KARACHI: Karachiites know how to celebrate when it’s time to have fun, though they seldom get opportunities to enjoy life to the hilt.
Over the years their moments of happiness have become increasingly fleeting, for no fault of theirs. This Valentine’s Day is no exception. It is one of those days when the air in the city is not filled with gunpowder but with love.
Valentine’s Day in Karachi begins practically 24 hours before the actual day. Flower-sellers swarm every important traffic signal, especially in district south. Their sales increase big time in only two days. According to one of them, a teenager who refuses to tell his name, he sells flowers (mostly red roses, what else?) at least 10 times more than what he usually sells in a month. Even if he is exaggerating, the fact is that flowers sell like hot cakes pre- and on Valentine’s Day. To gauge the veracity of this claim, a short visit to the Zainab Market traffic intersection would suffice.
But floral greeting is not the only thing that can be seen in abundance on that romance-filled day. People, of all age groups, flock to bakeries to fetch special love-inducing cakes.
S. Maqbool runs a known bakery in Clifton. He says, “I make different kinds of cakes on Valentine’s Day but the ones that people usually ask for are the chocolate fudge and chocolate chip cakes. Customers place their orders in a big number, so much so that oftentimes we fail to meet their demands.”
In terms of customer demographic, Mr Maqbool reveals a very interesting thing. “It’s true that generally the younger lot, a majority of whom is unmarried girls and boys, comes to us, but let me tell you that even the married couples have started coming to our bakery over the years. Some of them place their orders way in advance. Why? I guess it’s a kind of renewal of their marriage vows. Also, it is a fallacy that people only from the affluent classes celebrate Valentine’s Day. The middleclass easily outnumbers them.”
The man seems to have a point, as cellphones begin to get inundated with messages of companies that can help you give ‘ideas’ for Valentine’s Day (how to make a love basket of perfumes or how to create a ‘special’ day by being creative and doing ultra romantic things with the help of ‘experts’) well in advance. This cuts across every social stratum.
Every year multinational eateries come up with Valentine’s Day special deals. This year is no different. Advertisements of ‘heart-shaped donuts’ can be readily seen all around the city. You never know if they invent ‘heart-shaped’ burgers and chips in the future.
A shopkeeper at a general store, M. Shiraz, says not just youngsters but their mothers too come to his shop to buy boxes and boxes of chocolates. “These days even the older members of families find the day opportune to further an idea. For example, if a son is engaged to a girl even through an arranged marriage system, his parents would encourage him to send his fiancée chocolates or cakes.”