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The Surreptitious Photographer

May 9, 2013

On Tuesday I went out and about On My Own.  The children were cruelly abandoned in the arms of their adoring nanny, and I went shopping with a friend, Pakistani style.  I took my camera with me to record some of the sights and sounds and so, excitingly, here’s a photo of the inside of my windscreen.  This post will continue in the same vein…Image

Actually, whilst this is, indeed, a shot of my rather unsophisticated steering wheel, I actually took it because of the chap in front of me on the motorbike.  Can you see the hook sticking out of his shirt?  It’s an umbrella.  Isn’t that a nifty ‘umbrella-storing-location’.  I thought so too.

You can also see the glorious bunting that is strewn liberally around Islamabad and the rest of the country at the moment in anticipation of the elections on Saturday.  It makes everywhere look rather jolly.  Each of the parties has a different symbol.  Imran Kahn’s party’s symbol is, for example, a cricket bat. (My friend, who is not acquainted with Mr Kahn’s past thought it was a bottle which would, on any front, be inappropriate for Pakistan.)  One party, however, has a rocket-shaped something or other as their symbol.   I fear it may be rather more ballistic than the others.  If I ever knowingly meet them I’m going to be very respectful.

We went shopping for fabric.  Here’s the smiley fabric salesman.  Actually he was a bit grumpy until I asked it I could take his photo and, bing, he lit up.  

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I’m after a shalwar kameez.   Shalwar is the urdu for baggy trousers and kameez is the urdu for chamise, or shirt.   It’s getting really rather hot and the local way of dressing definitely seems the most practical.  It’s also very good fun going fabric shopping, once you realise how it’s done.  I have a lovely friend who speaks urdu and acted as my guide which was very welcome.  

It’s unusual to be able to buy fabric by the metre as we do in the west.  Normally there’s a single price quoted for either a 3 piece or 4 piece set.  The pieces are: 

1. The shirt (or kameez) itself.  This often has a pattern already printed which shows where the neck should be and sometimes has a contrasting pattern for the back of the kameez;

2. The trousers (or shalwar).

3. The scarf for over your head/across your front (or dupata).

4. Contrasting sleeves for the kameez (often you don’t get this bit – on the photo above the darker blue material on the left was for sleeves to go with the fabric he’s holding up).

You can’t buy these parts separately, which is a bit annoying when you don’t really fancy a scarfy thing, but there we go.  So, I’ve bought material for 2 kameez(es? – no idea what the plural is. Kameezi? Kameezorum?) and 3 pairs of trousers.  Photos of the finished items will be provided just as soon as I’ve found a tailor…

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Continuing the surreptitious theme, there was actually a little man pushing this barrow down the road.  You can’t see him but he’s definitely in there.

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Last photo – I don’t know why it tickles me that there’s somewhere in Islamabad called ‘Zero Point’, but it does.  They have signs pointing to it from all over the city but there’s actually nothing there, just a continuation of the highway.  It’s really rather surreal.  I like it. 

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