Of WAPDA and Other Demons…

By Sonya Rehman

It’s funny, but the past few days in Lahore are beginning to feel a lot like Karachi.
With the humidity level cranked up countless notches and WAPDA’s bipolar behaviour (vis-à-vis impromptu load-shedding), one is reminded of glorious Karachi’s sticky-sweetness. The only difference? They have the sea. Drat.

But coming back to WAPDA, almost everyone I know (myself included), seems to be asking the same question: why can’t those guys stick to one specific schedule? I mean seriously, is that too much to ask for?
Allow me give you an example; the lights cop out in Cantt everyday from 5pm to 6pm, and so the other day I thought I’d get down to some work on my computer after 6pm.

But no sir, as I switched my computer on and settled into my chair (drenched and resembling the geico caveman thanks to Lahore’s soaring humidity level), the lights merrily decided to cop out…for another half hour.
Perhaps it was the voices in my head, but I’m certain I could hear loud, deranged, sadistic laughter in the distance.
And if I could’ve had it my way, I would’ve had each of WAPDA’s employees dress up in tutus and have their batushki’s scraped with sandpaper.

This brings me to another, highly memorable Lahori experience. A few weeks ago, I registered for my TOEFL exam online (a mandatory prerequisite for everyone hoping to bag a Fulbright Scholarship). All was fine and dandy until I found out that the centre (where the exam was to be held) was a staggering one hour drive – OUTSIDE of Lahore, well beyond Thokar Niaz Baig, at COMSAT and Virtual University’s main campus.
No kidding. And the icing on the cake? My online TOEFL receipt specified a Model Town address!
Thank goodness better sense prevailed when I decided to check out the centre a day before.
But such wasn’t the case for a few of my friends. Many wound up at the Model Town address only to be told that the exam was elsewhere (did I mention, OUTSIDE OF LAHORE?).

It doesn’t end here though – the cherry on top of our joyous little TOEFL road trip was when we discovered our exam was going to be delayed for an hour (since the Johnnies hadn’t rigged up our computers) AND that we’d have to give it in a room where the air-conditioners had conked out. Most of us were so dehydrated and washed out, that a girl next to me nearly passed out.

But then again, this city – this hustling, bustling little city wouldn’t have the character it does, if it didn’t have its fair share of loop-holes (and pot-holes). You’ve gotta love it!
And speaking of love, I’ve noticed a huge increase in early divorces here. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who has noticed this fairly ‘new’ phenomenon.

Couples get wed at a relatively young age (their early 20s) and after a few odd months to a year, the divorce papers are in faster than Speedy Gonzalez on roller-blades.
It’s all quite unsettling. Why the rush to get married in the first place then?
But the good thing is, Lahori society has certainly eased up to the idea of young divorcees.

In my mother’s time, and for a considerable time period as I was growing up, Lahore was far too unforgiving and judgmental concerning young divorced men and women.
I think the trouble in Pakistan now is; young people these days have either become too picky (which is why they end up single way beyond their 20s), or on the other hand, their tolerance levels and perceptions about love and marriage have truly been shot to pieces. I think it’s a mixture of the two. But from my friends, to my colleagues and to my acquaintances, the number of singles far outweighs the ‘married lot’.
And this in turn has created a funny little dual society of ‘I got a mate’ and ‘I got no mate’ – where if you belong to one, you’re naturally kicked out of the other.

But as they say: ‘Lahore, Lahore ai’! I best bid all of you farewell now as the deranged little man at WAPDA is a minute away from copping out the lights!

The Friday Times

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