Monday, May 30, 2011

Surviving but not succeeding

There isn’t enough electricity. A lot of natural gas. Lots of money, with a select few. A lot of confusion, and uncertainty. Pakistan. Specially, Karachi, is one difficult place to live, to remain spirited and upbeat.

We have all the problems that any city in this country faces, plus, violence, and water shortage. There are the obvious thugs, guns and all. A lot of them.

Even more, we have those thugs which rob us out, in suits and ties. Educated thugs. They have got degrees to cheat us into lose-lose situations. Tuition centres, consultancies, hospitals.


The city is clearly divided. Each town is divided. On the basis of race, status, and religious affinity. Army areas, posh areas, slum areas, Pathan areas, Mohajir areas, Christian areas, and the list keeps going. This city is an incorrectly placed jigsaw puzzle. Its not a pretty mosaic. Its a metropolitan of problems.

African Pakistanis, and Pathan Friends

It keeps running. How?

Yet, there is one thing which keeps this city running. Its people. The are durable. A lot like the ‘cockroach’. It survives the atom bombs of violence, electricity shortage, and traffic jams. Daily. Without giving in. The Karachiite, just keeps going on. The city keeps living.

A street in Machar Colony, following the August storms over Karachi.

However, just like that durable cockroach, the Karachiite, does not have anything special in itself. Its only speciality is its art of survival. You will find that the people living in the city may be good, but they are seldom, amazing.

Partly, this is because they are so transfixed on their day to day affairs. There is a serious dearth of long term vision. The end goal every Karachiite seeks is a better life. The focus, is never on the more revolutionary mission: better city.

Yes, there have been moments of brilliance. We have had campaigns like I own Karachi, and radio stations, like Apna Karachi, which have tried to capture, and enhance the essence of the city. We may have the Kara Film festival, the Kucha-e-Saqafat (Culture street), but en masse, this is a dead metropolitan.

Kucha-e-SaqafatThe citizens, have learnt to live with it. This is a dangerous situation. An acceptance for mediocrity, leads to imminent failure. The Karachiite, has to stand up.

The Karachiite has to stand up.

He has to ensure that its education system is dynamic. He has to ensure that the examination system is fair. He has to have a leader. Someone to lookup to, in times of happiness, and in times of anxiety. A leader who meets the spirit of Karachi.

Again, there was this flash of brilliance. The city looked beautiful, heading towards prosperity. The city had a mayor, whom everybody looked up to.

Karachi  Malir River Bridge  cdgk (1)

Again, this was temporary. This leader had to leave. The city left wanting. Again, the Karachiites, continuing to brave out the tyrannies of Karachi.

Brave it out. Over, and over, again.

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