What could be a better way to keep your cool this Ramazan than taking a dip in the chilly waters of Swat River. Women, children or the elderly – most find it irresistible and jump right in.
Rabi Pukhtunyar, a social activist and comedian, mimics the youth swimming in the water in a bid to keep them amused. Friday is a day off in Swat and people have arrived in droves to the river bank.
“It’s a holiday in the valley and its surrounding areas which is why so many people are bathing and swimming in the river to keep themselves entertained. It is a day people dedicate to fun,” said Pukhtunyar. The comedian added the absence of locals can be attributed to the fact that “Ramazan fever” has still not caught up with many people.
Jehanzeb, who rents tubes (for children) and floats (for adults) near Fizagat, said people used to hire these by the hour. “Now they take it for the whole day, meaning I will be able to make a decent earning by evening,” he added. “The heat and power outages are a blessing in disguise for me,” Jehanzeb joked.
Muhammad Zia, a local Awami National Party leader, told The Express Tribune that despite government assurances of no power outages during Sehri and Iftar, the duration has doubled. “Authorities may have also announced a subsidy on 18 essential commodities, but utility stores have been empty since Thursday night,” he added.
“One can’t even protest as security forces thrash us if we protest against power outages or other issues" he added. The politician said this was always the way.
Zia added power outages in the area last up to 12 hours, while the same has increased to 16 hours in Mingora and 18 in rural areas of the valley.
Sahibzada, a resident of Saidu Sharif, said, “Those from Kalaam, Madyan, Bahrain, Fizagat, Kabal amd Shamozai have also converged at river banks to beat the heat wave.” However, the people outside these areas are dependent on spring water and most of those have either dried up or are too shallow.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2015.
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