Karachi never ceases to amaze. Despite its many problems it is a truly cosmopolitan
place, where several subcultures exist in a truly teeming melting pot. Here people
from both ends of the political spectrum are represented, as well as everyone
Yet at times the juxtapositions one sees are so truly bizarre that they deserve
to be repeated and shared. The other day a friend was in a hospital waiting
room waiting for his turn to see a doctor. Two gentlemen — they seemed
to be quite overtly religious considering their skull-caps, high shalwars and
with one sporting a flowing beard — were waiting ahead of my friend.
Suddenly the bearded man’s cellphone rang. My friend was in utter disbelief
and quite thoroughly amused when he heard that the man’s ring-tone was
in fact a Christmas carol (We wish you a merry Christmas)! Now there were two
possibilities for this.
The first was that the bearded man, defying stereotypes, was a great proponent
of the theory that all religions should come closer together and motivated by
that noble ideal had caught the Yuletide spirit. The other possibility was that
he had no idea what his ring-tone meant.
What would have been really funny, says my friend, is that if the Christmas
caroller’s younger, not bearded but equally religious-looking companion
featured Hava Nagila, the popular Jewish folk song, as his ring-tone. In this
city anything’s possible.
The other bizarre thing that I have personally witnessed was a message scrawled
on the rear licence plate of a motorcycle.
Now Karachi’s motorists are known to decorate the rear windows of their
cars or their motorcycles with absolutely ridiculous
slogans. Why tell the whole world the car belongs to ‘Sweet Zeeshan’
or whether the chap riding the motorbike is a ‘Fanter’ or an ‘Enconter
But though these and other idiotic messages are mildly amusing, what really
got me was the message ‘drink and drive’ pasted on the back of a
motorcycle. Apart from the fact that this is really bad advice, what was shocking
was the fact that the man riding the motorcycle was amply bearded and was old
enough to be someone’s grandfather, not the type I’d associate with
drinking and driving.
From these few experiences I have arrived at the conclusion that a large majority
of this city’s citizens have no idea about what they’re talking
about. It might look cool to have something in English scrawled on your car’s
rear window or an exotic sounding tune fed into your mobile, but many of us
are absolutely clueless about their true meanings.