KARACHI: Khayaban-i-Saadi’s Benazir Park track witnessed massive traffic chaos as the three-day Karachi Eat 2018 food festival kicked off here on Friday afternoon.
The smoke clouds originating from the park this time were not dry burning leaves and sticks to get rid of those mosquitoes born in Boat Basin. This smoke was more inviting, making one’s mouth water as one could only think about barbecued sheekh kabab, tikka and boti and platters full of other delicacies on offer inside but for a price, of course.
The new venue from Frere Hall of previous years to Benazir Park wasn’t the only change. Visitors also had to pay Rs300 instead of Rs250 as entry fee. And then once inside they had to pay for the food too. There are a total of 125 stall this time instead of 80 or 90.
But cousins Feeha, Mashain and Rabia didn’t mind. They were there escaping a family wedding. There only problem was locating their other eight cousins. “They were right behind us at the entrance but we somehow lost them in the crowd so we are waiting here till they can find us,” Feeha, one of the three girls standing near the entry point, told Dawn.
“There was plenty of food at the wedding too but we felt like having pizza and burgers,” said Mashain.
Imran Ali, another visitor, meanwhile, wasn’t interested in the food. “I enjoyed the musical show. It was fun,” he said.
Mehr, a young mother with a baby in a pushchair, said that she really liked the blueberry ice-cream from Cosmopolitan Ice Cream.
Ms Saleem, on the other hand, said she was there for the lively atmosphere and not really the food. “It has been a nice outing,” she said.
Ms Zubairi, running the Special Children Education Institute, stall said that they were providing a kids play area which became a favourite with the young visitors on the first day. “It’s just the first day and already it was difficult to make the children come down from the jumping castle and trampoline to give others a chance,” she said laughing. “And Friday is a school day. I can’t imagine how many children we will see tomorrow and the day after.”
Rahma Jamshed, a second year medical student, was there with her mother and sisters enjoying ice cream. She said she would have enjoyed more had there not been so much mismanagement at the entry and exit points. Among the stalls, she said that they particularly liked the pizza and fries from Big Bash and Yaki’s dynamite prawns and chow mein. And then she shared something she found particularly funny. “The Sensodyne toothpaste stall over there is offering ice cream for people to be able to check their sensitivity to cold things,” she said. That is something new, not to mention a brilliant idea for dentists to boost their practice,” she said.
Several visitors as well as stall owners complained about the poor lighting inside the stalls. “It is rather dim inside, making it difficult for us to work. The park has powerful floodlights but their glare have a blinding effect,” said one stall owner.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018