On the bright side of a downpour
“It shouldn’t rain in Karachi,” says my driver defeatedly, after four hours of standing on the Baloch Bridge.
We are riddled with doubts: should we have taken the Gora Qabristan route?
Should we turn onto Shahra-e-Faisal instead of going straight onto Shaheed-e-Millat?
The fact is, whichever way we turn, we were stuck.
I roll down the window of my steaming Mehran – thankfully, I have a book – and read, first in the fading light of dusk and then in the beam of headlights from stationary cars, while the drizzle lightly soaks me. By the time I’m halfway through – my book, I mean, we’ve still not crossed that bridge – the rain has stopped but the traffic jam is just as bad.
At this point, you must be expecting me to curse about the myriad annoyances that form the pet peeves of the Pakistani middle class. One could go on about our abysmal drainage system because of the water collecting on the roads which is now causing vehicles – whether giant Mazdas or tiny Suzukis – to sputter to a halt, causing hold-ups and arguments.
Or one could always have a go at the authorities, for their lack of management and foresight, though they are no less unprepared than the drivers who, knowing it’s the monsoon season, have not prepped their vehicles, and even run out of petrol. Or the traffic policemen who are nowhere to be found. A slightly more thoughtful gripe might be about Mustafa Kamal’s grand plan to construct two thousand flyovers and underpasses which did nothing to ease our traffic problems. Or the land mafia because while we’re at it, we may as well curse the land mafia.
But guess what? I don’t do that.
Instead, I call up my sister, who lives in the US. She has just sent the children to school and we spend a lovely hour catching up.
I have grown philosophical about getting stuck in the rain. Ever since a shoe shopping expedition to Zamzama with a friend eight years ago, I have managed to get stuck on the Baloch Bridge during a monsoon shower every year. So yes, getting home at 10.30 pm was not part of my plan for the day, and it really is a shame that a downpour like that can paralyse Karachi’s traffic. But personally, that was a rather relaxing break from my hectic schedule.
I would never have gotten time to read that book, otherwise.
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