It makes no sense to be apologetic about Karachi. Instead, embrace reality, express it in the language you really use and slap it on a t-shirt. For example:
No double sawari at Katti Pahari.
Rehman Malik: Dehshat gardon ke khilaf karwai ki jaegi. Topi Alert.
These are the pithy one-liner ‘tips’ on Karachi created by three students, Baakh Nusrat, Abdullah Syed and Bilal Khan who decided to venture out from posting them online via Facebook and Twitter to launch KarachiTip t-shirts once their fan base crossed 15,000. The ‘ceremony’ was held at Cafe Coffee Day off Tariq Road where the excited young trio – they’re between 18 and 21 years old – sold the shirts for Rs550 a pop.
“One of our aims is to bring both positive and negative aspects of our city into the spotlight and portray them via productive humour,” explained Abdullah Syed while holding a shirt that stated, “City of lights, city off lights. Love it either way.” The idea is to say what everyone is thinking, to put it out there, to create a sense of unity among the madness. It may be small but it’s a step in the right direction for a city that is rent apart by divisions.
Indeed, so popular was the concept that it went viral after its June 2 launch on the internet. The irony is, though, that KarachiTips was not an original idea. It was inspired by the Facebook phenomena known as BroTips – comical one-liners centred on popular culture. But somehow, KarachiTips hit the spot because of its unique grounding in Karachi, a city which may have a population of 20 million but whose residents share the same challenges.
The KarachiTips team has mined this rich vein, captured the way the city talks and plugged in to the energy of young people especially. Take this thumbing off to Lahore, for example: “Your best argument in a Lahore vs. Karachi argument is well, we have the beach”.
The shirts come in five designs and five colours and can be ordered via their Facebook page. On Saturday, at the launch, they were selling like hotcakes to a crowd of 40 people. “It’s all about the message we portray, we aim to unite the city despite our differences” explained Baakh.
Their long-term goal is to create a platform that ultimately promotes Karachi’s culture. “There are very few things that create awareness about the positive side of Karachi therefore we aim to do so in a humorous way,” explained Syed. “Shirts are the first step; our next step is to get involved with community projects in order to reignite a love for Karachi.” Sab set hai.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2011.
Some of the tips can be seen here.