Descriptions · Philosophy · Random

tri-wheeled morality – part II


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This was Part 1.

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Sometimes I think one of the reasons why I’m still not qualified as a pakki Karachi girl is that I don’t respond to every situation with a sharp tongue and a witty response.  I prefer the frigid British stare, but most people here are impervious to it.

I’d picked the rickshaw with the chubby rickshaw wala with the dim thought in my head that if fat people were harder to kidnap, it must also be harder for fat people to kidnap other people too.  In any case it was the only one idling outside my uni and I was grateful to be spared the wait before I flagged down a fresh one.

I settled back comfortably and was soon lost to my thoughts, conversation of course being prohibited by the loud motors.  Besides, I was hardly likely to begin discussing Proust with the man, was I? He seemed engrossed in his driving anyway.  Yet it soon became obvious that his attention wasn’t entirely on the road, although we had gotten all the way to Millenium Mall before he made his observation.

“Baji,” he said, in what he probably supposed was a respectful voice, “Thora dupatta neechay karlein.”

For a second, I wasn’t even sure what he’d said.  What the? And even when I understood, how the heck should I have responded?  Whacked him on the head and told him to keep his eyes on the road? I don’t know.  Instead I made the worst possible move…and looked down to check.

Two thoughts went very clearly through my head – the first was: there’s nothing visible! Badtameez insaan! And the second was concerning my purple top sitting at home in my wardrobe. The one that Did have the deep, square, revealing neckline.  Up went a prayer to heaven that I wasn’t wearing that shirt when I made this prude’s acquaintance.

On the heels of that came thoughts of Ishoo, and his preference for girls in tight, short skirts.

In the meantime the rickshaw was still put-putting along, making the curve past the mall and under the overpass. I was disconcerted, amused, furious and half-willing to defensively protest that there wasn’t that much skin on view anyway (you should see my purple top at home!)… but in the end I did pull my dupatta down.  And I was still uncomfortably fidgeting with it when he spoke again, though apparently not to me but the world in general: “It is very important to cover these parts…People’s gazes, they are not good.”

Your gaze is the problem, buddy, not people’s, I wanted to say, but didn’t.  Why not? Well my mother never taught me to retaliate like a bitch, I guess. And Karachi hasn’t had enough time to.  Instead I gave him the aforementioned frigid stare, which him being impervious to, I directed to the passing scenery.

My mind flitted here and there, disconnected and yet connected thoughts flowing through it the way they always do when you’re shocked at a basic level.  About how strapless tops look fine on western women but just a little too exposing when they’re on models here.  A comment I once made to a friend when we were passing through Saddar ‘You could wear a f*cking quilt and still feel the dirt in those stares seeping through to your skin.’ Again, of Ishan and how he laughed at the card I made him and said the cartoon girl should’ve had an even shorter skirt.  Of St. pats and Saddar, ugh.  Of how until before uni, I used to wear a chadar wrapped around me completely when I used public transport.

I thought of a friend studying in Singapore and a comment he once made about how he was now immune to girls going round in tiny skirts and shorts.  Another friend, a beautiful girl now married who had once laughingly confessed to never having travelled on a rickshaw.  I thought of how I’d been stepping farther and farther from the line of morality in my thoughts, but the world around me had not kept pace and was ready to correct my straying behaviour at every point.

Random thoughts.  Skin and parda and exposure and sex.  And morality and rickshaws.

When we neared my home I asked him to turn into the gates at the flats and to stop outside my house. I went into get the money for the fare, then descended the steps, still absently thinking about these things while the front of my mind dealt with the confusion and embarrassment that his comment had brought with it.

“Bura mat manyeyga, Baji.” He said, as I came up to the rickshaw, “Abhi bhi dupatta theek nahin hai.”

I paid him the damn money and went back up the steps to my home without replying.

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18 thoughts on “tri-wheeled morality – part II

      1. I bet it feels like one of those things that you secretly pine for but can’t admit you do….

        Shumaila, zara dupatta neeche karo <<

  1. You know, that’s an interesting point. I’ve thought about it and yes, some stares are more welcome than others. But the kind I’m talking about never are. They’d creep out the sluttiest of girls.*shudders*

    And a.p., shut up. >>

  2. EWWWWWWWW!!!! You know the other day my friend was asking if I’d travelled in a rickshaw, and I said no why the hell would I, because even though times were tough on my family when I was growing up, pher bhi I was never ever sent to school in anything but ghar ki gari, and she said, what kind of a journalist will you be when you don’t even know the problems of the common man. I think I should send her this blog and see if she still wants me to use public transport. :S I’m inclined to hug you now! ICK!

      1. Did you just call Ghausia a choti bachi? :S

        Yaaar you’ve missed out if you’ve never used public transport. I like rickshaws, with their funny little ways of dodging traffic and their loud noisy self-importance and their annoying disregard for polluting the environment. 😀

        But the real experience is when you use a public bus. The first time I went on one was when i was in college, and I spent days afterwards thinking about the stuff I’d seen. It’s a hugely enlightening experience, because you’re sitting right next to or shoulder-to-shoulder with or sometimes even squeezed against people from all classes and its really really eye-opening. I sometimes go on a bus even now from time to time just to wake myself up to how things really are in Pakistan, and to just get that feel of being on the same planet with these people that I may forget about when I use only a ‘ghar ki gari’.

        I could blog about public transport, its that fascinating to me :D. Weird creepy experiences notwithstanding, you’re missing out on the realities, girl!

        1. Yaaay I’m a choti bachi! I’m so pleased! 😀

          Eh my dad’s the type that says “tumharay ma baap mar gaye hein jo tum bus mein jaogi” and “kisi ne dekhlia tou log kia kahenge” and he’s kinda right, we’re Delhiwalas and Allah maaf karay they reproduce like bunnies everywhere you turn there’s someone you know. 😛 But you keep your public transport, I’ll stick to my gay rights and blasphemy laws thank you very much. 😀

  3. lol @ blog views would go down … Taimur in his element .

    The whole “thekaydar of others life syndrome” is like a plague in our society. I wonder how you controlled your anger on those comments to be honest. *weird*…

    I started going on public transport when I was 12 so i guess my parents wanted to through me at the deep end early. I think that was a useful experience in shaping up my life eventually….. I would probably ask me kids to do the same…

    1. he really was one. I think I handled the situation badly though, I should have given him a sharp reply. Its just I was so flabbergasted at his gall that I didn’t collect my wits enough to be able to reply lol.

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