When I moved to Pakistan several years ago, I had to make many adjustments. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but it was always invariably interesting. Once, on a busy road, I looked out the car window and saw a team of mules moving placidly single file amidst the throng of cars. A teenaged boy sat sideways on the last mule. He didn’t have to guide or steer the mules as they all seemed to just go along with the lead one … and that lead one seemed to know just where it had to go. It was a good thing as the boy had his mind and hands busy with other things – like text-messaging on his cell phone!
That, I suppose, sums up one of the nicest things about Pakistan – that the old manages to endure alongside the new.
There are people working jobs that I’d never seen in my native Singapore. There are florists who boldly set up shop by taking up one of the lanes on the road… They just get away with it as the traffic police leave them be and motorists give them a wide berth. Then there are street vendors whose wagons carry bins of wood on fire so they can roast and pop corn. I once also saw a man whose bicycle was rigged such that the rear wheel powered a grindstone – he sharpened knives and scissors for a living.
This man I photographed shines shoes – I was almost embarrassed to hand over my decrepit shoes as they are scuffed beyond belief, but I do like supporting the everyday people over the big companies. They work so very hard and they have a spirit that is humbling. I pray that Allah puts barakah in his efforts, ameen.