Karachi is known as Pakistan’s City of Lights – even with all the power shortages – because it’s a city that never sleeps. Head out at 3 am in the heart of the city with a craving for some piping hot Nihari and some chai, and you will find roadside restaurants up and ready to serve. This coastal metropolitan city has a heterogeneous culture, distinct energy and great food – just some of the many reasons why you should visit it over Lahore or any other city.
Being the largest social hub of the country Karachi has a culture of its own that is not limited to any one group of people, language, practices or norms. There are different communities that reside all over Karachi and all of their different cultures have seeped into Karachi’s large web of social intuitions. An average Karachiite could have gone to a Catholic or Parsi school, have Sunni, Shia and Hindu friends and enjoy Burmese Khao Suey served at a lunch party hosted by his Aga Khani business client whom he met at Sindh Literature Festival. This is exactly what Karachi is all about.
Though Karachi lies in the very south of the country, the faces of its population bear marks of harsh winters, edgy mountains, arid deserts, lush green mustard farms and treacherous seas. The city may have started as a humble fisherman’s village but today it does not belong to just one people. Rather, families from all four corners of Pakistan work in Karachi either running their own businesses or working for others. A busy street in Karachi will resound with different languages like Urdu, Sindhi and Pashto; people in Karachi cannot and do not discriminate. All these people have come to Karachi to earn a living, making it the 6th most populous city in the world.
Karachi is a tireless city that is always pumping. From the break of dawn until late into the night the enterprises of this city keep going. Somehow, people of Karachi are always up-to something. It could be shopping, eating, riding around the sea views on bikes, selling street food, drinking chai or getting high on hashish. During the day, there is rarely a road in the city that will not be lined with cars or people. From the old port that supports the economy of the entire country to the new era Ubers that gets people around the town, businesses and transactions are always flowing.
Because so many different people live here the food in Karachi has collected its flavors from many sources – yet still has its own taste. Biryani, Nihari, BBQ Kebabs, Haleem, Achar and Karahi are some of the best offerings here. The taste palate of Karachi is hot, spicy, salty and involves gravy more than curry. Seafood is popular in Karachi too as its the only major city by the sea, and fried vegetables and lentils are also common. However, its not just local cuisine that is great here. Karachi also sports many fine restaurants and cafes serving international favorites.
You will find everything that comes in and goes out of the country, in Karachi. Exquisite fabrics, local crafts, guns, food products, machinery and other items can be easily found here. The economic class of the city’s population vary highly and so do their needs. All kinds of products and services are available for all budgets.
Thanks to its stature and ethnic diversity the people of Karachi are considered more secular, tolerant and hospitable. Not only are the locals used to having many different people working under one roof but they share the city with 2 million Bangladeshi immigrants, 1 million Afghan refugees and around 400,000 Rohingya asylum seekers from Myanmar. For Karachi to function and thrive there is no room for intolerance. Regardless of some extremist elements trying to spread disorder the people here remain united because they do not see ‘different’ as a threat.
Not convinced yet? Well, this city is also counted as one the world’s cheapest cities, and it really is! Survival here is not hard and basic amenities like food, clothing and shelter are still much cheaper here than in most places around the globe. Although real estate prices have risen to great heights and imported products are costly, the landscape and climate of Pakistan allows most food like fruits and vegetables to be grown locally and be sold at affordable prices.