Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eids in the Summer

Some three decades back, the Eids used to fall during the summer vacations as it has this year. As it turns out those Eid holidays became the benchmark of all Eid vacations I ever experienced. In the summer vacations we used to go to Pakistan and Eid there was a totally different ball game than what dour days we used to spend in the Emirates in comparison. It was our annual ritual for cousins to get together at our Nani/Mamu's place in Karachi for the summer vacations.
I remember our Nani used to make sure she had lots of supply of crisp Rs 1. notes for eidies (monetary gifts given to children). Money used to have value then. I remember buying goodies and getting back change in 5 and 10 paisas. The former was a rectangular shaped coin with rounded vertices and the latter was a round coin with wavy edges. They were inscribed in Urdu, English and Bengali. The largest bank note then was Rs. 100 (also reverently known as the "lal note").
 After collecting our eidies we cousins used to get together and make forays to the market and buy various candies like Fanta golies, Chicken egg candies (this was a candy of various small differently colored balls that came out of a matchbox type box with a chicken on it. You were supposed to be eating chicken "eggs"), doll's hair (guRya ka baal), cream rolls, etc. Ice cream used to come in two varieties -- packed and open. "Wall's" ice cream did not exist then. We made do with "Igloo King Kone" in the packed variety. The other type was the open machine cone which the vendor could make as tall as he seemed it was safe to do so. We used to get goodies like popcorn or wavy edged thick french fries in paper envelopes/bags. The goal was first to finish up all your own goodies, then go after the others and blame it on a third party.

Our Eid money used to go to other things too. Cassette Kahanis were all the craze then. Children my age used to wait patiently for 2-3 months for the release of the next audio cassette with stories from Alif Laila wa Laila as enacted by famous artists like Qazi Wajid. The upcoming release posters were all over the markets. I remember Disney cartoons used to come on PTV only once a week back then and Eid was a specially good time to watch them together. TV was mostly a black and white luxury consisting of 1 channel with programming interspersed with crude ads of genuinely Pakistani products like Dentonic, Rooh Afzah, Cherry Blossom shoe polish, Montgomery Sweets, etc. as well as a healthy dose of the Quaid's wise advice. Going to the cinema together to see the Special Eid English action movie like Bruce Lee./ Indiana Jones was also in.
 This year Eid has once again fallen during summer vacations but alas the condition of Pakistan is not as it was thirty some years back to enjoy the company of the extended family. Those who could have left the country and those who remain mostly hope to escape one day. The rest have almost given up hope. Yet we still find among us a minority who are proud to call it their home.
To those who once shared those summer Eids with me, my dear paternal cousins and many others who later shared this journey of life with me, I wish you a very blessed and joyous Eid.
Eid Mubarak!