Karachi – September 24th 2011

Let me tell you about the Karachi I know

Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan. Whoever controls Karachi controls Pakistan, they say. Karachi has 18 million people, that’s 6 times Nairobi, and 10% of the whole Pakistani population.

ECONOMICALLY

Karachi is in a 3rd world country. So expect the gap between the rich and the poor to be colossal. You see extremes here; mansions (they are all very square), and people peeing and sleeping on the road cause they have no homes.(the men pee when squatting, if you ask me it looks yuck!) If Idi Amin was hired to get rid of the beggars in Karachi, the Nile would be clogged for life.

SECURITY

Living in Karachi, you don’t have to be too concerned about terrorism as defined by the media(ALAR WAKBAR SUICIDE BOMBER). The main concern is the political violence, that leaves hundreds of people dead within 3 days. Karachi is controlled by MQM. I still can’t spell what it stands for (too complicated, and I wont google it). The party in power is the PPP (Pakistanis Peoples Party). These 2 are always fighting. One guy from PPP says something tiny about MQM, and MQM responds by calling for a ‘strike’. A strike means gunfights between PPP and MQM, scores of dead grassroot politicians and innocent casualties, a couple of people kidnapped in the melee, millions of rupees lost because companies stay closed, the working class of Karachi celebrating that they get a holiday, me bored stiff in the flat and the PPP apologizing. The next day, its back to normal, minus the 60 – 100 dead and forgotten souls.

SOCIAL LIFE

There are 4things to do in Karachi, smoke, smoke sheesha/ hashish, shop and eat. There are no clubs, few people play sports, and yes I said there are NO clubs, there is also the beach. Some of the beaches sadly are ruined by sewage, so you might spot the occasional dead fish or sting ray . Also, sights and sounds of camels and horses running along the beach and shitting everywhere as people pay for rides and people drive on the dark sand in their prados. there are a couple of decent clean beaches like Hawksbay and French Beach. These are still preserved and around October November the turtles come en mass to lay their eggs.

If you dig a little deeper, you will find there’s a lot of other fun stuff to do- snorkelling, scuba diving,deep sea swimming, and most recently as I discovered, crabbing. Crabbing involves you getting onto a dhow late at night, and eating fresh sea food on the boat. It’s a really fun thing to do if you have good company.

It’s interesting though, that as much as I appreciate my beer, living here has taught me it really isn’t a neccessity for any party or hang out. It also leads to a lot more sober and intelligent conversation; Pakistanis are quite the smart and informed ones judging from the conversations I have had with a lot of them.

Some older women in Karachi have junglitis feveris… that is all.

Interestingly, there is an ‘Arte Caffe’-like place in Karachi. i.e nice setting for you to see and be seen. Here the women smoke openly. Possibly it was my shiny bald head, but I’d like to think that the unwavering stares were from women exhibiting symptoms of junglitis feveris. I was there with 3 Pakistani guys, and only one of us was meeting a nervous girl like it was high school again. (more on the dating scene in Karachi later)

INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS

The coolest, absolute coolest thing about Karachi, is the variety in people. There are black skinned, wooly haired people like me, darker skinned people than me with Asian hair, some as fair as Scandinavians, some with green or grey eyes etc and the best thing is that they are ALL PAKISTANI ORIGINO (3rd/4th generation). I think that’s amazing! But I also don’t understand the stares, cause I could be Pakistani anyway. Even the black people stare at me- SMH.

South C aside, Karachi has NO DRAINAGE SYSTEM. 2 hours of drizzling = 4 hours of traffic, a flooded and I mean knee-deep flooded HIGHWAY, and another holiday because the office will shut down. It rains 3 days a year in Karachi. That was the day I saw like 30 rats, bigger than squirrels running away from the water and the worst thing is I saw them right outside my apartment block. LOL!

Ps, Karachi is much much better than it sounds

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