And this is how it goes

The birthday party that was postponed last week due to chances of rain was rescheduled to yesterday, after the monsoons blew over. It was the first birthday of the second child of my eldest niece.

To get to the venue (a club by an inlet very close to a shipping harbour) we took the scenic route….a road named after Mai Kolachi, an old fisherwoman who settled near the Indus River delta and built the foundation of what is now known as Karachi.

Once upon a time, the US Consulate in Karachi used to be located on a beautiful, tree-lined road that connects Clifton with the rest of the city, right next to the Marriot hotel, bang opposite Frere Hall and the Sind Club, both old and well-preserved remnants of colonial times.

Frere Hall housed a library and gardens, both of which were closed to the public for a long time due to security concerns for the US Consulate.

Once upon a time when the word ‘terrorist’ was not a part of our dictionary, the US Consulate was an interesting place where cultural events happened, and their library was open to the students of Karachi.

After a series of threats and attacks, when the walls of the consulate were fortified and made ugly with barbed wire and concrete blocks, it finally became evident that they would have to shift their premises to a less busy, less central road.

So the city government in its infinite wisdom, gave the Americans a spot at the juncture of Mai Kolachi and Queens Road, a main thoroughfare connecting the city to the harbour, which is where the consulate is now located.

On Friday, the entire road had been blocked on both ends with huge shipping containers, to try and prevent protesters from marching towardsΒ the ‘red zone’.

Mai Kolachi is a wide, relatively new double road, and has been a welcome addition to this traffic-riddled port city, solving a big problem for commuters and heavy goods-laden vehicles alike.

But as we drove by yesterday, the side of the road adjacent to the consulate had been cordoned off the whole length of the huge space it occupies, and traffic had been diverted to the other side, meaning the side we were on, going towards Queens Road.

Poor US. They just can’t seem to find a place where they can’t inconvenience the citizens of Karachi. Massive traffic jams seem to have become a norm since last week, as the police cordon off roads and place obstructions in a bid to protect the Consulate and of course, the people inside….understandably so.

I tried taking a pic as we drove by, but I was too slow, and Huz was too fast.

Anyways, we were amongst the first few people to reach the birthday party, but that was okay. It was a lovely, breezy evening by the inlet and we took loads of pictures, had a great time with the whole family (once they arrived) ate some delicious party food and birthday cake, and drove back home the way we came.

Being the owl that I am, I stayed up till 5 am, responding to comments on the previous blog post and reading articles and blogs, natural consequence being yours truly finally got out of bed around 11.

(Nope, six hours are definitely not enough. Must sleep earlier tonight)

Huz reminded me that we had to attend a PTM at the school at 4:30 in the afternoon, and we debated whether we should both go or just one of us. Meaning me, of course. πŸ˜›

At around one pm, I reluctantly changed out of my pj’s to go pick up Amu from school, which is just a two-minute drive away from where we live. As I was changing, I got a phone call from her (she keeps her cell phone in a pocket in her uniform, so we can communicate easily at home time) asking me to come quick as the school was urging all the kids to hurry up and leave.

Panicked, I grabbed my bag, ran downstairs, jumped in the car and hurtled towards school. What could possibly be happening now?

Amu’s school is situated at the mouth of Mai Kolachi, the other end of which is now home to the US Consulate.

When I neared the school, I saw an unusual amount of uniformed policemen and gun-carrying anti-terrorist personnel urging the cars along. I called Amu as I inched towards the gate and soon she emerged from the heavily guarded gates and walked towards me.

‘What’s going on?’ I asked as soon as she got in and I moved off.

‘We had a drill in school today, in case we had to evacuate unexpectedly. It just so happens that there actually IS an emergency all of a sudden…..apparently there’s going to be a rally soon close by….and the PTM is postponed.’

(all pics taken with my phone camera)

As I drove home, I couldn’t decide whether I was worried about the proximity of the school campus to the US presence in the city, or glad that I didn’t have to attend the PTM after all.

 

One of the proposed locations for the new US consulate was next to the Karachi Grammar School, but this plan was met with protests by concerned parents and was subsequently scrapped.

(From an Express Tribune blog by Saba Imtiaz)

Later, I received an official message from the school, informing me:

We have reports of uncertain conditions in the area, therefore Class X PTM (today – 25/9/12) has been postponed. New date to be announced later.

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14 thoughts on “And this is how it goes

  1. afshan uraizee September 25, 2012 / 5:27 pm

    always love reading your blog waiting for the book πŸ˜‰

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:26 pm

      You are the sweetest! πŸ™‚

  2. Single Malt Monkey September 25, 2012 / 5:43 pm

    Bloody nuisance, US embassies. Always in the way. I’m glad that just for a while there was some normality but it must be dreadful living with the prospect that something might kick-off all the time. I really do feel for you and hope things calm down soon.

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:28 pm

      Hahah, true, yet they serve such an important purpose for all the rats fleeing this sinking ship πŸ™‚
      Things never calm down for long, but it’s okay. We’re used to it!

  3. Kathy September 25, 2012 / 6:38 pm

    I would have been so scared to get that phone call from my daughter. I would probably be scared to leave my home. But felt the cheerful spirit of the birthday party and the many different feet and colors represented by that picture.

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:30 pm

      She didn’t sound too worried, but I panicked anyway πŸ™‚ We Karachiites are a bit mad. If there’s a tidal wave warning, we rush towards the sea to see how it looks πŸ™‚
      Glad you liked the picture!

  4. satsumaart September 25, 2012 / 7:07 pm

    Yiiiii I’m glad Amu is okay. Scary. Thank you as always for showing us how the “dangerous part of the world ahhhh!” news stories intersect with daily life. Did the drill help with the real emergency at all?

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:32 pm

      Oh, she was fine. Sauntered towards the car taking her own sweet time as usual πŸ™‚ But yeah, I think it was good that all the kids were gathered into the auditorium when the school was alerted. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened that day.

  5. Kathryn McCullough September 25, 2012 / 10:08 pm

    Gosh, the US embassy can be a pain. Who would have guessed. I can only relate a bit from having lived in Port-au-Prince after elections and being home-bound for days because of rioting. Crazy world.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:35 pm

      Hahah, o well, that’s just how it goes. Riots are a pain too πŸ˜› Crazy world indeed!

  6. S September 26, 2012 / 2:13 am

    Dear Munira,

    Here i am an old lady in bed with the flu😷

    I just want to thank you for your lovely blog. I travelled safely with you and your family in your car searching for “falloda’s, then sitting there with you all( as I imagined) for you can do that with your writings, (but i not visible) , just taking in the sounds and smell of those days all gone for me,but thanks to modern technology, am still able to recall, via your writings all the things that once so near
    but now so far😧, I tasted too with you the chicken kebabs and paratha’s, ooh so good!

    Thank you again and I will join you in more such fun trips. God bless hoy and yours.

    An old Karachite.

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:37 pm

      Ooooh, what a mysterious comment! πŸ™‚ Glad you’re enjoying my ramblings and jaunts S! Always welcome in our adventures, and I do hope you’re better soon.

  7. Sparks In Shadow September 26, 2012 / 5:35 am

    Oh my. I’m so glad Amu is all right. I’m sorry you had to go through such a tense and fearful situation.

    I keep hoping that sensibility can win out over misguided, violent viewpoints. But the essence of what’s going on around the world reminds me of the personal problems people write in to advice columnists about — misunderstandings, some one person or faction wanting to control everything, unfortunate people skills getting in the way of communication … How can countries address large scale problems that amount to the same kinds of troubles that still run rampant on the much smaller personal scale? Sorry. Just thinking out loud.

    • Munira September 26, 2012 / 4:41 pm

      Thank goodness everything was all right, my nerves really were on edge, though I should be used to these things by now.
      I like hearing you think aloud πŸ™‚ Please always do so.

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