On Karachi Part II

After the initial post “On Karachi” was much appreciated and well received, I thought of writing another one to cover some left off areas. The idea is to focus on the specifics of the city, and mention the hidden good points of the city with the covered sarcasm. All the mentions about places, people or events are based on my personal perception, and I really have no intention of hurting anyone’s sentiments, but to share things about Karachi from my lens.

1. Native Jetty offers a wonderful view, but you can’t stop there and feel the serenity for long because that is not allowed due to so many suicide incidents.

2. Burns Road Punjab Lassi House uses “Shikarpuri dhoodh” – the one that is kept frozen and reheated in the shop next to theirs. They time the milk delivery after 1.30am.

3. Misquita Bakery in Saddar probably has the best “double roti” in town.

4. Pakistan Steel Mill is also a part of Karachi.

5. Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s is an all-purpose mazaar. Apart from the reverence some people have with the saint, a lot of people go there for other reasons.

6. Quaid-e-Azam’s mazaar is the earliest daters’ paradise; now, they’ve started renting the room by his grave for an hourly rate.

7. Even when we love Lahoris, we’re going to keep comparing them to us all the time. Let’s accept we are somewhat different.

8. In most areas, you would find a decent mosque, but not a half decent public washroom or library or a park. Sad.

9. People don’t like walking on the footpath all the time – a lot of them just love the adventure of dodging cars coming from the other side.

10. Gulshan is bigger than some countries in the Europe, so yes a diverse lot lives there.

11. The government needs money to function, so all tax payers must pay more tax. Most taxpayers and filers will still get an SMS or mail from FBR almost threatening the person to pay more every once in a while.

12. Dar-ul-Sukoon and The Citizens Foundation are doing great work. Support them.

13. Mama Parsi School is not only for Zoroastrians

14. There is a donkey cart race every sunday, and the star performer donkeys have names and a lot of respect in the in-group.

15. Jackson market is near Keamari, where you find some excellent second-hand in cycling bikes and accessories.

16. You can virtually find a rickshaw in every area. Now you can even Uber or Careem it in many parts of the city.

17. Keep wondering about the ridiculously low price points of the bar-b-que served in stalls in Saddar.

18. Students’ Biryani is a fainted glory at best now.

19. “PIDC bridge ke neeche wala chai ka dabha achi jagah nahee hai”

20. Domestic servants are there in many households, some families have up to 4 – and they’d still say they don’t find time.

21. Most traditional Chai stalls (a.k.a Dhabas) are owned by Khans from Quetta. Many new ones are not really dhabas anymore. Rather, they’re less glorified bistros catching up on the bandwagon to cater to a niche who would not otherwise think of going to a dhaba.

22. It is still a mystery if the Chai stall near Railway Station on I.I. Chundrigar and Pyala hotel use some “extra ingredients” to make their chai so addictive!

23. Uber & Careem have become game-changing models in transportation business in this country. Way to go!

24. Karachi Zoo, a.k.a., Jinnah Park (or famously known as Gandhi Garden) is not a good place to visit on weekends due to the sheer crowd that goes there on weekends.

25. SWOTs and KFD reviews are not always genuine – sometimes the reviews are really not indicative of true quality of food.

26. Google Maps has made life easy for most who care to check the latest traffic situation of the city.

27. Karachi Eat Festival is a good festival that now happens every year. It’s overhyped because that’s one of the known festivals of the city and also because it involves food.

28. Frere Hall still puts up weekly book stalls every Sunday – good to visit every once in a while.

29. Imtiaz Shopping Centers have changed household shopping for a good chunk of Karachites.

30. You can order food online pretty much any time of the day.

31. Regardless of where you live in the city, the quality of roads would bother you and cost extra repairs on your vehicle.

32. Chinese people can be found all around the city nowadays – sometimes they don’t even speak English and are selling stuff to random people on the road.

33. Karachi is a really big city and there would hardly be someone who is well versed with all areas.

34. There are some amazing snorkeling points nearby, so you can surely go and have fun.

35. Arts Council sometimes showcases some amazing plays – most of those are worth buying a ticket to.

36. You can find really talented and educated people in almost all fields in this city.

37. You must try Javed Nihari for the authentic nihari taste.

38. Kolachi is one of the best places to take out foreign friends/family for Pakistani dinner

39. You shouldn’t always trust the Careem Captain who says his phone is having problems and he would mark the trip as complete in a short while.

40. (I know this one is a repeat) – Despite all odds, this city is such a melting pot of cultures, languages, customs and faiths, it lives in the hearts of all Karachites, wherever they go.

Kick-Starting Tourism Capital in Pakistan

Tourism capital is a big untapped market in Pakistan. This country is blessed with the most scenic valleys, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, and amazing hill stations. The country has huge arable land as well as large deserts, cities and towns, historical places, heritage sites, rural and urban settings; to sum up, a lot to offer to tourists, both foreign and local – there are amazingly beautiful areas in all the different parts of the country. What has been missing is the perceived sense of security whereby tourists can feel easy while traveling around. Much smaller countries in the neighborhood have managed to raise that critical mass of travelers that has in turn helped them grow much faster, but Pakistan has lagged here. It’s something that is right there needing a focused effort to grow, and the most important supporter in this regard needs to be the government and law enforcement agencies who need to work hand in hand to build a safer country and then media would eventually jump in to help with changing the perception of this amazing country. Countries such as China, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are all close by and becoming examples of how effective country branding is bringing in a host of investments, tourist traffic, development ideas and growth across the masses.

It is high time Pakistan gets back to work and quietly creates an exemplary country that revives its image. The efforts in this regard are bound to pay back as a sense of security would automatically lead to a more productive, effective, healthier, happier and more satisfied local population, and it would also bring in tourist spend to all the different areas in the country assuring broad based growth and development. That growth will also bring to the forefront motivated individuals, who would then become role models for others to follow, again something positive in the roots of every civilized, progress-oriented economy.

Here are the 5 steps that the government should quickly take to start with this process:

  1. Initiate a very strict security check and clear out areas of any disturbances so that people may feel free to travel anywhere within Pakistan.
  2. Setup a working state-of-the-art, technology-driven support system that is available across Pakistan to link medical facilities, hospitals, dispensaries, mobile medical ambulances, and security institutions such as police, rangers, and patrolling authorities. It should be a single-point link whereby any caller could get immediate emergency support.
  3. Make clouds of areas whereby particular kinds of tourism is possible. For example, put up a cloud for skating facilities, and link up the businesses, services and transport in those areas. Similarly, do it for historical sites, mountain ranges, etc. Make this all available online and allow accessibility to book online or through phone (this needs very effective pricing check so that the businesses charge fair prices).
  4. Prepare amusement theme parks in various cities that allow activities for families, fun for all and competitions for the youth.
  5. Actively market the efforts in this area on national television and other media so that people can actually see this work done, and become motivated to go out and start enjoying these facilities.

Once the right number of local population becomes very comfortable with the system and facilities, there are going to be foreign tourists too based on the effective word-of-mouth marketing. There could be different prices for Pakistani Citizens (validated through NADRA National Identity Card) and for Non-Resident Citizens/Foreign Tourists. Moreover, there could be discounts for tax paying citizens for using any of the facilities.

Such steps would not only help kick-start the economy, but also ensure that people are provided safe environment, and entertainment to remain healthy.

On Karachi

This blog post is written as a satire, not focused on any particular individual(s), or group. All characters used in the comments are fictitious, and bear no resemblance to a person in real life. Having said that, you might find these experiences commonplace in Karachi. The purpose of the post is not to poke fun, but to have some instead.

1. Most people would never come on time, and be proud of it. They would flaunt their attitude as they did something that others should learn from:

“Dada, aaj tera bhai bus aadha ghanta late aya hai, teri mohabbat hai.. warna tou tujhe pata hee hai apna tou”

2. There will always be instances where they need to be on time, for example, to get through the government office work. Most people would feel it’s fair they pay someone speed money to get their work done faster than the fools who prefer to wait doing the right thing.

“Abay panch sau rupay nikal aur dekh filo ke paheeye kaise lagtay hain”

3. If by a stroke of chance, one of these people end up coming on time, they’ll regret it so much they’ll keep on repeating ad nauseum to almost everyone. They’ll make sure most people know he/she was on time that day/evening.

“Saleem bhai, aaj tou theek nau bajay pohanch gaye hum, dekh lein sir”

4. When you come on time, these people will be like:

“Kya baat hai Mushtaq, time pe haan bilkul.. wah.”

What they really mean, “kabhi late bhi ho jaya karo over efficient insaan” or “Isko kya masla hai… ajeeb hai – aise thori koi bilkul time per.. ”

5. When in queues, some people will act over smart, and try to come before you even if you don’t know them, but for them your only merit is that you are far closer to the counter (ticket counter, payment counter, bill counter, token counter, fee counter, any counter). These incoming individuals would have an innocent smile on their face, and most will try to pretend they were already there but nobody noticed.

“Arey bhai, hum tou aik ghantay se yaheen kharay huay hain.. ” and when things get out of control, they’ll say: “yaar aap aa jao hamaray aagay, shor mat karo” as if they are giving a favor instead.

6. At most petrol stations, motorcycles would not form a line, but gather around like bees around a beehive, hoping the filling person would put fuel in their motorcycle first.

7. When you go into a supermarket or a crowded place, you realize someone needs to tell many of the ‘burka-clad’ women, that by covering their entire body, they still can’t cover the bad body odor – they too need to take a shower after all – seriously.

8. At traffic signals, almost always you would suddenly find someone trying to clean your windscreen. Mostly, their own mops are dirtier, and they would care to ask only after messing your already clean windscreen a little.

9. At some of the traffic signals, you would find someone trying to sell you flowers, or cleaning cloth. He will only start negotiating when/if you say you don’t want it. Don’t be surprised if he goes from 3 for Rs. 100 to 6 for the same price in less than 10 seconds.

10. Most people are habitually addicted to some form of tobacco, and would not care to even bother about where they are or who is standing around before they proudly light up a cigarette or more commonly, put the red ‘gutka’ or ‘pan’ in their mouth.

11. Once these people fill their mouths, they’ll all start talking in a typical funny way, trying to balance their hedonic pleasure from chewing the pan and communicating that it’s just 3.30pm right now, even when a stranger asks them.

Stranger: “Bhai time kya hua hai”

Pan guy: “Sharray teen huay hhain”

12. You would find a photocopier on every road, but a pan shop/cabin on every street.

13. The number of pan cabins are directly proportional to the number of gutters in the street. Typically, there are much more pan shops in thin, crowded streets.

14. You realize there is no point asking the sugar cane juice vendor if the juice is fresh:

You: Bhai, tazaa hai? (pointing to the already filled juice glass)

Sugar cane vendor: “Arrey abhi nikala hai. 2 minute huay hain.” This answer would almost always be the same even if it’s been 15 minutes. After that, he’d mix some more fresh juice with the same, and hold the same response for another 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

15. Most people will not mind spending Rs. 800 on a “fit waali” chicken karahi, but will think twice about spending the same money on a “fit waali kitaab”.

16. In most weddings, the hosts and the invitees both know the event will start only around 10.30pm, but they will still write 8.30pm or 9pm -the logic as people would explain goes like:

“Kamran bhai, saaray aanth likhain gay tabhi tou saaray das pohanchay gay hahahaha” – Sulaiman bhai, this was really not so funny.

17. Almost every ten and twenty rupee note has been circulated through someone who makes, buys or eats pan but doesn’t use a tissue.

18. A lot of motorcyclists presume their coolness is indicated by the ‘shor wala chota silencer’.

19. You know a fuel station has CNG when there is a huge, huge queue of vehicles coming out of there.

20. ‘CNG ki line mein kisi bhi time mobile snatching ho jati hai’

21. ‘Mukka Chowrangi’ is not so much of a violent neighborhood; and there’s no boxing practice area out there either

22. “Golimar ke pull se A.O. Clinic ke baad wala pull safe zone nahee, Gari bhaga, dua karta jaa.”

23. Karachi might be the biggest city in Pakistan, but even today there’s just one “bridge” that divides it. ‘Pull ke is paar’ ya ‘us paar’ –

24. There are still many kind souls living around here.

25. Everyday brings a lot of hope and ambition for many in this city.

26. Airport taxis have a button which they’ll push some time during the journey when you’re busy with something else which will increase the number of kilometers on the trip by 2-3 km. This will happen even if you find the person is very religious, and looks honest. Only two ways to get around this are to tell them in advance you know of this trick and keep monitoring, or just pay for that damn extra travel every time you book one from Airport, even when you are paying a tip.

27. “Aaj bhi Baakra hotel mashoor hai apni 24/7 service ke liye”

28. “Super Biryani bohat aala hoti hai”

29. “Polce ki dooty hai qnoon ke dayeray mein awaam ki madad karna, wohi kartay rehtay hain. Din raat, lagataar, andha dhoond”

30. When you call someone who’s about to reach at your place, the person would say:

“Sajid, bas 10 minute mein pohanch raha hoon, raastay mein hoon” even when he’s still at home, and will not leave for another 15 minutes.

31. When Sajid gets a call from Patel, Sajid goes like:

“Allawala Chowrangi dekhi hai.

Wahan se straight aaja.

Do galian chor. Aur Insaf shoes se right maar.

Teen building-ain chor.

Left pe ik chai ka hotel hai.

Wahan pohanch ke missed call kar dena, mein lene aa jaoon ga.”

32. Many of the fun places in the city become “Families Only” during weekends. You can even find a big supermarket having that sign outside the door. Funnily, two girls become a family, guys can’t be family. Default. rules.

33. Most men are either of two types: those who only go to Cineplex, Atrium, Neuplex and those who only go to Nishat, Capri and Prince. Those who go both places are the normal people, the moderate crowd, in minority though.

33. Cricket fever is always on. Almost everyone would have an opinion on this.

34. Transport business – Khan bhai. Fruits and Vegetables business – Khan bhai. Clothes business – Memon bhai. Rice business – Hindu bhai. Hardware business – Bohri bhai. Paper business – Punjabi bhai. Collection business – Bhai.

35. Everybody respects “Quaid-e-Azam”, almost everybody.

36. A full bus means all the seats are occupied. All space between the seats is also full. The doorsteps are also full. And, the top of the bus is also full. Most people would still try to fit in. “Bhai sahab, thora sa ander hona”

37. You can have a meal at a place from anywhere between Rs. 40 to Rs. 4,000 within 5 kilometers distance from each other.

38. Trains are rarely on time. They boast, when they are.

39. Social gatherings often get past midnight. In some of these, you might get frowns for leaving as early as 2am.

40. “Jab koi TT dikhaye tou cellphone de dene ka jani” – carry another extra cell phone just to give it away when asked to.

41. “Har baat pe dharna hai, har point pe containers.”

42. “Dumthall” at WaterPump stop still has the best halwa puri in town.

43. “Do Darya” is just one “samandar” and you can’t even dip your feet there.

44. Funland rides have their own charm, but beware someone would always be watching you from a distance. Just look around. Watch out girls.

45. “Meerath” kababs are the best. “Bar-B-Q tonight” also comes close though.

46. “Paper Market mein jhando ki variety aatank hoti hai”

47. Cycle market still rents bikes to kids in half hour increments.

48. “Delhi Rabri House” has amazing “rabri”, although not always so hygienic.

49. “Hanifia” has the best hunter beef in town. Their mustard sauce was one of the original, local mustard sauces in the city.

50. Despite all odds, this city is such a melting pot of cultures, languages, customs and faiths, it lives in the hearts of all Karachites, wherever they go.

Two Things

Hi!

Two things you need to learn first in any language are: Greetings & Thank you. The first lets you connect and break the ice and the second helps you create an instant positive liking.

Thank you! 🙂