10 things I hate about being a foreigner in Karachi

1. The staring. From the moment you get out of the airport to the McDonald’s restroom or browsing in the bazaars.

Zahra Ullah September 12, 2010

1. The staring. From the moment you get out of the airport, wherever you are, whether it is a McDonald’s restroom or browsing in the bazaars, the constant staring makes you feel as if there is some deformity on your body or a target  on your face. Have you suddenly turned into the Bride of Wildenstein?

2. Loadshedding. The novelty of using the lavatory in the dark whilst the guard feebly attempts to get the generator working quickly wears off. And the sudden beaming of mobile phone lights at an aunty’s dinner party is not because you were about to rock out.

3. The language barrier. The blank faces as you mime and act your way through the day makes one realise why drama school didn’t work out. It can be infuriating to get responses like, “Aap apna mun dhona chahein gi?” after trying to mime that you wanted a drink.

4. The humidity. No, I don’t want to get my hair blow dried. Trust me, as soon as I go outside you’ll wonder whether I have even heard of a hair salon.

5. “Buzzzzz....buzzzzzzz”. The non-stop swatting away of the aggravating creatures that are mosquitoes. New research suggests extinction of mosquitoes would not have major detrimental effects to any ecosystem so do away with them already. Forget malaria, I just don’t like the whole “Hey, I’m rocking the bubonic plague” look.

6. Time management. The laid back attitude of Karachiites in making a plan. And if you dare to make plans the incredibly ridiculous need to be available at the drop of a hat, since 2 pm could mean 3, 4, 5 or 6 pm.

7. Traffic. Only in Karachi could driving over pavements to get from point A to B in a non-emergency be par for the course. And the resulting barrage of profanity directed at pedestrians is, of course, considered reasonable.

8. The belief that because you were born in a Western country you are a complete coconut (brown on the outside but white on the inside). Yes, I know what a “s-h-a-l-w-a-r k-a-m-e-e-z” is thank you very much and I do not require cutlery to eat a roti.

9. Special prices. “Baji, for you I do discount...urrrmm 750.” The ridiculous attempts to rip you off as a foreigner. I’ll take a rain check on that ‘special treatment’. The cheesy smiles and broken English won’t get you anywhere!

10. Not good for the waistline. Life in Karachi revolves around food. Aunty jees forcing you to try anything and everything even when you’ve said “no, thank you” ever so sweetly. But after forcing everything edible down your throat, they are also the first to comment on your bulging hips: “Hai, tum aaj kal kaafi healthy lag rahi ho!”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2010.


Ismail | 11 years ago | Reply
Things do not Change, we Change !
ayesha | 11 years ago | Reply COMPLETELY agree with sidra. you people need to realize that people in the rest of the world no longer take Pakistan seriously as a whole- whenever we disagree with someone or something we get so loud and irrational and take to the streets to shout slogans and burn things. You're all so engraged at someone's attempt to deal with everyday annoying situations with humor that you don't even realize you're all proving ANOTHER stereotype to be a fact by overreacting so much. It's really sad how we're so cold. We need to calm down and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Maybe we need a Rally To Restore Sanity in Pakistan. Where is your humor people?
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