December 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Yes, he says…is ka tu nam Samaasat tha, je je I said, Sommerset. Aur
yehan pe Baman chai aur bakery ki dukan bi thi, je je I said, Boman
Irani. Bohot achi chai and maska bun bi, je je I said, bachpan mein, mein
ne bi yehan chai pi aur maska bun khaya. I had sat down with Yasin, the
Pathan shoe-polish wala, who was sitting on the footpath, in the same
place where he has been sitting for 50 years or more.
Whenever I need to buy a strong pair of Peshawari chappals, I take a
rickshaw and head for Saddar on Preedy Street where you can find many
shops that sell the finest quality of handmade footwear at a price that could
get you two cups of tea in an upscale luxury hotel!
I got out of a shop near the corner of Preedy and Sommerset, and didn’t
quite realize that the shoe-shop was indeed, the same place where once
the famous cafe of the 50s and 60s stood – Boman Irani. Yeh wo hi tu
dukan hai jehan se aap nikle, ye Baman chai ki dukan thi…He
I reminded him of the time when a line of shoe-shine boys used to sit just
outside the Boman Irani tea & bakery shop. Han, han, muje pata
hai! Yasin is about 60 years old so I am presuming that he must have been
a lad of 10 when he started his 'shop'. Where have all the others gone? I
asked. Sab chale gae…koi bi yeh kam abhi nahin karna chatey, bahr
mulk gae, koi Saudi Arabia aur koi Dubai. Je, je, I said, aur aap abhi bi
yehan? Yeh tu kiismat ki bat hai, Allah ka shukar hai ke mein abhi bi is
pehsha mein kaayam hun – khush hun!
I could see the moisture in his eyes and feel the stretch of his memory as
he continued. Yeh samne wali dispensary se tra'am chalti thi…aise
goom ke Cantt ko jathi thi..aur doosri taraf Soldier Bazaar and Bolton
Markeet; je je I said, mein bi us pe sawar hua karta tha. He looked at me
and asked who I was and why was I asking him so many questions. But he
was a pleasant man to talk to…from another time and era.
Looking around, the place was simply overcrowded with people, people
and more people, buses, rickshaws (now one too many), motorbikes
(thousands!) pushcarts, some taxis, cars and cycles. Yasin is dwarfed by
all these obstacles, precarious buildings and the noise, pollution and
uncertainty. But life he says goes on…aur kahan jaen? He gives me a
smile as we shake hands and I move on to stop a CNG rick to take me
Give or take a few years, this man has given Pakistan his life. He has
worked all through these years, dedicatedly and honestly to earn a living.
He is a good Pakistani man who remembers his country well. He