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Diary of an Expat - Suits You!

Diary of an Expat - Suits You!

Issue 67 April 2010

It was the second day of the New Year and a pleasant January morning. We had survived the annual celebratory ritual of ‘firing’ on New Years Eve, which entailed shooting bullets in the sky. A dangerous but common tradition in Pakistan; most were oblivious to the fact that what goes up, must come down. I soon realised that common sense does not prevail in many aspects of life 
in Karachi.

This morning, I had decided to head out to the famous Sunday Bazaar. I had been informed that this was the best place to pick up fresh produce and as well as fabric. My driver dropped me off near the entrance and without any warning; I was swamped by little boys no older than 12, offering to carry the goods (that I had not yet bought) for 20 rupees. “Baji, please, me carry, me carry!” they called out, pulling at my clothes. I was not accustomed to this and felt a bit scared. After all, I had heard so many pickpocket stories but I soon realised that these poor boys were genuinely in need of work. As I walked into the huge market tent, I had an entourage behind me. I stopped walking and turned around.  Ten boys stood there, staring at me with their big wide eyes and smiling. “Look” I said, “ I don’t need my bags carried but I will pay you all 20 rupees and then you must leave me alone.  OK?” I waited for a response. Blank faces, then whispering and they dispersed.

Phew! I thought to myself. As I walked towards the fruit stall, I felt as though I was being followed again and did a heel spin; hurdled together with beaming grins were at least 20 young boys all holding out there hands towards me. Obviously the news had spread that this woman from ‘abroad’ was willing to pay 20 rupees for no work! I dished out the cash and left the market. Note to self: don’t try that again!

Next stop was the tailors, which was tucked away in a busy shopping arcade. “Hello Baji, how are you?” asked Abdul the tailor.

“I am very well thanks. I have two pieces of material for two suits. Please can you make sure that you make the top long and also I don’t want narrow trousers, please can you make them wider” I requested.

“But Baji, now is fashion for short top and this big slit, and now fashion for narrow trouser, I make very nice one for you!” he said, trying his ample best to convince me. “But Abdul, I don’t like the new style, so please can you just make it for me how I want it. Also, one of the suits is for Eid, so you have six weeks to work on it.” I stressed.

“OK Baji, but you no worry, I will make it in two weeks for you” he said, gesturing towards the calendar. “Don’t worry, Baji. Suit will be wonderful,” he reassured me. With that, I left the tailors confident that all would be fine.

Two weeks later, I called Abdul. “Salaam, is my suit ready?”

“No, Baji, electricity going, so no ready. Next week,” he replied. The following week, I visited the shop. “Salaam Abdul, are my suits ready?”

“No Baji, my uncle dying, so no ready. Next week, inshAllah,” he smiled.

The fourth week, I called again. “Salaam Abdul, are my suits ready?”

“No Baji, my shop, someone make fire, so much trouble, so no ready. Next week will definitely be ready inshAllah.” By now I was getting rather annoyed and frustrated.

“Look Abdul, this is the fifth week, I need my suit next week for Eid. What is taking you so long?” I said sternly, raising my voice a little.

“Oh Baji, no worry. Your suit will be the best. No other tailor making such a beautiful suit, you come night before Eid, it will be ready.” And 
with his final reassurance, I left the shop.

The night before Eid, I turned up at Abdul’s shop. My clothes were not ready and of course I lost my composure. “This is ridiculous!” I looked around and a pretty suit was hanging on the rail. “See that suit? Well, I am taking it!” 
I marched over and picked 
it up.

“Noooo! Please don’t be doing that! That madam will kill me!” pleaded Abdul. But it was too late; I had already walked out and was in my car. Abdul came running out, “OK, I am sorry, please. I give you suit in half hour?”

“OK. You have 30 minutes.”

I returned half an hour later and finally Abdul handed over my suits. Delighted, I took them out of the bag to see. My smile dropped and all I could manage in response was, “Abdul, I am going to kill you!”.

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