Lack of Public Restrooms and regular pit stops could ruin your career as a chauffeur in this town
By Fareeha Qayoom
close relative (my second eldest sister from USA to be precise) is in town. I was elected as driver-in-chief. It was my job to drive her all over the place. Some of those places were pretty far-flung and involved driving to outskirts of the city including through industrial areas and highways like 18 KM Ferozepur Road. Unfortunately for me, it was hot, boring and nerve-wrecking work.
The spring didn’t come to town this year. One day, it was barely a winter’s day and the next it was scorching hot summer. There was hardly a transition period between the two seasons. The funniest was Lipton’s ad campaign all over the city, celebrating the spring with only fake flowers dotting the landscape!
It was especially hard for me to give up my layers quite abruptly (long sleeve tee shirt and fleece or leather jacket on top) that helped disguise the rolls of winter weight (that usually settles on your tummy without your realization). But that’s beside the point, I was telling you about my life as a driver-in-chief.
You can take the indignity of being picked at for your driving, berated for other people’s selfish regard for the road and your patience for not overtaking from the wrong side of the road, braking abruptly, indicating but people really not noticing and still almost bumping into you, carrying your water with you everywhere and drinking it lukewarm straight from the bottle, not getting aggravated and staying calm despite extreme provocation offered by other drivers while your passengers are going crazy swearing, going through extreme noise pollution (the sounds of honking, screeching tires, and buses, cars, motor bikes speeding past you), nit-picking from your passengers, especially your American cargo that has forgotten what it is like to drive on these roads, indignity of being scanned, providing your ID card number for their registers, security checked hundreds of times at the various road blocks set up on the roads but what you can’t take is being on the road for hours and not finding a public restroom anywhere! Men might answer publicly when there is call from nature (which is unacceptable too!) but women unfortunately can’t do that even when there is extreme urgency. (That’s why I always think woman’s libbers have it wrong, they shouldn’t be asking for equality, they should be asking for respect [and special treatment when and if required!])
I know of three embarrassing moments when I had to plot my course on the road for a necessary pit-stop abruptly by visiting family and friends at their workplaces/home to visit their powder rooms. Luckily for me, all three of them understood my predicament without heavy explanations and showed me the way quickly! Imagine the indignity of visiting a male dominant workplace with boys only powder room or imagine visiting someone so you can visit their restrooms! It can happen only in Pakistan.
By the way, I have decided once and for all that I never want to be a chauffeur when I grow up!