The Walk

On good days, I tend to believe people are intrinsically good, unless proven otherwise. On a bad day, other people are to be avoided at all costs. It’s a testament to the diversity of people in this city that I keep going back and forth with this internal debate, illustrated well by a short walk I had to take to get home today.

Upon setting out for my destination along a wide but more or less empty road (probably a mistake, in retrospect), I encountered a highly ordinary looking man on a bicycle, the kind that has a large blue plastic vat attached on either side for storing goods they may be transporting. As is the manner of most men in the city, the leering instantly began, which is not such a big deal in itself at all. Anyhow, the man passed on his way and I, still on foot, continued on my own way. It was only when I reached the spot where I would normally wait for a bus that I noticed the same disheveled fellow in the bicycle had returned and was veering his bike closer to where I stood this time. It was only when he started calling out that he would meet me up ahead after he took another round of the area that I sorely felt the absence of a large rock that could be flung at his head, or possibly a large stick to break his legs with. Sadly, I’m quite sure contact with a large object with some part of their body may be the only way to infrain in these people the manners ad basic sense of decency that they very obviously lack.

However, I was at a severe disadvantage here. First off, at this hour of the morning, the place was mostly empty, save the odd person or two waiting for their buses. Secondly, as much as I would have liked to beat the man senseless with anything handy at the moment if he should try anything, I doubted this was a wise option. So, instead of waiting in a semi-deserted area for a bus, I opted for the Rickshaw route. Moments later, I couldn’t resist giving the jackass who had rounded the area and returned to where I had been for the third time the finger as I sped away in a rickshaw. Actually, I half hoped he would attempt to follow me, in which case I would have had the pleasure of introducing him to the guards at our compound who, I’ve heard, don’t take kindly to random ruffians bothering residents. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. However, said ruffian was not bold enough to follow, or perhaps he didn’t think he’d have much of a chance once off home territory, which was a pity because I would have enjoyed taking pictures of what was left of him and put it up as a public service announcement to perverts.

Anyhow, as the annoyance that was the cycle-pervert faded from sight and, resultantly, from mind, I guided the rickshaw to the local market for a few errands. Once this was done, I began the last leg of my walk home. Along the way is a busy street, lined with houses and with servants lounging on the grass talking or (oddly enough) wrestling. As I walked down the street I could hear the loudspeaker enhanced calls of a man with a cart coming my way. I automatically moved to the side to avoid the full blast of said loudspeaker as he passed, pushing his cart along at a slow, leisurely pace. To my surprise, upon seeing me approaching, the cart-man switched off his loudspeaker and continued pushing his cart with his head lowered in concentration until he had passed by me and then continued on his way. I could not resist stopping and watching. It turned out that every time a pedestrian would have to walk by his cart, cart-man would turn off his loudspeaker system to allow them to pass without having their eardrums ruptured, then resumed his calling out his items. Astonished and mood rapidly turning towards the better, I continued my otherwise uneventful walk home.

5 Comments so far

  1. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on May 28th, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

    Minsha, my two cents worth of advice to you (and all the ladies out there who are often become the victims of catcalls and leers) would be to get a pepper spray. Just a short burts of it into the eyes is sure to beat the hell out of anyone. It is harmless and except for a few minutes of discomfort doesn’t cause any harm.

  2. misha (unregistered) on May 29th, 2005 @ 1:08 am

    Interesting. Where in Karachi would one go about getting pepper spray?

  3. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on May 29th, 2005 @ 2:13 am

    On a lighter note: Hey I seriously doubt pepper spray would have stopped the leering etc. I would actually advise you to carry a Klashinkov or a TT, as that would be the ONLY thing to keep even the toughest ruffian away in karachi.

    On a serious note: I am sure you were tempted to throw a rock at the cyclist but honestly that or any other gesture would have created a bigger problem in its own self, I am sorry you had to take an alternate method to avoid the person, but I am sure that last finger must have the feeling of satisfaction written all over it ;)

  4. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on May 29th, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

    I think it is available either at Agha’s or Naheed (Bahadurabad). Can’t remember where I saw it but if definately be in either of the two stores.

  5. Sharjeel (unregistered) on May 29th, 2005 @ 5:33 pm

    A friend of mine once tried to establish a pepperspray business but it didnt really take off cuz apparently its illegal in pakistan… illegal in pakistan? Almost sounds like an oxymoron hey.

    Anyway misha most people do this leering etc to get attention. If you show them that you are moved (however displeasantly) by their actions they will be encouraged to do more of it. Just pretend you dont see anything and be on your way. They will shut up eventually.

    And that part about that thelay wala was nice. So there are some decent people in this part of the world after all.

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