Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ladies swarm Rashakai as weather changes

Sometime ago I wrote about Rashakai, a haven of ladies cloth. I have been “going” or being taken to the place by my wife as and when season or fashion changes. We would normally visit on weekends, which are in fact the busiest days of Rashakai. For today’s post, let me first describe you the Rashakai for better understanding of our yesterday’s visit and as to why it was different from my previous visits.

Rashakai, located on the mouth of Rashakai interchange of the M1 Motorway (the Islamabad-Peshawar section is known as M1) and Nowshera – Mardan road. Once one descends from the Rashakai Interchange, taking a U-Turn on the Nowshera-Mardan Road, there is a narrow dirt track that takes you inside a large courtyard surrounded by shops. The courtyard is used for car parking.

Now on our previous visits, even on the most crowded days, the cars would be seen parked just on its fringes facing the shops. The only problem used to be to find a shady tree to avoid the direct sunrays in scorching summers. But this time: wow, it looked like a busy street of Karachi or Lahore locked into a traffic jam. The otherwise quite courtyard was reverberating with the rumbling of the car engines and horns as those who wanted to go out were blocked by those wanting to get in. The hustle bustle of women simulated a festival rather than ordinary shopping as there hundreds of them at any given time as compared to a few otherwise. For most of the ladies of KPK, the fashion originates from Rashakai and the rush vindicated my statement. Once you are in, it is really very hard to “coerce” the ladies to call it a day and head back home.

When I enquired as to why there was so much of rush, a shopkeeper said that since Nowshehra market had been devastated by recent flash flood, all shoppers have been redirected to Rashakai. What a contrast: while shopkeepers at Nowshehra cloth market counted were counting their losses, the shopkeepers at Rashakai were counting their profits. These are the cruel hard facts of life. The entire cloth market of Nowshehra succumbed to the roaring flood waters of River Kabul a few months back. Since most of the shops were in the basements, the entire lot of cloth was lost, worth millions of rupees.

While Nowshehra would time to rebuild and its market once again offers yet another outlet to the ladies, Rashakai would continue to thrive.