I usually take the van to go to the F-6 ‘Super’ Market, the place where I like to walk around for a couple of hours at night aimlessly, looking at people walking, talking, and shopping. Sometimes I choose my ‘victim’ from the crowd of walkers, and follow the unwary person around the market, observing what he (or she) is doing. But that happens sometimes, mind you, and calling me a public stalker would be an insult to a very interesting urban art form just like the more risky sport of parkour. I wonder how it would be like to be doing parkour in Islamabad though… jumping around garbage cans and lamp posts and those newly erected fancy bus stops. The city is crying out for some kind of urban sport to take over its streets, and the post-taliban era (if the army manages to beat the pulp out of those miscreants) would be the perfect time to encourage these activities, and other arts. But if we do turn into bearded buffoons and get our barbers shops and massage parlors closed in the near future, it still wouldn’t hurt to have some kind of urban sport to keep us entertained now would it? Or maybe they would accuse someone of flashing his ‘naala’ while jumping around garbage cans and cars in a parking area.
So, when I reach the ‘Super’ market, I go to the supermarket called Best Price to replenish my supply of cereal and frozen goods, a majority of bachelors means of survival. This is one of those places where you can get all the stuff you need at a reasonable price. They do get unfriendly with their vegetables and fruits prices sometimes, but their buy-one-get-one free type offers are usually quite tempting. Plus their clever strategy of deploying pretty young women in-front of popular brands like Olper’s milk and the new Flora margarine usually fool gullible and easily persuaded men like yours truly into buying their product. And to top it off, they get your cellphone number too, leaving you wondering if the pretty young lady would call you later for a little tête-à-tête in the middle of the night, only to disappoint you later by having her ‘boss’ call you up for other so-called unbelievable offers of the same product.
Now this particular supermarket has an upper floor which has tons of plastic goods, crockery and utensils, bed sheets and other stuff. This was the first place where I came to shop for all my kitchen utensils when I first came to Islamabad, and I wasn’t disappointed. I did, however, want a nice little bowl for pouring in milk and food for cats which I was unable to find in this supermarket. Funny though that they’ve got a huge stock of dog and cat food but no stuff to put it all in! Their kitchen utensils section seems to be aptly stocked too, with items ranging from a variety of knives and forks to all sorts of cooking pots and pans.
To cut a long story short, it’s a good place to shop for everyday stuff.
One of the activities I enjoy doing at Super, as mentioned above, is walking around for hours (well not actually ‘hours’ but half and quarter hours… lots of quarter hours!). The route I like to follow starts from the Servis outlet where the van drops me off. From there I walk towards that book and stationary store on the main road side which has rows of magazines outside up for sale, and an old tattered banner advertising the availability of the much coveted Brasstacks CD (which, in my opinion, is all a load of bull to get people’s attention). I cross the Levi’s store and turn right to get ‘inside’ the market. Here’s where I am welcomed by the fragrance of serrated edged potatoes made by a short squinty eyed Afghani, who is usually found surrounded by a few ladies wanting to replenish their energy with those chunks of carbohydrate after their endless rounds of shopping for women’s accessories.
My feet then lead me to the Illusions store, where I usually stop by to have a look around, check if the price of the new gaming consoles have reduced or not, and of course, to buy a DVD or two to watch on the weekend. Why do I like to buy DVD’s from Illusions and not from any small DVD outlet in the corner of the market? Well, I like to give my movie watching experience some more respect, and by not buying the DVD from a measly CD outlet somewhere next to a men’s underwear shop where a semi-naked man wearing a p-cap chewing a ciggie stub is sitting in front of his collection of CD’s wrapped in polythene, I am in a way making my experience more pleasurable.
I then walk out into the open and into the small sitting area with concrete (or was it wood?) benches on a nicely paved ground. You can see people sitting there, chatting, playing cards, smoking, making future plans, discussing issues, eating, etc. etc. It’s one of those places where a terrorist is most likely to strike if his objective was to discourage people from coming to the marketplace (oops!). If only they had a few low street lamps sort of lighting there… nice orange colored lights… they would have made the ‘sitting’ experience more pleasurable. And of course if the CDA wants to do that they should do so without making it look too showy and obvious. Just a few nice orange lights in the background to make the place more cosy…
From here I either go to Best Price to buy my stuff, or walk towards the pharmacies and then to the United Bakery near the KFC outlet to replenish my supply of bakery items. I love buying bakery items, even if most of them would not have the pleasure of dissolution in my gastric juices and would rot and turn green after lying for weeks unattended in the refrigerator. The items I usually pick off the shelves from this bakery are those stick thingies with sesame seeds on them, and some nice garlic bread, although it is a bit too oily and not as good as the ones served as appetizers at Pappasallis. Somehow I feel that the United Bakery has lost its standard and doesn’t make the kind of stuff it used to before.
So here’s where it ends, and here’s where I stand for 10 minutes wondering if I should walk back home or take the cab. The cabbies here usually charge and exorbitant amount after seeing that you have tons of shopping bags in your hand and have no other choice but to hire a cab. But at least they’re not as crazy as the cabbies or rickshaw drivers in Lahore.
If anyone asked me where I would like to hangout in Islamabad for the weekend, I’d say that it would be the Super market (hint hint).