It’s the Smell of Karachi I Tell You

It’s the Smell of Karachi I Tell You

I spent some time this weekend going through blogs related to Karachi. I am not sure why I do that – it only depresses me. When I see snapshots of the city it looks very much like the place I left behind. The buildings remain, and the smog clouds your eyes. I happened upon this website that had a great picture on it that really speaks to my memories of the place. For a few moments I am gripped with a powerful urge to buy a ticket to go home. But then I remember that no one goes to Mr. Burger anymore because now we have a McDonalds. That KFC is the hip happening place to be and that Copper Kettle’s Baked Alaska just doesn’t have the same flavour that it once did. I remember that everyone lives on DSL and that the old school rotary phones are hard to find. I remember that all of my friends from my childhood have grown up, gotten married, and had children years ago and we really have been out of touch for years. I remember that Chapel Apartments – once a safe haven for me – has now fallen into disrepair and no longer has the same view of the beach that it once did. I remember that the Seaview road now goes much farther than it did when I was younger, and an entirely new landmass has been built in a land reclamation project. I remember that Jumma Bazaar is now Itwar Bazaar and last time I went I saw a bunch of young girls wearing tank tops and capris with no chaadar. And when I say young girls I mean teenagers, and they weren’t foreigners who didn’t know any better – they were desi like me. I wonder when that became ok. When did it become appropriate to run around with your arms and legs showing in Karachi? When did they stop selling old MAD magazines at the book walla, and speaking of which where did he go? He left and took all his old Archie Comics with him. The chili chips are gone – replaced with some awful chip that comes in the same bag but tastes like crap. Kaybees ice-cream leaves a film all over your mouth that requires immediate tooth brushing. About the only thing that is exactly the way I remember it is Zeenan. They made the best Chicken Tikka ever.

This is why I don’t go back. I didn’t get to watch these changes occur over a long period of time. For me it was a culture shock return. One day I left and Karachi was my home, the next day I came back and suddenly it had been taken over by McDonalds.

But sometimes I get lucky and come upon posts by people who live there still, and they remind me of all the things I love about that place. Thank goodness for the internet.

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