where tourists dare to thread
29.04.2007 -17 °C
Looking at some of the exotic, exciting places that many of you have traveled to, Karachi Pakistan is not where someone might steer to add to their holiday travel destinations.
It has been been nearly 30 years since I have been back to Karachi. I was born here and went to High School and University. So much has happened since I left in 1970. For many years it took a back row in the world of international politics. Then the whole world changes with 911 and Pakistan came into the spotlight. President Musharaff decided it was time Pakistan become an ally to America. With much opposition from the home front he helped the American forces rid Afghanistan of the dear Taliban. The West has viewed it with suspicious eyes and the media has portrayed it as a country where the favorite pastime is to protest on the streets against the West.
Inside of St. Patrick's Church where our family went for Mass
Karachi is a cosmopolitan city where people of all religions lived. At one time it was the Capital of Pakistan till Islamabad took over.
The Catholics, Parsis, Hindus, Jews and other ethnic minorities lived in harmony. Religious and ethnic tolerance was totally accepted. We lived in diverse neighborhoods, went to school, while our parents worked and socialized.
H.J. Behrana Parsi Dare-E-Meher
But much has changed since the good old days, Karachi has been tainted by foreign extreme religious bigots who till recently were trying to create a wedge between all the ethnic minorities living there.
This is also the city where Daniel Pearl was killed and his killer was later apprehended. But the people of Karachi are strong and talking to friends and people on the streets most of them do not support the religious extremists. They would like to move ahead and show the world that Muslims can co-exist in this global community in spite of their portrayal in the Western media as flag "burning goondas" (thugs) I found life is vastly diverse at least in Karachi.
My visit back was bittersweet. I was surprised how vibrant the city has become and like any other city in the world it is suffering growing pains.
Rickshaws and decorated buses with a dash of smog
The population has exploded and that brings overcrowding,endless traffic and unwanted pollution.
I noticed that Karachi has become quite the city of malls and restaurants. Families dining out on the weekend has become a popular social trend. Local cuisine varies, from excellent Chinese restaurants, BBQ joints and American fast foods like McDonalds, KFC, Straw Hat Pizza to Subways, are scattered all over. It sure looks like the worry over terrorism has taken a back seat to fine dining and fashion.
With family and friends at BBQ Tonight a popular eatery in Clifton
Young male and female designers are displaying the fine cottons and fabrics incorporating local embroidery with a splash of bold colours and styles at the same time respecting the code of modesty.
They are presenting their creations on exotic models with an Eastern flair as you see on this video
Pakistani Fashion Scene 2012
There is a plethora of television cable stations who follow the same standards as the rest of the world producing game, talk, fashion and reality shows.
One of the most popular is hosted by a talented female impersonator poshly named Begum Nawazish Ali who interviews local celebrities, actors, activists and religious leaders and sometimes politicians.
I know it's 2007 and we are talking about an Islamic country but that is one of the few surprises that caught my eye.
The Night Show with Begum Nawazish Ali, move aside David Letterman!
The Government and religious leaders have little or no control over the air waves. Pakistani pop music has really exploded as musicians, writers and singers have a new generation that were born with their i pod's and music downloads. The musicians are not tied to Lollywood (Pakistan's version of Hollywood) - the local film industry so they do not have to mass produce music like their counterparts across the border India.As a result have more creative freedom with their music and videos.
Meesha Shafi - Overload - Mela Kariye.
They may not have all the latest in western technology and may be lacking the mass production of slick videos we watch on our music channels but they have introduced Pakistan-MTV and local FM radio channels are popular with the masses. Female singers and writers are not far behind their male counterparts and also very visible in the media arena.
I was there for a short time so I snapped pictures with an old 35mm since the digital camera was ruined by an open water bottle in our back
St. Patricks's Church
I only stayed in Karachi for a few days but when I left I had a different perspective after being away for so long.