Just a few weeks ago I was talking to someone about three songs, the first being Blind Melon’s ‘No rain’, the second being Madonna’s ‘Rain’, and the third being Garbage’s ‘Only happy when it rains’. Although I completely agreed that rain always makes one feel good and the ambience around ourselves also makes life more upbeat and fresh, since two days though, I’m only hooked onto 1992’s ‘No rain’.

It all started late Tuesday morning in the city of Karachi as I witnessed continuous rainfall-drizzle-rainfall-drizzle throughout the previous night as well as the current morning. I looked out of my room’s big windows from time to time during the night to see a bunch of drops falling and forming slanting dashes, glistening underneath the area where the closest sodium yellow light from the light poles shone in their brilliance.

Waking up to the fresh drizzly morning smell was another high on its own. Looking outside my windows again was another cheery feeling as all trees, green spots, and streets seemed cleansed of their sins. However, I then began pondering upon all the low-lying areas in Karachi including my office building that must have been affected at various levels since it never stopped raining.          As I made some phone calls to my colleagues I received several “no nos” and severe warnings of how I should not step outside and definitely not go to work as I was told that unless I had a tank or boat I would fail. Of course that is just not me and I defiantly embarked upon yet another adventure in my life, taking my mini six-year-old vehicle that my family owns setting off on a route that inspired me to write what you will all just get to read now.

From Phase II of Defence I had to make a pitstop near Zamzama road inside the Naval Housing Society to pick up something. But first, I had to deal with a couple of rivers near my house. Then began multitasking; trying to convince a few of my other colleagues over the phone, to join me in my quest, while wading my car through the waters as well as working the wipers to get a clear view through the rainfall that had begun again. Once it was confirmed that I was all alone on this journey I cruised through the less inundated streets trying to mark out the best possible routes and alternatives. Issue no.1: Why wasn’t there anyone to give me this information in the first place?

As I reached the street leading to the Naval Housing Society I had to make my way through yet another river where a few random vehicles, bicycles, and ice-cream tri-cycles were making their way through too. So repeating God’s name and other such holy words which are always there to rely on I made my way through remembering the rules of engagement when boating through water in a car, which was to never let go off the accelerator plus maintaining ones moderate speed too. It worked!

The inside of this society looked like God’s best natural creation as I saw people enjoying moments in the mini-parks that had been built and developed by the authorities and as I cruised along the inside sloping and curving streets I felt completely disconnected from the outside flooded city mess. However, that was short-lived as I made my way out I had to cross the river with the ice-cream tri-cycle again, and so I did.

Although my colleagues had told me to take a specific route I adamantly stuck to mine which was to go all the way through the Mai-Kolachi-by-pass and then through the I.I. Chundrigar road as none of them had yet chosen that route and everyone who had reached work had come another way but still had to leave their cars at an earlier point and then wade through higher than knee-deep water on foot to reach office. Issue no.2: Radio stations, news television channels, scouts, and helicopters when not doing anything else should have been reporting with useful information, guiding the citizens of Karachi through the safest routes across the city.

Reaching the KPT flyover I was double minded as a safe waterless route up the bridge would have lead me to a place far off with no u-turns, while my real destination from below was blocked by a swamp besides the foot of the bridge. Issue no.3: If the low-lying areas of the city are always in trouble then why aren’t any measures taken to avoid the deluges that are created every single time?

Of course, I somehow managed to cross it and make my way towards one of the many slopes that led to various areas and the one I first chose was the one which led to the area known as ‘Tower’. A few seconds down the slope I thought I had come to Sandspit beach as vehicles of every kind including motorbikes were parked on both sides of the slope, some there with bonnets open being repaired and some just standing idle. Amongst the vehicles were scores of Karachiites in various forms of clothing, either enjoying the ‘picnic spot’ or scoping for miles like me, at a colossal river and partial lake that lay ahead which seemed to have no end. In the middle were half-drowned vehicles that lay ‘dead’, a few vehicles that were still trying to ‘survive’ and a few human beings who for some reason were just there. Issue no 4: Who will take care of the poor people’s loss as all they were just trying to do was get to their necessary destinations?

I turned back and tried the next slope (sounds like the doors to open on television game shows where you expect a surprise at the other end) which led to a back street of the I.I. Chundrigar road. Making my way down the slope was a petrol pump on my left completely flooded and in-operational. Hold on, let’s pause this and time travel back to last night. I had to fill some fuel in my car as well as air in my car’s tyres that night and was stupefied to hear that a few of the stations were claiming that water had gone into the air tanks as well as the fuel tanks hence they could not supply either. Issue no. 5: How is this even possible that they do not have any protection against rain water? Present time: Crossing the flooded fuel station I took a left onto my chosen street where I had to cross a major river with so many pot holes that it seemed I was floating on a boat (as my car was moving left and right being hit by massive waves) which was occasionally scraping through sharp rocks and gravel. That crossed, I passed a not flooded at all railway-crossing only to find myself staring at another river even bigger than the previous. Holy words – check – accelerator – check – let’s go! Making my way through I could see the water levels were insanely high yet I did not freak out as somehow my sandals were still not wet which meant the car doors had not given up yet. Crossed!

I was bang in the center of the I.I. To my left was the swamped Tower I had left behind. To my right was the business avenue that led to my destination, which was the worst thing that I saw yet. It was a sea. As I tried making my way through half of it imagining I was in a four-wheel-drive or a motor boat, I was praying and praying for only goodness and regretted why I had yelled at someone at home over the phone while driving a few minutes earlier as any moment God could be angry with me and execute a punishment. Watching the business hub which included major corporations, banks etc all shut made me wonder how much of a loss this day would economically mean and how was it that other countries managed their days through such storms more frequently than Pakistan. I was steadfast yet hesitant when I saw several people pushing their cars and motorbikes through to some corner or the other as they had failed. At that moment I decided to turn back. No not back home, back to the Mai-Kolachi road which meant going through two of the same rivers again. Hasaaaaaaaaaaaan! That is how some people write or shout my name when I occasionally do uncalled for things. And so I shouted at myself and did what I had to do.

Wow! I made it back and then took the only possible route which was nearly the original route my colleagues had advised me in the first place, which was through the PIDC bridge, then stopping my car at a safe and waterless parking lot near the office and then swimming through the rest.

By now you may all have guessed that that is not exactly what I had in mind. For a minute though once I had crossed the bridge I thought of doing a good deed by parking my car at the Karachi Gymkhana which would mean that I could get my colleagues and myself some take-away snacks and beverages too. But today, was not that day as Hasaan felt extra adventurous and wanted to go all the way this time.

Reaching the point at the office road where there was no hope at all ahead, I did what I do best, believe and have faith in myself as well as God, ignoring warnings by by-standers before the dangerous and threatening ocean that surrounded the office. One other thing that did also give me hope was spotting a senior editor from the building making his way back through the deluge in a slightly bigger and powerful car which of course meant that he somehow made his way out of office too. On another person’s advice, I positioned myself behind a fast moving four-wheel drive and this time literally motor-boated through. Again I was coerced by Satan to look at the people pushing their cars which had broken down but I said the unholy towards Lucifer and moved on positioning myself behind yet another swiftly moving four wheel drive that seemed to be clearing the waters for me. As hope became more and more visible my car began choking and I could feel it breathing its last, I said “hang on, we will survive,” and kept the race on the maximum possible encountering some slowdowns as pedestrians were trying to wade through or push their cars, rickshaws, even four-wheel drives, and motorbikes. This was the time when my sandals felt the water too which meant water had finally found its way inside which meant my parents at home were going to give it to me real bad (yes I was thinking about all this too while motor-boating). As I nearly made it to the safety spot near the entrance to my office, I encountered an irritating photo-journalist waist deep in water, clicking at the scenario that I was maybe not about to make through because of him standing in my way. Luckily, he moved at the right time as I made my way inside real ground and let out a loud “THANK GOD!”

Well folks, my car survived – steaming with fury for a while from the bonnet trying to tell me how badly hurt it was with the pain I had inflicted upon it. The water near all four seats was eventually taken out with a mug for half an hour by me. I excitedly called a few of my colleagues downstairs to see my remarkable feat and when we went upstairs shouted out with pent-up enthusiasm and feelings everything that I saw and that had happened.

So as our president, prime minister, and other officials are always away on visits to foreign countries, claiming to be gathering funds for our country, and while a few other political decision makers while away time and involve thousands of others in laughable sit-down (instead of stand-up) shows with holy books in hand, everyone, whether in a developed city or an undeveloped village goes on suffering. Issue no. 6: Is there no authority or department (such as the MET department) that could actually develop a technological system to involve contributors as well that would act as navigational systems when we face such disasters?

If we cannot start from scratch by addressing basic issues, at least we could work on something that could if not prevent, still help us get through the inevitable disasters.

The adventure did not end there, however, that readers, I have saved for a rainy day!

Hasaan Haider is a Multimedia Content Producer at Dawn.com

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