiyya are non-muslims and anyone claiming to be such would be tried and imprisoned on blasphemy charges.

    our next martial law dictator soon follows. zia-ul-haque took over from bhutto in another coup and then later killed the guy for pretty much no particularly reason other than the fact that they didn’t get along very much. this guy pretty much setup the roots of islamic fundo’s that run rampant today in the country. he helped the americans setup and coordinate with the taliban to get the commie’s out of afghanistan. he screwed with the ahmediyya even more than bhutto. he’d cut your arm for theft and other insane sharia laws (flogging or stoning to death for adultery etc). being a shia was almost a sin while this guy was around. he made a ton of money embezzling in the trade of heroin and weapons through the afghan war but not much was evidenced against the guy as he had the media on a gag order too and tv, radio and print was heavily censored due to the fact that zia might have anyone reporting against him killed. his islamization got so bad that women were not allowed out in the evenings after maghrib nor could they be with any males who were not mahram. anyway after a brutal martial law which seemed to last forever, he died in a plane crash in 1988. rumour is that the americans took care of him for us.

    after this, between ’88 and ’99 civilian rule resumed exchanging hands between benazir and nawaz. neither did a very good job of it. not much changed and not much happened during these times. aside from karachi. karachi became a mess with the mqm using the city as it’s personal playground. between 1994 and 1995 karachi was a battleground in a civil war between the mqm (I would link to mqm.org but apparently google don’t think it’s a wise idea to head there) and everyone else. operation clean up by the military was initiated and over 2000 people were killed in the city in the months during this cleanup. after, random corruption charges exchanged hands between nawaz and benazir. by 1999 nawaz in an attempt to dismiss the then chief of army (for his escapades in kargil, siachin and other kashmiri areas) failed to do so and general pervez musharraf became the next military ruler of pakistan in another coup. he exiled nawaz sharif to saudi arabia.

    during musharraf’s reign, the economy improved significantly.  he brought the people of the country out of the rut that they had been in since zia. for the most part the country and the people within were happy. they didn’t care too much who was in power as long as their lifestyles were improving. and they were. they weren’t supressed by his militancy. he opened up the media and improved the arts and culture and education sectors. he improved upon existing infrastructure. he did a lot. too bad he screwed up as well with the lawyers and the lal masjid scenario. his ratings plumetted and then things went downhill from there.

    for some reason or the other the country figure they’d be better off having this guy around. what will happen tomorrow, we shall never know. there’s a good timeline here in case anyone is interested. happy 14th august everyone. wishing you a hearty independence from abbas and abbas.

    hush cat August 12, 2009

    Posted by Xill-e-Ilahi in people, places, social.
    3 comments

    there is, near the karachi central jail, an institution known as the city foundation grammar school. in a city which boasts the unmatchable bilingually named saint dawood school (on dalmiya road) this is hardly remarkable. but the amalgamation of the names of three of the better known schools is reflective of a practice that would seem absolutely incredible to an observer if he didn’t know its pakistan. the story is told of the guy who started a school but didn’t know what to name it. impressed by the reputations of the convents in karachi but at the same time frustrated that every conceivable saint already has a house of learning dedicated to his or her memory in the metropolis and also the fact that he couldn’t figure out who was the patron saint of successful schools, he is said to have thrown a book at the wall and exclaimed (rather cryptically, i might add) “sab sainton ki aisee ki taisee“. the next day a man came to the premises and painted the name all saints high school on the boundary wall. but if that was wierd for you, i wonder what your reaction to haji parwaiz primer and secundry school (air condishun) would be.

    the climbing on to established and successful brands is a phenomenon not restricted to the nomenclature of institutes of learning. ever since the mahrose beauty parlour franchise became a hit, there has been an almost epidemic sprouting up of denting/painting centres for women in khi-town with names like rose, red rose, white rose, dil rose, rose bud, china rose and even tube rose – not to mention jasmine, tulip, orchid and of course, gulaab. near the traditional famly seat in nazimabad a guy opened up what we call a marriage lawn or shadi hall in the mid nineties called sona lawn. several years later the plot next to it also got converted to a marriage lawn and was named, rather imaginatively, chandi lawn. a few years after that, there was much mirth when we noticed that the plot on the other side was also being converted into a similar institution and we wondered what the name would be. the owner did not disappoint. he called it white gold lawn. if you set up a successful eatery called, for example, alauddin khilji tikka corner (aktc), you can bet your best tikkas that there will be a new-aktc and aktc (paposh branch) or aktc original hussainabad branch before the year is out. a guy set up an open air karhai place near toll plaza on superhighway a few years ago with traditional charpai or manji seating arrangements. now there is a whole range of such places to choose from with at least three bearing the same name on a 5km stretch. the fast food phenomenon that was kaybees resulted in a hundred pushcarts offering everything from kaybees bhutta to kaybees biryani to kaybees haleem. but as impacts go, no one had the impact to match that of what was arguably karachi’s first authentic fast food joint, mr. burger. not only did it spawn a whole range of mr. broasts, mr. haleems and mr. tikkas, every commercial area had a “mr. something” in it, including – but not limited to – mr. laundry, mr. autos, mr. video and even mr. karate. in fact, there were even a few misses to come out of it, like ms. lace and ms. darzee.

    footwear has a special place in the pakistani wardrobe. not just the “english” shoe for men and eighties-style stiletto heel for women, which virtually everyone wears, every conceivable style of shoe except the wooden dutch clog is available in pakistan. this includes among other foreign imports (in terms of style), the traditional peshawari, the bright gold and flashy types, the kholapurees, the chappals, the sandals, the qainchi, the khussas, etc. since the days when english boot house was the only flash place to buy shoes from if you didn’t like bata and servis, we have seen american boot house, german boot house, english shoe house and french boot house among others. and then came the foreign brands. when the nineties were reaching an end, there was a whole bunch of people dying to differentiate themselves from the proletariat by wearing something cooler. this was especially true of the school going crowd who could only express their peacock colours in their shoes because schools in karachi, by and large, enforce strict policies on uniforms and accessories. the three biggest brands that made it to the mainstream market were pierre cardin, caterpillar and of course, hush puppies.

    hush puppies achieved what would be called platinum in the music record industry when they launched the suede sandals and chappals that are so common on pakistani feet these days. and perhaps it was this that prompted the appearance of a new brand. i have no idea if this is true but the story goes that when the factory was being set up to make the shoes that are supplied not only to the manufacturer’s own retail outlets but several shoe stores across town (i know fitrite stocks them on tariq road and several others do so in haideri and saddar) the proprietor decided to name his range hush kitties as the natural answer to the impure puppies (muslims consider dogs and pigs to be impure). his son, though, advised him to go one up with the words “kitties kyun, un ki bhi maa lay aatay hain“. and so came hush cat.

    you gotta love the thought process. so much for branding strategy.

    when i enter the footwear industry, i will do so by opening a high end peshawari chappal shoe store in the heart of karachi to usher in a new era of pukhtoon-urdu speaking peace and brotherhood. it will be called lush pushies.

    ______________________________________________

    my stories and anecdotes are based on folklore you hear about town. they may not be completely accurate but they give the history that touch which makes it more, well, magical. if you do have the right dope, though – please do share. we at the abbas by two will find a way to make it fun.

    babu ho jaana footpath par August 10, 2009

    Posted by Halai in arts & culture, history, people.
    add a comment

    you speak to most people about the golden years of the pakistan film industry and they’ll be quick to remind you that one of the best actors there was, was waheed murad. well here’s an image and a writeup. you ask them to name a film that he was in, and most would be clueless. that’s because he’s a legend. people only know the name nowadays, and not much else. but this post isn’t about him. it’s about the man who gave the voice to waheed murad. a genteel fellow named ahmed rushdi.

    why ahmed rushdi? well let’s backtrack for a sec. what if i was to ask who pioneered pop music in pakistan? well you could go ahead and mention alamgir and nazia and shaikhi, but you’d be incorrect as it was mr. rushdi. his influence was such that mr. prevez musharraf went ahead and awarded him with a sitar-e-imtiaz in 2003 posthumously 21 years after his death.

    NFP in his famous write up about the ailing music industry of pakistan has his first entry about ahmed rushdi.

    but the only reason i really started writing this post was to embed this video below. the audio is obviously been used with modern imagery as the song never really had a video since it was recorded for radio pakistan, nevertheless it’s a fun listen and a classic hit song of ahmed rushdi’s. enjoy.

    you can read more about the man here and obviously on wikipedia.

    inglish cheetay July 28, 2009

    Posted by Xill-e-Ilahi in lingo, people, social, urdu.
    19 comments

    language is what defines a race. slang-uage is what defines the rat race.

    my grandfather hopped on to a train heading home to lucknow from delhi. he was ten. he was also only the third person in the carriage; the other two being an elderly pair of lucknavi ladies busy gossiping about the people who had also attended the wedding they were returning from. this was as standard fare conversation back in 1909 as it is today in 2009. at some point in the journey a british lawyer also entered the carriage,  noticeable only because his face was riddled with smallpox scars and was supposedly as ugly as it gets. the ladies gave him a scornful glance and one said, “ay hay, bajia, ye gora kambakht kitna badsoorat hai. kabhi pehlay aisa na dekha“. at this point, my granddad interjected, “kabhi kabhi sheerazion mein bhi phulka nikal aata hai“. the ladies looked at him and burst out laughing and asked him which part of lucknow he was from.

    i assume you are as clueless as i was when i was told this tale of the deductive powers of the old ladies in guessing my grandfather’s city of origin. apparently it was the reference to the two species of pigeons (the sheerazis are a pure white breed and the phulka is a twin-coloured type, usually white with patches of black, gray or brown) that gave him away – pigeons being one of the four interests of highly succesful lucknavis (the others were kite flying, poetry and mujras).

    38 years after this incident, partition happened.

    and it so transpired that in the melting pot that is karachi came people who claimed to speak the same language but would debate for generations whether the right word for thread is taaga or dhaaga. the story is told of the lucknow wala karachiite and the delhi wala karachiite who were having a heated argument at a tea shop when a bihari stepped in to calm them down. the lucknow wala says to the bihari, “yaar tu hee faisla kar de. bulbul bolti hai ya bolta hai?“; to which the bihari responded “babwa, bulbul to bolay hai“. and not only did all these guys come in to karachi but – urdu, by and large, being the lingua franca – in the inclusivist spirit that only speakers of a language with as diversified roots as urdu could have; they kept on absorbing words from other cultures right into their dailyspeak.

    today, the streets of karachi echo with the sounds of a language which ghalib or iqbal would never figure out. no poet worth mentioning has ever, to the best of my knowledge, had found occasion to refer to a good thing as lush. or set. or tight. or ing-lish. or oodham. or anth. or cheeti. or several other synonyms that come to mind. but this is what it has come to.

    so 99 years after he had wowed two unknown old ladies with his pop culture references in a world still coloured sepia in my imagination of it; my granddad’s grandson found himself seated behind couple of teens in a hospital cafeteria at 3:30 am. they were discussing the two cute med students who had stepped in for a tea break.

    “yaar, copy check kar”

    “abay ye to sirf a plus hain, fine leg pe dekh – position holder khari hai.”

    this of course was not impossible to grasp. virtually everyone in karachi can understand a reference to the examination system and to cricket. (for the record – i didn’t agree with the rating. she wasn’t bad but not a position holder by a long shot). later in the day, i was at the gas station waiting for the guy in front of me to get done with the air hose for his tyres but he was having some difficulty in deciphering the code that the puncture wala was using. admittedly, “aira vaal daddy leak hai” isn’t easy but the fact that the guy couldn’t figure out that he was being told that the valve was leaking came as something of an eye opener. apparently, there are people in karachi who haven’t mastered the local dialect and so it follows naturally that there are people in the rest of our pure motherland who think that karachiites are aliens (and not just in the “muhajir” sense of the word).

    i have therefore compiled a short list of slang words here which i intend to increase with your contributions till it becomes urdu’s answer to urban dictionary. ok, maybe thats going too far. but you get the idea. for someone looking for a conventional urdu dictionary online there is a very cool thing on crulp if you know your urdu alphabet.

    andhi: literally the feminine adjective for “blind”; the word is used to describe a situation of no accountability. you have effectively established an andhi if you do as you please with no concern for anyone else. e.g. andhi lagee huee hai na – hamid jaisa chumpoo bhi loot ker chala jaata hai.

    bharam: i’m not sure if there is an english equivalent  but the closest literal meaning would be “face” as in not willing to lose face etc. however, that is not how it is used on the street and in the ‘hood. here the word is more closely corresponding with “attitude”. as in hamid se baat karna bekaar hai, uske bharam khatam hee nahin hotay. the verb form is bharam maarna or bharam karana and the less commonly used superlative is nangay bharam.

    chamaar: literally a leather worker, the word is used as an insult meaning imbecile or moron. e.g. hamid, yaar, tu bhi chamaar hai, pehlay nahin bata saktay they?

    dhakkan: literally a top or lid, it is used almost exactly as the above term. e.g. hamid, yaar, tu sirf chamaar nahin hai. eik number ka dhakkan hai. pehlay nahin bata saktay they?

    english or inglish: this refers to something cool. because something can only be cool or stylish if its imported from the former masters. e.g. hamid hai to dhakkan, magar kitting buhut english kerta hai.

    gathering: almost what it means in english. it is used to mean your social circle. hamid ne buhut jaldee un donon ke sath gathering bana lee hai.

    hagga: its kind of embarassing to know this – but, after all, we do come from a culture that spawned the inimitable chirkeen – but a hagga literally would be a turd. it is used to mean blunder. e.g. hamid ne bhi kya hagga maara, farzeen ko us ke bhai ke saamne line kara dee.

    kuppee: desi moonshine. illegal, homemade brew. also known as tharrahamid apni gathering ke sath pul ke neechay kuppee peeta hai.

    line maarna or line karana: probably a distortion of some forgotten english colloquialism it means, quite simply, to flirt. eg. hamid roz st. joseph ke bahar khara ho ker bachiyon ko line maarta hai.

    maimoona: a girlfriend. drawn from – as far as i can figure out – anwar maqsood and moeen akhter’s wisecracks about a memon guy’s wife almost always being called maimoona way back in the days of studio ponay teen. e.g. abay scene sun! hamid apni maimoona ko bike per juice pilanay laya tha aur wahan hum se takar gaya. ha ha ha!

    this series will be continued some day. i will need your contributions, so please, please add them in your comments.

    what’s in a name? – the british edition July 27, 2009

    Posted by Halai in brits, history, landmarks, roads.
    5 comments

    as far as naming conventions go, karachi roads and landmarks have a lot to improve upon. since our colonial brothers left us with a wonderful legacy of british architecture and engineering, we have done very little to better ourselves. abbas’ post and comments inspired me to write this up.

    first of all, let’s get the simple ones out of the way.

    bandar road: (today named m. a. jinnah road, and if i have to tell you what the initials stand for i’m gonna beat you up first and then tell you) let it be known publicly and widely there are no monkey’s on this road, there never have been, and hopefully the only monkey’s around that will remain are the ones perched on the shoulder of the guy who makes them re-enact the bangladesh war and aptly naming them aalloo master all to the beat of a hand drum and random shouts of attaaaaaanshun. the word bandar comes from farsi and literally means a port or haven, combining the words of band for enclosed and dar for doorway. bandar road stretches all the way from quaid’s mazaar till tower (more on tower later).

    following suit from there, same deal with kharadar. khara meaning salty, is due to the sea port that karachi is and historically has been.  and similarly meetha dar. (there’s one in lahore too). meetha dar generally is a river port. they also refer to the old walled gates of the city of karachi which stood between the two modern neighborhoods at the time. the khara dar used to open it’s doors towards the arabian sea, and the meetha dar would open towards the grand liyari river.

    behind zainab market (no clue who she was), is an area known usually and generally as elfy.  the name of the road here used to be elphinstone street and just got short changed and is now called elfy by the general populace. more than likely, named after lord elphinstone. (for the torontonian’s reading this, one of the little streets intersecting it is also called dundas street). today the same road starting at (or what used to be) star cinema and going all the way to avari towers is called prince aga khan iii road.

    same deal with a lot of other colonial roads which today are named something else altogether. macleod road is i.i. chundrigar (by the way full name ibrahim ismail chundrigar and has been a prime minister of pakistan for a grand total of two whole months). drigh road is shahra-e-faisal. believe it or not, this one is named after king faisal from saudi. god knows why. burns road was named after a smart fellow dr james burnes. napier road for charles napier (also aptly nicknamed the butcher of sindh, go read your history to learn more about that. on capturing the  province of sindh in 1843, sir charles napier reported his triumph back to london with the single latin word “Peccavi”, meaning “I have sinned”. by the way, if you didn’t get that, that was a rather tasteless pun). today napier road recognizes him as hosting the red light district of the city.

    so where were we. oh yeah, tower. for those not in the know, this is the mereweather tower memorial. and known to all bus drivers across the city as simply just tower. it’s essentially one of the focal points of the city where you have the intersection of bandar road, macleod road, kharadar, maulvi tamizuddin khan road, keamari road and mauripur road, and pretty much the starting and end point of the entire trucking industry of the entire country, i.e., the karachi port. (port qasim and gwadar have started taking a bit of the limelight lately, but this is the shining star of the lot).

    many of the other historic area’s of karachi which were colonized generally remain in the core of the city, near or around saddar, garden, and clifton. reasons are fairly obvious, the further north you went, the city didn’t exist and urban sprawl didn’t get to the gulistan’s and north’s until much, much later (after the 60’s). the brits didn’t wander too far i suppose. you can see some fun photographs here if you’re bored enough. by the way, saddar is actually saddar town on paper. and is bordered by lyari town, jamshed town, keamari town, clifton cantonment, and the sea.

    some of the fun buildings that the brits left us, the old kpt building, karachi grammar school (the school houses in kgs are named after charles napier, bartle frere and another two guys named streeton and papworth, but i got no what their first names are) , empress market, st. andrew’s church, frere hall (which by the way is the equivalent of sadequain’s sistine chapel, if you hadn’t heard of him prior to reading this, shame on you, oh and the building is named after this guy), and the sindh club.

    for some of the most fascinating and in-depth research that i have found about the colonial history of the city you should go here. complete with images and wonderful writeups, the author has tried wonderfully to put together pieces of a puzzle which i’m sure people will be doing for a long time coming.

    rain rain go away..no wait, don’t go! July 24, 2009

    Posted by Mystic in food, history, places.
    3 comments

    contributing writer mystic writes about the recent lashings of rain in our city of lights.

    thera hua pani aur mari hui nani, dono bohat yaad aatay hain – batla bhai.

    well now we don’t have to miss the thera hua pani atleast..there is plenty of it, out in the streets, on the roof tops and inside the houses! forget spending hundreds of thousands of rupees and going to venice, we got our own canals right outside the house gate! woohoo!

    but rain in karachi has always been an experience..one of the things that made rain special in karachi, was the beach..all it needed was one cloud and a few drops of rain to send scores of peaple heading to the shore line and i have to admit, at times, i would be included in that (though at the same time i would be complaining about how these people have nothing else to do)..the rain would bring out all the thelay walas with the gol guppas and the gola gundas and the buttas and the wandering chai walas out in the open..rain in karachi as not just a source of relief from the heat, it was an opportunity to have fun and break away from the boring daily routineof life! and how can i not mention the pakoras and samosas that rain brings along with it..even those who stay away from pakoras and claim never to have enjoyed them are suddenly in the mood for some..

    rain in khi has always had its fair share of problems but one cannot deny the joy it brings when u head out to the beach in cloudy cool rainy weather with friends in tow or if you sit outside with a plate of samosas/pakoras in ure hand..oh and not to forget, it often got u days off from school! nobody wants it not to rain!

    abcd khatoon : amreeka main barish hoti hai, pani foran saaf hojaata hai. yaha dekho, kitna pani jama hojaata hai.

    karachiite: haan toh shanaakht hai barish ki! pata toh chale barish hui hai..

    now for all those hard liners who will come out and claim that oh that rain causes abc or xyz problems, you’re right cuz it does but it doesnt rain everyday so enjoy it.. i know the problems and the issues and the faults within our government and its policies..it pisses me off to but for once, just for a little while, i would not like to be bogged down by those thought..

    like they say drink responsibly, in khi when raining, bathe responsibly!

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