Let me begin with the fundamentals. My father is employed by the government. As a result, he has a lot of postings. The majority of these postings were within Punjab, and since my family moved around so much, I spent the majority of my childhood in various Punjabi cities. Don’t get me wrong: every city, including Punjab, is unique. However, the general atmosphere is the same. Do you see what I’m getting at? It will speak the same language, eat the same food, dress the same way, and even use the same slangs. My father returns home one day with a posting order in his hand, and guess what? We’re relocating from Punjab to Karachi.
Now that we were relocating to Karachi, I had no plans other than to be separated from my friends and family. It was probably for the best that I had forgotten everything. This would be a whole new experience for me.
Khair, the packing process began, and my mother assumed command of the entire operation.
She was in her element as she packed her prized possessions while ordering my sister and me to pack our whole rooms. We’d been through this before and had done it many times before. But it was a little more sad this time because the thought of leaving Punjab and travelling so far away was new to us.
We moved to Karachi after we finished packing and all of our belongings were on their way in a truck. P.S. The first time you drive from Punjab to Karachi, it’s just fun.
We arrive in Karachi, settle into our new home, and begin our lives anew, as we always do.
All the travelling teaches you a few things, and I’ve never had trouble meeting new people and making new friends. So I began this chapter with the same acceptance and adaptation mindset, learning about the place that would be my home for the next two years (hopefully). I spent the next few months getting to know the area, meeting its residents, and learning about its culture.
I came in with the fear that my phone would be snatched in Karachi.
This may seem offensive to Karachi residents, but it was what I had heard on the news every time Karachi was mentioned. So, like anyone else who loves their cell, I went in expecting to have it snatched at gunpoint at any moment.
But, as it turned out, the city’s security had greatly improved, and the whole snatching thing was no longer as usual as it had been. I relaxed when I heard Yahan per mein ne ki apni pehli ghalti. You wouldn’t believe my luck – my phone is stolen just three days after I adopt a reasonably neutral position on the situation.
Karachi was also notable for its climate.
So, though different cities in Punjab experience different temperatures at different times, the overall climate is the same. When I arrived in Karachi, however, it was a totally different storey. It was constantly windy. It just wouldn’t end. Hawa chal rahi hai, jab dekho hawa chal rahi hai. This was one of my favourite features because the weather was still bearable, no matter how hot or cold it was.
Then there was Karachi’s language barrier.
When it comes to regional languages, I’m very interested in learning more about them and practising speaking them. So when I arrived in Karachi, Sindhi was on my mind, and I was eager to get started as soon as possible. However, it turned out that most people in Karachi speak Urdu, and I could never find the time to learn Sindhi even if I could find a native speaker in many settlements.
But it was the little quirks that were the most fascinating. The most important was the change from “kia” to “kara.” “Mein ne kaam kia” and “Mein ne kaam kara” are two different ways of saying “Mein ne kaam kia.”
Karachi’s streets have taught me something different.
They taught me that a one-way street does not exist. You can go either way as long as there is a lane. The traffic in Karachi was totally insane!
I’ve seen poor traffic in cities like Rawalpindi and Lahore, but nothing compares to the rush hour in Karachi. In Karachi, it’s also still rush hour. Even at 2 a.m., you can walk out and see that offices have just closed and people are rushing home. This was a new experience for me, and I’m still getting used to it.
Isn’t it true that “home is where the heart is”?
It’s sort of real, as corny as it sounds. Regardless of how many variations I find in Karachi’s culture and climate, or how much I equate it to other cities I’ve lived in, this is now my home. The people here, the food, the ups and downs, they’re all a part of it, and it’s now my home.