There’s a level of chaos involved in the Karachi experience - that is, living a normal, everyday life in the Pakistani city.
It’s the 11th most populated city in the world, one that’s been economically impacted by a number of factors (as has the country as a whole) over the last few decades.
And it shows in many ways - from the rattled infrastructure to the worn-out yet still hauntingly beautiful colonial era buildings to the madness that is Karachi traffic.
Indeed, getting things done in Karachi requires a level of grit, ingenuity And persistence. It requires you to think beyond the comfortable confines of the strictly enforced rules and regulations that we unconsciously take for granted living in the west.
Nothing exemplifies this more than driving through the city. Four lane roads become six (or more, depending on the size of the vehicle). Traffic lights appear to be optional. And any available opening is seized upon as if we’re all participating in a F1 race and prizes awaited us at some mysterious end point. (I never thought I’d experience anything worse than Delhi traffic - until I came here.)
Add to that the state of the cityscape - infrastructure, buildings and more that have experienced limited investment over the years, and more than showing the strains of it. (So disheartening given what I remember of this city from back in the 1980s.)
It’s a state of affairs that leaves folks like me - part of what (from one vantage point) you might call the coddled diaspora - with frayed nerves, raised blood pressures and wits tested to their utmost. What might take us a few weeks to get done in the US (say, simple official paperwork) can take months or even a year here. It would appear to anyone who comes here from abroad to be an impossible situation to live in, especially on an ongoing basis.
But the funny thing is, people do. And their work does get done. The city runs and hums and ticks along and people live their lives as they can and want. It might take longer than you or I are used to, it might require (many) more hoops to jump through and we’re used to, but it’s done.
Which makes me think that when we complain about our own issues living in the US (and I absolutely include myself in this), we tend to take for granted our ability to operate so seamlessly and effortlessly within our societies. We have, for the most part, the luxury of having at our disposal, a system that works and gets things done as and when we need them.
And yet, we’ll find excuses to not do what we need to do. Even with what we have available to us, it doesn’t seem enough.
Of course, it is enough.
The issue is really with us. With our expectations. With our own will to make things happen. With our ability to find a way, because we have the will.
Perspective. It’s a valuable thing. It isn’t about what we’re given at the end of the day. It’s all about us. Let’s get on with it.