Monthly Archives: July 2011
Confession of a hard-core, biased Karachiite – I love my city, no matter what! That doesn’t mean I’m not hating what’s happening to it
I love Karachi. Period!
I was born here. This, to me, is home. This is where I belong.
Karachi is where the heart is.
To someone visiting Karachi for the first time, it would seem like a gigantic, unruly, chaotic, overgrown, terribly overpopulated metropolis with anger and impatience in it’s people’s traffic sense and a visible cloud of pollution over it when you land at Jinnah International. The pollution chokes you, literally, in certain areas. The load-shedding and electrical breakdowns are legendary. The compartmentalization and social disparity in Karachi is horrendous………we divide people into burgers and bun kababs, for God’s sake! We talk of people in terms of this side of the bridge and that side. People here are so busy and their lives are (no jokes ) so fast-paced that you gotta take appointments even to say hello! It’s a combination of a myriad of ghettos. And the ghettos are very guarded!! It has too many cultures in one city…..or rather, it has a culture all it’s own. It hardly ever rains in Karachi. The weather is often despicable. Half of the population has allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma (me included), and paan stains on walls and roads
are a norm.
And yet, Karachi is where the heart is. And if I could make a million emoticons of the heart right now, I would.
This huge, gigantic city welcomes everyone from all over the country and provides livelihood to millions. The multi-ethnicity culture gives a Karachiite so much exposure that he or she can usually speak Urdu, a bit of Gujrati, understand some Sindhi, laugh at jokes in Punjabi, have had friends from many religious backgrounds, and fit with ease in the hoity toity crowd as well as the average fellow-Karachiite. A Karachiite’s life is crazily fast-paced, yes, but the advantage is we are least pushed about peering into the neighbour’s house to check who their daughter is seeing……..we are more worried about our own lives…..whether this “we” is a maid or a bus driver or a corporate executive or a teacher. We are a little more streetsmart, a little more savvy, a little more resilient, and a little less laid-back than our counterparts from other cities.
My city boasts of Frere Hall, Empress Market, Mohatta Palace, the Baaradari, and the whole heritage museum…..mile upon mile….which we call Saddar. My city is the home of Waheed’s dhaaga kabab, Burns Road ki Rabri, Noorani ki Karahi and BBQ Tonite. My city has amazing cafes and the most upscale eateries, a great night life, and it throbs with art and culture. My city has beaches and parks and bridges that are our pride. We go crabbing here and love scuba-diving here. We get the freshest seafood and our city has the best evening breeze in the entire world. And on a positive note that may border on irrational here, Karachi is the home of the best paans in the world (can anyone beat Ami’s Raja Saab?)!
All’s ALMOST perfect in Karachi. To Karachiites, it’s the best place on earth. We take pride in it with arrogant defiance.
But every now and then, a part of me wants to run away. Escape.
Just go somewhere else and shut my eyes and pretend Karachi is like it was when I was growing up……..when I could cycle alone on the street and go for a walk every night, me and my mother alone, after dinner. When I could have smaller walls and no alarm systems in my home. When my school had no bomb threats. When I didn’t have to pray for my loved ones every few weeks when fresh surges of violence erupt that they make it home safe. When I could give lift to someone in my car and help someone I didn’t know without fear of being mugged.
When I did not have to read a headline on the 8th of July, 2011, that today is the fourth consecutive day of senseless violence and 80 people so far have lost their lives. 80 people…..mere statistics for me, but 80 homes in my city shattered and bleeding and in darkness. And this is not stopping any times soon, they say. It’s like a terminal illness. Dormant for a while, and raising it’s head again and again.
Karachi – How I love you, only I know.
But there are times I want to leave you. Give up on you. Run away.
I don’t…….but I do fantasize about doing so. I confess, my beloved, I confess.
OF POKES & CHAT
By Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam
Every time I log on to Facebook, with my first cup of tea of the day in my hand, I am in two minds about whether I should be online for chatting, or stay offline. As Facebooking has become a ritual for me, I confess, that I cannot do without, that does not pose a dilemma. But “to chat or not to chat” is a cross road I am on every day. It’s like the moment you log in, people who have been hovering and circling pounce upon you within a fifteen second window.
Sometimes I feel like chatting. At other times I don’t, but choose to log in because my best friend in Dallas and me had decided to chat at that particular time, or I am hoping to catch a colleague on chat to discuss details of the next write-up. But often before the targeted people get into a conversation with me, others have sent me hi hellos with hearts or smilies. And I end up feeling like the meanest person alive for not wanting to respond. So I end up responding, amidst yawns and feigned interest. What a predicament!
The plus of it is that once in a while, it becomes an unexpectedly value-adding or fun conversation. An unanticipated chatter springs up on the list of “friend online” and it is great catching up or having an engaging conversation. And I have to write this also because otherwise all my chatty friends on FB are going to banish me for life, as humans have a way of assuming that THEY are being talked about, whether it is in terms of compliments or criticisms.
Going offline immediately after someone excitedly wrote “Hey Farah! Long time no chat!” seems like the rudest thing you can do. But at times you don’t have a choice, do you? I mean if you were in the middle of an important chore for the day and logged in just for a wee bit, you are not in a circumstantial position to chat.
Then there are those who, like me, are ALWAYS the round green bullet on the friends online list. They are there in a comforting, calming way. They fill the emptiness of the chat list with silence. I rather like such people.
So what do you do in such a position when you don’t want to engage in a conversation? Iqra Moazzam, a teenager, has it all planned out. “I love the fact that FB has the chat option. It helps me stay in touch with friends. But sometimes it can be annoying. If I want to avoid someone, I usually go offline or give some really good excuse. Living in Karachi, you can always say ‘my electricity went’ or ‘my net died’ or ‘the FB chat doesn’t work properly’, and mostly these excuses are true.” Faisal Naveed, another teenager, says he would “simply pretend I am not there. Ignore”.
Chat is still an understandable means of staying in touch. But what does a “Poke” mean? A lot of times, unforeseen people are poking you. Is this attention seeking behaviour? And then what do you do with a Poke? Let it remain there, hanging in limbo? Respond to it by poking back, even though you are not quite sure what it means? Or remove it? Or get irritated and annoyed?
For Quratulain Ahmed, an artist, Pokes are not something she minds. “But I hardly poke back. I don’t find chat irritating as I like keeping in touch. Promotional chat messages are what I find irritating at times.”
A Poke means what you want to think it means. Some people poke you because they think it’s funny. Some people poke you because they like you. There’s no one clear meaning to what a Poke is. Basically, it’s just a means to initiate conversation. It can mean a “hello” or a nudge. It’s just an indirect way of getting your attention, or a less public way of people letting you know they have looked at your profile, have been “stalking” you, or that they are thinking about you.
Iqra Moazzam feels that “Pokes are super irritating. I don’t like poking others unless I have to bug someone. But I don’t take it too seriously because it is one of those ‘just for masti’ things on Facebook.”
Emaan Arshad, a fashion design student, compares chat and Pokes. ‘Pokes are bearable because I can ignore them. But chats are very annoying, unless it is someone you really WANT to talk to. I appear offline all the time now; it’s the best way out.”
Communication is at the basis of every psychosocial process. The age of the internet has made it easier. But like everything else in life, success is about just the right amount of communication. Hypercommunication (too much of it) or hypocommunication (too little of it), both are not healthy. Neither in relationships in general, nor on Facebook in particular. As long as the Pokes and chats are at a comfortable level of frequency, we can enjoy them. If they exceed a limit, well, what are the unfriend options for?
Sakina Hussain, an artist, says that “Poke is a way to get attention without engaging in a conversation…. it’s virtual at its zenith.” Virtual is all about fun. It is time we stop taking it too seriously.