My car’s battery had been playing up for several days. It finally went down in a glory of auto-start windshield wipers and I had to park the car in the Jail Rd service lane, near Eden Centre. The next day, I went over to the electrician who I’d been promised would be my messiah. But my description of the symptoms didn’t convince him that the fault was electrical. He asked me to somehow get the car to his garage, located on “LOS beach” as he fondly calls the strip of workshops and houses that line the open sewer running from LOS stop to Multan Rd. Walking back in the shadow of Saruman’s interminable flyovers on Ferozepur Rd, I realised that I’d have to have the car towed or pushed. Near Tollington market, a ricksha-vallah skeptically took on my commission. Young man, nimble mind, a little prone to judge I felt – but I was too occupied with rescuing my car. It took us maybe 15 minutes of pushing – initially on foot to position the car in front of the ricksha and then with the ricksha-vallah in his ricksha, his foot applied to the car’s rear bumper, me, steering the car – to get to LOS stop. At this point, he asked me to arrange a tow-rope as the leg he was pushing the car with had started to ache badly. I found myself in front of the strange “USA tools” shop right at the LOS traffic signal, surely the only open tools shop within walking distance on that cold, hazy Sunday afternoon. The first tow-cable they gave me turned out to be faulty. The replacement was solid. Another 5m to set up the ricksha to tow the car, which involved pushing the car across Ferozepur Rd on foot and into the entrance of the road next to the LOS sewer. Then another 10m to tow the car to the garage. The ricksha-valla helped me get the car into the right position in front of the garage doors so that it could be pushed inside easily, checked if I was satisfied and turned to leave. I thought he’d just forgotten. But he’d made up his mind. No question of payment. He was content, smiling. Me, he left re-inspired, rejuvenated even.
jurrat-e-kufr: the brainy-as-hell, total geek from a “maarra” background who has no inhibitions telling off any colleague – whether peer or company director – who talks down to him, gives him attitude or back-bites about him. Thin as a reed, liable, it seems, to be blown away by the next strong gust of wind, but true to himself.
Jigra: This from a friend. He’d gone to donate blood at Ganga Ram, contacted by a stranger who’d found his number on one of the websites that maintain the contact info of blood donors in Lahore. The patient’s attendants, two young men, met him at the emergency entrance, took him down to the blood bank and treated him to juice AND tea at the cafeteria while they waited for his turn to be bled. They hailed from some place near Khanqah Dogran. The younger brother works in a factory near Qainchi that only offers intermittent work, depending on whether they have a shipment to make and whether there’s gas available. At the time, he was unemployed. The younger brother’s friend is a tailor master, specialising in formal suits, lives in Makkah Colony. He gives my friend the low-down on ready-made vs. tailored suits (the latter are not all that much better) and offers to help him get the best quality for the right price at whichever shop in Lahore. Naturally, phone numbers are exchanged and promises to meet at a less stressed-out time are made. The patient’s husband, the elder brother, comes in, thanks my friend profusely and then asks how these blood donation websites work and whether one needed some ID to be listed there. My friend asks him to give his number, name, address and blood group so that he may add him to the sites. His brother and their friend also requested the same service. They had all given blood previously, and sitting there with my friend whom they would never have found if one of their friends had not known about such websites, they realised that they needed to up their game. Spontaneously, without needing to be prompted in the least. This friend describes them as tall, broad-shouldered but thin to the point of seeming under-nourished. Yet spunky, full of beans.