Rambling a watershed year away..

If memory serves me right, winter arrived very late last year, when I was beginning to lose hope of getting to pull out my warm clothes at all.

I recall feeling increasingly impatient, longing to feel that nip in the air, that makes sitting on the steps in my back balcony that much more wonderful. The nip finally manifested itself a week before New Years Eve, when a few friends came over and we did a barbecue (chicken in two different marinades), warmed by the embers till the wee hours, cradling hot mugs of tea in our hands.

We stood on the top steps that lead down to the courtyard and watched the fireworks explode in the sky, whooping at particularly spectacular ones. I felt grateful to have friends to celebrate with, happy to hear Amu and her bunch of friends talking and laughing in another balcony, hoping a good time was being had by all…

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This year the air turned cooler much earlier, much to my surprise. I felt the crispness in the air as I was letting Fuzzy in one fine morning when I was awake for some godforsaken reason. It was only November and Amu reported that her friend Hannah’s perennially curly hair had already begun to stay straight instead of frizzing up right after ironing. This is a sure sign. It indicates a drop in humidity in the air, which means women in Karachi (including yours truly) start tweeting happily about the increase in good hair days.

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Hannah and Amu

Amu began talking about getting a new school sweater as her old one was looking a bit worn out. The child turns up her nose, however, at the standby standard gray pullover provided by Ghani Sons, (the store that sells the most school uniforms in Karachi) as being completely uncool.

A couple of rounds of all the hip stores at the mall revealed nothing of any use. One store, however, had the most lovely Β gray cashmere…..beautifully soft, perfect shade of gray…..the kind of sweater that just fits you beautifully and you feel classy wearing it.

It cost almost twice Zahooran’s monthly salary though, and even Amu (who is good at persuading her forever-balking-at-prices Mom) thought she couldn’t, (just couldn’t!) spend that much on a sweater for school. The attendant at the shop then divulged that we should drop by in ten days or so to check out their stock of lambs’ wool sweaters and Huz left his number and email so they could let us know. But they never called or emailed, and when we dropped in after two weeks to see if the new stock had arrived, there was no trace of it and the shop attendant looked puzzled as if he had never said such a thing.

So after consulting her fellow fashionistas, (most of whom do their shopping on yearly holidays in London or the US) it was revealed that there is a Marks and Spencer outlet somewhere in Khadda market from where her friend Nabs thought we could find a reasonably priced, yet ‘cool’ gray sweater.

If I was reluctant to go shopping again, it was only because I had by now lost my faith and couldn’t face another disappointment. (Or maybe I was subconsciously trying to compel Amu into forgoing her notions of cool/uncool and making use of the oversized pullover I had bought her last year which was lying unworn in her cupboard)

We drove along the narrow, congested street, keeping our eyes peeled for the alleged shop, not once, but twice, on two separate days, as Amu fired frantic texts at Nabs to get more specfic directions…but the search proved as futile as I had feared.

There was no such M & S store….unless of course, they had relocated since Nabs had gone shopping. But how were we to know where it was now?

The sweater story has a happy ending though.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon yesterday, as we drove out to the far reaches of phase 8, taking the scenic route along the Arabian Sea. The sun shone, and the water sparkled, people and camels dotting the beachy landscape. The road near the Cineplex was lined with hundreds of cars…..it seemed a lot of people had turned out to watch Skyfall or Life of Pi.

Orange butterflies fluttered away from my windshield as we swung into the parking lot of the weekly bazar, a magical place where you can find anything and everything that the city has to offer. It is also a great place to spend a few hours browsing stalls along with a whole sea of other human beings. Here’s a bunch of pics I took there sometime last year, when we had gone early and it wasn’t crowded.

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Amu and I stopped in our tracks as we encountered a bunch of very small Afghan/Pashtun boys in our path, one of whom was in the process of sharing his bottle of Pepsi with one extremely flattened straw sticking out of it. They were so engrossed in the fizzy pleasure of their drink, chattering amongst themselves in Darri/Pushto they didn’t notice us watching them, grinning from ear to ear. Later, we regretted not having secretly filmed them.

Then we proceeded to rummage through the flea market stalls, which were inundated with sweaters of all shapes, colours and sizes, and after an extensive and thorough search and encountering two old but very seasoned sweater-sellers who seemed to know immediately what school Amu went to, and who cannily tried to sell us a used sweater at twice the market rate (a ploy we managed to maneouvre out of) we walked away with a lovely gray pullover from the very next stall, once again grinning from ear to ear.

We left the market with bags of fruit, new turquoise-blue bathroom mats, wooden wind chimes for the courtyard and a gray sweater, carried for us by a little Afghan boy to our car.

He silently walked all the way for us, carrying our load, and silently transferred it all into the backseat after which I handed him a 50-rupee note. He took it without saying a word and as Amu got in and I walked over to the drivers side, I watched him walk quickly with his basket back to the bazar to look for the next customer. I kept watching as he climbed up the hilly mound to the main road, to see if he would turn around and acknowledge the fact that he had been connected to us for a brief moment in time, helping us walk easier as we traversed the crowds.

Just as I began to think that our contribution towards his earnings of the day meant nothing to him, he turned around to look in my direction and I saw a tiny smile on his face.

I grinned back and gave him a little wave, and then he was gone.

At the beginning of this year, December seemed so far away, and now it’s here. Didn’t Farroo just get married? Wasn’t the Karachi Literature Festival just a few months ago?

(It was a lovely wintry day then too and I had fun attending various sessions…..had meant to write about it but then got lazy…..here’s a few of the hundreds of pics I took that day)

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Listening to Anatol Lieven talking about 'Pakistan-A Hard Country' in a regional politics session
Listening to Anatol Lieven talking about ‘Pakistan-A Hard Country’ in a regional politics session

Today is the very last day that I will ever be in my 30’s. I have already bought myself a silver bracelet with coloured square stones which is going to see me through to the other side.

Tomorrow, I cross over.

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29 thoughts on “Rambling a watershed year away..

  1. fatookh December 3, 2012 / 10:40 am

    i could bake the cookies,,,:D

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 6:32 am

      Less marmalade, thanks! πŸ˜€

  2. Stacy December 3, 2012 / 2:19 pm

    I love the story – and winter and shopping with bubbly, giddy girls, and all that stuff. And baking. How could I forget about baking?

    Welcome to the 40’s! ❀

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 6:44 am

      Thank you Stacy! Glad you enjoyed the story πŸ™‚ These days I have been making brownie-in-a-mug…..quick, simple, tastes great warm with a scoop of vanilla!

  3. Sid Dunnebacke December 3, 2012 / 2:40 pm

    Happy, happy birthday, Munira! It turns out that I forever left the 30s four years and one day before you.

    For some reason, my daughters’ school requires uniforms through fifth grade, but not beyond. It’s been a bit of shock to my system to have to monitor my sixth grader’s choices this year and to have to engage in the discussion/argument about what clothes we’ll buy for her. It was so much easier when her options were limited!

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 7:09 am

      And a very happy birthday to you too Sid! December did indeed just get more terrific πŸ™‚ Never thought we’d be just a day apart! How cool is that??

      I know how maddening it can be to decide what your kids can wear and what they can’t. Amu has to wear a uniform through her A level years as well, so the only lthing she can play around with is her sweater!
      They hate it, but I think it’s good….they don’t get distracted by their appearance at least! I’m all for limited options πŸ˜‰

  4. Heather December 3, 2012 / 6:10 pm

    Another great story, with a happy ending no less πŸ™‚ I’m glad you found a cool sweater. Have a few birthday cookies on my behalf, and have a wonderful day!

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 7:13 am

      Thank you Heather! Glad you had fun reading it πŸ™‚ Today I realize I can’t put off that dental appointment any longer……those cookies will just have to wait till that broken filling gets fixed :/

  5. Kathy December 3, 2012 / 6:15 pm

    Happy birthday, Munira! The 40’s are the best, I swear. You’ll have many more interesting stories to tell…

    • travelgardeneat December 3, 2012 / 10:04 pm

      I was just going to echo Kathy’s thoughts!! ~ Kat

      • Munira December 4, 2012 / 7:26 am

        Thank you Kathy and Kat! The other night it hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt a bit stricken 😐
        Funnily enough though, I don’t ‘feel’ like I’m still 30 or 35 or anything, I do feel every bit of my 40 years.
        I was glad when my 20’s were over….but I think I loved the 30’s, if I don’t think about aging but rather focus on the ways I have evolved. It’s been a great decade, can’t believe it’s over though.
        Gonna take it a year at a time now! πŸ™‚

  6. Sparks In Shadow December 3, 2012 / 9:46 pm

    I enjoyed this one very much — so deliciously rambly in your best wonderfully heartfelt way. And I’m glad it ended so well.

    Happy Birthday, Munira and many happy returns of the day! I crossed over quite a while ago, and found that the years are truly what you are able to make of them. Sometimes I couldn’t make much, sometimes, still can’t. But I’m writing now and that feel’s good.

    It feels like a coincidence that I found some old photos last week that made me think about age. I realize now that for the most part, I appreciate my age’s curves a little better after gasping at the strange angularity my body had when it was young and much too skinny. πŸ™‚

    And I looove your bracelet! Good for you for marking the occasion for yourself in your own special way. xoxo

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 7:48 am

      My posts have been rather dire of late, haven’t they? It’s a relief to get back to rambly-ness πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the lovely warm wish! xxx Feels good to be where I am right now….I think. (except for a broken filling or two that I need to go to the dentist for….)

      I haven’t been skinny since I was 27, but I love what you say about appreciating your curves. That’s so heart-warming to hear. I get tired of people who aren’t happy in their own skin. Not saying I don’t hate cellulite, but really, one just can’t win all battles.

      I love my bracelet too! It’s actually a replica of something my sister Fatu has, a gift from her husband who designs silver jewellery….I fell in love with it, it’s so wearable and pretty and colourful. Jewellery gives me pleasure, and it felt just right to give myself something special on my 40th birthday:)

  7. Barbara Backer-Gray December 4, 2012 / 4:48 am

    Happy birthday, Munira! Nice bracelet. And I love the pictures of the market. That rug looks wonderful.

    • Munira December 4, 2012 / 8:39 am

      Thanks Barbara! Glad you enjoyed the pics, you’d probably love the weekend market. It’s an amazing place to wander around, especially in December cos the weather is just perfect

      • Barbara Backer-Gray December 4, 2012 / 4:52 pm

        Yes, I love all markets, and I love anything different. One of my favorite things ever was walking through the Tunis souk when I was in Tunisia in the eighties.

  8. crazygoangirl December 4, 2012 / 9:07 am

    Aaaaaaaaaaaw M…lovely piece as always πŸ™‚ Happy Happy to you girlfriend and let me just say as a seasoned survivor of the ‘Dark side’ ;)…this is where the FUN is at girl and don’t let anyone tell you differently πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

    Welcome to 40, Love…Enjoy, Embrace and Exhale!

    • Munira December 8, 2012 / 12:41 pm

      Heartened to hear your reassuring words H! πŸ™‚

  9. berlioz1935 December 4, 2012 / 9:38 am

    What a beautiful Blog, Munira. Karachi sounds much better then what we hear about it in the news.
    The photos are splendid too. The Karachi Literature Festival sounds interesting to me. You are describing a peaceful world and I hope it was – on the last day of your thirties.

    Happy Birthday, Munira !:-)

    • Munira December 8, 2012 / 12:43 pm

      Thank you SO much Peter! The next KLF is coming up soon so I’d better hurry and showcase all my pictures and stories from the last one! It really was a very interesting event and I’m glad I attended it both days πŸ™‚

  10. tasneem tapia December 4, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    What a lovely and lively post! covering so many different things, and the ease with which you shift from one thing to another is remarkable! Ah! the weekly bazaars! So many memories are linked with those! you did me a favor by posting those pics. πŸ™‚
    and yes, a very very happy birthday! πŸ™‚

    • Munira December 8, 2012 / 12:45 pm

      Thank you Tasneem! Glad you could revisit your Sunday bazar memories πŸ™‚

  11. indiajones December 4, 2012 / 3:52 pm

    Janam din Mubarak ho ! Jonom Dineyr Bhalo-basha Janachhi ! Pirandha naal oodu varthukkal.
    That Hindi/Urdu, Bengali and Tamil…and guess you figured out the meaning…Best Wishes !

    And Happy Birthday of course…Enjoy:

    • Munira December 8, 2012 / 12:48 pm

      Buhat buhat shukriya! πŸ˜€ The govt has still not lifted the Youtube ban, so sadly, I can’t access the site yet. 😦

      • indiajones December 8, 2012 / 3:10 pm

        That’s surprising. I do recall that I sent you Abida Parveen’s rendition of Faiz “Shaam-e-Firaaq ab na pooch”, and you did get to hear ( and see ) it….
        Well, some way to go, Best Wishes !

        • Munira December 8, 2012 / 3:16 pm

          That was a long time ago. This ban is in place since the last two months or so, all because Youtube refused to remove the blasphemous film about Mohammed that caused widespread riots throughout the Muslim world.

  12. auntyuta December 5, 2012 / 9:22 pm

    Wishing you very lovely forties, Munira!
    What people call ‘rambling’, I so much love to read all this. I liked it that you saw the little boy smile.
    I reckon ‘limited options’ for school-girls are a blessing for the parents. When we had children at school, I always counted myself lucky that in Australia kids are made to wear school uniforms.

    • Munira December 8, 2012 / 12:50 pm

      Thanks a million Aunty Uta! You are the sweetest πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoy my rambly posts.

  13. satsumaart December 13, 2012 / 2:57 pm

    Oh happy belated birthday!!! A whole new decade to explore. πŸ™‚ Very lovely post — I think that bazar would overwhelm me completely, but I love seeing it (at a manageable distance) from your photos. πŸ™‚ Hooray for a successful sweater quest. Very important. πŸ˜‰

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