Let me start out with the basics. My father works as a government employee. This meant that he gets posted around a lot. Most of these postings have been within Punjab and since the family moves along, I spent most of my life in different cities of Punjab. Now don’t get me wrong, every city is different, even in Punjab. But the general vibe is the same. Do you get what I mean? Like, it’s gonna be the same language, same kind of food, same kind of dressing, and even the same kind of slangs. And then one day, my father comes home with a posting order in his hand, and guess what? We’re moving to Karachi from Punjab.
The idea of moving to Karachi from Punjab wasn’t a new one.
See, the thing is that we had been to Karachi before too. But that was around 13 years ago and, back then, I was so young that I hardly remembered anything except for how bad the beach smelled.
Now that we were moving to Karachi again, I had no expectations really except for how distant I would be from my friends and family. In a way, it was a good thing that I had forgotten everything. Now, this would be a new experience for me.
Khair, the packing phase started and my mom took over the entire operation.
You could see her in her element as she packed her beloved furniture while telling me and my sister to pack up our entire rooms. This whole ordeal wasn’t new for us since we’d done this multiple times over the years. But this time, it was a little sadder since the idea of leaving Punjab and going so far away was new to us.
Once we were done with packing and all our stuff was on its way in a truck, we moved to Karachi too. P.S: driving from Punjab to Karachi is only fun for the first time.
Lo and behold, we enter Karachi, settle into our new house and start life over, as we usually do.
I’m never really had trouble meeting new people and making new friends, all that moving teaches you a few things. So I started this chapter off with the same attitude of acceptance and adaptation, learning about the place that was gonna be my home for at least the next two years (hopefully). The next few months I spent taking the city in, meeting its people, learning about its culture. There were some changes (which I knew would be there) and they did stand out a little. I’m gonna go over the things that I found to be different from Punjab.
I came in with a heavy expectation of getting my phone snatched in Karachi.
This may come off as offensive to the people of Karachi but this is what I had heard in the news every time Karachi came up in the bulletin. So, like every other person who loves their phone, I came in with an expectation of getting it snatched at gunpoint any day.
But as it turned out, the security conditions of the city had improved quite a lot and the whole snatching thing wasn’t as common anymore as it had gotten. Yahan per mein ne ki apni pehli ghalti, and I relaxed. Well, you wouldn’t believe my luck – three days after I adopt a relatively neutral stance about the whole situation, my phone gets stolen right out of my pocket in a bus.
Karachi did not disappoint me after all.
Karachi also stood out because of its climate.
So basically, even though different cities of Punjab have different temperatures at the same time, the general climate is the same. But when I came to Karachi, it was like a completely different thing. It was windy, constantly. Like, it wouldn’t stop. Jab dekho hawa chal rahi hai. This was one thing I really liked because the weather was always bearable regardless of how hot or cold it got.
Then, there was the language barrier in Karachi.
When it comes to regional languages, I have a keen interest in learning about them and trying to speak them. So when I came to Karachi, Sindhi was on my mind and I really wanted to dive in head-first as soon as I got there. But as it turned out, most people speak Urdu in Karachi and, in many settlements, I could never find the time to learn Sindhi even if I could find a native speaker.
But the most interesting part was learning the little quirks. The biggest one was the shift from “kia” to “kara”. “Mein ne kaam kia” vs. “Mein ne kaam kara”. It took me quite a while to get used to this one and I still don’t how why this is a thing, but I guess it’s as much a part of Karachi as anything else.
The roads of Karachi taught me something new as well.
They taught me that there is no such thing as a one-way road. As long as there is a road, you can go both ways. Karachi’s traffic was absolutely overwhelming!
I mean, I had seen bad traffic in cities like Rawalpindi and Lahore but nothing beats Karachi’s rush hour. Also, it’s always rush hour in Karachi. Like, even at 2 in the morning, you go out and it looks like offices just closed and people are rushing to get home. This was something I still haven’t gotten used to.
Do you know that cliche, “home is where the heart is”?
As cheesy as it sounds, it’s kinda true. No matter how many differences I find in Karachi’s culture and atmosphere and no matter how much I compare it to other cities I’ve lived in, this is my city now. The people here, the food, the highs and lows, all are a part of it, and it’s home now.
Cover image via AFP/File/geo.tv