Karachi

2

I landed in Karachi and was picked up at the airport by my host for the three days. His friend had leant him a car and we drove to his house which was not far from the airport and down the most confusing set of alleyways I have ever seen, there was no way I could ever have retraced the steps had I got lost. Anyway, there in the house I laid down my backpack, heavy after a few months of travel and book-buying. It was already late, and the sun had set outside. John asked me if I was tired, I told him not yet, and so he took me by the arm and said:"We are going to a birthday party tonight, the host will not mind if I bring you".

I landed in Karachi and was picked up at the airport by my host for the three days. His friend had leant him a car and we drove to his house which was not far from the airport and down the most confusing set of alleyways I have ever seen, there was no way I could ever have retraced the steps had I got lost. Anyway, there in the house I laid down my backpack, heavy after a few months of travel and book-buying. It was already late, and the sun had set outside. John asked me if I was tired, I told him not yet, and so he took me by the arm and said:“We are going to a birthday party tonight, the host will not mind if I bring you”.

I felt a little taken aback, but as I was soon to learn, the Pakistanis are some of the most hospitable and generous people I have ever known. We feasted on chicken and lamb and pulao rice, all washed down with coca cola. It was a great meal, and afterwards we sat a while, eating cake and talking to the host whose English was excellent. Then it really was time for bed, so we walked home the 100 metres we had came, me still confused at the directions, and I hit my bed and fell into a sleep reserved for those who truly deserve it.

The next morning we walked down to the roadside and caught a bus into town. The buses in Karachi are fantastic it seems every driver takes pride in decorating his bus, so they are all simply covered in ornaments, designs, gold tassles and paintings. We headed down to the centre of town, me noticing how the women ride in a compartment at the front, the men at the back (this was the first sign of a Muslim country in operation for me). We first went to see the mighty Khaid E Azam, the tomb for the founder of Pakistan. It is a fantastic site, an enormous tomb made of marble surrounded by gardens on each side. The inside is also spectacular with a silver grave and a spiky silver fence protecting the grave.

We left after about half an hour and caught another bus to the markets. I became elated when we walked through a camera market and the idea struck me that perhaps they had LOMO cameras here for cheap since Pakistan has relations with Russia. I looked for about half an hour and found an excellent, used Lomo for a tenth of the price they cost in Europe (TEN DOLLARS). We then took another bus a long way out of town to look at the Masiij E Tooba, the largest single dome mosque in the world. It is an incredible sight, with the inside roof covered in mirrors and the outside shimmering in the midday sun. From there we went to Clifton beach which was a disappointing sight, so polluted and crowded. We then walked around a bit there, before heading into the backstreets to find a bus. The bus took us back home to Johns house, after we stopped for a moment to visit some of his friends, and drank many cups of chai!

Back home we were treated to a fantastic meal as some of his friends were putting on a concert outside and having a barbeque. Many people were there to see the musicians and I sat there for a while just soaking it all in. We then had perhaps the most amazing food I have ever tasted, Pakistani tandoor chicken from a barbeque!! wow…..and all with a hot parota and chutney! After that it was time to go home and sleep once again.

The next day another guy came to take me around town since John had come errands. We spent the day going back to the markets, seeing a church and then going to some sports markets and buying an Adidas soccer ball for 200 rupees. I got pretty tired after a couple of hours so he invited me to go back to his house. I obliged, and as soon as we got there his sister asked if we were hungry, I said yes, and immediately she went to the kitchen to start preparing what was going to be yet another feast. It took about 2 hours for the food to arrive, which I spent sitting in her fathers bedroom talking to him as he lay in the bed watching TV. He was sick but really wanted some company.

I then heard some shouting from the kitchen and the father rose carefully out of bed and walked to the dinner table, waving his hands for me to follow. We sat and ate an amazing meal of chappatis, rice, dhal and fried fish. It seems like when I think of Pakistan I cannot help but remember the amazing hospitality……and foooood.

I was walked back to where John lived (since I could still not find my way) and packed my bags. I went to sleep at 9 and woke up at 2 in the morning to catch my flight back to Denmark which left at 6 in the morning. I said my goodbyes to John, thanked him for an amazing time, then crept into the taxi and left Karachi to memory.

written by ghostkamera on 2008-04-27 in #world #locations #art #culture #food #nightlife

2 Comments

  1. hhh_lomo
    hhh_lomo ·

    Sweet, that was quite an entertaining (yet accurate) description of Karachi. Looks like you were well taken care of, and I'm happy to hear it.

    I'm an independent photographer living in Karachi.

    One part that was unfortunate about your experience here ... you went to Clifton Beach *blech*
    Sadly, that is a perfect example of the third world, with a government that does not function, and a society that does not seem to care.

    Fortunately, there are great beaches just on the outskirts of Karachi.
    Though I live in the main city (very close to that awful Clifton Beach) these outer beaches (that are far enough away from the crowds) are where I've gone as a child, to this very day. Since those beaches are still unpolluted, a large number of turtles still visit to lay their eggs. I was at the beach two days ago (Sunday) at a World Wildlife Fund event, mainly on saving the mangroves, treating sewage waters, and setting up rules on the fishing industry. It was quite depressing to see the stats, and to learn about the inaction of our corrupt government. There's only so much NGOs can do, but that little bit still counts.

    Living in Karachi may be cheaper than the rest of the world, but its tough. Travelling outside the country on a regular basis helps keep me sane.

    Anyway, thank you for your uploaded image and text. Peace.

    - Hadi Habib
    www.hadihabib.com

  2. glenn
    glenn ·

    EXCELLENT PHOTOS! i like this. please like my photos too!

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