The summer’s call for a joie de vivre

Summers have long seemed the most appropriate time for love’s beginning to writers and poets. Even though Karachi’s own summers aren’t exactly close to that poetic ideal (yesterday’s maximum recorded temperature was 36 C, humidity was not as high at 29% but the load shedding schedule, at least in my locality, ran from 7 PM to 10 PM), but the character and spirit of some of Karachi’s worst effected citizens to take into their stride, any and everything the summer season offers, is not to be underestimated. Yesterday was back-to-school day for me and after nearly a month and half of post exam holidays, when I went back to my college yesterday, that determination to enjoy the summer, despite its many tests, was at full display.

The morning’s van journey would see the van driver return to play, customarily in maximum pitch, the same old dance remixes of the even older Indian music numbers from the black-and-white era (oh how I miss now the wonderful days of Muharram, when no music was played in ‘religious respect’, and my ears were hence spared of this aberrant noise pollution).

Then there would be the familiar faces of old friends and returning seniors, and amongst us all, some fresh juniors as well. The fashion trends, even a style-impassive person like my self could sense, had already changed to some extent; kurits and kameezes were shorter (and tighter) still for the girls, and closing the top few buttons of your shirt was seemingly a fashion crime for the boys (and there I was thinking one of the easier ways to avoid complete dehydration in this weather was to adjust your clothing for minimum sun exposure).

But the surest indicator of summer’s arrival came as we neared the college hospital in Azam Basti. This disparity between rich and poor in this locality is quintessential sub-urban Karachi all year round, but especially in the summers.

Huge, two story houses, with latest model cars standing outside them can be seen as you drive past the broken and sewerage inundated roads in one lane, and almost as huge piles of accumulated garbage meet your eye as you go into the next lane, which incidentally also leads into our college’s clinical facility. Much smaller, unpainted cemented houses are seen in these parts, the roads here are less bumpy and ironically aren’t flooded by over flowing gutters either, but there aren’t many cars. Pathan men on foot inhabit these lanes, and the varied kaleidoscope of views on offer, each tells its own unique story.

Back in December when we came here in the mornings, there would be little groups of men standing around fires ignited out of the abundant paper and wood in the trash, warming themselves in the early morning chill, others would be seated inside a dhaba serving oily parathas with tea for breakfast (‘Garam chai aur paratha lelo, aik dam garam lelo‘ use to be their waiter’s loud call). The dhaba still serves aik dam garam chai aur paratha, but a new juice stand had emerged now within their inn (‘Tazza keeno aur ganney ka juice lelo, aik dam tazza lelo’ is now aptly the waiter’s new call).

In the afternoon, this time on the way back from college, lemon juice had been added to the dhaba menu; the Walls ice cream walla‘s businesses was going stronger then the makkai walla‘s, and some of the little kids who were playing around in the morning, were still playing, seemingly unfazed by the heat, running around after a stray cat in the area. Still bare foot, still only half dressed.

In the relative comforts of our air conditioned residences and cars, our sun-glasses and sub-blocks covered bodies, as we continue to whine about the heat, I thought, on the way back, eves dropping shamelessly on the conversation of two of my batch matches going back home in their own private cars, may be we miss out on the real joie de vivre of the summer that those kids are able to enjoy.

The hazards of playing on busy streets, and of running around bare foot in environmentally adverse conditions not withstanding, there was an unquestionable bliss that you could see reflecting within their eyes. May be it was just the blithe of their childhood which has made me nostalgic; may be I’m just jealous, of those kids I saw in Azam Basti, and then a few more opposite sea view yesterday, taking a free of cost dip in a pound of accumulated rain water to cool off, jealous that can’t even find an inflatable swimming pool to accommodate my size, that I wont be having summer holidays this time either, that I can’t seem to enjoy the summer like those kids were doing.

Its worth asking if perhaps, its true, that we’ve grown so frustrated by the trails and tribulations of the summer, the scorching heat, the worsening traffic, the power outages, the post rain floods, and much more, that we’ve forgotten how to enjoy the harvests of the summer, the mango season, great new lawn sales, and the actual warmth and sunshine it self. We may find the constant heat a pain, but in other parts of the world, say London, for instance, people actually celebrate when the sun peaks through the clouds.

May be we take things for granted. May be we forget that hell will be hotter. Either way, the summer is here. Seasons greetings everyone.

26 Comments so far

  1. Keep Walking! (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

    @ London stuff = Yes, I like it there the way they celebrate summers.. Guys on bikes and girls with less clothes..


  2. Truth (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

    a nice account of the summer description.
    Doesnt matter how hot and dry the summers are in karachi, one thing is for sure that summer has its own identitiy, its own blessings to offer.


  3. Original-Faisal (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

    You really do write quite well. Just got back to california from a two month long trip to Karachi and reading your post is making me homesick.

    Thank you for writing this feel-good post.


  4. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

    Zainub, though, your tribute to summer is quite generous and as OF had mentioned that you do write quite well, but I feel that your comparision of Karachi’s summer with that of London is a bit needless.

    As far as I know, you will hardly find overflowing gutters, garbage heaps, dust clouds and blackened CO2 being blowned at you in London. Nor would you find, people driving on wrong sides of the road and stopping whereever they please, giving two hoots about other drivers.


  5. Zainub (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 11:37 pm

    The reference to London’s weather, wasn’t meant to be a comparison Arsalan, it was just meant to highlight the fact that we take sunshine for granted. Hope I have made my self clear.

    And thanks to everyone for the feedback, much appreciated.


  6. Salman A. (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 12:43 am

    nice article on summer and the joys it brings along. there are few problems, i agree, but then, we are also a poor country naa. on the positive side, our winter does not suck as bad as London or any other western city’s winter. their snowstorms are much more terrible than our scorchers.


  7. MB (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 1:11 am

    Waah kia baat hai, kamal likha hai bai

    Excellent Zainub
    Keep it up. A good way to welcome summer.


  8. Original-Anon (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 7:43 am

    Hogwash


  9. Darthvader (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Summers have long seemed the most appropriate time for love’s beginning to writers and poets????????????? HUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    cars STANDING outside !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
    If this was a attempt at comedy writing …godddd it was bad.
    sweetheart , take Eng/Writing101 at some decent school. This was , as you would like to say , compléter merde ..Wink *
    love , peace and rus malai
    Vader, the Dark Sith


  10. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 11:22 am

    Zainab, your non-cricketing rants are also very interesting and informative. I really enjoyed it. Keep it up!


  11. Zainub (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

    Darthvader,

    I take it you’ve never heard of Lady Anne Barnard, there’s a poem by her, by the name of My Heart Is A Lute, which starts as

    Alas, that my heart is a lute,

    Whereon you have learned to play!

    For a many years it was mute,

    Until one summer’s day

    You took it, and touched it, and made it thrill,

    And it thrills and throbs, and quivers still!

    Then there’s another ballad by Harriet Prescott Spofford which goes

    In the summer even,

    While yet the dew was hoar,

    I went plucking purple pansies,

    Till my love should come to shore.

    The fishing-lights their dances

    Were keeping out at sea,

    And come, I sung, my true love!

    Come hasten home to me!

    I could have quoted more poetry to back what I had written earlier, but I’m confident you’ll have got my point already. But fair enough point you raised about the use of the verb “standing” with cars, I should have said ‘cars parked outside’, but English isn’t my mother tongue you see, and I’m only human, so I can and do make mistakes. Boasting about how I have full command over it is not my nature – I could have gone ahead and pointed out how your own comment had some grammatical/phrasing errors, but I’ll not do that.


  12. Salman A. (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

    i havent seen anyone picking on urdu grammar on anyone of these websites but when it comes to english, they all come forward and sarcastically try to give you advices and tips on english 101. ulloo, angraiz ke ghulam.. :))


  13. original-anon (unregistered) on April 5th, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

    Aaaah – poetry !

    Morning found us calmly unaware
    Noon burn gold into our hair
    At night, we swim the laughin’ sea
    When summer’s gone
    Where will we be

    Summer’s almost gone
    Summer’s almost gone
    We had some good times
    But they’re gone
    The winter’s comin’ on
    Summer’s almost gone


  14. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 12:05 am

    Ah! So, we have a poet among us…..Original Anon, I didn’t know that were into poetry? How Intteerrreeessstting!!:-)))


  15. darthvader (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    you take it right sweetheart :) i have never heard of lady Anne , nor do i care . name dropping is usually considered a very fourth class activity , specially if without context,
    and therefore I am not going to indulge in it.
    and No – i haven’t gotten your point and it is because there isn’t any. LOL

    Mieux vaut plier que rompre, sweet heart :)
    au revoir
    Vader, the Dark Sith


  16. Original-Anon (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 1:06 am

    Arsalan – sorry I can’t lay claim to this poetry. I meant to give credit and forgot. These are lyrics from the Lizard King :)


  17. Darthvader (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 2:20 am

    @OA – OMG – only if you could see the smile splashed wide across my face :) it’s like one of those eternally blissful things when you come across familiar lines from the Lizard King – just like that. kinda makes your day doesnt it ???

    can you feel it
    now that spring has come
    it’s time to live in the scattered sun ……

    i know you the rest :)
    so i say cheers – to the infinitely beautiful stuff.

    best regards
    Vader


  18. FAYLASUF (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

    btw why do v need Lady Anne Barnard to make a point?

    i mean Tell me bout Ghalib, Meer, Iqbal, sauda, Faiz!


  19. Dee (unregistered) on April 6th, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

    “Why do v need Lady Anne”?…………> @FAYLASUF.Well, its called personal preference :).Some people like Lady Anne others Ghalib, Meer and etc.For me it depends sometimes Ghalib, Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi,etc and sometimes Khalil Gibran, William Wordsworth, etc………
    So my friend it doesnt have to be mutually exclusive you can enjoy Easter and Western both.
    Dee


  20. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 12:49 am

    @ salman

    and you write in english……..


  21. FAYLASUF (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

    @Dee: i agree to your point bout personal preferences

    But are we short of giants from same region who grew up and wrote with much in common with us? Can we ignore the cultural divide?

    Its good to know that you like people like Ghalib, Faiz, Khalil and W.W. etc.

    N well
    by no means do I intend to portray tht m not in favor of wht Zainub has written, infact I must say that she has done it quite nicely and the rebuttal wz also interesting ÔÅä

    @DARTHVADER
    I m lookin forward to sum work from your end


  22. FAYLASUF (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

    @Dee: i agree to your point bout personal preferences

    But are we short of giants from same region who grew up and wrote with much in common with us? Can we ignore the cultural divide?

    Its good to know that you like people like Ghalib, Faiz, Khalil and W.W. etc.

    N well
    by no means do I intend to portray tht m not in favor of wht Zainub has written, infact I must say that she has done it quite nicely and the rebuttal wz also interesting ÔÅä

    @DARTHVADER
    I m lookin forward to sum work from your end


  23. FAYLASUF (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    @Dee: i agree to your point bout personal preferences, n I also support your statement bout subscribing to the work of eastern n western intellectuals

    Its good to know that you like people like Ghalib, Faiz, Khalil and W.W. etc.
    Now would you agree that a poet writes with feelings from within… and thus cultural similarity is significant…now the question remains ..are we short of giants who grew up and wrote with much in common with us? :P

    Ah forget it.. ÔÅä:)

    N well
    by no means do I intend to portray tht m not in favor of wht Zainub has written, infact I must say that she has done it quite nicely and the rebuttal wz also interesting :)

    @ Darth Vader: m lookin forward to sum work from your end


  24. FAYLASUF (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

    @Dee: i agree to your point bout personal preferences, n I also support your statement bout subscribing to the work of eastern n western intellectuals

    Its good to know that you like people like Ghalib, Faiz, Khalil and W.W. etc.
    Now would you agree that a poet writes with feelings from within… and thus cultural similarity is significant…now the question remains ..are we short of giants who grew up and wrote with much in common with us? :P

    Ah forget it.. ÔÅä:)

    N well
    by no means do I intend to portray tht m not in favor of wht Zainub has written, infact I must say that she has done it quite nicely and the rebuttal wz also interesting :)

    @ Darth Vader: m lookin forward to sum work from your end


  25. Faylasuf (unregistered) on April 7th, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

    HAHAHA

    N i thought that my isp wz screwd up!


  26. wasiq (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 2:13 am

    HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER HAPPY EASTER……



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