So I watched Inception yesterday at the Cineplex- the mini theater house that all Karachi goes to now that the bigger, better cinemas have gone out of fashion, and though the movie was as much fun as a Leonardo Di Caprio starrer can be (which is not very), I have major gripes about the experience as a whole. Cineplex is without doubt Karachi’s worst cinema, if you consider seating, video and audio quality, and size of the screen; and other than the pretty awesome food selection, there really isn’t much going for it. So why the hell is it always so crowded?
That was a rhetorical question, people.
Location, location and yes, you’ve got it, location.
Before I got married, I lived in North Nazimabad. It was a great place to live- everything you could possibly need was availiable nearby. It had the basic fast food and portuguese flame-grilled chicken joints and the neighbors were always invited to events. It was a good, balanced place to grow up. Nobody was poor, the middle class didn’t bother trying to one-up each other and the filthy rich didn’t know how to act filthy rich. But North Nazimabad scared the living hell out of everyone who didn’t live there. For them, it was next door to Altaf bhai and his crazies, and there were Pathans on the mountain, weren’t there? Oh, and it was far away. Like soooo far away, you know?
Truth is, North Nazimabad was a smörgåsbord of humanity and it never ceased to straighten your perspective of life and society because you saw, and suffered everything. You felt Karachi, and in turn, all of Pakistan just by living there.
I know this seems too general, but when you talk about the attitude of an area, you have to be vague and over-reaching.
Then I married and took myself, and my borya bistar to the General’s colony in Gulshan. I climbed a few more rungs up the social ladder. People didn’t hurry away when I told them my address any more. In fact, they asked me whether I lived near Ashfaq Kiyani’s house, and when I said I did, we became the best of friends.
Now, for the time being, we’re settled in Defence- the one place I knew perfectly well I would never fit into. Defence, for me, stood for all that is wrong with the educated in this country. It was a place filled with pretty, perfect people, with identical Oxford accents and a collective superiority complex which they didn’t even bother to mask. Don’t get me wrong; I loved going there. They had the best and most interesting restaurants, the roads were well made, the houses were beautiful and there were no rickshaws and motorcycles swarming around your car at a signal; but it was a place unwelcome to those who didn’t walk, talk and think a certain way and after fifteen minutes of being there I wanted to go back to my uncouth, but accomodating North Nazimabad.
I still feel the same. Everyday I miss the the vegetable vendor at the gate, Hyderi market being a walk away and the sound of Urdu. Defence is a wonderful place to live after I’ve retired; safe, clean and far removed from the world’s broad field of battle but it would be the wrong place for my kids to grow up. For what it’s worth, the dangerous, God-forsakenly far, tooti phooti streets of Gulshan and North Nazimabad are better teachers than the fancy schools of Defence ever will be.