As I walk into the airport, I am hit with the smell of dirt, sweat, and heat all mixed together. Outside the sky is pitch black but there are no stars to be seen due to the multitude of lights surrounding the city. There are people, so many people as we leave the airport. Young, old, poor, rich, dirty, clean. All of them either waiting for their loved ones to come out or begging the civilians for scraps of food. This is Karachi.
Where there is no set place for a class of people. Everyone intermingles with each other and try to cope with others not of their level. We leave to go to my grandma's house in a white car. As we are on the highway, I can see cars, rickshaws, bicycles, and motorcycles, especially motorcycles, zipping by us. Sometimes, they are so close that if I were to reach my hand out I would brush my hand along the vehicles. In this city, there is no care about paying attention to traffic laws.
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There are up to five people on motorcyles. There are enough people in a car that it has to be a fire hazard. There are even people weaving in and out of the fast moving traffic, without the cars slowing down even once for them to pass. As we get off the highway, I am hit with an assault to my senses. There are wedding halls with their colorful neon signs intermingled with dirty restaurants, stalls, wagons with fruit on which there are flies, and diners dotting the landscape. At this time of night (eleven o'clock) weddings are just starting and people are just coming out of their houses to experience the night after their afternoon which was spent in their house in order to avoid the burning sun and the heat that accompanies it. This is Karachi.
The city that wakes up at night and stays alive until the wee hours of the monring where it then calms down, waiting for the approcahing night. When we reach my grandparents and ring the doorbell, the first thing we hear is "who is it?" No one is allowed to open the door for anyone without asking for fear of robbers of even killers being on their doorstep. When we enter, the first thing I see are children. So many children. Generally, Pakistani families are big and they are close, and my family is no exception. Everyone greets us. Uncles, aunts, grandparents, greataunts, godmothers, etc. Everyone is there to welcome us home. Because this is home. Pakistan is a lot of things, but what the rest of the world fails to remember is that there are people who live here. Innocent civilians who have no where to go and families to protect.
Karachi may be an unusual city, but it is MY city and I am glad to finally be home and spend my summer shopping, spending time with my family, and eating from both stalls and five star hotels because Karachi may be a lot of things, but it does not discriminate and people of every class are out there living in each others worlds. I am glad to be home and glad to be back in my beloved Karachi.
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