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#1 Jul 17 2012 at 9:27 AM Rating: Decent
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I know a couple of you are interested in this stuff, so I figured I'd make a post.

Now my residence here is in Karachi. I've heard from various sources that Karachi is the most dangerous city in the world right now, that Karachi is on adventurous travellers' top 5 not to visit list, etc. I've heard from Karachi residents that the main fault lies with the media (Pakistani media tend to fill up the space that'd normally be dedicated to naked girls with violence instead, with pictures and everything); crime statistics show that it's no worse than a number of US cities or Mumbai.

Most killings are targetted, which is good because if you're not a target, you should be safe, but then a couple of things happen. For one, MQM (the muhajir/Indian migrant/Urdu speaking political party) will call a strike which means all shops need to stay closed or they will shoot them down. And then after some murder that's widely publicised, random people will start rioting and if you're on the road your car might get set on fire. There was only one "important" killing (that triggered stuff like that) while I was there, so that was good. Most people at my work took the day off and the bank was closed.

Due to the fact that it's really unstable, I'm not allowed out over there without rather heavy protection (guns and all) and a very long bureaucratic process of security clearance protocols, and even then usually only in certain areas unless someone volunteers to take responsibility. Yay, being white and female. The stupid thing is that there are very safe areas to the south, but the city is so large it'd take at least 45 minutes to get there, in good traffic.

The upside is, I work in probably the best workplace in all of Pakistan (which is also better than most workplaces in the developed world). For that alone, I will try and return to Karachi next year.

And then there's the fact that I get comforts. Cleaners, drivers, people to bring me bread randomly and all that. Plus a really fancy room.

Without the security situation, it would be pretty awesome. I love how you can walk along a street and a completely different smell will hit you every 2 yards. I love the atmosphere when security is not an issue for a little while. I love the colours. I love when there is hope.

In the end, there is still a very simple way to describe why I can't commit to the place 100%: It's neurotic. The whole **** city of 20m is neurotic.

Karachi link that is nice

Karachi link that is not so nice




Then last weekend I went to Islamabad/Rawalpindi. People stare more because there's no guy pointing a gun at them when they do, especially in Rawalpindi - Islamabad is so full of foreigners no one cares anymore. Islamabad itself is ridiculously beautiful (it's like DC, but with better weather) and green and fancy and completely safe while still being the second cheapest city in the world (after Karachi). Rawalpindi is just another city kind of like Lahore or Karachi but not quite as awesome but close enough to Islamabad that it reaps the benefits.

Yesterday, I took a bus through rural Punjab (so beautiful, and the name, meaning five rivers is totally a lie because there are so many rivers), where I briefly got lost at a motel but some little girl found me and got me back to the bus, and then arrived in Lahore late at night where my awesome redditor friend who also got me a job here picked me up.

And then, Lahore. That's where I am now. It's the most amazing magical place. It is like Karachi, but cleaner and safer. I say that working in the slums.

Speaking of that, I am working 7:30-11:30 now due to power cuts over there (don't want to get those in the midday heat), the slums are actually quite nice compared to Karachi's shopping streets even, and today my work was basically taking pictures of a girls' cricket match.

My room is nearly as luxurious as in Karachi, plus I get a guy to do my laundry and just got a 3 course dinner via room service, and it's generally so much more peaceful.

There is so much more hope and so much less chaos of the bad kind here. Lahore is still chaotic, traffic is a **** you don't know what might happen, but people don't vote terrorists into goverment and most have enough hope to stop and be nice.

Plus, Punjabis. Smiley: inlove
They sound so much nicer in every language.


Quick note on the power cuts: Most areas in Pakistan have between 2 and 22 hours of scheduled powercuts a day because of an energy shortage. I experienced it in Rawalpindi, but with enough backup power to have fans running at least. I did not in Karachi or Lahore because I'm staying in elite accomodation.

I'll stop here. I could write 10 times as much, I guess, but I didn't mean to make this anywhere near as long as it is.

Edited, Jul 17th 2012 4:42pm by Kalivha

Edited, Jul 18th 2012 4:21pm by Kalivha
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#2 Jul 17 2012 at 10:16 AM Rating: Excellent
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Kalivha wrote:
Pakistani media tend to fill up the space that'd normally be dedicated to naked girls to violence instead


Smiley: disappointed
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#3 Jul 17 2012 at 10:38 AM Rating: Good
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Gore is sexy, yaar.
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#4 Jul 17 2012 at 10:40 AM Rating: Good
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Kalivha wrote:
Gore is sexy, yaar.
You're right.
#5 Jul 17 2012 at 11:36 AM Rating: Excellent
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Despite the good weather (although a bit too hot for me) and friendly people, stuff like this...

Quote:
People stare more because there's no guy pointing a gun at them when they do


...is why I'm not interested, at all, in visiting the city, or the country, or any country like it. They should stop playing grab-ass and instead join us in the 21st century where people don't need armed escorts because of skin color and tits (unless you're a celebrity).

Also, scheduled power cuts lasting 2-22 hours a day... yeah, no thanks. Maybe if they didn't spend all their money on keeping such a large and active army, they'd be able to afford simple luxuries like a sustainable power grid.
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#6 Jul 17 2012 at 11:45 AM Rating: Decent
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Oh, no ass-grabbing or even coming within the distance of that.

And there are perks (like how being a lady gets you AC, seating space and all sorts of free things and being white gets you free entry into places where Pakistanis pay thousands of dollars to get in).

I think random people in Pindi would stare at you, too. Imagine never having seen a white person before. It's like "ohh, those people on TV actually exist!"

Quote:
Also, scheduled power cuts lasting 2-22 hours a day... yeah, no thanks. Maybe if they didn't spend all their money on keeping such a large and active army, they'd be able to afford simple luxuries like a sustainable power grid.


The army is necessary. Even MQM militia is sometimes necessary (although I really really don't like them). The main reason for this is that the government is corrupt and now the guy who is responsible for the power cuts (ex-Energy Minister) has replaced the PM because that one was "too corrupt" in some way.

Thing is, the army is actually not really under the control of the government (and that's arguably a good thing); the power cuts have a lot of other reasons (like the fact that the government does not care about any province but their own; power theft; simple lack of natural resources, which is actually related to the provincial favouritism - Balochistan has resources, but no one cares about it because the western half of the country is tribal). India has the same issue; it's okay in Mumbai and Delhi now, but the rest of the country is affected, too.

In short, politics here are a mess, Imran Khan can get rid of corruption but literacy is too low for people to understand this, and parties like MQM as well as the army are needed because the US @#%^ed us over. I can elaborate on request.

At least higher education here is still less dumbed down than in the West. Smiley: grin

Edited, Jul 17th 2012 5:46pm by Kalivha
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#7 Jul 17 2012 at 11:50 AM Rating: Good
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Mazra wrote:
...is why I'm not interested, at all, in visiting the city, or the country, or any country like it. They should stop playing grab-ass and instead join us in the 21st century where people don't need armed escorts because of skin color and tits (unless you're a celebrity).
When I was in Nepal and Tibet, people stared at me too, didn't need armed guard there or anything, it's just that white skin and blonde hair is a rarity there. Just like you stare at someone that looks weird to you.

Actually, when I went on vacation in Greece some 14 years ago I clearly remember me and my sister getting free ice cream and cookies because we had blonde hair. People staring at us too.
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#8 Jul 17 2012 at 11:57 AM Rating: Good
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I don't mind the staring, it's the gun part that just makes me go Smiley: dubious and Smiley: disappointed.
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#9 Jul 17 2012 at 12:07 PM Rating: Excellent
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Kalivha wrote:
Oh, no ass-grabbing or even coming within the distance of that.

And there are perks (like how being a lady gets you AC, seating space and all sorts of free things and being white gets you free entry into places where Pakistanis pay thousands of dollars to get in).
These are not perks, they are racism and inequality that you have voluntarily inserted yourself into.
#10 Jul 17 2012 at 9:52 PM Rating: Decent
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What did you eat? Are there any hot guys? What kind of job do you do? How is the local transportation system?
#11 Jul 18 2012 at 3:10 AM Rating: Good
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It's really interesting to get a report of the daily life of someone living in a foreign country. Journalists overseas only report "news", which while important, doesn't tell me what the place is actually like.

Edited, Jul 18th 2012 5:11am by Aripyanfar
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#12 Jul 18 2012 at 7:02 AM Rating: Decent
Lemme guess, anthropology major? Be safe, & proud that you get to use that degree for something more than waitressing.
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#13 Jul 18 2012 at 8:57 AM Rating: Decent
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AshOnMyTomatoes wrote:
These are not perks, they are racism and inequality that you have voluntarily inserted yourself into.

Racism, yes, and a lot of the time I'd rather be Pakistani. The perks of being a woman are for the most time of course a sign of inequality, but it's usually quite pleasant.

niobia wrote:
What did you eat? Are there any hot guys? What kind of job do you do? How is the local transportation system?


In Karachi my cook just makes daal and chicken korma every day, with biryani like once a week. He does make pasta for the picky foreigners, but I just cook for myself sometimes to get that variety. I've had various stuff at restaurants. Afghan food is heavenly. Kabli Pulao... seriously, if you can try it, do so.
In Islamabad I had nihari (i.e. Pakistani bacon - really heavy breakfast, meat that has been cooked incredibly tender over a period of at least 8 hours, sometimes up to 3 days), too.
Here in Lahore I get to pick from a menu. I'll put pictures on Facebook. It's mostly Pakistani/Punjabi food with a bit of Afghan and Western food for variety on some days. It's basically good restaurant food, and I had chicken korma, yoghurt sauce, chapati, a salad and a bottle of Sprite for about $2.50 yesterday. Today it's vegetarian, so cheaper, but I'll take special Pakistani ice cream with it.

Hot guys... yeah. All my Internet friends in this country are hot, too, so far. I'm not looking for anything over here, though. Hot girls, too! Seriously, in my lab especially everyone is really good looking! And Punjabis are even better. Squee.

In Karachi, I do theoretical chemistry. Like, I draw an ionic complex, type in a bit of stuff in command line, the computer does quantum mechanics for a bit, I get data about my ion. Rinse, repeat. With giving lectures inbetween. I am going to write a thesis next month and we'll try and get it published (with the American Chemical Society, but it'll probably end up in a Pakistani journal if anywhere). I've talked to a guy in the US who's doing a triple major who is just generally ridiculously motivated and he's struggling to do that in his senior year. The thing is, the people in my institute in KHI are amazing. Not even "ohh, they can do research under adverse conditions" amazing, just plain talented. My supervisor is publishing in major journals in every field from quantum physics to bioinformatics and he actually knows his stuff. He just got his PhD a couple of weeks ago. Just so... amazing. Smiley: smile

The transportation system... domestic flights and coaches have much better service than in Europe or even the US. Local buses are fancy looking in some places, but outside universities they aren't very safe. Above $6,000 annual income, it's totally feasible to have your own driver, though, and then there are auto rickshaws everywhere except in Islamabad (and even there you can just get a cheap taxi). Personally, in Karachi we have a transport office at work and we just need to get a security clearance form signed as foreigners and get to use their cars. Now in Lahore I just carpool with my co-workers. One of them is 16 and lives far away, so he has a driver, too.

Here in Lahore, I work with a teaching NGO in a Christian majority slum's public school. We do history and arts mostly but I'll talk about careers in science.

Omegavegeta wrote:
Lemme guess, anthropology major? Be safe, & proud that you get to use that degree for something more than waitressing.


See above. In American terms, my degree would be double major Chemistry and Computational Chemistry, I suppose. I'm doing research in Karachi, currently in Lahore doing other stuff. because I wanted a break.
The best part is that I've seen research places in the West from the inside. The place where I work is better. My contact at Punjab University said it's the best workplace in the country and I don't doubt it.

Edited, Jul 18th 2012 2:58pm by Kalivha
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#14 Jul 18 2012 at 10:10 AM Rating: Excellent
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ITT: Confirmation Pakistan is a shithole.
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#15 Jul 18 2012 at 10:22 AM Rating: Default
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Correction: Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are mostly a sh*thole, with few exceptions. Especially Balochistan. Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory aren't.

Edit: Tribal areas are, well, tribal areas and Jammu and Kashmir are a problem to begin with.

Edited, Jul 18th 2012 7:23pm by Kalivha
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