The concrete comfort syndrome

Amna Iqbal April 14, 2010

Every once in a while life throws at you moments that make you reassess all you have been doing.

They bring with them a razor-sharp clarity that pierces through the murkiness of every day routine. As you grow older, these sharp focus moments are widely spaced. But the theory goes that the further apart they are, the more intense they seem to be. Mine came this Sunday afternoon as I sat at work, slouched in front in of my computer and drowned my self-respect in french fries. As I reached for my third bag, simultaneously trying to wipe off the grease on the keyboard, I had had it.

A switch went on in my brain and I thought to myself “oh my God, what am I doing”. I was at work on a Sunday afternoon after putting nearly 60 hours during the week, living on a staple diet of fries and coffee. My arteries were clogging up, I had bags the size of Australia under my eyes and I was a walking talking time bomb with temper issues that would put Naomi Campbell to shame. What was the absolute worst realisation was that all of it was my own choice. On any given day I enjoyed this mad rush that I called my life.

If you live in a city that never lets you sleep, you get used to wakefulness. It’s called the concrete comfort syndrome and it comes with living in a city like Karachi. If you fall asleep to traffic blaring outside your window and 3 a.m. is a perfectly normal time for you to call up your friends and catch up, then you have it. There’s a whole of breed of us afflicted by it, the city runs through our system like the toxic air that we breathe. There’s no such thing as clocking off and anonymity is as good as being dead. Your job takes up all your day and drives you to the edge of reason but you still love it.

So what if it’s a rat race and at the end most of it doesn’t matter.

Once you hit middle age there will be time to find meaning in the material, shallow pursuits of life. For now, I will take my food processed, my arteries clogged and my city wide awake.

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