chiRya ghar

Owais Mughal

I think Urdu language should come up with a better name for a zoo then calling it a ‘chiRya ghar’.

‘chiRya ghar’ at best sounds like a mere aviary or a bird cage. Probably a shameful place for a lion or a tiger to live in.vI once had a first hand experience of confusing a rickshaw driver with this terminology. Aga Khan Gymkhana is located right across the zoo in Karachi. I was once going there to attend a school function. I stopped a Rickshaw in Federal-B-Area amd I thought Aga-Khan Gymkhana may be a difficult place for the rickshaw driver to find so I asked the rickshaw driver to take me to the ‘chiRya ghar.’

The rickshaw driver however gave me a blank face as if he didn’t understand. So I repeated:

‘chiRya ghar jana hai baRay bhai’

at this the Khansaab driver laughed heartilty and showing me all his teeth said:

khoo, ye chiRya ghar kiya hoti hai?

I explained to him that a ‘chiRya ghar’ is a place where animals are kept in cages for human display. Haven’t you heard of Mumtaz Mahal in the chirya ghar where there is a creature of ‘sar insaan ka aur dhaR haiwaan ka.’

To which he smilingly said:

‘khoo, to yooN bolo na ke Gandhi Garden jana hai ‘

(Gandhi Garden is older name of Karachi Zoo)

I was glad he understood where I was going but then I kept laughing in my heart at his innocence and the intricacies of Urdu language.

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