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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.

About FarahnazZahidi

Journalist, writer, Communications practitioner, teacher, media trainer | Literature | Gender Parity | Peace | Islam | Very Desi | Chaai, not coffee.

23 responses »

  1. brilliant !! the thoughts of all karachites are going to be mutual we love it its the best city on earth for us yet we are frustrated with what it has become

  2. All the description in a single sentence. We all love our city, and our Pakistan…. only a few people are creating this huge vigilance. We don't have to go anywhere…. our city needs us…. our city needs a positive human ethical revolution … Karachi needs a (Nayi sooch) that is based on self analysis, self honesty…. humanity…. So we need to Induce this (Nayi Sooch) on personal (Individual) & social level.

  3. farahnaz, you said it girl!! This is on everyone's mind.Those who love this city, and those who fringe at the thought of hand grenades tossed in their very home.Karachiites I ask you? if the city can not save you from this senseless mayhem, can you not pull yourself together and arm your self against this insurgent of unknowm ppl creating havoc on your own soil.Why not create a citizen's vigilante group with vigils within your own neighborhood. Why not monitor who comes and goes and who stands out as a trouble maker. This is now up to rise up my fellow karachiites, cause your strength is legendary.

  4. MashaAllah! Farah, straight from the heart, what a wonderful piece of writing 🙂 You have so rightfully depicted the pain that a native is feeling nowadays. The important part is not to give up at this stage. Our city needs our energy, our hope more than ever. Keep us enchanted!!

  5. Very well written exactly whts on the mind of those who love this city … I m a very patriotic person & cannot even think of living anywhere else besides Pakistan but after recent conditions a part of me just wants to run away frm here.. I never thought I wud ever feel this way … Its depressing but I m hoping & constantly praying for a safer Karachi..

  6. Lovely….No one else would’ve expressed it better than how you’ve done it. Great Job!!

  7. farrukh anwar mirza

    Hey while reading this, I felt that its coming straight from my heart….. Just a day before I was on my way back from toronto and had a connection at dubai for my flight to khi. On my flight from toronto I met an indian businessman who asked me about khi and I defended my city with no stone unturned. But when I landed at dubai I called back home and get to know the
    situation of my city and felt bad and hurt that
    wat was I defending just few hours back I was defe

  8. “All’s ALMOST perfect in Karachi.” Wish the ‘almost’ can be omitted in the near future…! Where there’s a will there’s a way, and our politicians / so-called leaders don’t have it. Don’t they get it that if this city lives and thrives they too will live and thrive!

  9. This is so nice to read. Although I am not a native Karachiite- I have been many times and until recently felt it was a part of my identity. Orginally Canadian born- I would think of Karachi as a great place to visit, it topped my holiday destinations list! Unfortunately I have not been in 8 Years and fear that if I go something will happen to me or my children. How I hope that things improve in Karachi and I can bring my children to see a place that has so much to offer, and show them their roots!
    Ps – I really enjoy reading your blog!

  10. Love what u wrote! It’s like someone
    Read my mind!
    There’s always hope 🙂 this city has survived time n time again!!

  11. Police order should be ammend and check and balance without involvement of any parties on them through close monitoring as other private organisations do even other security agencies followed. Our Police men are the trainer for them and therefore if may not able to correct its will never.

  12. I had written something similar last year too… But this is awesome! I wouldn’t say that I have a love-hate relationship with the city, but sometimes it’s just frustrating!

  13. Love it… I am originally from Karachi but living abroad…and everytime i come to Karachi i feel i am home…I would love one day to have my kids love my home as much as i love and miss it…One day we will have our Karachi back ….

  14. Although am not a Karachite anymore,I have memories of all the nice things written.Its high time that we ponder why all this is happening and what are the possible solutions to these dastardly activites every now and then.Should reading the Holy Quran with translation be made compulsary,should school education also follow suit?Can you have a sane person who has a degree in the university of life,speak to people of every locallty ,if not once aweek forthnighty?

  15. I love Karachi…unforc I left it to keep my girls safe….but I so love you and miss you

  16. very nicely put. Love Karachi but dread raising the next generation here.

  17. Nayab Fakhir Qazi

    Couldn’t agree more!!! Brilliantly written!

  18. I born karachi as well.. but have you ever thought about this beautiful city? killing innocent people every day.every day dancing demise on this city? I always pray YA ALLAH GIVE US BACK THE ALL BEAUTY OF THIS SWEET CITY. I SPENT ALL MY LIFE THEIR.AMEEN.

  19. Reblogged this on chaaidaani and commented:

    Every few weeks & months, I re-visit this blog when my city bleeds at the hands of senseless violence. It is Muharram. And not just Karachi but my whole country bleeds. And I have just one single prayer right now – PEACE!

  20. Very well written, you have conveyed everyone’s feelings here. I am a die hard Karachiite too. Bring my children ( who are studying in the US) here, each summer although I pray hard before this journey that all remains safe. Salute those who are still residing there, admire their resilience and the fact that they still carry on with their normal every day routine inspite of the atrocities that this city has to deal with. But I am hopeful that there will be a major turn around for my city.


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