Taking the ‘bad’ out of Nazimabad

Published: June 30, 2011
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It’s only sometimes you come across remarks so wide in their naivety and so deep in their insult that no one gives a damn about what you were saying in the first place.

At a gathering in DHA a girl walks in. “Hey, how come you’re so late?” I ask.

“I just came from… well, really far away,” she says.

“How far off?”

“You wouldn’t know where it is,” she dismisses in an ugly voice and with an embarrassed face.

I press on. “Like what, Nazimabad?”

“Yeah, how’d you guess?” She tries to laugh it off.

I guessed Nazimabad because I’ve stayed there and I know the ‘distance’. And I wanted her to stop acting weird about it! I should have yelled at her but decided to leave her to her own paranoia. A boy listening in to this conversation turned to me with a look that said, ‘God, how pathetic.’

Yes, there was definitely something pathetic about somebody trying to cover up the fact that they’ve just come from Nazimabad. Sure, we’ve all heard the arguments about that side of Lilly Bridge and this side of Lilly Bridge. But only people masquerading as ‘socialists’ dredge up this stereotypical quasi-metaphor. The reality is somewhat different. And there is perhaps no better way to demonstrate this than with something that cuts across boundaries: food.

Hardees Karachi is deciding on a venue to open in Nazimabad. Some people say their uncle’s chachee’s son-in-law swore that it would open next to BBQ Tonight in Clifton, but lo and behold, the smiling golden star will be shining over… North Nazimabad. “That’s where they opened the first McDonald’s!” said a friend, relieving childhood memories of the play area.

But the official Facebook page is littered with shock and amusement:

Of all the places you could have picked, Marketing Manager, you picked Nazimabad?!

Who’s going to drive 45 minutes to Nazimabad for Hardees?

Ah, but you’d drive 45 minutes for Port Grand, wouldn’t you?

“That’s different,” she replies huffily.

It’s not only Nazimabad that gets the flak, mind you. Feigned ignorance about any locality is just as worse as blatant disregard. Take as an example, the discussion during a free period that drifted towards Karachi University. “University Road? What’s that?” called out a loud, pink nailpolish voice, suddenly aware she had let slip something she shouldn’t have. A class of 32 students turned in shock.

“[It’s] only the location of the university with the best mass communications department in all of South Asia,” yelled a college-obsessed boy.

“[It’s] only where they opened the first sit-in restaurant of One Potato Two Potato,” gasped the foodie.

“[It’s] only where my mamoo lives, you burger!” spat out the last one.

So does one person out of hundreds matter? Does it matter that one small, pretentious person believes his or her own small, small stereotypes and applies them to a city of 18 million? Is this a big-city resident symptom? Do people in other large cities giggle and fret over whether they’ve been to certain areas?

For some people, Nazimabad is as ‘backward’ as Fata  (whatever that’s supposed to mean). It’s destitute like southern Sudan. It’s in the middle of nowhere, like the Pacific Ocean. Yet Nazimabad is also the Original Suburb. Its north side was designed in the 1950s to house federal servants, a planned enclave of its own. And Nazimabad is where the original Agha Juice is located, serving the best mango shake on any side of any bridge.

But then again, perhaps these days people are warming up to the idea of a shiny new restaurant no matter where it is. It is important, however, to point out that Nazimabad already has Pizza Hut, KFC, Largees and a host of other food chains. Small wonder then that pink nailpolish girl asks: “Since when did Nazimabad suddenly become cool?”

It’s only sometimes you come across remarks so wide in their naivety and so deep in their insult that no one gives a damn about what you were saying in the first place. This was one of them. Smile and ignore, and visit Agha Juice and Hardees, whichever you prefer, because there’s nothing bad about Nazimabad.

Published in The Express Tribune.

Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.