Karachi

Khaula Jamil Photography
Khaula Jamil Photography

They call us “The City that Never Sleeps”, only I don’t think the name does justice. We aren’t exactly people who move with zombie-like vigor due to the lack of sleep. No, I’m afraid we’re more nocturnal, staying awake till the wee morning hours when the sun itself awakens from its slumber. That, is when the people of this city decide to listen to the calls that their bed makes beckoning them to sleep.

Karachi is for the dreamers and the doers. Eyes scour the streets and roads always searching, always looking for the next muse, the next inspiration to life. The buildings, a combination of exquisite and alluring, of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue beckon the eyes casting a spell on the onlooker, giving the mind a piece of imagination, a look into a life that is always foreign from his own.

She is resilient and stubborn and strong. Her heart is the shore, waves lapping at the sand, tickling those who dare to wet their feet. All roads lead to the heart, every cell and every organism. There are those who visit every day, just wistfully staring at the ocean, only their minds know why the sea calls out to them in a siren song. And others hop on over on the holidays, occasionally visiting a friend that does well to lend a shoulder when life truly gets tough and all you really need is a break.

We are a city almost always encompassed in red. We love with red, and we hate with red. You can expect the passion to forever run its course. And yet, Karachi is as diverse as the colours painted on the buses that roam its streets. We dip into green and white every Independence Day, yellow on days of sincerity, purple when pride swells our chests out and blue in moments of jubilation. It’s not just a truck; it’s the canvas of life.

But the true essence of Karachi lies in the old. Here the streets are narrow and only seem to get thinner as vendors line themselves selling delicacies whose smells are enough to make the mouth water. The buildings might appear dilapidated but that’s where true beauty lies. It’s the trained eye that notices the carving on the stone, the exuberant colours on the doors, the old huddled in a corner playing cards, a family of five making room in an apartment for one and the cricketers that continue to find place even in the smallest of places to play the game that has the power to unite.

There is a lot to cry and complain about but the love is unconditional like a child to its mother.

Karachi, You’re Killing Me! by Saba Imtiaz

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In a city where gun shots and bomb blasts are a norm, individuals find themselves navigating life as if its ‘all in a day’s work’. Such is Imtiaz’s character Ayesha who lives the life of a journalist covering shootouts, rallies and surviving bandits all the while traveling all over in a rickshaw.

The book gives a fresh look into the life of those living in Pakistan’s Metropolis and the city deemed ‘most dangerous’. Here the sex is casual and the booze flow easy, even if Ayesha never has enough money to buy her cigarettes, pay her bootlegger or her taxi driver because her editor keeps putting off her salary.

Imtiaz, who herself lives the life of a journalist speaks in a tone so true to the characters that one knows instantly what it’s like to be part of a profession that clearly isn’t safe. Yet, as we watch Ayesha navigate her way throughout the book, her strength and determination is quite evident. She possesses the patience and endurance of being a journalist. That is exactly what made her character so enjoyable to read. Her tribulations at finding love in a city that takes up all her time and the man she finds herself trusting, only for him to use her for sex that came with a ‘i-will-steal-your-story-from-under-your-nose-while-you-sleep-in-my-bed’ made her out to be a character you were rooting for till the end.

The book had a very Meg Cabot and Bridget Jones feel to it, filled with humour and a heroine who you often found ranting about a city she loved and wanted to escape at the same time. It was filled with words that Pakistanis, or rather Karachiites will understand instantly and conversations that simply leapt of the page because they honestly felt so real.

Gone are the misconceptions about the women and the life that one lives in Pakistan, especially Karachi. A true eye opener for those unaware. The characterization of Karachi, with a voice of its own gave the book an interesting outlook at the way things are done here. A fun read even if the ending was slightly ‘Bollywood’ but then again living in a city like Karachi you come to enjoy the flair of the drama.

Run Away Heart

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Bed sheet ripped from the bed, stuffed animals packed, clothes carried and a makeshift bed made in the middle of the living room. The 8 year old me had moved a lot in terms of from the bedroom to the living room in an angry fit, only to shift back within an hour because my mother’s anger was far scary than my own whim of leaving. I guess, you could say that I’ve always had a fleeting heart that refused to stick in one place for too long. This is also kind of why my parents were apprehensive about investing money into my ever changing likes because they only lasted for a few days.

As cheesy as it may sound, my wings have been itching to leave the nest and explore the world and see what it has to offer for me, just me. My heart refuses to believe that Karachi is the only place for me in terms of calling my home. Home is where the heart is and if my heart wants the world, then the world is my home.

When I see backpackers roaming the streets I pay close attention to their eyes. Amongst the tired dark circles lies a specific glow that only belongs to an explorer. Jules Verne holds a special place in my heart because I too want to explore the world and uncover great discoveries. This would be why I want to become an archaeologist because the dirt and mud hold something far more beautiful. One needs to penetrate the surface in order to find true beauty.

A tingle travels from my arms to the rest of my body when I step foot in a new place. History and facts become my best friends and I want to hug them close, take countless pictures, preserve our memories and never let go.

Where did I get my love of travelling from? My parents, probably. Both were travel agents but not as liberal as me. There is a hunger within me. A thirst that can only be quenched if I go on an adventure of my own in a completely new land and walk among the past lives that still continue to stroll the streets.

Consider this my way of exploring and detaching myself from everyday life and living in the shoes of another, who once too only wanted to explore.