Cricket came home, but I couldn’t reach my home

Where the revival of international cricket in Pakistan is a good omen for all of us, it has also brought a bundle of inconveniences with it for locals. There was a time when a match in Gaddafi Stadium never caused any sort of irregularity across the city – but now the situation is totally different.

On Tuesday, when I left my office at around 4:30 pm, I wasn’t expecting any chaos on the roads, regardless of the routine traffic conditions, as there is no hour of the day in Lahore when traffic stays unobstructed. I walked to the bus stop to avail the facility of Speedo Bus, a service which has been gifted to the citizens of Lahore by Punjab Government to travel with convenience all over the city.

There is something awesome about our government and the facilities which they introduce for citizens – they are more professional in ruining those conveniences. It’s not merely a politically biased critique – this is what I went through on Tuesday.

The wait for Speedo Bus was skipping minutes and obviously making me late. A girl sitting next to me was also a victim of this situation and asked with pitiful facial expressions, “Do you also go through Speedo Bus from here?” My answer in “Yes” made her breathe a sigh of relief. The shadow of annoyance on her face depicted that she had been waiting there since long, which made me ask her if she avails the same public transport service. She nodded and asked me for my destination, which was luckily in accordance with her. So both of us decided to go by rickshaw to Qartaba Chowk Metro Bus Station and then take Speedo Bus from there.

The triumph of having a rickshaw to the mid of our destination made us have a joyful conversation all along the way, when just after 5 minutes of covered distance a policeman stopped our rickshaw from going further. When we asked him for the reason, he told us, while directing our glances with his pointed finger towards barriers, that the World-XI team is here in PC Hotel due to which all of these routes have been blocked.

I asked him for some alternative route to Metro Bus Station but all he could do at that moment was to shake his head. He, however, gave us a ‘golden opportunity’ – according to him – to walk through the way and reach Metro Station. Being helpless at that moment we did as he said.

When we were about to pass through Chairing Cross, we found the path blocked by some protesters who were sitting in the center of road and shouting slogans. We requested them to let us pass through but their strict response made us explore some other option. Climbing over the fences we somehow managed to escape that protest point.

The sight of Metro Bus Station in front of our eyes was not less than a beautiful view of some landscape at that moment, when all we had were tired feet and sweaty faces. We sped up to the station with an assured thought that now we will have a comfortable journey through Speedo Bus.

When we approached the bus, the administration’s statement killed our hope who said that, “The bus service is not available today and no idea when it will be functional again.” When I inquired him about the reason for all this trouble, the word “match” echoed through my ears and I was now confused if I should welcome World-XI to Pakistan or criticize them for this goodwill.

Precisely that that moment, I looked up to the Metro Bus track and was happy to see the bus functional. Both of us had to reach Canal Station, but then I remembered one more blessing of our beloved Punjab Government: the Canal Station of Metro Bus has been under construction since long – one can hope it will be restructured during the 2018 election campaign.

We, however, decided to avail the service and reached Ichhra Station. The top view of roads from Ichra Metro Station was something beyond my expectation. The whole Ferozepur Road was actually frozen with a large number of vehicles standing stationary for hours, as the roads were blocked for the “match”.  We walked to the next bridge near Shah Jamal crossing, and moved to the other side of the road. I requested the rickshaw drivers to drop us home by making way through the inner area of Ichhra and at last one of them, while charging excessively, agreed to go with us.

It was the worst situation, in my view, may be because I was a part of it personally, but it snatched from me that sense of being happy about the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. I heard DIG Dr. Haider Ashraf briefing the media about arrangements all around with reference to this match and he said that, “We have specially arranged shuttle service of Speedo Bus from parking to stadium for spectators so that they would not be facing any trouble.” What about the rest of citizens who travel by that bus from different spots of the city on daily basis, who had to face great inconvenience during these days?

The point is that all of us want Pakistan to be a center of international cricket like all other countries, but we also want there to be no disturbance across city due to such events. We value the arrival of World-XI to Pakistan, and were excited for the matches as well, but these chaotic circumstances made us lose our high spirits for the event.

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