Literary writer Mehmet Karadayı wrote why they went to ‘Pindi’ to buy a computer in Islamabad and what they went through while shopping for one using an English word that was always on his tongue at that time. He also described the reaction after the prayer he and his colleagues performed in a Shiite Mosque!
“We’re off to Pindi,” said Mr. Bayram. “Pindi?” It came out of my mouth like a scream, but I didn’t know why either. “Rawalpindi,” he said, “we will buy you a computer, sir.” I nodded, but I didn’t understand why we had to go to another city to buy a computer. Since I was not much into computers, I had requested someone who knew them well; I had asked Mr. Bayram to assist me. He also considered it appropriate to buy a computer from Pindi. ‘Obey, and be saved!’ When I went there, I realized Rawalpindi and Islamabad were next to each other.
After a while, Mr. Ebubekir arrived. He was brimming with his usual cheerfulness and energy. We hailed a taxi. It was a brand-new mustard coloured Mehran. This car surprised us, as we mostly travelled in old and rattletrap inside-out neglected taxis. We were getting ready to bargain hard when the driver accepted our first offer. He had dropped passengers to Islamabad from Pindi and was on his way back there. The journey started with a cheerful conversation. Mr. Bayram and Mr. Ebubekir were talking fluently, and I was listening. “Wow!” I said after a while, “I understand everything.” I was filled with happiness. That meant I had reached the point where I could understand but could not speak. So soon I could declare my victory over English. Mr. Ebubekir kept on looking at me every now and then and could not make sense of the smile on my face. I fixed my eyes on the horizon and added a little more mystery to my disposition, and I didn’t spoil that mystical air until the trip was over.
I suddenly felt myself at Doğu Bank
We got out of the car at the corner of a market-like place. “Have we reached?” I asked and Mr. Bayram smiled. “No. I wanted you to see these streets.” We walked. Rawalpindi is an ancient city of Pakistan. It once served as the capital for some time. It had a population of nearly two million then. It is not a planned and stretched city like Islamabad. That’s why the streets are so crowded. Modern buildings rise alongside historical buildings. Despite the greyness of the walls, people’s clothes and trade commodities are colourful. You enter a street and see plastic goods vendors lined up side by side. A little further on, you come across shops selling wedding supplies. A street up comes the household appliance stores. A wide variety of products to warm your home is on the next street. Cloth vendors are lined up along a street right there. Some vendors sell colourful fruits and vegetables in wheelbarrows. The bazaar culture, with which we are familiar from Turkey, lives vigorously here. And finally, we reach our destination. There are so many computer shops I can call this a tech street. I suddenly felt myself in the bazaar called Doğu Bank in Eminönü, Istanbul. We entered a shop with a glass window. A dark-haired young man greeted us with a warm smile.
I kept on saying ‘Nothing more!’ for every piece
We started by choosing a computer case. “Here’s the motherboard, that’s the hard drive, and it should have this much memory. The modem is very essential. We will browse the Internet, so let’s get the best one. The monitor must be large. We also chose a keyboard and a mouse. It’s good, mashaaAllah! May it be auspicious, then!” The technicians went on with installing the computer hardware and we left the shop. Mr. Bayram and Mr. Ebubekir burst out laughing. The fits of laughter continue. I was surprised. I looked at their faces so they could make a statement. They seemed they would never recover from laughter. I opened my hands up as if they would put something in, and looked at them with questioning eyes. The laughter dwindled, and it was finally over. It still erupted occasionally, but remained feeble. Mr. Bayram explained when he saw my questioning eyes. It turned out whenever we completed negotiating for a piece of hardware, I said to the vendor, “Noting more! (Nothing else)”. The seller kept on nodding. They chuckled and said, “It would be nice if you didn’t make it so obvious that you would pay the money!” As I felt uneasy and looked for something to distract myself, I looked at my watch and made the move to end their laughter. “It’s late afternoon, you may laugh more.” They gathered themselves right away. We looked around and saw a mosque with a green dome ahead.
An evening prayer and confused looks in a Shiite Mosque
We had ablution. As we stepped in the mosque, we saw the congregation had gathered for the evening prayer. We found a suitable place and performed the ‘asr in congregation. As we turned our heads while completing the prayer, we realized all eyes were on us. It was not right to delay a daily prayer that long. As we got up embarrassed and headed for the door, a smiling young man approached us. He greeted us and asked where we were from. When he said “We’re from Turkey”, he smiled again and said, “Okay, so that’s why!” We couldn’t make sense of that expression. Embarrassed and smiling, we went out by greeting people from the congregation here and there. When we got out, we realized that we had entered a Shiite Mosque to pray there. That was why the congregation was surprised. This was a small sign to show we all turned to the same qibla for prayer.
The ‘USB pen drive gang’!
When we got back to the shop, our computer was packed. We held the computer, which Mr. Ebubekir named it right there and then as Black Panther for its dominant black colour including its accessories like the mouse pad, and turned back to leave. It was then we saw the USB pen drives on the window display. We were fascinated with those storage devices with increasing popularity. When we said to the vendor we would buy three pen drives, he gave us a substantial discount. One black, one blue, one green… When we opened the packages, we found cute neck lanyards. We tied our pen drives on the lanyards, hung them around our necks, and tucked the pen drives into our shirts. Anyone who saw us might think we were the members of a gang. The ‘USB pen drive gang’. It doesn’t sound bad actually, but who would set up such a ridiculous gang?! The return trip was shorter than I expected. Only one road separated Islamabad from Rawalpindi. The old and the new capital were side by side like coalition partners. One carried the past to the present, and the other took the present to the future. It was our duty to accompany them on this journey.