Inspiration Pakistan: Salim Autos

Posted on June 9, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Humor, Society
5 Comments
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Owais Mughal

jaanwar, aadmi, farishta, khuda
aadmi ki haiN seNkRoN qismeN

This is a story about common people of our society. I have deliberately used the word ‘Common’ in a worldly materialistic sense as the main characters of this story were neither famous, nor very educated. They were not rich either. Still they affected the lives of people around them. Sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes in a stong way.

Salim Autos was a small spare parts shop. It was located on the ground floor of an apartmet building in Block 16 of Federal-B-Area. I am using past tense here because I don’t know if the business is still there or not. I used to bring my motorcycle there in early 1990s for repairs and oil change.

The owner of Salim Autos was called Mr. Salim. I guess, no surprises there. Salim had sub-contracted the government owned side-walk infront of his shop to a mechanic named Munoo. There was an unsaid and untold synergy between the two. Whenever Munoo was doing repairs, he recommended parts from Salim Autos to the motorcycle owner. This way both benefited from eachother.

While Munoo was an able mechanic, he had this chronic problem of laziness and coming to work late. Sometimes during a repair procedure, he would open up the guts of a motorcycle, spread them all over the sidewalk and then walk away for a leisurely tea break. While he would be sipping on his cosy tea, the motorcycle owner would be standing guard; all tense and nervous; seeing his bike broken down into pieces and spread all over the sidewalk.

Many things distracted Munoo from his work. If it was not his tea, then it was a fruit seller or few pretty ladies walking by or even a cat looking for food, which would catch his full attention. Munoo also considered it his prime duty to ask for the well being of any known passer by. After all these social activities, the bike work was usually still left to be done. A poet has rightly said:

teray koochay is bahaane mujhay din se raat karna
kabhi is se baat karna kabhi os se baat karna

Despite all the worldly faults mentioned above, Munoo however, was an expert in his profession. At his own given pace, he would artistically put together the bike again and get it going. That is what kept his customers coming back inspite of the long waits they had to endure.

Salim was not happy with such unprofessional detours of Munoo from his work. In Urdu we have a sentence that perfectly describes the inner feelings of Salim at such occasions.

Munoo ki ye haalat dekh kar Salim dil hi dil meiN kuRha karta tha”
(After observing Munoo‘s work ethics, Salim used to feel sick to his stomach)

Munoo, though fully aware that Salim didn’t like his work ethics, didn’t care much. He infact thought that he was bringing more business to Salim Autos than the other way round. His attitude reminds me of a sher:

sach hai meiN ne hi budnaam kia hai tujh ko
mujh se pehlay teri shuhrat kabhi aisi to na thi

One day while wearing a ‘hat of patience’, I was getting my motorcycle’s oil changed by Munoo when Salim walked by. Following exchange of golden dialogues took place between the two:

Salim: Munoo miaN, zara ghabra kar kaam kia karo” (Mr. Munoo, work with a feeling of panic)

Munoo: “ghabra kar?” (with a feeling of panic?)

Salim: “haaN haaN, ghabra kar” (yes yes, with panic)

Munoo: “magar woh kaisay?” (but how?)

Salim: “kaha na ghabra kar…bus baat khatam” (because I said so… end of story)

I don’t know if Munoo got it or not but I interpret them as working with responsibility. Feeling too much responsibility is kind of a burden which brings panic to one’s face.

From time to time, Salim’s words still ring in my ears. If I am working on something with long deadlines where I tend to slack a bit, I tell myself: “zara ghabra kar”. It keeps me from becoming too complacent. I think this is one of the real life lesson I learnt from the street.

Also when obstacles seem overwhelming, I think of how Munoo used to take it so easily. There was no job difficult enough for him. He always completed it and did it in style without taking any pressure from anyobdy. This is another real life lesson I learnt from the street.

The work philosophies of Munoo or Mr. Salim are not universal. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. That is where a person’s own judgement comes into play. One needs to pick up what works for him/her. A sher which I have used before in another article, is worth repeating here:

asal, shahood – o – shahid – o – mashood ek hai
hairaN hooN phir mushahida hai kis hisaab meiN

Photo Credits: Photos for this post have been taken from flickr.com. Clicking on the images will take you to their source websites.

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5 responses to “Inspiration Pakistan: Salim Autos”

  1. Owais Mughal says:

    I recently attended a big seminar on work place safety and best practices. One point that the speaker highlighted said: “Always feel vulnerable at Work”. It immediately brought home this conncept of ‘zara ghabra ke’ which is mentioned in above post and which I firsdt heard on a Karachi foot path from a not-so-educated motor mechanic.

  2. cynic says:

    hi owais, thanks for sharing this profound observation.

  3. Aqil Sajjad says:

    Some of these budget numbers are pretty meaningless. Every year, the govt announces a largest ever PSDP (public sector development program) allocation, but the actual utilization falls well short of the figure given in the budget. Likewise, the actual defense spending is usually more than the budgeted amount, without any explanation of course.

    Even if the govt’s budget figures are to be believed, the fact that it is not interested in taxing the stock exchange and the real estate sector shows its warped priorities and sheer indifference to the majority of the nation. Another untaxed area is agricultural income; obviously, with the feudals sitting in the assemblies and the military-feudal nexus, this is a no go area.

    The question is how long this steroid based growth is going to last. The way the trade deficit is being covered by FDI suggests that we are headed for a crisis sooner or later. Perhaps it will happen in a post-Musharraf govt (just like the unsustainable budget deficits during Zia’s period led to a debt crisis in the 1990s) and then the apologists of the military and the drawing room classes opposed to democrasy will again put the entire blame on democrasy and recall the growth rate under Musharraf to argue that we are better off with dictatership.

  4. Adil Najam says:

    Here are the essentials of the budget announced today. The key queston – always – is what this means for people like Salim and Munno here.

    From The News:

    Minister of State for Finance Omar Ayub Khan announced Pakistan’s Rs 1874 billion budget for fiscal year 2007-08.

    According to the budget document the fiscal deficit in the budget will be Rs. 205 billion, while in the budget speech Rs. 398 billion deficit has been announced.

    The current expenditures in the budget have been set at Rs. 1353 billion i.e. 66% of the total budget, which is 2.2% more than the current fiscal year budget.

    According to the budget documents Rs. 520 billion have been allocated for the annual development programme, 37.7 % more than the current year.

    Rs. 1394 billion fiscal resources would be available to the government for the next financial year with Rs. 205 billion deficit. In current year 1100 billion rupees were available to the government.

    There are divergent figures of the revenue collection target set for the Central Board of Revenue. The revenue target for CBR collection in the budget document has been written Rs. 1030 billion at one place, while at other place in the document the target is Rs. 1002 billion rupees. The minister of state for finance announced 1475 billion rupees collection target set for the CBR.

    The net taxation revenue target in the budget has been set at Rs. 902 billion, which is 28% more than the current fiscal year.

    The centre will transfer Rs. 466 billion revenues to the provinces including Rs. 403 billion from the divisible pool and Rs. 62.8 billion through direct grants.

    Rs. 113 billion has been allocated in the budget for subsidies, while Rs. 119 billion has been earmarked for interest and repayment of foreign loans.

    Meanwhile, Rs. 318 billion will be paid for repayment of the domestic loans.

  5. Daktar says:

    I have always been a fan of the great skills and expertise of the ‘chootas’ in Pakistan.

    However, I have always been uncomfortable with teh child labor aspects of this. This is something that ATP has written about many times but I think we need to focus on this aspect even more.

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