Our pyara Pakistan is a very dynamic country. Come Rain Come shine, the life goes on. The daily business goes on and the people go on….but there is one little detail not to be missed. Amidst all this hustle and bustle a railway runs though it.
Following collection is a tribute and a humorous commentary on care-free Pakistanis who go about their daily routine around a railway track as if the tracks were laid out there for all possible uses except for running trains.
(1) Departure Yard, Karachi
This first photo is courtesy of Mudsi from March 2, 2008. The photo shows Karachi Cantt Departure Yard and note the carefree motorbike rider. He is not the only happy-go-lucky person in the photo. Note the person walking behind him is enjoying smoking and the one behind him is talking on the cell phone. And everyone is walking or riding in the middle of the Highway called the Mainline Railway Track.
(2) UNHCR Office, Peshawar
The following photo shows two Afghan Refugees sleeping in Peshawar. The photo is dated October 2001. These gentlemen were waiting for getting aid from the local UNHCR office. Well, you know how offices are. Morning gave way to afternoon and after lunch these gentlemen felt sleepy. Now what better place to take a nap than right between the two rails? By the way, width of track in Pakistan is 5 ft 6 in, so this should also give you an idea of how tall these gentlemen are.
dil dhooNdta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din
beThay raheN tassawur-e-janaaN kiyay hoay
(3) Moghalpura, Lahore
A babaji is seen enjoying his evening hookah by nicely placing his vintage manji in the middle of the track. Location is Moghalpura, Lahore. We must give it to his credit that the track seems to be unused. Note how he has inclined his soti (baton) to the side of the char-pai and how has he made sure to take off his shoes. This photo also reminds me of a Punjabi movie title: manji kithay DaaNwaaN. This photo was published in Dawn and was taken on June 17, 2006.
(4) and (5) Main Line, Gujranwala
Both of these photos are from The Daily Dawn. Photo to the left was taken on January 5, 2006 shows a bazaar with its business at its peak just feet away from the main Karachi-Peshawar track. Especially close to the track are the three display units of ‘char-paai’s and a guy looking at the camera.
The photo to the right shows a flock of buffaloes roaming on the main-track in Gujranwala City on May 22, 2007.
I want to believe that it is the buffalo power which is making the mighty train switch its tracks because it is famously said that:
bheNs cut ke lae gayee killa
lahol wala quwwaat illa billa
but such is not the case here. In Pakistan, whenever a double track is present, trains use the left-side track. Anyways, a good photogenic scene.
(6) Timber Mafia, Gujrat
This photo also appeared in The Daily Dawn last year. It shows timber mafia cutting trees illegaly near Gujrat and then using the ubiquitous railway network of Pakistan to transport the trees to the market minus the cargo train ofcourse. Reminds me of urdu saying ‘chor ki daaRhi meiN tinka’ . Here ‘chor ki darhi meiN poora darakht’ but still the authorities didn’t move to cut down freight losses of Pakistan Railways or the criminal deforestation of our pyara country.
(7), (8) and (9) Faquirabad, Peshawar
The Fruit and Vegetable business goes on as usual on this precious Railway land in Peshawar unless of course a nuisance of a train arrives. A famous sher goes like this:
train jaati hai train aati hai
train aati hai train jaati hai
Ofcourse when that happens the people have to move to the sides leaving their merchandise next to the tracks as shown in this photo to the right.
In the photo to the left an oil special is passing through Peshawar and the fruit sellers have all just turned to the side. If they could wait just a few minutes longer, it will soon be business as usual just as shown in the photo below. All of these three photos are taken from various editions of The Daily Dawn in 2007.
This photo to the right is from peace times in Peshawar when there is no train far and away to disturb the vegetable business. Even a horse cart can be seen parked to the left. Trivia: How many types of vegetables can you see in this shop ? …Answer: Whatever you thought minus one because tomato is a fruit.
(10) and (11) North Nazimabad and Diesel Loco Shop, Karachi
Photo to the left shows the track of now defunct Karachi Circular Railway being used as a central walkway in a charpai motel business being run under the North Nazimabad overhead bridge. The motel seems to be doing a great business as not many vacancies seem to be available.
The photo to the right is Railway Colony, Karachi outside the Diesel Loco Shop. The Colony has colonized a part of railway land also and now the encroachments run really close to the tracks. A sher comes to mind:
pooch beTha hooN tujh se teray ghar ka pata
teray halaat ne kaisi teri soorat kar di
ATP’s Other Posts related to Railways and Tramways in Pakistan.
1. The Trans-Balochistan Railway
2. Changa Manga Forest Railway
3. Lansdowne Bridge, Sukkur
4. Train Tickets can be bought from Post Offices Now
5. Khyber Pass Railway
6. Bolan Pass Railway
7. Khojak Tunnel
8. Chappar Rift
9. 3000hp Iron Horses of Pakistan
10. Karachi Tramway of Yesteryears
11. Lahore Rapid Mass Transit Rail Project
12. A Phoenix Rises From the Ashes of Bakhshapur