Once upon a time, in July 2006 I arrived in Karachi first time in my life. For us who live in Wah Cantt or Rawalpindi/Islamabad (almost 2000KM from Karachi), Karachi seem to be much far away. When I boarded the plane from Islamabad Airport (interestingly enough, situated in Rawalpindi), I had strange vibrations of sensations running inside me. I was dying to see the mini-pakistan and the sea. Some apprehensions were there at the back of mind regarding the law and order situation there and the stories appearing in the papers. I had heard so much about Karachi culture that I was getting almost dizzy in anticipation. The places like Kharadar, Meethadar, Korangi, Orangi, Malir, Laloo Khait, Clifton, Lighthouse, beach were intriguing me. I was honoured to have a city like this in my country. “Kharachi, Kharachi, Kharachi I am coming”, this was what I was humming.
As my plane was hovering above Kharachi airport in order to land, I was craning my neck, which sticking my face to window, to see a glimpse of sea, but the haze didnt let me succeed. As soon as I got out of the terminal building, I was greeted by some relatives and friends. While hugging them my neck was a pendulum absorbing the scenes, listerning to the typical Urdu accents. As soon our vehicle started travelling on Shahar-e-Faisal, I was looking frantically on left and on right , asking questions about every place. “Whats the name of this place?”,”This road goes where?”,”How much far away is the sea?”,”Is this what you call as Naseem-a-barri?”,”Where this leeway heading?” and so on.
My stay in Karachi lasted for 10 days. It was some stay. Karachi is generous and honest. It didnt hide anything from me and gave away every thing: good or bad, both. I travelled almost everywhere in Karachi. The places I visited include Gulshan-e-hadeed, Quaid-a-bad, Malir, Shah-Faisal Colony, Gulshan-a-iqbal, Gulshan-a-Johar, Expo Center, Saddar, Mizar-a-Quaid, Seaview, Jamshaid Town, LaloKhait (or was it Liaqat-a-bad), Clifton, Korangi, Faisal Base, Masroor Base,hawks bay, Malir Cantt, Nagin Chowrangi, Sohrab Goth, Light house, Teen Talwar and some of other places, I dont remeber the name of. I also managed to go to Balochistan’s towns of Hub, Bhawani and Gadani. The sea was fantastic at Gadani, but the deserted shipwreck yard was a saddening view. The sea at Karachi’s beaches was good, but very much polluted and crowded.
I also got looted in Saddar Kharachi. Two people on motorcycle snatched my mobile and money on gun point, while I was sitting in Car. During my whole stay, whereever I went, everyone advised me to be ready for such an incident and when it happens, and also to cooperate with the villians and give away whatever they demanded. I relished one sentence of an aunt. She said,”Fahd when they ask you to give your mobile, give them by saying, ‘bhai ap he ka hai, ap ke amanat hai, ap he ka liya khareeda tha’.” I was shocked to see the mental surrender of Karachitties, but its understandable. I got a general feeling that most of the people were afraid, edgy, pale, yet determind to get on with the life.
“Paan” was everywhere. It was in the mouths, hands and pockets of the people. It was also on the walls, floors, footpaths and on the seats of commuters. I also tasted the all-too-famous Biryani of Karachi, as well as the Behari Kebabs and Gola Kababs.
Karachi is teeming with business activities. Life is fast, much faster as compared to Islamabad or even Lahore, but the liveliness and care-free environment is missing. Karachi is undoubtly the lifeline of Pakistan.