Showing posts from 2016

The Wheels on the Bus

I wonder if they’re taught the rules in school or is it one of those talks that your parents (and by ‘your’ I mean the parents in movies because face it, Pakistani parents never have ‘talks’ with you...) have with you when you’re 10 years old – is there a book that is handed out for free in shopping malls and grocery store, and if so, how come I didn’t get it?
Maybe the Brits are just born with an instinct for proper bus behavior, just something that runs in their blood so that they don’t even have to think twice about falling into their place in the queues at bus stops and giving up their seats to the elderly, making their way down the moving bus so that when it finally pulls to their stop they don’t make the rest of the passengers wait and just hop out – a polite ‘thank you’ to the bus driver who bats it right back, ‘cheers!’.
I’ve read those Facebook posts about racist people on the bus or at the underground/subway but so far the most kindness I’ve seen is on the bus (and of course i…


It could be a song or perhaps a photograph, or maybe someone else’s story. 
But it’s usually out of the blue and it grabs at me like a strong hard tug on my arm.  Kind of cool how a thought can have such a physical impact.  And so it may be that my eyes glaze over during a Zumba class because that song reminds me of a friend who deleted all Avril Lavigne tracks from my laptop and had a playlist titled ‘Aisha’s playlist’ on her computer, which she would put on for me while I lay on her bed and she sat by her desk, letting me angst out my blues.
Or it could be a random photograph of the university library that some random stranger has posted on Facebook, and it pulls me like a rolling whirling black hole into memories of blue sneakers (that I would sneak out of Mariam’s cupboard and probably wore more than she did – and the gray t-shirt which she just ended up giving to me), and the feel of the concrete sidewalk against the soles of my feet, the sidewalk that I walked 200,563 times at al…

Winter is Coming

Actually, for a Karachiite, winter is already here, with temperatures tipsily tipping into the negatives late at night.  I mean, when you feel the need to wear two bottoms, you know it is cold. 
This is always the season when I tell people that we need to invent a nose-warmer because scarves and hats and earmuffs are not enough and for some reason my nose always gets really cold.  It feels as if I have an ice cube stuck to my face.  And the standard response is usually, look it up, it’s probably already been invented, and my dreams of a patented nose-patch are easily crushed and swept away till next winter.
I realized it was time to stop watching Suits endlessly and turn to writing because the leaves are dying, and I hadn’t even typed up my gushing tribute to Autumn/Fall.  I was surprised when the trees started changing color and all of a sudden the palettes had changed from green to yellows and reds.  (Mainly because it felt cold and I thought it was already winter.)
But, the permanent…

To Make or Not To Make (friends/coffee)

It could be the fire alarm that has been jangling my nerves for the last 30 minutes, even though there is obviously no fire raging (had there been one, the entire building would be ablaze by now).  Or it could be that my hair has been falling like the leaves will fall two weeks from now, or that I have to sweep the house almost every day because of all that fallen hair (enough to make 75 bird nests I think).  It could be the dry skin or the dishes that incessantly sneak into the sink every time I turn my head around.
It could be that I just want someone to make some daal chawal and put on Downton Abbey for me.  In any case, it just happens that I’m going to be blue for a few hours (before I decide to get out of bed and just vacuum the entire 400 square feet of our apartment).
I’m generally an introvert (no way, really!).  I enjoy solitude and I start getting antsy if I’ve been chatting on the phone for more than 30 minutes.  I mean, one of my favorite things to do in the world is to rea…

Life in the Library

There is a blond toddler in a polka-dot dress standing in front of the elevator doors, making funny faces at her reflection.
Yesterday, a mother walked out of the elevator not bothering to look at her two-year-old who still stood inside with a cheeky grin on his face and my eyes widened as the door closed on the chubster.  By now, the mother had glanced behind and calling out his name (was it Alex?) she came back and repeatedly pressed the button.  It took a few seconds but the door opened again and there was the imp still smiling in the elevator.
The mother did not scold or grab the child’s arm; just muttered something I couldn’t hear and walked away again – this time the boy decided to follow after a moment of hesitation.
Although our house is right by the intersection, which means that often it feels like I’m next to a radio that somebody keeps changing the channels on, flitting from rap to pop to pop again, and the car noises right out of an auto-show – the three buildings adjacent …

Let’s Try Not to Buy

I know why it doesn’t rain in Karachi that much – it’s because all the rainclouds are in England. 
I have yet to see a sky without clouds.  Even if the sun is out, giant fluffy white clouds are lounging about nearby, often closing in and darkening to send down a short spray of rain, just for fun, and then moving apart as if they had nothing to do with the shower.  There’s never a definite warm sunny day.  The rainclouds are always a head-turn away.
The weather is erratic.  But I do feel like it’s a special, magical moment when there is a quick spurt of rain while the sun continues to shine, and the rainbow that’s always there if you just take a moment to look for it.
It feels nice, kind of a peacemaking gesture from the gods, as if to say, we know it’s cold and overcast and it can get kinda gloomy, so here you go, a translucent arch of colours to brighten your day.I just have to remind myself to stop the grumbling for a minute and look up.
Thank goodness we bought umbrellas.  The £3 umbr…

Thank You, Cheers

I wanted to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich so I buttered the small frying pan (that I had brought all the way from Pakistan), and added the thick slices of bread and cheese – it was then that my eyes fell on the lid to a saucepan (the travelling companion to the frying pan) and a light bulb clicked above my head: the cheese will melt better if I cover the pan.It will be grand.
So I popped the lid on the frying pan and it slid a little lower than it should have but it wasn’t a big deal.
Till I tried to lift it.  And try and pry as I could, the lid did not budge.  The bulb flickered and fused.
A broken knob and bent fork later, Fahad decided to step in.  Man to pan. 
He exited the apartment and a few minutes later, remerged, a huge grin on his face and the lid pried loose from its unsuitable marriage to the pan.  The edges of the pan were scraped and the scratches on its nonstick sides are not for the seriously OCDed, but I wasn’t complaining.  And of course the lid doesn’t have …

Scaly Surroundings: Part II

Fred woke up with a start.  He thought he smelt something strange – a burning cigarette, his brain identified once it had yawned awake. 
Marie slept hidden under the blanket with her knees pulled up and pointed towards him. He was thirsty. The water bottle was unsurprisingly empty on the desk.
Fred was happy Marie was too asleep to say I told you so.  He got out of bed and as he walked by the window, he smelled the cigarette smoke again.  The air was still enough outside for smells to hang heavily suspended in the same spot.
He fumbled with the switches on each floor so he could see where he was going.  He ignored the skeleton who was still hanging out by the window in his room with damp shirts and vests.  Downstairs, the TV was glowing blue.  There was no other sound except for the muted mutter of whatever show was on.  Fred glanced at his watch and saw that it was almost 4 am. What in the world…
He opened the tap and filled his bottle. He had decided not to turn on the light in the k…

Scaly Surroundings: Part I

The bright pink trolley bag rumbled over the pebbled sidewalk like an empty stomach as Fred and his wife Marie made their way to the house they had booked over a website for two nights.  The house had had decent reviews but as Marie followed Fred to the door, she felt a shadow pass over her head.  She looked up to see if it was a cloud but for once, the English sky was bright and sunny.
Fred knocked on the door but there was no answer.  He pressed the bell but there was no sound.  They called on their host’s number but nobody picked up. 
“How annoying,” muttered Marie, pressing the bell again, which suddenly came off the wall and into her palm. No wonder there was no sound. The couple decided to go get lunch in the nearby town center and wait for the host to respond.
About an hour later, just as Marie was pointing out the pasta sauce on Fred’s chin for him to wipe off, they received a polite message from their host. Apologies. Please come now, I am home.
And so they found themselves in …