I wrote a short poem titled ‘Our mega-village’ way back in 1998. I had recently found out back then that Karachi is actually technically known as a mega city in line with others like Mumbai, London, Paris and New York etc. 14 million people approximately in 1998 = mega city. It is 2011 now. Irony: My words written back then ring true more than ever today.
Case in point: My area in Karachi has been without electricity for the past 36 hours and counting… KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Corporation) workers who are happily on a strike have ‘unofficially’agreed to fix the ‘tranformers’ ‘PMTs” for Rs 200 per house. DHA (Defence Housing Authority/Society) area is the worst struck. Known as one of the ‘poshest’ areas of the city, it calls for greater attention ‘ofcourse’ as the revenue through bribery is expected to be higher than any of the others. Hence while other areas of the city function as normal – with occasional loadshedding thrown in to remind residents of the power (all pun intended), DHA residents boil in the heat. No electricity or lack of generators equals lack of water in tanks. In some areas the rates are Rs 1000 per house and Rs 20,000 per lane. Even after payment the power supply has not been resumed. Hence we have a bleary eyed me posting this page from the past of 1998 coupled with regret and a resounding echo in 2011…
In a bygone era it was a novelty,
for people who went to stay in villages,
without water, gas or electricity.
But now we can enjoy that very same state
just by living in this mega-city!
23/06/2011 Update: 52 hours and counting and no sign of electricity supply as yet. Freezer items have perished yet surprisingly enough, Man’s resilience shines through. We have learnt to co-exist. The cool sea breeze is helping as well after days and days of blistering heat as Nature seems to be taking sides here.
A colleague reported that Rs 20,000 was the price for getting the PMT in her area fixed. Even then, power supply was restored after 48 hours. Another friend reported interesting scenes outside the KESC office where all bearded and cloth-above- the-ankle workers were seen lined up for a hunger strike with another line of lemonade (nimbu pani) and rooh afza (local sherbet) selling pushcarts right beside them. If beards are an emblem of humility and God fearing attributes, I wonder why we are being told that police protection is necessary for those who want to help and fix PMT (transformers) in the vicinity?
I hear menial workers making fun of the educated, sophisticated sufferers for their stupidity in not being daring enough to step out of their homes, bash up KESC workers and set fire to tyres on main roads. If that defines ‘daring’ in this country now, I wonder what will become of the word ‘tolerance’… ?
Update at 23/06/2011 (10:30 pm) from the dark. A kescwala affirms that other ousted kesc workers attack those who come to fix things.
A friend from PECHS congratulates me on suffering only for 4 days now as she got electricity back after 5 days… I’m actually lucky for once. Wow!
Meanwhile things look bleak in DHA especially in Phase VII where despite repeated promises, KESC or the Darakhshan police have always managed to miss each others’ timings. Residents in the meanwhile have turned it into a war situation leaving the menfolk in some houses at the forefront and the women and children being shunted off to the cooler climes of other relatives with light. Meatless days… lightless days. All in the same boat.