This August I completed my six years in Islamabad, the capital city and probably the most misunderstood city in Pakistan. Having spent twenty years in Lahore and eight years in Karachi, when I decided to move to Islamabad my friends from Lahore and Karachi kept on repeating the below 6 myths to me. I am calling them myths, because it turns out none of them are true, and you find that out once you actually start living in Islamabad.
Islamabad Myth #1: Islamabad shuts down at 9 PM and it’s a dead place by 9:30PM
Anyone who tells you that Islamabad is closed by 9 PM has either not traveled to Islamabad in last five years or is in the habit of sleeping early. Lahoris and Karachites when you visit Islamabad try visiting F-11 Markaz, Kohsar Market or Jinnah Super around mid-night and you will discover for yourself that Islamabad is wide awake.
Islamabad Myth #2: Islamabad is boring
This one is a bit subjective, let me list down what fun means in Lahore and Karachi’s context first
- Binge eating at Kolachi/ BBQ tonight, or at MM Alam road’s fancy ( mostly unhygienic restaurants)
- If you are a lady, fun would be standing in line for latest lawn prints every season
- If you are a guy, fun would be watching and sharing a “certain” type of content on whatsapp.
I have news for your, all of the above are available in Islamabad.
Islamabad Myth #3: Islamabad is a big village
Islamabad is the most cosmopolitan city in Pakistan (sorry Karachi, its true). The kind of multicultural diversity you encounter in Islamabad is to be nowhere found in Pakistan. From Chinese nationals, to Persian Speaking Afghans, to wannabe mullahs from Middle East and Africa studying at International Islamic university and not to mention all the different ethnicities from all across the country makes it the most diverse city.
Islamabad Myth #4: Islamabad is 10Kms from Pakistan
It is true that Islamabad is the cleanest and greenest city in Pakistan with none of the congestion that you experience in other cities. It is still very much a typical Pakistani city, in many ways. Thanks to Pindi boys and the Mirpuri crowds who throng Islamabad on Eids and national holidays, one feels right at home. Try taking a ride in Islamabad metro bus and you will know what I mean.
Islamabad Myth #5: You can go from one corner of Islamabad to other in 10 mins
Ever heard of Bahria Town, Chak Shahazd, Bani Gala or Barakhu? Yes they are part of Islamabad too, and the commute is just as bad as on Share-e-Faisal or on Canal road in Lahore
Islamabad Myth #6: Life in Karachi and Lahore is fast paced compared to Islamabad
When you live in Karachi or Lahore you spend half of the day on roads, commuting, and by the time you reach home you have a small window to do everything else. Hence the feeling that life is fast paced! In Islamabad you have more time at your hands but that is going to change soon (the traffic is getting worse and new shopping malls are opening up with no provision for Parking).