Islamabad Eat: Traffic mess can’t keep capital’s foodies away

Some complaints of mismanagement at event, which had to wait till the third day to draw the biggest crowd

Correspondent November 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD: With a group of protesters blocking a key artery and disrupting traffic in the capital, some had cast doubts on whether the first ever mass food festival in the capital would be able to draw a sizeable crowd like those of its cousins in Karachi and Lahore before them.

Sure enough — as those past festivals proved in cities with far worse traffic issues than that of the capital — the residents of Islamabad came out to sate their taste buds at perhaps one of the most diverse food festivals the city has ever seen.

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After all, where else would you be able to find sumptuous gol gappay and delicate sushi in the same fairground?

Islamabad Eat, organised for the first time in the capital despite having repeated successes in Karachi and Lahore, brought together huge crowds of all ages.

According to the organisers, Sunday alone attracted over 10,000 visitors. With the traffic congestion failing to keep away sizeable, albeit incomparable to Sunday’s crowd, on its other two days as well.

Around 52 restaurants and food companies served over 20 cuisines including Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Thai. “Islooites are resilient and do not care about such elements [protesters of Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasoolullah],” said Ammara, who was visiting the capital from Brunei and braved the journey to Jinnah Convention Centre Garden grounds to try out some local delicacies.

“This festival is amazing, you can find everything from traditional cornbread (Makkai Ki Roti) to Italian cuisine,” she added, as she lamented the short duration of the event.

Sumera, a teacher, had brought her children and siblings to the event. “Such events give you a fresh feeling when you take out some time out from your busy schedule, go out, sit together at a food table and enjoy a meal.”

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Asked about the tense situation in the city, Sumera made plain her apprehensions. “We thought [about that] before leaving since the situation is a bit tense, but we decided to come out and enjoy,”
she added.


With this the first iteration of its successful ‘Eat’ festivals, the event was fraught with issues. From the traffic mess outside the venue — owing to diversions from Faizabad creating a gridlock on Kashmir Highway, from the Convention Centre to the Zoo — people complained about the lack of public toilets, adequate parking and seating arrangements.

Others were perturbed by the high entry fee, while some others complained of the dreaded ‘families only’ rule.

Mrs Khalid, a resident of Islamabad, said that the entry fee of Rs200 was not reasonable.  “Islamabad Eat is a food festival built around the idea of creating a common platform for people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” said Chapara Khan Omer, a representative of the organizer CKO, as he termed the event a success.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2017.


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