You awake to the sounds of morning traffic. The rising sun stings your eyes as you sit up, coughing as a plume of dense, black smoke from truck smokestacks mixes with the dust from the dug up roads and chokes your lungs.
It is morning in this little nomadic settlement on Murree Road. Under the shade of the Chandani Chowk and Sixth Road flyovers, entire households are abuzz with activity.
In one corner, women gossip amongst themselves as they attend to the day’s chores; sewing, cooking or tending to the children. Around them, the little ones sleep restlessly, being rudely awakened by a particularly offensive bus horn or a silencer-less motorbike.
The men are mostly daily-wage labourers, who work on construction projects, such as the ongoing work on the Metro Bus corridor. This entire tribe, in fact, is tied to the employment the male heads of the family are able to acquire. They go wherever work takes them, women and children in tow.
“We’re not beggars, we’re labourers. Our tribe came here from Lahore in search of work. We heard there are a lot of new construction projects in Rawalpindi and Islamabad that offered an opportunity to earn more money,” Mohammad Aslam, the head of the family of nomads that squats under the Chandani Chowk Flyover, told Dawn.