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.
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!