We have been going flat out since the beginning and it is starting to catch up with me.
The camera crew look exhausted and I am taking every opportunity I have in the van between shoots to rest up.
It’s fun debating the creative side of things with the crew in this state. Qasim is a controlled voice. I just bulldoze over the top. Moiz has great Pakistani facial fair and is always at my side when I need something.
Haroon hardly speaks but nods his approval when warranted. Normally he is just smoking. Everyone here smokes. My hotel reeks of cigarette. It is just how it is.
I’ve lucked in with this bunch of blokes. All young and hardworking. All sharing the vision. All having fun.
Our first meeting is with morning radio star Adeel Azhar on Saama FM. A national radio program that is upbeat and my kinda thing.
We talk all sorts of crap about why I’m in Pakistan, the purpose of the documentary, what I’ve learnt so far and whether India or Pakistan has more toilets. It’s always about the toilets. I also learn about “gutka”, which apparently is some kind of drug I should try but probably won’t.
I used to do a weekly cricket show in Australia, but the station went broke earlier this year. I forgot how invigorating it is to banter with your mates in this environment.
After the show and a quick Facebook Live video on the station’s balcony, we headed back to the hotel for a short rest and some lunch. I still haven’t had the famous Karachi biryani. It’s just rice and meat right? How good can it be?
The UBL stadium is our next destination. It is hosting a First Class match that has a few stars playing in it. But my interest is with Saif Bada. A strapping young man who has represented Pakistan at the World Cup as an Under 19’s player and last year made the Lahore Qalandars list.
Saif is concerned about his English, but he needn’t be. A charming, articulate and handsome man who is passionate about cricket. Everyone here is passionate about cricket.
I asked him would he rather chase T20 dollars or play a Test match for Pakistan. He doesn’t hesitate to say that representing his country is the most important thing. It would bring much pride to his father and his family.
There is still hope for us that romanticise about the good old days.
All day, Qasim has been working the phone, trying to lock in meetings with this legend or that important person. Nothing is certain in Pakistan. Time drifts along. Appointments don’t really mean much.
“Come at 3pm” really means come some time in the afternoon. Whenever you can. It’s fine.
We are chasing Shahid Afidi, Younis Khan, Wasim Akram and Fawad Alam. All have different reasons why they can’t see us during the time that we are here in Karachi. One is building a house. One is “out of station”. One I wrote an article about in the national paper Dawn that he didn’t like.
As we pull up to meet ex-Pakistani captain Moin Khan, Shahid Afridi is leaving in a Camry. This is just how it is here. I want to chase him like a fanboy and plead for him to appear on camera. But Qasim says to leave it with him. He’ll try another way.
I typically spend 30 minutes on google researching the background of my interviewees before I arrive. Just to remain sharp. Moin may have been the national captain. Moin may have been a selector. He may now be running one of the best cricket academies for kids in the country. But the fact I most like is that we share the same birthday. We are already bonded before we shake hands.
Like all that I’ve met before him, Moin is humble and loves his country and the game. He has a smile that he can’t hide every time he talks about his academy kids and that maybe one day, insha’allah, one of his students will wear the Green Shirt.
During our chat, he volunteers that he had multiple engagements with match fixers, but took no part. I probe him further on this and although a little guarded, Moin is happy to delve into concepts and theories about the topic.
But for him, his duty is now to the children.
We wrap up our filming by chatting to Fahd Chinoy. He is a Director at Pakistan Cables who has kindly sponsored this trip. He talks about the corporate responsibility his company feels in regards to giving back both to cricket and the art. To demonstrate, he takes me over to a cable drum that has ten Pakistani legends painted on either side. We play a game of trying to guess who they are.
We do pretty well.
The day concludes with a dinner at a local Chinese restaurant in some back alley with the Super Daddy CC boys. We didn’t film that as the crew were back catching up on rest, and in hindset, this was a mistake. The conversation flowed into all elements of Pakistani culture and it gave me a real insight into how this society functions.
I am concluding that so much about Pakistan is about who you know. And that money and status is important here, despite claims to the contrary.
Thinking about it now, is this phenomena unique to Pakistan?
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