yooN hi raah chalte chalte: A Pictorial Journey Through Everyday Pakistan

Posted on April 28, 2010
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Humor, Society
Total Views: 84234

Owais Mughal

For the longest time there has been a tradition in our family – that is to go slightly extravagant for Friday lunch. The extra perk is that on Fridays we get to eat tandoori rotis instead of regular chapaatis.

It used to be my weekly routine that after Friday prayers I would go to the local tandoor and bring home garam-a-garam (hot) tandoori rotis. Many a times the appertizing smell of these rotis was so great that I used to start eating them while walking in the street. Therefore it was pretty usual that one roti would be half missing by the time I reached home. This tandoor was one of the countless ones that are found all across Pakistan and which bake one of the tastiest rotis in the World. These tandoors don’t always have a name and they are found where the streets have no name but in street language they are universally called Cafe’ DePhoos.

On my recent trip to Pakistan, I tried to re-live this age old tradition. I walked the same steps to the local tandoor. It is not a Cafe’ DePhoos anymore but has now got a name of its own called Habib Roti House. I also brought a camera with me and took the following photos on this trip. I’ll take you through this short journey in the streets where I grew up. tou phir let us chaliye!

Share A Pole:

As soon as I came out of home, I was first greeted with this towering sight. It is a perfect metaphor to life in Pakistan. Totally chaotic but still working. This pole was supposed to belong to Karachi Electric Supply Corporation but over the years Pakistan Telecom, High Speed DSL providers and Cable Channel Operators have also placed their own wires and distribution boxes on the same pole. It is a perfect sign of cooperation among different public and private departments as well as a live example of jio aour jeenay do (live and let live). The brown rusted pole to the left is an exhaust for gases from the underground sewrage line.

Home Delievery:

I must’ve walked just 20 more steps when I was greeted with this very common site from Pakistani streets. A doodh-wala (milkman) is seen delivering milk to homes. I was able to recognize this doodh-wala because in childhood we used to call him paani-wala (waterman) for fun. He ofcourse didn’t like it.

All Your Basic Education Needs – Come Hither

As I walked a hundred or so meters further, I saw this billbord wired to a telephone pole. I was impressed to see the range of courses offered by this school. All kinds of Eastern, Western and Universal courses and degrees are offered here.

All Your Advanced Education Needs – Come Hither

kia nahi hai hamari gali mein? I also want to repeat this sher here, which I’ve used in a previous post too.

kis cheez ki kami hai Khwaja teri gali meiN
ghoRa teri gali mein, nathiya teri gali meiN

Guys! If the school billboard above was not enough to satisfy one’s thirst of knowledge and degrees, then we have a full fledge seat of highest learning (a University) under-construction in our street. This is Gate #4 of the ‘Nazeer Hussain ki University’. However, the entrance to the University is sakhti se(strictly) forbidden. If you can read Urdu then you can read the No Admission Without Permission message on the Gates of this university. As is usually the case – it is conveniently not mentioned that who’s permission is needed to enter these gates of knowledge and wisdom. For now, you and I should both stick to our plan of seeking ‘rotis’ instead of ‘degrees’ and lets keep rolling. aao mere saath!.

mast malangi

I may hardly have walked 20 feet from the gates of ‘Nazeer Hussain ki University’ when I saw this rickshaw parked on the side.
The title of this rickshaw is ‘mast malangi’. I have been trying to translate mast malangi for our English readership but cannot think of any appropriate word. Any one who can translate mast malangi is welcome to do so. For Rickshaw lovers at ATP, you can see one of our many previous Rickshaw posts here. Before we go further I want to bring to your attention the verse painted on this rickshaw:

hum cheen len ge tum se ye shan-e-be-niazi
phir maangte phiro ge hum se apna ghuroor

Did you also notice Toyota’s monogram under this Rickshaw’s number?

A billi‘s Very Bold Move:

A couple of hundred feet from the parked rickshaw I saw this cooperation between machine and animal. A very bold billi was taking liberty of resting on a motorcycle while the motorcycle owner was probably busy in khwaab-e-khargosh (A hare’s sleep). Note how the motorcycle is immaculately covered in brown protective cloth – for situations like this.

After taking this photo, I crossed the famous Shahra-i-Pakistan and got aghast by the sheer beauty of this baNki sajeeli (decorated) omni bus which came to halt right infront of me.

Dabloo-Igiyaara (W11) – Kimari to New Karachi

This omni bus belongs to the famous Karachi route of W11. This route is so famous that even Melbourne, Australia has built a replica of Karachi’s W11 omnibus as a tram there. Click here and here to see the Melbourne replica of W11. An artist from Pakistan did this W11 decoration on Melbourne tram.

Well, seen below in afternoon Karachi sun is this original W11 (called Dabloo-Igiyara by most of its local crew) – all set to depart towards its New Karachi terminal. The word Dabloo is pronounced as rhyming with a common nickname Babloo and Igiyaara is pronounced by putting a ‘capital aai‘ infront of ‘giyaara‘, hence Igiyaara!

aa gaya aa gaya: Habib Roti House

After all the detours and all the distractions I finally managed to reach my destination: Habib Roti House. This guy in photo was flipping roti right to left so fast that I thought of Einstein’s E=mc^2 equation. You can also see in the photo below how flip flopping roti has become quite blurred. E=mc^2 guys!

Video bhi to hai:

Here is a short – 8 second- video I made on the occasion.

The owner of Habib Roti house whose name is not Habib -but Hakeem is seen quite happy here. He and I became good friends.

The Strictest Notice on a Weigh Scale Ever!

After I took the photo above, and bagged my rotis – I started walking towards home. thummak, thummak, khuraamaN, khuraamaN and yooN hi raah chalte chalte, I passed infront of some shop – which I don’t remember now. The notice mentions a ‘terminal’ so it may have been some loading/unloading zone. It had this weigh scale infront of it with a very strict hand written notice on it. Please Read, Enjoy and smile at will.

lo ji ghar aa gaya!

By the time I reached home, I had already eaten half of the roti. No surprises there. It was just keeping in with the tradition. I handed over the packet of rest of the salaamat rotis to my mother and qucikly turned towards the TV where West Indies were batting in 4th innings of a test match against Australia. This was the score then: West Indies 3/95. Deonarine 27 not out and Nash 10 not out.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk with me where we went out together and bought home some rotis from a Pakistani tandoor.

14 responses to “yooN hi raah chalte chalte: A Pictorial Journey Through Everyday Pakistan”

  1. Owais Mughal says:


    yaar bari fikr ki aap ne! Here it is. I indeed saw a donkey cart on this short trip. It passed me by right after ‘mast malangi’ rickshaw scene. Originally I wanted to include this photo in the main post too and I debated with myself for 5 long minutes but then decided against it b/c the d-cart is not very clear in the whole frame. Anyways.. aap ne poocha to hazir hai.

    About the ‘paani wala’ comment: years ago, this guy used to distribute milk on a bicycle. We used to play cricket in the street when he would come by.. jawaani mein shrarat soojha hi karti hai… so someone from our cricket XI would always hoot ‘oye paani walay’ at him. He was never amused.

  2. Aziz says:

    Awesome….yes this article has true Pakistaniat in it. I am surprised that you did not run into a gadha/ghora ghari on your way to the roti shop.

    Paani waala…LOL…I can imagine why he’d be pissed when you called him that.

    Owais, Wow…eating roti on the way home in blistering heat…what else could be better than that. I used to finish an entire roti on my way home :)

    Mast Malang…loosely…I’ll translate it to aloof…but I am sure there is a better meaning.

    So…I was hoping that the article would continue and end with the name of the dish you had that day. Daal, nihari, paya, haleem, chicken karasi, quorma :) Anybody’s mouth watering yet? Mine is and its lunch time :)

  3. Beautiful and light piece. Enjoyed reading and smiling. Thanks.

  4. Azra says:

    You know the art of the tandoori rotti is not appreciated.

    You open a high scale restraunt in New York with a rooti artist in the middle of the room doing his thing, and you have one hell of a winner on your hands.

  5. Vinnie says:

    You made us have a wonderful trip from ‘habib roti house’ to back home. Zabardast !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *