Day 10 – Sightseeing
After a slow start, today turned out to be quite an adventure. Drugs are cheap and everything is apparently available to purchase here, so Muna took me downtown to see if I could replenish my supply at a fraction of the cost from prices in the UK… a very cute helpful little Pakistani pharmacist is looking into my order and will come back to us tomorrow. The journey there saw the usual parade of beggars but also a few transvestites, who are generally ostracised by their family and society, so need to beg for a living. We drove down tiny streets the type of which I hadn’t previously seen and it appeared that the shops were all spilling into their neighbours. The types of shops ranged from those selling fruit and groceries to fixing bags and selling bicycles. There were elderly and deformed old men and women sitting at the curb side and a poor dog with a shocking, festering wound on it is haunches the size of a tea plate just walking along the road. I wonder if you eventually become immune to such atrocities?
The search for Entonox continued, but finally we appeared to have a breakthrough with a company that will rent us a cylinder, although they needed us to to meet the agent at a hospital on the other side of town. They were also renting us the equipment to use the Entonox and I was delighted that it was an identical set to that which I have in the UK, only brand spanking new! I was happy. So now if Sofia needs pain relief in labour it will not be a matter of giving up her dream of a home birth and instead transfer to hospital to get it.
“Huge and vast with the dark, dirty sea on one side and the concrete Jungle of crumbling buildings of Karachi on the other.”
On the journey home Muna decided that a trip to the beach was on the cards. As I have said before Munas’ dedication to Karachi is commendable and she appears to overlook the horrors I see on a daily basis and instead points out “beautiful this” and “beautiful that”. I have yet to see anything that I could in all honestly attribute the adjective “beautiful” to, except maybe the wonderful array of flowers at the Golf Club or planted around the ‘oasis houses’ as I have begun to regard them as. And so as we pulled up at the beach she was pointing out the beauty all around but all I could see was a beach like no other. Huge and vast with the dark, dirty sea on one side and the concrete Jungle of crumbling buildings of Karachi on the other. I wondered at the many families all around who were obviously enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze. I have to admit at least it had lovely light, sparkly, soft sand. However, I would not have wanted to walk barefoot on the sand for the visible rubbish atop it made me wonder about what dangers lay beneath!
We started to walk towards the hard, packed, wet sand nearer to the far out tide. We were instantly approached by a man plying his trade. His trade was a huge, brightly decorated, saddle carpeted camel. I had no desire to ride the beast but took a few pictures instead.
Next came what I can only describe as truly my worse ever nightmare. A man carrying a cloth bag across his back and a musical instrument held in front which appeared to be some sort of trumpet. I stopped to take a picture and Sofia, not knowing what an impact her words would have said “he is a snake charmer he has cobras in that bag!” My horror showed on my face. Did I run? Did I scream? Did I break out into a cold sweat? Oh yes all three because my real snake phobia is the only thing in life that can completely disarm me. As my feet peddled the sand I felt like I was trying to run in one of those dreams where you get nowhere fast. Sofia fell about laughing as she chased after me to give reassurance he wouldn’t be getting those slippery blighters out of the bag to do his snake charming unless I paid him! I thought how my darling Sean would have laughed had he seen that little episode.
Further down the beach we went to find horses waiting to be ridden, more camels along with quad bikes and beach buggies for hire. Many food sellers with rickety barrows of wares or trays of goods slung around their necks. The ice cream man with his half bike-half trolley and tinny music was such a funny sight to see. The ever present, lovely Sharif, the trusted family driver, asked if I wanted to try the food but the last thing I wanted was Deli belly so I politely declined. Nothing looked new or well-kept, everything had a feeling of old and decaying but it was clear that families, like they do the world over, were enjoying the fun relaxed atmosphere. Muna, Sofia and I resorted to acting like silly school girls as we pointed, nudged each other, and giggled at one of the stallion horses, who was keen to show us his particular type of wares. Woah big boy!
One the way home we stopped in a supermarket and, although it was messy and dusty underfoot, I have to say the products available had many English brands and they even had guys packing the bags at the checkouts…they don’t even have that in Sainsbury. It’s such an oxymoron of a country!