Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My next-door neighbours!

(Could this classify as spying? I was merely curious as to how life is on my little farm-ville.)

(This was a really difficult picture to take from my window- all the way from the fourth floor. Felt proud of my focusing abilities later on :))

(Preparing the animal feed)

I live next door to living things which either bleat, cluck, quack or moo. No, I do not live on a farm. I live on the fourth floor, in apartments. So where do the farm animals come in from? What are they doing all the way up on the fourth floor? Well, they are not really on the fourth floor but reside on the empty plot next to my apartment building. However, that does not make them any less a next-door neighbour - since the racket they make is sure to fit one!

It does sound strange, but this is how life is in this part of the world. Man and beast live quite close to each other. You find farm animals in the most unexpected of places. In Karachi, not only are they found wandering in the old streets but sometimes in some of the busiest industrial areas – like Korangi, for instance. I remember when I used to go to a school in that area, our everyday journey was often interrupted by a herd of goats crossing the road – no doubt, to get to the other side where the grass was – perhaps - greener. They never seriously bothered me or the driver of my van. In fact, I found them very amusing. Having lived most of my childhood outside the country, I was fascinated with farm animals and goats - even more so, when they were wandering in a busy industrial area, amidst the smoke, broken roads and honking cars. Why, they might just classify as the eighth wonder of the world!

They are, indeed, an amazing sight to behold in such a scene of human chaos and confusion. With a vacant, faraway expression in their eyes, the goats stroll their way around the jam-packed smoky area, lazily watching drivers fret and fume as they maneuver their vehicles away from the huge craters and cracks in the road. Some of those delicate-looking creatures are even audacious enough to idly chew on scattered tufts of grass- all the time watching, with nonchalant-expressions, the ‘advanced’ specie struggle as chunks of tasty grass churn around in their mouth. You can imagine what they might be thinking: ‘Absolutely marvelous. Indeed. The grass on this side is surely greener.’

My next-door neighbours have an even more carefree life than the idle goats described above. They have three to four caretakers, whose sole purpose in life (it seems) is to serve those animals. From cooking to cleaning, they take care of everything. Chopped veggies for dinner and peels of orange for dessert… ah! This is the life. What more could a farm animal want? It is interesting to watch their day to day routine. And the best part is that it hardly qualifies as spying.

My family and I have come to really love our neighbours (even if they do get a little noisy at night). During the monsoon season, we watch as the ducks stand absolutely still under the shower of rain. This is their odd way of celebrating - taking in one drop at a time. But the cows and goats don’t really fancy the rain. They quickly scurry to the sheds as soon as the downpour starts. During the summers, the goats like to bask in the sun, lying flat on the warm ground soaking up sunshine, while the cows enjoy the cool shade of a tree planted nearby, their tails swishing away perpetually at annoying flies. All is beautiful harmony on this cute, little city farm.

Just before Eid-ul-azha – a period of festival for us Muslims after Hajj, spanning over three days, during which we sacrifice an animal for the pleasure of God - their population increases dramatically as the caretakers bring in more animals from elsewhere for sale around the city. The variety to be seen is astounding. I never knew there were so many different kinds of goats. And on the actual day of celebrations, a cow is sacrificed on the farm and a meat dish is prepared for the farm laborers. They have a humble meal in their courtyard, all sitting around the mat they usually offer prayers on. Their little gathering always reminds me of the feast that Bathsheba arranges for her farm hands in “Far from the Madding Crowd”, as a celebration after the annual shearing of the sheep.

So far, there aren’t any signs that the empty plot of land might be turned into a tall concrete building. And I dearly hope that such a thing does not happen for I would sorely miss my entertaining Farmville. It may be noisy and a tad stinky but it gives a nice twist to apartment life.

P.S. I have a couple of more pictures of this little city farm stocked away. Will upload them later (inshAllah)!


Asma said...

hehe ...wel i hav no problem living with animals..we frequently went to our village when we were young and we ate ,slept and did everything with animals everywhere:D its fun though..

Anonymous said...

I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

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Cookie said...

@ Asma: Yup! Totally agree :) It is a lot of fun to live next to farm animals. Live entertainment all year round :D