Biking to Jinnah’s Mazaar with Critical Mass

The alarm went off at 5.20am. I gave my brother KO a wake up call, secretly hoping he’d say he wasn’t feeling well so I could go right back to sleep. “Oh, you’re up then? Ok, then.. let’s go!” Having fought off the early morning mind changer devil person, we grabbed our water bottles, our topis (hats), and with the camera and iphone firmly tied up on the back of the bicycle, we were finally on our way to Delawala in Clifton, where we were to meet up with the rest of the Critical Mass Karachi bicycling group at 6.15am.

Just around the corner of the house we stopped and took the camera off the bicycle. It would attract too much attention, especially by the Saudi embassy guards and policemen. Not that the fancy bikes or the ladies on the bike wouldn’t. We took the low (bad,congested) road under the flyover at Gizri, the one for the buses and bicyclists and thaila walas (pushcart folks). It was pretty deserted at 6am, but we had to still keep craning our necks back to make sure no tanker or bus would run us over.

“KO, I don’t think I have enough air in my tyres. Let’s stop at the Shell pump here for a bit of air.”

So we swerve to the left and park ourselves in front of the air man.

“Abhi band hai hawa (There is no air right now)” the guy lounging about the pump informed us.

“Kya matlab, bund hai hawa? Aap daal dain na hawa.. (what do you mean there’s no air? Just fill up the tyre!)” I pleaded with him. I didn’t want to lose the Critical Mass race! “See, KO, I told you to get it done the night before..”

“Nahin nahin theek hai hawa tyres main. Garam ho kai tyre phool jai ga (No, no it’s fine.. the tyres will swell up once they warm up)”, KO reassured me.

Well, ok then. We had a group to catch, so we sped up to Delawala in Cliton where a couple of people were there already, all ready to hit the Mazaar. Once there, we fixed our camera on one of our bikes and went a little bit up ahead to film the group starting their early morning bike ride. Critical Mass Karachi is a group of bicycling enthusiasts who gather at a set time and location every Sunday and ride through the streets of the city. The rides first began in San Francisco in 1992 and have often been characterized as social movements. It is a real treat for Karachiites in particular, since the city offers few opportunities for complete strangers to get together for such a healthy activity.

View Critical Mass Bike Ride in a larger map

This time around, our route was straight down Abdullah Haroon Road passing by Marriot Hotel, BVS School, right on M.A. Jinnah Road (Bunder Road) and onwards to the Mazar. The entire round trip was 18km long and was done in an hour and ten minutes. The average speed was 15km/h and the maximum speed was 35.6km/h, according the phone’s GPS.

Filming on the bike didn’t quite work out because of the flimsy tripod that we had, so a little into the ride I handed the camera over to Khizar, who did the rest of the filming handheld. We have to use a better bracket on the handlebars or at the back of the bike which would make the camera more sturdy. Khizer used such a contraption to film one of the bike rides to Mubarak Village.

Once at the tomb of the nation’s founding father, no amount of behess (pointless argument) would convince the guard on duty to let us into the grounds.

“Hum timetable sae chalte hain. Aap 9am kai baad ain.(We operate on a timetable. Come at 9am)”

“But, but, we woke up so early at the crack of dawn to come see the mazaar. And we’ve never even been here before. Please let us in!”

“Mazaar abhi band hai, laikin aap jaisai logoan kai lye shayad abhi ijazat mil jae. Aap side gate sae pooch lain (The Mazaar is shut, but people like you may be able to get permission. Ask at the side gate” replied the guard.

Not wanting to trek all the way to some obscure side gate, we spent a few minutes craning our necks through the iron gates trying to get a good photo, and then a couple of group photos and what not. By then it was time to hit the road once again to go home (read fancy coffee shop) to a hearty breakfast.

9 Replies to “Biking to Jinnah’s Mazaar with Critical Mass”

  1. You forget about the wrong turning, where we managed to lose the rest of the group!

    I also found out that the top speed of a Sohrab (the only Pakistani cycle) is much slower than that of a bike with gears. No wonder it takes so long for ppl to get around.

  2. Weather was just fine.. it’s very pleasant these days here in Karachi. Why, it even drizzled for a minute today! And we thought a storm was coming and were running around like crazy trying to get stuff into the house.

  3. Great article MO and love the comments from KO… superb.. how about bicycle trip to Malir Cantt? 🙂

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