Mumtaz Mahal of Karachi Zoo

Owais Mughal

Some of the public parks in Pakistan are one of their kind. Few months ago we had introduced the Haunted House of Hill Park, and today we will introduce Mumtaz Mahal located inside the Karachi Zoo. Karachi’s zoological gardens (also called Gandhi Gardens) has many animals to boast about. Animals are however not the only creatures at display here.

For the past 35 years a ‘maa-fauq-ul-fitrat’ (super natural) character is also kept in captivity here. This creature has a head of a lady and body of a fox. It is kept in a special pavilion called Mumtaz Mahal.

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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.’
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The Rickshaw

Owais Mughal

Today we’lldo an in depth analysis of the Pakistani motor rickshaw.

The motor- (sometimes auto-) rickshaw was invented by the Reverend Jonathan Scobie, an American Baptist minister living in Yokohama, Japan. The first model was built in 1869 in order to transport his handicapped wife. Today it remains as one of the most important modes of transportation in Pakistan where it was first seen on August 14, 1947. Before that it was not possible to see it in Pakistan.

The three- wheel- design of a rickshaw provides it a better road grip than a bicycle. It also provides gasoline savings when compared with a 4-wheeler taxi and green salad saving when compared with a 4-legged horse. When in need of repairs, the three-wheel structure also helps in lifting it from any side. When a side is lifted, it conveniently sits down on the other two while a mechanic goes looking for underbelly mechanical faults.

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In the Land of Kunhar

Owais Mughal

It was August 1992 and the second year exams at NED’s Electrical Department had just finished. To celebrate the big relief that came after hard work of many months, my friend Umar and I decided to go to Northern Pakistan for vacations. On the day of departure we reached the cantonment railway station. We had first class seats resrved in Tezrau (fast current) express. After we settled down in our compartment and looked around, we found some interesting co-travellers. They included an all-obese family of Karachi, going Muree for vacations. Then there was a Khan of Gilgit going home. He spoke very funny e.g. when he tried to describe a short and healthy person on the train and said:

” woh hai na….woh chota waala, mota waala” (You see him…. that small one and healthy one)

Then there was this fruit lover person sitting next to us. He sampled fruits from each and every vendor that came on the train. In a day’s journey, he almost ate a garden full of fruits. So much so that before our train reached Rawalpindi he had developed food poisoning.

We also had two poet brothers as our companion. All through the journey they kept reading poetry books and occassionally moved their heads from right to left in ecstasy. This was the sign that they understood a ‘sher’ (couplet).

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Ziarat ke zaair

Owais Mughal

It was September 1991. Along with two of my good friends; Umar Shah and Nauman; I was vacationing in Quetta. After exploring Quetta for two days, we decided to have a day trip to Ziarat. Little did we know that we were in for a travel treat, and hence this post.
On the day of travel to Ziarat, three of us sat on the back seat of a rickshaw and asked the rickshaw pilot to take us to the Quetta bus adda (station). This bus adda was a sea of rudderless machinery and chaotic humanity. There were wagons and buses going to all parts of the country. There were hot soup sellers sitting on the ground and electronics sellers bargaining and then agreeing to sell their merachandise at 1% of the originally asked price.

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khadda hai

Owais Mughal

The term ‘khadda hai’ – which literally means a pot hole, is used for the cricketers who are bad in fielding or batting. In the streets where I grew up, a usual spoken sentence went like this:

ye fielder to bilkul khadda hai – halwa catch chor dia (This fielder is a pot hole – dropped an easy catch)

Now let us go to our main story where lesson of the day is going to be: Respect is earned and not commanded.

In eighth grade we had an English teacher who had perfected the art of disciplining the students. His technique was to use pieces of chalk as projectiles and hit any of us suspected of talking or any other petty mischief in the class.

Over the years his aim had become so perfect that he rarely missed his target. The chalk pieces though small in size were thrown with high speeds and therefore hit our heads with very high momentum. We derided getting hit by a piece of chalk and the discipline in class was thus maintained.

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likhe paRhe hote agar…

Owais Mughal

I received this image in an email. Besides the obvious message, note how this ad was ‘calligraphed-as-graffiti’ on top of a previously cleaned garffiti. This text also reminds me of lines from a famous Lollywood movie song

“likhay paRhay hote agar – tou tum ko khat likhte”

I will try to find that song on youtube in a bit and if successful will add to the post here. In the mean time think and enjoy the ad below:

OK ladies and gentlemen. I have now found the song ‘likhe paRhe hote agar’. Read on more and get to it.
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