We were out one fine evening as is the ritual on Wednesdays for the usual ‘midweek drink and some quality boys time’ when we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam right around Metropole Hotel. It was about 8ish not that far from the usual rush hour traffic but not as near rush hour either to account for this awful traffic mayhem.
A car swooshed past nearly clipping the bumper of the vehicle i was driving, followed by a family of Burka clad women crossing the road on a green light but when two biker boys literally flew past as if on a quest to deal with a painful bowel movement and gave the side mirror a nasty hit, I had IT!!
I yelled “watch where you going asshole!” and where the fuck were these idiots going anyway at this hour? Where the fuck was everyone going around 8pm on a Wednesday night? Whats up with this bloody traffic!!?
Karachi is a big city and like all big cities we have traffic congestion issues, only here they are made worse by the fact that the public transport system is excruciatingly inadequate.
Wherever this hoard of Karachites were going I was one of them and I was going somewhere too. Or was I? Hmmm… well we were probably going to hang around, get some light dinner and do some work gossip, something we do every week… at the same spot,with the same four friends, talking about the same work shit, cribbing about the same girl issues, arguing about the same existential problems like how we should live our lives and what is happiness, in the same traffic jams, in the same city, the same…
Ok wait a minute what is this ‘the same’ nonsense you must be wondering I have started rambling about all of a sudden. Well leme explain, in that moment of rush hour frustration I realized something; our traffic problems are probably here to stay, what we can do differently however is choose to spend our time in a more creative manner than going out sitting around a dinner eating and staring at each others faces.
And you know what this is probably what everyone in this godforsaken traffic jam was going to do as well, once they get get free, sit around a table or a charpie and talk, talk and eat, and then talk some more.
I’ve had it! I really do not want to go through this tormenting rush hour traffic and do the same God dam thing every Wednesday and then some on Saturday. It is high time we update our leisure activities. Its kinda ironic how this new found realization arose from the very thing that I had been bitching about.
Anyway, people say there aren’t many places to explore and see in Karachi. I do not want to go in details why people think that way (I am ,ahem I WAS, one of those people too) but a little brainstorming, some patience, a very open mind and valha. I came up with a list of some very alternate and offbeat things us natives can do in our city.
And in this blog post I will share this list with you guys, leme know what you think 😉
1# Jinnah International Airport
Yes, our airport down the block! You get to see the weirdest people here from every social strata. There will be ‘notsowellof’ people sitting on the floor, waderay ka beta type uncles with police escorts, business folks in a power suit and an attache case always in a hurry, aunties pulling their loved ones to their bosom, couples huddled together on the benches, grandmas who can barely walk but have the spirit to travel and play host to distant relatives.
Its a fascinating place really, the most awesome part about our airport is the Viewer’s Terrace, from where you can stand and watch airplanes as they take off and land. There is also a 24 hours Mc Donalds and Money Exchange here too if you are up for a snack.
But above all the airport is one place where everyone seems, well, happy! At least in the arrivals section any way. A great place to kill time.
2# A Driving Around Trip
Sometimes the most complex questions have the simplest of answers. I am sure there is a large chunk of our population who has practically grown up hanging around just their cars and it is a pretty done to death hangout, but ones that never gets old. Period.
Your car is your best companion, you can literally do anything you want in it, and i really mean EVERYTHING!! Chill with your best friends, carry a dead hooker..jk :-), make out, spend time, smoke, change clothes or just go from point A to B. Take your pick. My favourite route starts from Shahr-e-faisal, all the way through clifton to devils point, to creek club and then through the Korangi bypass back to Shahr-e-faisal. Its a pretty long and smooth circuit with minimal traffic and you can stop by periodically for gas or food or some nice breeze at the sea.
Just don’t stop and eat at those make shift glorified sea front restaurants they are too expensive. I would rather grab a couple of rolls and just sit on the sea shore. But then again thats just me.
3# Sunday Church Mass
When I said offbeat up there I really meant offbeat. Ever been to a church? Astagfirullah!! hahah… for those with some sense for culture and experience, try attending a Sunday mass i have heard amazing things about it. There are two kinds of churches, Urdu and English. Karachi has a strong Christian population and you can imagine not all of them are fluent in English language, practices and norms. The St. Andrews church in Saddar is one of the oldest and is an English church. Also I have been told by some christian friends that there are areas in Karachi where there is a church every alternate house. Fascinating, but if you ever wanna go to these churches you will need to ask a fellow christian first, to avoid any unpleasant accidents.
4# The Temple
Some of my friends who are studying medicine went here with some questionnaires as part of a survey. This one is near Abdullah-Shah-Ghazi Mazar, is practically underground and is quite exquisite. I was not aware of this and was really pissed at myself for not knowing that such places do exist here in Karachi. Well, the fact that most people are not aware of places like these is a testament to how intolerant we are. Anyway, it is not easy to visit a temple but if you do manage to secure a visit and are not a Hindu, consider yourself privileged.
5# Highway Dinning Experience
I am sure many of you will be aware of this already. Most boys are aware of this one any way. There is a string of restaurants right on the edge of Karachi if you take the Sohrab gote or some other route. It makes for a long drive, some clean air, you actually feel the air different from Karachi city! and the food is not bad at all. There are two main competitors here, Al-Habib and Al-Siraj. Siraj serves this amazing Chicken Dhakka dish which I can assure you tastes a lot better then chicken strips at Roasters.
6# Aga Khan Jogging Track
Some of you would be like, WHAT? The Hospital?!… well we are talking about some really offbeat places whose potential is often under utilized. Aga Khan is built inside this amazing facility, outside the hospital buildings you have small ponds and some really good grass to sit and chit chat. Also there is the most maintained jogging track I have ever seen. The jogging track is part of Aga Khan rehab center which is off limits to outsiders however you can use the track for a modest fee. Although sometimes I skip this fee and sneak in whenever Im in the mood ‘cuse the place is wonderful. Relaxes your head.
7# The Sunday Bazaar
Imagine a flee market where you can find original albeit used prada bags and ray ban sunglasses. This place is a utopia for the urban women of Karachi, they never get tired of it. The bazaar convenes every Sunday in Phase 8 defense where a large empty plot gets covered with shanty huts, worn down marquees and food stalls for the whole day. Parking is easily available and if you are good at bargaining you can find a whole range of items ranging from, quality but used stuffed toys, clothes, bags, shoes, shirts, t-shirts, CDs, movie posters, music cassettes, jewelry, crockery, porn you name it.
If you can afford to spoil your beauty sleep on a Sunday and go for shopping in the heat, sunlight and dust to dig around some hidden inexpensive treasures, this is the place for you. Actually its a really cool place for chicks but dig around enough and there is something here for everyone.
8# My Rooftop
So some free spirited (zinda dil loga) among you might have gone through my list above saying you already knew most of these items. For the benefit of this lot i’m adding this last item on the ‘todo’ list. And yes I’m not kidding my rooftop deserves the kind of adulation and respect reserved for hot scenic places. Imagine an open starry sky, breezy, panoramic view of Shahr-e-Faisal, minimal car horns, complete privacy and a lot of vegetation around. I don’t know whether to call it the most romantic or stonner friendly spot but people come to my roof and are influenced by it. The roof becomes a part of them…
Speaking of which I was listening to this tune on my roof the other day, you might like it too. Advice: wait for the chorus…