Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First impressions of Karachi

My first impressions of Karachi are that it's a wild, crazy, frantic place...full of energy...a place of contrasts.

Taking my life into my hands
The first thing that struck me was the traffic. If you want an adrenaline buzz, don't waste your time bungy jumping or sky-diving...all you need to do is get in a car, or better (or worse, depending on your point of view) a scooter and drive down the main streets. Everyone is rushing around in different directions...amazing speeds...honking their horns and determined that they will not be the one to get out of the way. Whole families take their lives in their hands on one scooter...with no crash helmets. I tell you...taking a drive is more fun and more terrifying than the fastest roller coaster at Disney World.

What I have seen of Karachi has been mostly by car. There are areas of the city that are not safe to go. And it is a little intimidating to see soldiers and security men around with guns. But I do not get the sense the place is under lock down. I would not go anywhere on my own, but I feel very safe when I am escorted by the folks here.

I would like to take photos because I know people back home will be interested to see where I have been, but I am very wary and not wanting to attract attention. I hope to get some photos when I go out sight-seeing at the weekend.

On the first day I got here I was taken shopping...these women I am working with are women after my own heart! They have bought material to be made into two Kameez Shalwar for me. I just adore the colours that the women wear - so pretty and far more colourful than the clothes we wear in New Zealand. Wearing a Kameez Shalwar will make me feel a lot less conspicuous when we go out and about.

The food is fabulous. I thought I would find it too hot and spicy but it is what I am used to eating when I go to an Indian restaurant in New Zealand, or when my husband cooks a curry at home. It is Ramadan at the moment which means people fast during day light hours. This hasn't been a problem for me because I have been given lots of fruit to eat during the day - I've got a whole fridge full of mangoes. The thing I focus on is drinking plenty of water so I don't get too dehydrated. It is very hot and muggy here, but the air conditioning stops me getting too hot. The main thing I have noticed is my feet are swelling up which is really uncomfortable - I'll have a lot more sympathy for people with oedema from now on.

I am staying in the woman's hostel on the campus of the Aga Khan University. It is extremely safe with lots of security guards. I am totally happy now I have full Internet access. I've already had chats with people from home on Skype and Gtalk - it is lovely to know people are thinking of me. And of course, regular Facebook updates are obligatory these days.

Everyone has been extremely kind and welcoming and have bent over backwards to make sure I am comfortable. In my next blog post I tell you more about what I am doing while I am here.


Pam said...

So great to hear from you

Carolyn Hastie said...

Thanks for keeping us up to date. The reception from the people sounds delightful. I'm looking forward to hearing about your teaching session.

Merrolee said...

great to have your update - so no pressure stockings?????

keep safe - look forward to reading your posting :-)

starpath said...

A colourful description. We have been told of the flooding in Pakistan which is causing so much grief for the people. You may find it harder to get news of the region even although you are there. Thanks for your post.

Karen Humber said...

Your descriptions make me feel like I am there with you. Amazing that there can be such huge differences on this one planet eh? And thank goodness too. Otherwise life would not be near so interesting! And to think that is something as universal as birth that has brought you there.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks everyone for keeping in touch...I really appreciate it...makes me fel less homesick.

I have to say, Merrolee, I'll be wearing the stockings from now on :)

Jo Lundman said...

Thanks for the update - what a wonderful experience... I look forward to keeping up with your adventure

Rachel said...

Will look forward to more updates Sarah, sounds as though you have are having a great time though.

Jane Scripps said...

I have enjoyed reading through your blogs so far Sarah, in this land of space and few people we tend to forget how hectic life is for others.
A photo of you in your new gear would be great.

Look forward to the next one

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks everyone for keeping in touch with me...I really appreciate it...makes me feel less alone (not that I am because everyone is taking such good care of me)...makes me feel very connected to physical and virtual home...

willie campbell said...

wouold love w photo of you inyour new clothes. I might be tempted to make some for wearing in Dunedin. are you on for that?

Sarah Stewart said...

Have a look at my Flickr page for photos of me in my new outfit:

I would be up for wearing these clothes all the time - they are very comfortable and feminine. But I won't be able to wear these outfits much because it will be too cold.