May Issue 2019

By | Travel | Published 3 months ago

 Recently I had the rare opportunity to travel to Islamabad from Karachi, and excited that I would be seeing the new airport for the first time, waited impatiently for the door of our aircraft to open when we arrived at our destination. But, as they say, a watched kettle never boils – and so, we waited for what seemed an eternity before we were finally informed that since all the aerobridges had collapsed, we would have to take the stairs down to the bus instead, to get to the terminal.

   Grateful that I had no hand luggage, I made my way to the over-crowded bus, only to discover that we had a surprisingly long drive ahead of us. For some unfathomable reason, we had been taxied in to the international rather than the domestic wing, and now had to cover a tediously long distance by bus to reach the terminal.

   Once there, we first took in the massive façade of the airport. Then we entered the building, still in anticipation of what we expected might end up being worth the wait. Wrong on that count. Far from the bustling, attractive ambience that such mammoth airports usually boast, here the walls were cold and bare, and there seemed to be hardly any sign of life or activity, no matter where one looked.

A porter disclosed, “Hardly anything is functioning properly here! And you should see what happens when it rains – the entire airport is flooded as the roof is leaking in numerous spots!”

Disappointed, we made our way to the escalator. And just as we were getting off it, my friend’s dupatta got caught in a nail menacingly protruding from the loose woodwork on the banister. This at a brand-new airport. When my friend finally extricated herself, we decided to take the elevator to the next level – only to find that the button to hail it was missing. Seeing our predicament, a porter standing by informed us that we would be better off taking the escalator as the majority of elevators were not functioning. Nonetheless, refusing to give up, we made our way to one at a far distance, only to find it was out of order! Another porter, noticing our outrage, smirked, saying, “Hardly anything is functioning properly here! And you should see what happens when it rains – the entire airport is flooded as the roof is leaking in numerous spots!”

   Mortified, we made our way back to the escalator and headed for the baggage claim area. For a change, this portion of the airport had walls adorned with artwork, all truck-art on metal — but alas, a surfeit of it.

I have no idea how much was actually spent to construct the airport, but I read somewhere that it cost 85 million rupees, going over budget by at least 50 per cent. So then why is the airport not a shining testament to the hefty investment in it, and why is it falling apart less than a year after its construction?  

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also works at Hum television.