I'll be honest, I was in two minds about coming here. You hear so much in the Western media about the violence in this area, and the hatred that Muslims have for people from the Western World, especially if they are Christain. So I was nervous about what I would find once I got to Karachi.
A wonderful welcome
What I found found is people who could not do enough for me - I am being treated like a queen. I feel incredibly honoured to have been given the opportunity to come to a country that has such a different culture. And I know the experience I am having now will stay with me for ever for all sorts of reasons....more about that in blog posts to come.
I am staying and working in the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Dr Rafat Jan is responsible bringing me over, and her staff are taking very good care of me. I have to laugh because the girls are very worried I am going to starve because of Ramadan, so they keep plying me with food. So my plan for losing weght is coming to nought...I'm going to go back to New Zealand fatter than I ever was!
As I mentioned before, Rafat and her team have had two traditional outfits made for me. I was taken to a tailor, who was very polite and didn't faint with shock when he took my measurements! I would never have found the tailor's shop in a month of Sundays. Amber took me up several flights of stairs in a rather dingy building. It was dark...lots of flys buzzing around suspicious looking objects....men staring at us as we passed. I was very glad Amber was with me because I would have felt extremely nervous by myself.
New but old friends
The other thing that makes me laugh is that Rafat introduces me as the person she met by way of Internet dating. I know there are many people who believe true friendship cannot be formed on the Internet, but my experience contradicts that. Rafat and I have been talking, mostly via Elluminate, for nearly three years and when we met on Tuesday, it felt as if we had known each other for years.
Living here on the university campus is a surreal experience. It feels very 'civilised' here. The buildings are beautiful. Clearly the people who work here are well off...or at least the academics, nurses and doctors are. Yet, just down the road there were riots last night and several people were killed. The city is currently holding its breath to see if more violence breaks out. I know there are refugee camps here, filled with displaced people from the floods. I also know there is terrible poverty, sickness, drug problems and so on here in Karachi. But here I am...sitting in my air conditioned room...linked up to very fast Internet...sending my tweets on Twitter and writing this blog post.
Two different worlds......just metres apart.
If you're interested, keep an eye on my YouTube and Flickr pages for more photos and videos about Karachi and my adventure here.