Yannick Hug, a German student of Anthropology visited Karachi as an intern for the Tribune. In an insightful piece, he talks about how he, as an outsider, views Karachi. Living in the city, we’re all almost often so wrapped up in our fast paced lives we barely take a moment to look around; we barely take a moment to look around and reflect at what we’ve turned Karachi into, such that when a fresh pair of eyes look at it, this is what they see:
1. The rich and the poor dichotomy
You’ll see people extravagantly spending thousands on a meal, and you’ll see people begging for one.
2. The food
This one’s hard to ignore. No foreigner can avert their eyes from the flavorsome food that Karachi offers in every nook and corner of the city. From extravagant restaurants to street food, the diversity that Karachi offers with respect to food is astonishing.
3. The garbage
Waste disposal remains one of Karachi’s central issues. You can’t get to another street without encountering mounds of garbage; you spot people throwing trash around every day, and sewerage water out on the streets is no novelty to us.
4. The gun culture
Yannick Hug expressed his surprise over the fact that people take pride in owning weapons here. Security guards, for example, have become more of a status symbol, like the latest version of a “smartphone”; more of a fashion statement than a necessity.
5. The VIP culture
While Yannick Hug seemed touched by the hospitality and reverence we exhibit towards foreigners, the inferiority and contempt with which we treat those who belong towards a lower socio economic background weren’t lost to him.
6. Increased political empowerment
Our youth is increasingly participating more and more in the running and civic affairs of our country. Yannick Hug raises an important point about how public engagement is just as, if not more, crucial than the government’s involvement, to the development and progress of a country.
To borrow the idea from an eminent bestselling author, Arundhati Roy, Karachi exists in different points in time. There’s a Karachi that’s developed and up-to-date with the modern world; there’s also a Karachi that exists in ancient times, waiting to catch up with the rest of the world.
His article offers an interesting insight into Karachi’s evolution; are we embracing fast paced growth as a means to progress at the expense of our essence? Perhaps in becoming just another one of those American cities, we’re shedding our values and culture and losing what makes us, us.
Originally published by The Express Tribune.