Karachi: A Few Thoughts So Far

First of all, thank you to Hani, Hadi, Huda, their parents, family and friends for brilliant hospitality.

The Wedding Dinner

Before I arrived to Karachi there were 3 functions: a dinner at Hani’s place; the Nikah (religious wedding ceremony in a mosque); and a fun evening of dancing and singing. In Turkey the wedding is legalised by a government official and religious wedding are not recognised. In Pakistan, the religious ceremony is the official wedding.

On the late evening of the 24th was Hani and Mehwish’s wedding dinner arranged by Mehwish’s family and held in a large tent, well decorated. 700 people attended, ate dinner and took turns to meet and have their photos taken with the newly-wedded husband and wife. Mehwish and many of the female guests were dressed in stunningly beautiful and colourful clothes, whilst Hani and the several of the male guests wore plainer but still beautiful traditional Pakistani sherwani. You will have to wait until I’m back in Turkey to see photos. Several of the females also sported elaborate henna tattoos on their hands and feet. A singer and keyboardist played live for part of the evening.

After dinner the Hani, Mehwish and their closest family and friends journeyed to Hani’s place to cut and eat the wedding cake. At the end of the night (after 2:30 am) Hani and Mehwish entered their bedroom for the first time together. Hani and Mehwish have been given the upstairs level of Hani’s family’s home. The rooms are exquisitely decorated and prepared.

Tonight is the wedding dinner prepared by Hani’s family.

Karachi

Karachi is a sprawling city of around 15 million people, the largest in Pakistan and one of the largest in the world. The roads are in poor condition and teeming with cars, buses, trucks, motorbikes and auto rickshaws. The buses and trucks are highly decorated, full of colour and stood out immediately to me on the way from the airport to Hani’s place.

Circling above the city are numerous eagles, floating around in the currents. I’ve never seen so many wild birds of prey in the vicinity of a city before. Crows are also plentiful.

The poverty is apparent with many disabled, children, elderly or other people begging or trying to sell products at traffic lights and outside shops. The military and police presence is also obvious.

Food

The food has been delicious and never-ending. I’ve eaten several different curries accompanied by different breads and fragrant long-grain rice. Lamb, beef, chicken and fish are all popular and meat dominates the diet. Omelettes and scrambled eggs have featured for breakfast.

The food is surprisingly mild and I haven’t eaten anything mouth-burning. For lunch one day several of us went to Cafe Zouk to eat Thai and last night we ate various Pakistani kebabs at the extremely popular BBQ Tonight, a mult-storey eatery that began as a street restaurant.

The most common drink is milky and sweet tea. Twice I’ve drunk it outside Cafe Clifton, a local hang-out where people drive up and get served in their cars.

Other Points Of Note

– Karachi has a sub-tropical but dry climate and the winter days are mild, sometimes almost warm, although the nights are cooler.

– Hani’s extended family live in 4 different houses on the one property. Several helpers (servants) do much of the work.

– Coconut palm trees abound.

– The locals stay up late. The earliest I’ve gone to bed (excluding the first day’s afternoon nap) here is 3 am.

– One night I went with several of Hani’s friends to Darwish’s (sp?) place in the consulate district. There we lit a fire on the roof of his family’s house. That night I stayed at Farooz’s place.

– Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a popular fuel for small vehicles as it costs less than half of conventional fuel.

– Today I managed to watch the last 10 minutes of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England, something I cannot watch in Turkey. Cricket is ingrained in the culture here and there are references to the sport everywhere. I have not had my first bat or bowl yet but I’m looking forward to when it occurs.

– Hani’s family and friends constantly switch between English and Urdu in the same conversations and even in the same sentences.

– English is very widely used here, although people are not native speakers. The results can be amusing.

That is all for now. I’m about to get ready for the wedding function tonight. I also hope to buy a flight to Lahore for tomorrow night or the morning of the 28th. Lahore is a prettier city than Karachi with more tourist sights.

PS: I can view but not reply to comments (or post) as I cannot access the commenting page. Infidel, in answer to your question: I’m not missing Turkey yet.

PPS: Thank you to all those who have send emails. I may not reply until I return to Turkey. Please forgive me.

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