Bipolar Karachi

Karachi is a bipolar city, comprising of two halves, each halve oblivious to the other.

A few days back I took someone who lived in New Karachi to The Life style exhibition held at the expo center. Looking at to some female company representative at the NEVIA stall he commented “They all must be Christian” , I was really surprised and asked him why he thinks so. His answer was ” because Muslims girls will never wear Jens and T-Shirts”.

Well, Our city is clearly divided in two, one half comprising of the Elite, who have occupied areas like Clifton, Defense, Bahadurabad and Dohrajee etc. and the other half which is greater in size, people don’t get much income and they live in F.B Area, New Karachi, Laluukhait, Mallir and landhi.

We can easily find the difference between the people of these two poles by only a drive through Lalukhair or New Karachi. The chaotic traffic, the way people drive and cross the roads, the way stubborn hawkers block almost the whole road and the way people gaze at women in these areas is almost symbolic to “that” half of the city.

Sadly these people, the people of the other half of Karachi make the major part of the cities population. But why are they not so socially groomed ?

Actually Art, and entertainment has always played a great role in improving the social behavior of the masses, now what triggered these thoughts which I am putting here in this post, was a single like which stood out for me on the advertisement brochure of the Blackfish performance at the Royal Rodale which read “and The dress code of the complex should be strictly followed”. The Ticket to this performance priced at Rs.400/= Per entry (valid for only one person). Now the problem is, in an effort to provide the elite a certain environment which can keep them in a bubble, we deprive the less privileged, or the people of the other half from Quality entertainment. Whenever there is a good theatre, or a show which might help change the mind sets of these people we stick a pricey tag to it and we don’t publicize it on the polar end of the city, as a result there are not many recreational activities for those people, the only entertainment for them is to go and sit in park or visit the seaside, the only theater they are exposed to is of Omer Shareef, but does his theater change’s the mindsets of the common people for better? I doubt.

32 Comments so far

  1. Kashif Aziz (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    Good observation. Actually we are heading towards elemination of the middle class, prelude to french revolution.

  2. em (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

    I’m curious to know how Black Fish performances change the midnset of the people for the better any more than Omar Shareef shows do. Each has a particular class that would appreciate the specific style of humor and references. The people who enjoy and frequent Omar Sharif shows have a different taste of humor and would, frankly be amiss at a show like that which Black Fish tend to put on. The usual audiences for a Black Fish show would also be equally amiss at an Omar Shareef show. It’s just a matter of taste. We are a bipolar nation and we have bipolar entertainment venues, neither of which are very mind-enriching to begin with.

  3. Poo Poo Head (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 5:12 pm

    I do not agree, Art and entertainment does not teach one any thing, they are very very secondary items. They might refine you though. The basic thing is “money”. It gives you confidence, it makes you feel good, it makes you strong.But some people might not even buy class with money, so sad. I used to live in lyari and I am not ashamed of that.I found much better persons there instead of your elite class.

    Jamash, you are too immature to write here(comparison of Omar Shareef and kali machli)but then I am not a professional critic. Keep going. I appreciate your time. I am sorry, its 5 am in morning, I have been working all night, going to sleep now so ignore my bitterness.

  4. IllusionFS (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

    I agree with you when you say Karachi is a bipolar city. But I agree with PPH here. Economics rule the world. Whatever happens around is, with us .. economics is a major part of it. There are two kinds of people living side by side in Karachi. My way of seperating them from one another is English Speakers and non-English speakers. Because I know a lot of girls who are definately not amongst the richest but they wear very modern clothing, and I know quiet a few people who live in Defence in their mansions, but then they have silly tastes.

    I dont know if anyone recognizes the third kind (where I put myself) .. not the richest, certainly not poor, listen to english songs, also enjoy Omer Sharif as well as the black fish, have relatives who are both richer/poorer than myself, love to eat both the burgers & the bun-kebabs.. and am equally conversant in both english & urdu. I have to admit that Omer Sharif’s new stage-drama is always more vulgar than the last one.

    I think reading helps a lot. In a country full of pirate books, its a pity that we are not a very good reading nation.

  5. Faraz (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

    Bi-polarity, if you want to call it that, exists in every city, every country. But perhaps the difference has never been so stark as in Karachi.

    On this blog itself, a picture of a 6-year old garbage picker is posted next to people complaining about the service at high priced restaurants. If the so-called educated and liberal masses are busy dining out and attending concerts (not saying that it’s necessarily wrong), who do we expect to try and bring the social and economic reforms that will effect the majority of the population rather than a select few?

  6. Original-Anon (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

    @Big J, good observations. e thing I have been wondering about is why the the merely ‘rich’ are referred to as ‘elite’ everywhere.
    @Illusionfs – great point about reading.
    @Poo – I truly enjoy Jamash’s youthful and fresh perspective, and I don’t find it immature at all. So old buddy, go on and get some sleep :)

  7. Shahjahan (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 7:54 pm

    Our role model is not a learned person. Our sub-standard entertainment industry has given us that. The new-age entertainment is expensive and has ‘dress codes’. And then, we have the ‘rights of admissions reserved’.

    Our media needs to promote a better role model. Pakistani cinema has destroyed the middle generation by giving them a role model who is a lofer, kills people and gets away and eventually gets the girl as well, of course after dodging hundren thousand bullets being shot at him.

    It’s a very unconstructed thought. I am at a loss of words to completely explain my point and my apologies for that, but in a summary of it all:

    “Entertainment and Art play a vital role in the mental development of a nation. We’re always looking for role models who we can follow. It’s very unfortunate that the models we had were not the ‘follow-me’ material (Sultan Rahi’s characters can be entertaining [funny] but definately not role-model material. Same goes for Shaan’s early characters.
    We need better cinema’s and definately more theatres, we need brilliant television programming and definately better Heros.
    We also need to change our description of a hero; it’s not always the person who gets the girl damnit!

  8. Shahjahan (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

    PS. I agree with Jamash on this, obviously.

  9. Adnan (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    to some extent i agree with POO POO that it is money that gives u the confidence

    “paisa bolta hai”

    and i place my self at the same place with IllusionFS i.e the middle class i guess

  10. Poo Poo Head (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

    400 for a person is too much by the way. For one night , couple could spend 1500+ (with dinner). If one outing costs you 1500 and you do once a week such things then it would cost you 6000. If you spend 6000 for a weekly outings then you should be making around 75-100K per month provided if you do not have kids. Man I would be a total failure in Karchi :-( . Any rich gal making such money wanna marry me ??? But then why she would marry me ?? I am still sleeping[dreaming] I guess Anon my old friend

  11. Inspirex (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

    Its basic economics. Though sadly ill have to agree that the middle class is being wiped out. As far class differentiation is concerned, it happens everywhere. Id disagree to the black fish / omar shareef comparison made. Both can get as cheesy at times.

  12. Adnan K (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

    I think the reason why these class distinctions have become even greater is our awareness of things that are happenign around us. Because of the influx of foreign investment in the country(and karachi) many folks who were at a certain level before have been able to raise their standards of living while the poor have pretty much been in the same place. I truly think the polarity has always been there, but the increse in the gap has made it seem a little more evident.

  13. Original-Anon (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

    @Poo – LOL – dream on then; no harm in dreaming, although, 75-100,000 is not a lot of money these days in Pakistan so you might want to dream a little higher than that:)
    And talking of dreaming, look at the latest post and tell me, is this my nightmare or is my old friend MB back again?

  14. Jamash (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    Zia Mohiudin once said ” everything is commercial, and he is right, but when it comes to fine arts, an ideal art work is the one in which the artist’s main concern is to present and elaborate the issues he wants to shed light on, but today the artists only thinks how much his artwork will make, Is has to be only attractive to sell, which is wrong.

    With my compression of Black fish and Omer shareef, I wanted to say that the “other” Half of the people need to have a broader vision, for that they need to have better stage shows and performances rather then what they are watching now. about a month ago two performances “Tumhari Amrita” and “Ismat Apa Ke Naam” , organized as a fund raiser event by The Citizens Foundation remained “Expensive and Exclusive” only. Our masses also need entertainment which can broaden there scope of thinking, and change their mindset.

    My Grand parents when came to Pakistan from India, did not get homes, they raised my Parents in the huts of “Bazerta lane”, They worked hard to earn a living by sewing cloths and working over time, sometimes all night long, but they educated my parents, they were well behaved, they never spewed pan of streets of miss behaved with others, they never send there children to work, even at times when they had not a grain to cook they thought straight. They were part of the “informally educated” masses, they had a refined civic sense, they loved Faiz, Ghalib and Allama, they had never attended any school but they were more educated then many graduates of today. Art has Always played a vital role in educating people, evoking civic sense in them, making them realize the faults of their society. If you study Sir Syed Ahmed Khan or Minto you will see that they addressed the masses who were not formally educated, but they had a wider vision then the masses of today.

    Today most of the people don’t read, TV don’t educate them as it’s almost all (cheep) commercialism, they don’t have theatres to go to, Movies don’t help much either, The parks are merely trees and grass for them, they read cheep newspapers with headlines like ” Michel Jackson Musalman ho gaya “, How do we expect them to have any Civic sense ? In a few year time they might become completely savages… they need recreation more then us, they need to be pulled out of this narrow mindedness/

    I really miss shows like “Alif Noon” and “Fifty fifty”

    P.S .. Not all entertainment is Cheep Commercialism but most popularly viewed are.

    Also Thank you for all your comments :)n keep them comming:)
    @ pph: No offence taken, every one has a right to express his thoughts and everyone thinks differently, no one is perfect :).

  15. Asif (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 11:12 pm

    Its posts like these that disappoint me. “Chaotic traffic, stubborn hawkers, gazing at women”. Jamash, you sound very judgmental. Try putting yourself in their position, their background, their education, their income level. Then may be you’ll understand better why things are the way they are. As for rich girls wearing jeans and T-shirts, that’s another story. They have their own complexes and mental issues to deal with. We all have problems. Who is to define what is “social grooming”. That is such an offensive phrase.

  16. IllusionFS (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    Asif my friend, whatever position they are in, gazing women is not acceptable, at all.

  17. YO YO (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 12:38 am

    Have to agree with ASIF…everyone is different. You can not really call someone less socially groomed if they donot live or think like you. Every one is doing their part in this world.
    Rich folk can not live in fancy houses if poor labourers do not built it for them. Similarly labour cannot feed themselves if rich folk donot want fancy houses.

  18. Jamash (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 1:01 am

    @ Asif:
    That is exactly what I am trying to do, they are living in an inferiority complex, and we have to change it, We have to educate them, motivate them to read, to be normal, to learn to live, we are the ones who have taken books from their hands, We have made them poor, and if they don’t wakeup now their next generation might be even more poor, Education through media, books is all to improve their lives so that they can think for them selves and for their children. ,

    As far is being Judge mental is concerned, the points I have just mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg, there are Health issues, depression, rage, drugs, crime, … the list will just go on.

  19. Jamash (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 2:00 am

    ” It is (we have made them “Ignorant”) instead of “poor”

  20. wasiq (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 2:31 am


  21. Darthvader (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 6:18 am

    Jamash – i will give you credit for taking a dig at this but your essay is all over the place and is a product of very convoluted thinking. EM is very right in saying that the difference in the 2 audiences is more of a matter of taste than anything else .also , Art (you actually lumped Entertainment with Art which makes no sense , specially in todays world where entertainment has as broad a definition as it does)
    or artistic endeavours are not a measure or criterion of mental development of a nation .(whatever you mean by that), in fact some of the practices of renaissance era France and rest of the Europe would actually prove otherwise if your theory was put to test.
    one’s moral and civic values have a lot to do with how he/she was raised and educated and not
    neccessarily on how expensive schools thet attended.
    also ,
    just because someone is born into wealth or has acquired wealth doesn’t mean that he/she
    is cultured or has a greater civic sense by default.from my own personal experience DHA and Clifton is full of Jahil lanlords and feudal lords and
    military people who coudnt tell the difference between a ass and …
    (you know the rest).

    I do like your pictures a lot , you take wonderful pictures.

  22. Pjane (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 7:44 am

    There are so many things wrong with this post I don’t even know where to begin. Or maybe I’ll begin with the extremely silly and offensive idea of “social grooming” of the “other side of the bridge.” Who are the people on the other side of the bridge anyways? Oh yeah, the people who can’t afford to go to every concert or Blackfish performance held in KHI.

    Civility and intelligence do not go hand in hand with wealth. I thought we had learned that by now. Just because you have a nice house with a BMW parked in the garage in Clifton doesn’t make you superior to the people across the bridge.

    I’ve never been to KHI. I’ve lived in Isloo for years, but I’ve heard of the two sides of KHI by Karachites themselves. Differences exist because you make them exist.

  23. forgotten (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 7:48 am

    my my

    This an extremely biased and racist post
    Even though i don’t live in any of those areas but
    I have several friend who are living there, i
    Have never felt a greater difference among them and then those of my buddies who living in so called elite places (except for the spoken English skills) if this is the sign of being cultured in your perception then i agree with you they are cultured,
    Keep in mind that i am talking about mainly the male young population studying in professional collages, I don’t have any idea about the other people or may be i am not sensitive enough to see those difference among people

  24. Poo Poo Head (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 8:20 am

    Enough beating for Jamash Already. let it go now. Sorry Jamash , I was the one who started and now say me thanks. Atleast I appreciated your “time”.

  25. Nerd (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 8:45 am

    “I have to admit that Omer Sharif’s new stage-drama is always more vulgar than the last one.”

    i think you should go to been to alan francis

    and see their movies which is requeird for so called french learning

  26. mansoor (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    jamash: good post

    pjane: come to karachi and you’ll see the difference.

    An interesting point in all this is…. whenever ppl cross the bridge, they take on the personality of that area. People coming from nazimabad or gulshan would try 2 “act” all cultured n stuff (though not necessarily succeed) and the otherside would reduce themselves to a lawless ppl..

    Still, i believe its part of what makes karachi great! Two such distinct mindsets and we’re still surviving.

    Secondly, about the middle class dissapearing, i think middle class is just making an entrance now… it didnt use to exist before our fathers generation. All of us who live comfortably, would have heard tales of their parents suffereing because of lack of money or status or something, and that they studied ‘under the street lights’ etc. Its because they are the ones who elevated us from the lower class, and brought us here. Another factor in the creation of the middle class was credit cards, loans and other financings.

  27. Darthvader (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

    LOL- damn i am flabbergasted. so Mansoor ,according to your theory, you must be from Nazimabad or Gulshan because what you just said proves that not only you are very un-cultured but very very fourth-class too. the comment that you made reeks of serious lack of education and common sense.geogrphical boundaries have nothihng to do with how “cultured” or “un-clutured’ a person might be.


  28. mohsin (unregistered) on July 20th, 2006 @ 1:23 am

    i would just like to make one point here that do u know which areas of khi have highest literacy rate,
    Nazimabad and F.B.Area and still we’ve got some institutes that don’t give admission to the ppl of the same areas.

    i think this is what u call modernization!

  29. Karachiite (unregistered) on July 20th, 2006 @ 2:34 am

    All Omar Sahreefs latest shows are eww.. anyone can catch a glimpse and see that..

    But that doesnt mean that ppl in the other half of Karachi cant be groomed, they can be.. God has given every human being a sound mind, and aql, why not use that, why not use that to differentiate b/w the right and the wrong. Just bc one isn’t rich doesnt mean that they have to be socially ungroomed, grooming doesnt necessarily comes from living in a high class.. its the way one carries oneself..

    And also, just bc soemone doesnt go to Arts exhibitons, or some film playing at ********** dont wanna name it here, or like Kara film fsto, doesnt imply lack of grooming.. thats no reason..

    IllusionFS said “I think reading helps a lot. In a country full of pirate books, its a pity that we are not a very good reading nation.”

    I agree, but then those pirated books are in English, who’s gonna teach the other half who goes to govt schools to learn to read English???????

  30. Omer (unregistered) on July 20th, 2006 @ 10:55 am

    Well I would just like to say one thing are these ppl ready to change their mind set???? look at our history and its bcoz of ppl who have this mindset we stand where we r today…and a few other factors….

  31. Ameen (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 6:22 am

    Hahahahahahh :):)

    Jamash…What can I say about you, you are a well mannered, educated, sensible, deep person…

    Well, i have to say a lot about all the posts above….but i m late now :D….If I sit to write the answers, then my fingers might blow like the guy’s ones in the Djuice’ ad :P:P khekhekh

    Just one thing to ask…Dont the ELITES of this City gaze at the girls??? Like you said that the ppl of Middle class(or may be lower one) gaze at GIRLS lol…..

    How rubbish your sensible mind thinks this???
    sry to say…

    But all we have to do is to eliminate the COMPLEXES in the city(or the country)…

    The Lower class has its own complexes…The UPPER(or elite) class has its own COMMPLEXES….

    yes man….remove these complexes….

    Remove the Infaltion, Remove the hurdles in living for the Lower(middle) class ppl then u might see some improvments….

    The rest of comments anytime…

  32. Adnan Mansoor (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 10:08 am

    Jamash point of view is very valid. Its not about being judgemental, but its about the mindset which we have for the people from the other side of the city (the have nots).

    I had a recent example that I bought some bananas from a street vendor that were pretty small in size for my lil bro, that my uncle at once chipped by saying “have you bought these from Orangi”. He fully knew about my connections with my relatives THERE!

    I can tell u that such things really hurts!

    I pray that people realize to value others by their actions and not only by their wealth! BUT I think economics does have a final say in this world, (sigh).

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