Serendipity is The Karachi Walla’s greatest ally. Finding Haji Malang Hotel was such a pleasant surprise. Tucked between insipid concrete structure, it was an instant favorite. Original and unassuming. It looked like a desi pub where sailors meet before or after the expeditions far far away. Its not very far. Its right there in the center of Bhit Island. You get a happy feeling when you enter. “You can checkout anytime you like but you can never leave”. That sort of feeling.
This Sunday adventure was turning into a disaster. Saddar was dried up with aching fear of imminent conflict between two parties. Someone said something about someone which triggered a tit-for-tat chain of reaction. And the result: everything was shutdown and there were rangers check-posts everywhere. I turned my car back and drove to Kemari instead. The port was full of inherent hustle bustle. My friend and I decided to go for a stroll in Baba and Bhit Island’s narrow lanes. We took the first boat which was leaving for Bhit. There were segregated seating for gents and ladies. Ladies sitting in the first half of the boat. Men were elsewhere, sitting on the benches or hanging on from whatever they could grab. Its a short ride from the port to Bhit. After a lazy stroll through the streets of Bhit Island we decided to grab our morning tea in a wooden cabin which looked tiny from the outside.
Haji Malang Hotel, as it read on top of the menu card hanging on the wall was nothing less of a gem in center of Bhit Island which has gone undergone uncontrolled expansion. The structure was made out of wood with ceramic tiles on top of the canopy. A counter segregated the oven and stoves. The cook was making chai and channa for the breakfast. The room was full of people. Most of them were fishermen. We ordered a cup of tea and settled on one of the benches. People were curious. They thought we were from press and started telling us about the problems which were all but known to every Karachi walla; Sewerage, Pollution, Water, Transport, Inflation, Education and all that jazz. But it did not stop them from enjoying tea and smiling for the camera. They cracked jokes at each other and laughed heartily. The place had a vibrancy which you miss at the cafes in glittering districts of Karachi. I wanted to sit there a little while more but had a life to go back to. Jab sar phorna thaira.