i am a man observing fast…
ramadan, they say, is the most blessed month of the year. a time for peaceful worship and self restraint. a time to avoid, among other things, anger, rage and fighting. so they say. but then, when has karachi ever conformed to anything?
there is an old adage to the effect that most sardars go mad at the instant the clock strikes twelve. having known only one sikh my whole life – a very sane one i might add – i cannot testify to the veracity of that statement. however, i do know several karachiites who go mad round about iftar time.
i’m sure you know some too. they drive cars.
one of the easiest ways to die in our lovely city is to venture out of your home on to major road a few minutes before the sirens start blaring to signal the iftar. the way the traffic moves at the time is similar to the scenes you see on cinema screens right after the crowds have seen godzilla emerging from round the corner. and everyone who so much as moves an inch during that time contributes to the mess. of the various types of peaceful muslim brothers and sisters, which of the following best fits your profile?
the madcap schumacher: this is the driver who floors his accelerator and doesn’t let off till (a) he reaches wherever he was trying to go, or (b) he hits a brick wall. these guys are responsible for the 94,761 side-view mirrors broken each day of ramadan in karachi. they normally stick to the right side of the road, press their horns as hard as they press their accelerators and you can be excused for thinking that they’re merely trying to break the sound barrier.
the random roadblocker: this is the guy who sincerely believes that he is the only one in the city who happens to be fasting and as such he has the right to stop his vehicle any damn place he feels like – even the centre track on university road – while he calmly sets about the process of doing his iftaree. this often involves stepping out of the car, buying dates and maybe a glass of juice and consuming them. this type of driver is liable to express extreme incredulity if you happen to toot your horn to try and get him out of your way and will probably start a discussion with the people around him about how the world is going to the dogs because people have stopped fasting and caring about people who fast.
the nervous navigator: this type is simultaneously the most sane and yet most irritating of the lot. usually middle aged women or old men, these drivers spend most of iftar time negotiating slowly around the random roadblockers while avoiding the madcap schumachers – thereby ensuring that the one safe lane on the road is also blocked. not only do they manage to miss their own iftaree, they try and ensure that you do too.
the enraged shouter: these types emerge after the asr prayers and stay on the road till iftar. they’re everywhere, ready to jump out of their cars and start shouting and screaming if you so much as overtake them when they’re not expecting it. the fact that we as karachiites normally deal with fires by charging in with cans of petrol does not help matters much and so these drivers normally manage to ensure a full fledged fight one of every three times they start shouting and cursing. much as i hate to admit it, this type of driver is predominantly male.
the jaywalking pedestrians: these humble servants of god truly believe that their only way to salvation – and yours to perdition – is to die beneath your car wheels as they dart across the roads without any indication whatsoever. the power of their faith ensures that they normally survive while it’s the drivers who slam their brakes and get into pileups. these kind souls normally have the gall to freely converse with others on how all drivers seem to go nuts when they’re fasting.
these are but five of the stereotype denizens of our concrete jungle. i would say a lot more about them but backbiting and cursing will disrupt my fast…