Growing up in Karachi has its own perks — you get to witness the best of each festival. Eidul Fitr for the people of the city of lights is not just about indulging in Sinwaiyaan and collecting Eidi, it is also about silencer-free noisy motorcycles at Sea View, eat outs flooded with customers and delightful Chand Raat which goes on well till predawn.
However, if there is one thing the citizens here should learn by now is to get things done on time. But as the old adage goes ‘old habits die hard’, it is very much applicable to the people here. Though it is the same list of chores to be completed each year before Eid, everyone waits to carry them out just after the moon is sighted.
And experience tells that the moon sometimes is not just fashionably late, it chooses to show itself a good three hours after the scheduled time.
There have been instances when as mosque-goers line up for Taraweeh the molvi excuses himself from the people for the moon which has just been sighted. One wonders sometimes, if, our national character has hit the moon hard too.
Once the moon has confirmed the Eid day, the markets are flooded with shoppers. The milk man as usual is short of milk, customers throng super markets to buy Cola drinks at the last minute, and Mehndi Walis setup makeshift shops, covering pavements and sometimes even part of many roads.
If you are a man, you might be forced and coerced into driving a car full of girls to the best Mehndi Wali in town. Do not commit the grave mistake of peaking into Mehndi tents to see painted hands or you will be chided, by tirade women, for daring to transgress the sacred norms of the festive night. A street ruffian is the most innocent name you will be called by, and if tempers run high you might find yourself being physically attacked by a bunch of women, who basically are bored of waiting for their turn to put henna on their hands.
There are makeshift stalls of bangles, often owned by young boys hoping to strike friendship with a beautiful damsel someday. They scream “ain baji chori lay lain”, while the more adventurous lot attaches stereo systems to their set-ups, blaring out Bollywood music. If the women feel slightly offended by this particular lot, it still does not hinder their last minute shopping spree. They will be out till the dye on their Duppata and the rhinestone on their Chappal matches the exact shade of their Kameezs.
It is the tailors who, perhaps, are the most sorry of all professionals this night. They stay up till the Eid prayer is called out, all the while on the receiving end of a string of abuses by women unsatisfied with their clothes. Miraculously, they still know how to come up with the right answer and keep their clientele intact. They give all sorts of excuses, the most popular being “the clothes will be at your doorstep before the Eid prayers”. —SR