Friday, January 20, 2012

For my love of Karachi

Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and the main financial center of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province Sindh. It is Pakistan's premier center of banking, industry, economic activity and trade and is home to Pakistan's largest corporations, including those involved in textiles, shipping, automotive industry, entertainment, the arts, fashion, advertising, publishing, software development and medial research. (Wikipedia). Undoubtedly, the city is a hive of activity.

The city is known as the “City of lights” for its beauty of night life. Eid, Milad-un-nabi (birthday of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and New Year’s Eve is one of the times of the year when it’s literally the “City of lights.” All the eye-catching lighting on the streets, buildings beautifully decorated with colorful lights and the shopping markets crowed with people, all night long, make it worth the title of “Bride of the cities” or as some like to call it the city that never sleeps.

Cars and motorcycles creeping on the roads and buses honking their horns, is typical of traffic in Karachi. You can imagine traffic from cars, motorcycles, buses, auto-rickshaws and donkey carts. It’s a chaos. At times, traffic jams can be worst as you cannot even move a feet for hours. You cannot trust Karachi’s traffic. It can change a beautiful day into a horrible nightmare in minutes, as many men get late for their work, students for their school and many miss their flights, appointments and other important meetings. "In Karachi it’s not traffic jam. It’s terrible jam!" (KhiTips). But, at times, it can prove to be a real life saver as it makes a good pretext for being late. :D

The city basically has two seasons, summer and winter. Summers are extremely hot and humid but as the city lies on the coast, nights are relatively cooler. The scorching heat of the sun cause everyone to pray for rain as it doesn’t rain that much. When it does, all the residents of the city enjoy every bit of it. On the streets, kids play in the rain, men close their shops for a while to enjoy the break of the heat and women make Pakoras (a fried finger food, traditionally eaten when it rains.) After the rain, when you check your cellphone and Facebook, there’s a ton of ‘happy rainy day’ texts and status updates. By the time you try to update your status about rain, the power is cut off and the electricity is gone because power lines are damaged. At times, there’s no electricity for more than 24 hours. In the monsoon months of July to September, it can rain pretty hard, causing floods due to poor drainage system of the city, which claim a few lives. Winters are cool but we Karachiites aren’t used to ‘cool.’ Mothers make their kids wear a couple of sweaters, two pair of socks, leggings, hats and what not. In Karachi, when you can see your breath while you’re talking, know that it’s the coldest day of the year.

Karachi is a home for modern and historical architecture. The city has historical buildings like the Empress Market; Mohatta Palace; The ruins of Urch Sharif’s tomb; and the tomb of Quaid-e-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah), the founder of Pakistan. Modern buildings such as the MCB tower, which is the largest building in Pakistan, are also prominent in the city.

Karachi and Lahore are the two largest cities in Pakistan. Karachiites and Lahoris are always in a constant argument of which city is better. "Our BEST argument in the Lahore/Karachi debate is “well, we have a beach”" (KhiTips). Pakistan, being land-locked on three sides leaves a very few cities and small towns with a coast. Karachi is one of the few who can boast. The most famous and visited beach is Sea View. From little kids to adults, and loners to couples, everyone can be seen at the beach. Apart from the excitement of the sea itself, there are many other attractions. Horse and camel rides are a famous form of entertainment for all ages. Quad bike rides were recently introduced at the beach; they are the new excitement to the area. The tasty food stalls and vendors carrying cool drinks are always there to serve your appetite after the fun. Now you know which city is better. ;-)

It is difficult to describe Karachi and it's environs well enough by words alone; one has to visit this melting metropolis of people, trade, culture and tradition.