Playing Tourist In My City Of Birth!
"Ten days and at least a million memories richer" is how I'd describe our trip to Karachi over Winter Break! You can probably tell by now that even though San Francisco is where I live (& I love to death) & has been our home for over 20 years (& where both our kids were born), Karachi still lives inside of me ... in my heart and soul! It's not easy to forget the smells of the city I grew up in, the rainy season when we would go out and play in the warm rain as kids only to rush back soaked & ready to devour the pakoras (fritters made with chickpea batter & stuffed with spinach or onions or cauliflower or mixed vegetables) that my mom had ready for us or the beautiful and soothing sounds of the Azaan (call to prayer) five times a day, although I'm certain I slept through the first one which is super early in the morning. Going to Hawkesbay or French Beach on the weekends with thermoses filled with piping hot chai (which evolved into beer or other drinks of choice as we grew older), eating dinner late at night every day (after 9 PM is the norm) and after a full night of partying at a friend's home going for Halwa Puri (deep fried crepe-like bread served with potato & chickpea curries followed by a clarified butter & flour-based dessert) at 5 AM. It's difficult to condense my 27 years of living in Pakistan (primarily in Karachi and my four years of undergrad in Lahore) and the sweet and some not so sweet memories that came with it into one blog post. It's literally these or at least some of these moments/memories/experiences that I try to recapture every time we visit in December. And more importantly, if I manage to have Isaad and Lyali experience even a sliver of what I grew up with I would consider it an incredible blessing!
Here are some highlights from our day as we drove around Karachi and took oh just a billion pics:) We spent a long time at the Mohatta Palace Museum, which is not only one of my favorite museums in the world but one of Karachi's most beloved and recognized landmarks too. The architecture of the building is just magnificent and was built using two kinds of stones - the pink Jodpur stones reminiscent of palaces in Rajasthan along with the yellow stones from an area in Karachi, called Gizri. We also stopped outside the shrine of an eight century Muslim mystic in a residential area called Clifton (I grew up living in this very neighborhood), where I was fortunate enough to take photos of these sweet young men dressed in bright yellow kurtas (tunics) playing the Dhol (a double-headed drum) outside the shrine.
The bigger and more developed cities in Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta) now have many western style malls which did not exist when I lived there in the 80's & 90's. And it's truly heartening to see the younger generation (and my age group and the older generations too) sitting at cafes and restaurants, going to movie theaters, shopping and enjoying busy and active lives. I bring this up because when my sisters and I were growing up we did not have many "going out" options and even most parties we went to would be in people's homes. It's a real pity too that the perception of Pakistan (partly because of the lack of proper media coverage plus a host of other reasons, of course) is rather negative and most people I talk to here seem to conjure up images of a largely rural nature when Pakistan is mentioned. For example, an acquaintance (I refuse to call this ignorant & uninformed buffoon a friend) asked me if there were goats on the plane that I flew on when I arrived here in 1997:)) Seriously, how stupid is that?? Or to this day, I get so amused when well-informed, educated people ask me how I speak English so fluently given that I grew up in Pakistan!!! Ummmm, I went to a Convent school there (yup, shocking that we have those there too) and grew up speaking English at home (Urdu with my Ami and English with my Baba). And while everyone is not accorded all these privileges I was so fortunate to have been blessed with, a LOT of people do speak English there because it's taught in the majority of the schools and it happens to be the language of commerce in Pakistan. But of course, these people have not bothered to step outside of their preconceived notions - hence their perspective (or lack thereof) is limited to imaginary goats on planes:)
Ok, no more venting but thank you VERY MUCH for listening to me! I have so much more to write about and share with you regarding our trip that I will probably do a few more posts in the coming weeks and talk more about my family and my life in Karachi. Meanwhile, I so hope you'll enjoy this little journey via my blog about my beloved city of birth, Karachi!!
Thank you as always for visiting my blog and for taking out the time to read my posts🙏🏽
Lots and lots of love from the stirrer;) Hugs, Sobia
Love you, my babies, Isaad, Lyali and Dalia for taking all these beautiful pics!!!