Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Great Camel Heist

Last night, we decided to walk to the beach.

We both have more or less a sedentary lifestyle, thanks to the nature of our 'jobs'. Walking to the beach seemed like a really good idea. Especially because it has been raining here quite frequently in past ten days. The temperature is several degrees down than it is normally at this time of year. The weather is generally pleasant these days. And the beach is just a 15 minutes walk from where we live.

Of course, things don't always turn out the way they should, or the way we wish they would. We had barely walked a few yards, when it became really windy. My doppata and kameez were flying like a parachute. And the wind almost swept me off my feet. Seriously!

Anyway, we arrived at the beach quite safe and sound. At first appearance, it looked a lot like Seaview, the most popular beach of Karachi. But that is of course only a momentary impression. A closer look reveals that this beach is clean! Plus, you don't see the aggressive flower sellers: mostly Afghan/Pathan kids who harass you until you either give up out of sheer frustration and buy the wilted flowers or have a fit and pointlessly yell at them. Pointless because it has no effect on them and they continue to dog your steps.

I even saw a camel at the beach. That brought back so many memories from the 'Seaview days'. Back in Karachi, there are so many camels,horses on the beach, which you can ride for what their keeper likes to tell you is a paltry sum. Of course once you are up on a horse and a camel it's a different story. We remember all too well the camel ride at seaview, Karachi.

It were my early days in Karachi, a short time after we got married. I absolutely hated Karachi, loathed seaview, scowled at the flowersellers and lamented at the littered beach. A. in his efforts to try to impress upon me that it wasn't such a bad place after all would come up with one device or another. Seaview was right in front of our apartment building, just a cross a busy road. We might as well have pretended that it was our front yard, except that no one would care to have such a dirty and littered place.The cineplex was quite close by too. And every time there was a debate on what to do for recreation, the cineplex won hands down.

However, one evening we decided to go in favour of some camel riding, over watching a new movie in the cinema. There were a number of reasons for this decision. a) the cineplex was mostly showing the stupidest bollywood movies available. b) In early days of their marriage, my parents had lived in Karachi for a while too, and they had gone for a camel ride too. c) The camel owners made it seem like so much fun.

Once that had been decided, all we had to do was go to the seaview. We examined a few camels and their owners from a distance. Then a benign looking old man with a camel approached us. We asked him how much did a camel ride cost. "Just 50 Rs." he innocently replied.

"Wow! just 50 rupee! That's pretty cheap".

Climbing the camel was a bit tricky, but we eventually managed it. The ride was okay. We were busy commenting on how different the sea and everything looked from top of a camel. The ride went smoothly for a while. We even bestowed a smile or two on the flower sellers who were running after the camel.

Then reality sank in. We enquired the camel owner how long the ride was going to last. As being jolted on a camel wasn't exactly the smoothest ride in the world. So we anxiously expressed the desire to get down. "Okay Saeen. But the 2nd 'phera' has just started. And if you get down now I am still going to charge for the second round".

Oh well, thought we, since he is going to charge us anyway let's continue with the ride. After a couple of yards of further torture, we asked him if the 2nd round was over."

"Of course! It was over when we were at that spot. Now it is the third one."

We were much surprised and protested that less than a minute ago he had told us that it was 2nd round. " Yes, that was then. Now it is not."He didn't look half as sweet and innocent now.

"Alright then, please let us down once the third round is over".

"I would have. But this is the fourth one."

When he began to insist after barely going a few inches of ground that it was the fifth phera. We decided there was no point in going any further. And there ended our first and last camel ride.
At this time, we looked at the old camel owner with not so cordial feelings. Indifferent to the low level he had sunk in our eyes, he demanded to be paid 600 Rupee. "What! You said it was for 50 rupee only and we got down at the 5th round" we protested.

"6th! And it was 50 rupee for each passenger." He calmly informed us. We tried to remind him that he hadn't mentioned the each passenger part in the beginning. He said that it wasn't his fault, we should have asked him. At that point we had positively begun to regard him as a villain.
Since that day, no matter how sweet or benign a camel owner looked, we just scowled at him.

Did I digress or what! Back to the present now. On the way back to home, we decided to take a taxi because the wind had become strong and chilly. But the taxi we hailed didn't stop. And we thought, what the heck, it is so pleasant.

We turned into the wrong street and lost our way. (Hey, we are new here!)Then it started to drizzle. Soon it was raining at a good pace and we were all but soaked. A. kept insisting that our apartment building was just around the corner and we will be there in a minute. However, when it steadily began to rain, we had to take shelter under the shed of a nearby shop.

Eventually we took a taxi home. And in that lies the answer to Saba's query, "Tum bahir nahin nikalteen". Yes, I do. But then I can seldom find my way back!

2 comments:

Abu Ayenab said...

you know I thoroughly enjoy reading what you write on this blog. What amuses me is your skill with which you make such an interesting narrative of simple, usual routine happenings of day to day life. I find it wonderful.

Arimas said...

Thanks, but I wish it were less 'subjective'. But writing about one's own self is so oddly satisfying:D And so much easier, sort of.

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