With surging mercury and long hours of loadshedding during Ramazan, residents of Mingora have found the perfect escape. At noon, when temperature is high and electricity is usually out, people of all ages flock to the Swat River, plunging into the cool water to beat the heat.
Riaz Khan, a resident of Watkey, said he started coming to the river at Fizagut since the first day of Ramazan, because he found it “impossible” to stay home in the heat and fast. He said that during the past few days more and more people have started coming to the river due to increase in power outages.
Umar Nawab, a local tailor, however, said he comes here out of compulsion, “there is no electricity and hence no work, where else should I go?” He said his work is dependant upon electricity and ridiculed the government for failing to provide the basic facility. “But all that aside, at least we have the cool river water to sooth our woes,” he added.
A student of Swat University, Fayaz Ahmed, said that while people “merely swim in the water”, youngsters get creative and dive in doing acrobatic moves. “This is real fun,” he said, adding that other kids have made a game out of it and hoot for the person who makes the better dive. “I’m glad we have found a place where we can all cool off in the summer. During the time we are here, we forget about all our issues. When there is no heat, there is no stress,” he added.
A number of people at the river said that due to the increase in power outages the area has also started facing water shortage. “This is quite frustrating, especially during Ramazan,” said Umar Nawab, a mason. He said that since he comes to the river everyday anyway, fetching water for use back home does not seem as exhausting anymore. “There’s plenty of water here, we swim in it and take some back home,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.