Just the other evening, the Dad Man, Bear and I were waiting in the car for Mars outside the Arabic Language Institute. While we were chatting, we heard a clatter outside and when we looked out the window, we realised it was the clip-clop of donkey’s hooves. Four donkeys and their riders were moving briskly on the road while cars were zooming along at rush hour.
I didn’t manage to get a photo because the camera decided to act up right at that moment. I recall another Kodak moment I’d missed – some months ago, we saw a team of mules moving placidly single file on a busy road. A teenaged boy sat on the last mule. He didn’t have to guide or steer the mule as it seemed to just go along with the lead one. He had his mind and hands busy with other things – text-messaging on his cell phone! :)
That, I suppose, sums up one of the nicest things about Pakistan – that the old manages to endure alongside the new.
You will see traditional craftsman plying their trade here. Last year, when we went bookhunting, we saw a man toting a wooden caddy at a busy market. I thought that he was a fix-it man with a toolbox, but when we saw him later, we realised that he shone shoes. I’m pretty sure that if I were a man, he would have asked me for my dingy boots to clean :P
We also saw the man above with a round stone on his bike. I wondered about the curious contraption and discovered he was a mobile knife sharpener! I believe the rear wheel of his bicycle whirls his grindstone. A dying trade no doubt in this era of disposables, more is the pity.
You will also find skilled workers like the embroiderers who do fancy thread and bead work on clothes. They still use traditional methods rather than use computerised sewing machines, so designs are detailed and unique. You can get simple designs to jazz up your casual wear or more intricate ones for formal outfits. Some do the embellishments on sewing machines after drawing out the patterns – now, these are free-motion embroidery machines so you can imagine the amount of control and work required. Others hand stitch their designs – the fabrics are stretched over a wooden rack and the embroiderer sits on the floor painstakingly working on each stitch and bead.
A tailor with a family run business showed us samples of their company’s work. This is a piece they produced for a bride’s wedding dress. The photo doesn’t do the work justice – we had only a crummy cell phone to take the pic with!
One of the tailor’s cousins who does all the beadwork and embroidery. Most of the tailors and embroiderers are men. I’ve met a few women who are accomplished embroiderers – they only stitch for pleasure. Commercial stitching and tailoring seems to be a strictly male domain.
I have some recent photos I’ll post next in shaa Allah of a new favourite haunt of my children – Karachi Company – and some of the local snacks we like. Watch this space!