A Mashkeeza of my own

What fascinates me the most about countries with poor economies – fyi Pakistan’s currency just depreciated again, making it extremely difficult to buy/save in foreign currency – is the ability to use every last strand of its’ resources. The thing is, when luxury and abundance are non existent, one has to be the most resourceful they can be and create ways to recycle and extend the life span of every item they use.

I discovered what a mashkeeza is this year in August during a trip to Kirthar National Park in Sindh, Pakistan. A mashkeeza is a water thermos made of the entire hide of an animal. In this case, a small goat. The strangly parts of skin towards the legs are tied together like a roast chicken and the opening of the hide is towards the neck region. It’s actually pretty amazing because the thick skin of the animal keeps the water ice cold and its a flexible water thermos making it ideal for nomads, herders and farmers in extreme climates. When you poke a mashkeeza the skin wobbles and for a second you feel as if the water thermos is still a live breathing animal.

Suitcases really frighten me, the idea of gigantic black rectangles whizzing around my ankles and banging into other people is a constant worry when I’m travelling. I made my own mashkeeza for the Departure Lounge theme by using almost every clothing item and shoe I brought with me from Pakistan in my bags – in a way I was trying to emphasise the rationality of using all that one has because literally when I arrived in London on 1st September, all I had were my clothes. I couldn’t even dream of bringing paper and art supplies because I had to shift my whole life in under 35 Kgs for air travel. I think the idea of using my bedsheet to bundle everything up together is also reminiscent of how poor people in South Asia tend to travel on aeroplanes – the flights are so expensive that it rules out the possibilities of them buying a suitcase. So, they use their largest bedsheets to cram everything together and slug it around their shoulders.