Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Empress Market Part 3

The short video is slowly, I mean slowly moving forward. Check earlier Empress Market entries. I went down to the market this morning and took a few site shots. It was about 09.00am and things were just starting up. Fabulous array of traders and rickshaw drivers etc getting organised for the day. Here in this posting you have some fabulous shots of the good side of Empress Market. I know it is easy to write about these places and make it all sound so 'pretty' and so forth. However a friend chatted with me today (thanks Mac) and suggested/requested I try and portray more of the real feelings about visiting and being in such places. He's got a good point and I've decided therefore to add a bit more to this posting and try to explain what he meant. When you look at these pictures you all see an array of colours and a generally smiling and happy set of people going about their daily business with little or no mention by me of the dirt, squaller, rancid smells, piles of shit etc which you have to step over to get anywhere, and far less, any comment by me, on the generally poor live style of so many of them ( life style being an exaggeration by any stretch of the definition). You can be forgiven therefore after reading my Blogs for assuming life in Karachi is not so bad. Well for some like me it's great, but it is not so good for most, and for a vast majority of souls working in and around the market area its tough, uncompromising and I imagine downright depressing.
So during the next few posting I think I will make a determined departure from my usual topics and put in an effort and concentrate on a few of the environmental and social aspects to life in Karachi. A sort of 'these are the bad side of things'. I'll be going back to Empress market as a starter, and will try in a very realistic fashion to capture the 'other side' of it all. Hygiene or lack thereof will be a predominant feature. Could be I do a 'nice' video of Empress Market and maybe a second one as if to say there are several sides to Karachi. Good and definitely not so good. I've stayed away from it thinking readers don't want to know, and I've been happy to write about good stuff as well, but, now maybe it's time to look at the 'dark side'.
What do you think? Do you agree? If you've managed to read this far please give me some feed back on this aspect. Thanks.(p.s. that's what the comments box is for!!!). Look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Sunday Lunch

After my strange lunch with it all being lost in translation (see last post). It was really good to have a sit down lunch with a bunch of Wanna's friends. We went round to Oi's house and together with her family and two other families had some noodles and fish with assorted veggies etc making a great meal. The mixture of nationalities was no real surprise being UK, Pakistan and Thai with the surprise of one Japanese. Good food and good company. Very pleasant and relaxing Sunday.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

.....lost in the translation.......

I had been planning on doing a short write up on the local fishing harbour. That's after I get round to the Empress Market story.
But today I went to work as usual, realizing I needed to add a short "Alan in Karachi' feature.
Well it was a usual day in the fact that I went to work but it turned out not a completely normal day. You know that feeling when you get up in the morning and you just know that somehow things are not going to be straight forward. Well I had that feeling. You're never sure just what it is, or when that 'thing' will happen, but, when it does you know.
Well that 'thing' just happened for me. Lunch time came along and I asked for my usual "peas with chilli and nan bread"!! You know, same stuff as yesterday and the day before. "Yes Sir, no problem" said Sham Gee Sana. (right in picture). Sham, our tea boy has been buying this stuff for me on a daily basis for over a couple of months. So easy thing to do. Rizvan our office boy, who had been listening to this exchange, very quickly joined in to show off his linguistic skills. He repeated my request in Urdu so Sham was double clear what was required.

So very simple
Peas with chilli and nan bread
turned into..............

Cheese with chilli sauce and bread and nan
If you can work that out? Let me know. Time for me to go home and put my feet up and watch the TV, maybe even have a toasted cheese sandwich. There's a thought. Why didn't I think of that for lunch?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Links to the World Web

Just received an interesting email inviting me to add my Blog to a world map. So I've agreed and added 'Verve' as a side link. Will wait a few weeks and see what it does for me. It does show the location of Blogs around the world which in itself is interesting. However, please, when you follow the link taking you off to some exotic spots remember to come back and visit me again!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


We had a walk round the side streets of Saddar Market today looking for furniture etc. Plenty to see and an amazing display of ingenuity by a lot of industrious workers. Amazing because walking on the main road you would never suspect that behind a little entrance was a labyrinth of alleyways and hundreds of tiny shops all making a living. The products range from office chairs being recovered to mending hand operated sewing machines. And in the middle of all this was a printers. We then found the local coffee shop. Will be back again soon.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Charcoal and things that pass you by in Karachi

Went out for a drive and came across a charcoal maker. Not a fun job. seems they are a few young boys employed to cut wood and stack it up for either selling as fuel or making charcoal. Not much evidence of the charcoal but the stacking was interesting. Notice in the pictures the plain almost lack of colours. That's how it is. Very bland, somewhat dark even with the sun full out. I walked into the yard and had a chat with the young lad who was sitting down stacking small wood cuttings. A very one sided conversation, in fact I don't recall him saying anything!!!! He smiled when I walked up to him. Did not get up, no movement just looked at me. Just showed me a clear bright 'red' set of teeth and accompanied this display with the lovely vacant betel juice look in the eyes. Doubt if he even remembers I called in, much less would have had any interest in my visit anyway. However, on reflection, if I had to work there, then I'm 100 % sure I would want a vacant mind as well. Might just try the juice.

On a much lighter note there were all sorts of things to see while just driving along. So difficult to describe and just as hard to bring across in pictures. Karachi is a kaleidoscope of colours and contrasts. Just look at these contrasts and range of activities in the photos taken in a 10 minute period. And all within about 1 kilometer of each other. We've got the horse crossing the road, the Police stopping a camel truck, a couple of young lads on a bike, buses and a vibrant life going on around us. The effort that went into painting the wheel pictured below. What does it tell you? Either they are very artistic truck drivers or they have plenty of spare time!!!!

Travelling, anyway which way does not seem to be an issue. If the bus is full no worries all climb on the roof. I have often wondered if I was on top of the bus how would I tell the driver when its time to stop so I can get off ?#$%...

If your carrying reinforcement steel, as one does on such trucks, then don't be normal and sit in the cab but on the steel. Rough ride!. Wonderful afternoon on the outskirts of Karachi.

Coffee in the PC Hotel

I've been putting off completing a script for the short video we are doing. Lazy ? No just trying to get it down at the right moment. Should be ready Monday/Tuesday. So have been keeping a low profile with all concerned. In the mean time, Wanna and I went out for a coffee and ended up at the Pearl Continental Hotel in the middle of town. Nothing to exciting but made a change to just going between the office and home. Possibly go to the beach this afternoon.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Camels - Ships of the "desert' on the streets of Karachi

I've been away and having only got back last Sunday seem now to have woken up. Now its Friday and I've done nothing. Nothing towards the Video project, or writing any Blog entries. Could be I've been asleep for 3 days. Bit like going on a heavy whiskey diet and loosing 3 days! I now know what it feels like without the hangover...

Well today I was off around town catching up on a few things. And I was lucky. I've been trying to get a short movie of a Camel working in Karachi. They are here used like donkeys for hauling stuff around town. They've been banned on several streets so, not a common sight. I jumped out of the car and was happy to get this quick chance to snap a short video. Its a bit dark but am now downloading some software to improve it. So if interested check back later.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Empress Market Part 2

Just got back to Karachi this afternoon. Will get onto the video/documentary starting tomorrow.

The secret to "Success" ..... is never, never, give up trying.