Jun 1, 2019
It is 48 C in the shade but the bazar is teeming with people. Rush hour comprises mostly of trucks, donkey carts and two-wheelers, a handful of cars and a river of people. A lone camel is led through the streets with two children perched on the trailer.
The hotel management frown on my stepping out on my own and a call to the police station is answered promptly in the shape of a policeman, with a rifle slung across his shoulder. For my safety, they tell me. Interior Sindh apparently requires a police escort.
I feel terrible about having to drag the poor soul out in the heat but he waves it off, telling me it is his job. Reticent at first, he gets into the spirit quickly as we weave in and out of the narrow lanes, visiting the vegetable market, the mobile market, the fish and meat markets. When my Urdu fails, he replies in Sindhi to questions asked by shoppers, shopkeepers and just about everyone that we come across. Smiles pop out when I ask to take photographs. A couple of boys pose happily without any prompting. I am offered a bit of this and a bit of that and they steadfastly refuse money. It is Sindhi hospitality, they tell me; you are a mehman. Ha! I may have just achieved full-mehman status.
This area is surrounded by farms and intensively cultivated. We have the best, freshest produce here they tell me proudly, and so it seems. Pots and pans glint in the sun in one shop while another is draped with beautifully handstitched quilts. Bundles of sticks used for cleaning teeth have names I don’t recognize. Piles of spices and gunny sacks of henna, bags of tea and racks of shoes lie under tarps spread overhead. There are plenty of women, but all are enveloped in full burkhas. They don’t deign to be photographed.
A gaily tasseled bag hanging in front of one shop catches my eye and I ask if it is a typical Sindhi ladies’ purse. My escort chuckles and says it is used to carry ammunition. Sure enough, behind the glass front are guns for sale as innocuous as books or shoes or mobile phones.
The owner waves expansively at the racks and cases filling the room. I scrape my jaw off the floor, take a photo and troop out.