Stories about traffic

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, ...

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The five things Pakistanis need to stop complaining about and embrace

Growing up in Karachi, I was just another average teenager. I went to school in the morning, I would play cricket in the afternoon, play some more cricket in the evening, and then round the day off with a good book. Ok, well, maybe the last part doesn’t fit in there, but you get the point. Like any other teenager, I would pride myself on my ability to talk and talk some more on pretty much any given topic. While I was more than eager to adorn my house with the Pakistani flag come August 14th, I was equally ...

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Capital encroachment: Laws, promises and a delicious piece of pie

“Silence is a source of great strength” – Lao Tzu As an optimist will confirm, waking up is supposed to be the best part of the day. It doesn’t matter what time you wake up, or what sleep cycle your body follows, waking up full of energy is part of the charm of facing a new day and the new challenges that come with it. So why this weak feeling? Maybe it’s the school up your street. Maybe it’s the office next door. Maybe it’s the VVVVVIP next door (they love their V’s don’t they?), or maybe even ...

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Functional cities need mass transit

Much has been said and written about lack of predictable and efficient public transport system in Pakistan’s major cities – to no avail. Former mayor of Karachi, Mustafa Kamal, who built a swirling network of flyovers and signal-free corridors during his four-year tenure, was smarter than that to realise, and voice, that adding more roads was only a short-term solution. True unclogging of our major cities’ blocked arteries would happen when you remove a significant number of vehicles from the road, which is only possible when you provide commuters with a viable public transport option. But the argument for a mass ...

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“Die, killer, die”

In the busy traffic of Lahore on June 2, 2011, a traffic warden stopped a car carrying a patient, for reasons unknown. The family was  frustrated by more than the hot weather, smoke and the sound of horns. They wanted to rush to the hospital. The patient was in need of critical medical attention. However, the warden was in no hurry. According to TV reports, he couldn’t come up with a credible reason for stopping the car, yet he demanded cash in exchange for letting the family go. Despite being bribed, the incident carried on so long that the patient in ...

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Pakistan’s World Cup strategy: Win the toss

In Sri Lanka, the locals warn all tourists to be aware of the oncoming traffic. Despite various road markings and signs, overtaking at will on even the narrowest of single lanes is a common sight. For that reason alone, you need to be on guard at all times, be wary of even the innocuous Tuk Tuks (rickshaws) and sit prepared for a sudden manoeuvre. It seems as though the welcoming committee failed to inform Pakistan cricket team of these trends on the streets. The rigidness of their plans oozing from their on-field show, the refusal to budge from what was discussed ...

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How a Land Cruiser can change your life

My dad had two childhood dreams. The first was to get a commission in the army. Providentially, he says, he became a doctor. His second dream was to own a Land Cruiser. We do not belong to the religious, feudal or political elite, so a Land Cruiser was no ordinary car for us. Imagine our surprise when my dad surprised parking a big, dark green, gigantic SUV outside our house a couple of weeks ago. He had fulfilled his childhood dream at last. The Land Cruiser didn’t look at all appropriate parked outside our humble home, especially because it had a Lakki ...

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A solution to Lahore’s traffic woes

Lahore’s traffic snarls routinely draw the ire of motorists who endure occasional dents from donkey-drawn carts and zig-zagging motorcyclists. Their presence on Ferozepur Road is likened by some to flies in a bedroom – unwanted pests who just refuse to go away. During rush hour many of us allow a strain of irrational thinking to take over. What’s more unfortunate is that people who can make a difference are the ones complaining about it. I for one believe this thoughtless yet contemptuous attitude could be transformed to one’s own advantage if we just sit back, relax and anticipate the situation to ...

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Police check points: Learning to be less critical

Be it individuals or society as a whole, we rarely waste any opportunity to be critical. It seems to have become part of our nature. From the common man to the so-called intellectual class, we all are astute in passing out judgments. And the trend extends to the media as well. Anything positive hardly falls in the category of “breaking news”. On my way back home from work, I have to cross at least three police barricades, as do many of us. I will not be going into the merits and demerits of these check points. My focus, today, is on ...

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Alarming traffic situation: Donkeys in the fast lane

Time and again, the menace of child labour has been deplored by organisations, social workers, politicians and people in general, for obvious disadvantages and cruelties associated with it, but recently I came across another dimension attached to it. On a typical morning, I was rushing to a school in Defence in Karachi where I teach, and had taken the Ittehad route. Those familiar with the route would know that cars usually move at relatively higher speeds on that particular road. So here I was trying to reach school on time; I’ll be honest that I wasn’t over-speeding. At a distance, I ...

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