Ten Things to do in Karachi when you are dead
(with apologies to “Things to do in Denver when you are dead”)
1. Salivate at the F-104 Star Fighter at the Karachi Air force Museum
I suffer from Larry Ellison syndrome. Most geeks dream of buying expensive wheels. I dream of buying wings. And when you suffer from the symptoms of Larry Ellison syndrome in Karachi, there is only place where you can go to get some relief.
PAF Air force Museum, off Main Shahara-e-Faisal is a little piece of heaven that was once a primary runway tucked away in a corner of PAF Air Base Faisal. Rolling greens, blooming gardens, a menu of fighter aircrafts and bombers decked out in their flying colors, an archive of air force history and the F-104 star fighter so close that you can actually reach out and touch it.
And if you have anything against the aircraft that was branded the widow maker by the pilots who flew it, there are Chinese and Russian editions with similarly stellar reputes. The best time to visit is early Sunday mornings in winter when the giant lawns are covered with dew, the wind has a bite and the rest of Karachi is asleep. It opens at 8:30 am sharp on weekdays and weekends.
2. Convert unsuspecting guests to the Sushi consumption cause at Oishi Sushi
Karachi has three decent Sushi joints. Oishi Sushi right opposite the Mazar of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Sakura at PC roof top and Fujiyama at Avari’s penthouse floor. All three are worthy of sampling and come with their own unique flavors. However consuming sushi takes on a completely different meaning when you are there to convert a fellow geek to the sushi consumption cause. Consuming raw fish with pickled ginger and soy sauce requires a open mind and a willingness to experiment and the ritual of conversion come with its own rush. Over the years the sushi conversion club has become a side hobby that now counts victims in Lahore, Hong Kong, Islamabad, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Nairobi and Lagos. But it started off and is prospering well in Karachi.
3. Capture exotics birds with your camera without leaving your room
Karachi’s change of seasons attracts a lot of migratory birds. If you have a lawn, a mango or fig tree in the house, you get to have exciting encounters without leaving the comfort of your office or your bedroom. It helps if you carry a camera with an image stabilizer and are also willing to drop everything including important client calls to sneak out and shoot a few exotic creatures with feathers, you are on.
The kingfisher was captured on a branch laden with green mangoes and a mate in summer, while the long billed hopper was in the midst of a feeding frenzy of slugs trying desperately to escape beneath the lawn.
If you are feeling at little adventurous you can also catch interesting specimens at the beach. In many ways if you like shooting life with lenses, Karachi is an amateur photographer’s paradise. With the palette of colors, life, flavors and history, on offer, sometimes the best of evenings can be planned around a drive and your trusted Canon EOS camera.
4. Host an impromptu beach party and breakfast at sunrise
Karachi has many beaches and almost as many activities that you could engage on beaches. From scuba diving to rowing, from jet skiing to deep sea fishing. But if these are too exciting the easiest and simplest is an impromptu beach front breakfast at sunrise. The nearest is Clifton at Sea View. Since Karachiites are evenly split between late risers and early risers the chances of you finding the beach all to yourself in the morning hours are quite decent.
All the beach party requires to be a success is beach toys and a group of rowdy young kids. For food you can raid a 24 hour fast food chain that shall remain unnamed or bring your own. If you are physically inclined, I would also recommend a long morning walk or jog on Karachi’s signature grey sands to work out those calf muscles.
5. Horse riding at Karachi Riding Club
Haseeb started Karachi Riding Club because he couldn’t find a decent place to train polo players. The club for a nominal charge offers riding lessons for kids and adults on most morning and evenings. Its stable of horses, trainers and technique make it a favorite haunt for parents and kids. The location, you guessed it. The Beach at Sea View.
6. Witness a Karachi sunrise and sunset
Given its proximity to the sea, Karachi offers lovely sunsets and sunrises. Shoot a Karachi sunset and you will never be the same again. The catch is that summer sunrises begin at 5:45 am which means that you need to be setup with the equipment by 5:30 am.
6. Speak at one of the many tech events happening at T2F, Dot Zero and the NEST.io/PASHA
But the most favorite of my activities remains the speaking tour at T2F, Dot Zero, NEST.io/PASHA. Karachi has a thriving technology engagement scene and there is always demand for interesting individuals to share their varied interesting point of view. If you are looking for an energy boost or a renewal of faith, attend a PASHA launch pad event or the NEST.io cycle entry pitches to recharge your batteries. The PASHA launch pad series gives away an instant grant of US$2,000 for ideas that catch the eyes of its judging panel while the NEST.io provides four months of free incubation to young technology startups.
Some of the best friends that I have made in the tech space are fellow judges who may have spent decades with the industry but are still amazingly young at heart.
8. National Sports Training and Coaching Center
The National sports training and coaching center (NCC) at Stadium Road, Moin Khan Academy near Creek Vista, Rahat Stadium on Khayaban-e-Rahat, and a number of other public training spaces now offer professional training coaches who cover track (and field), martial arts, rollerblading, soccer, cricket, squash and swimming lessons. If you are too old or far gone to seek help from a professional trainer just go for a walk or a run to recharge your batteries on the energy that is flowing out of these training grounds. If nothing else you will enjoy the scenery and the ogle the athletes at work.
9. Have a late dinner at Port Grande
While Karachi is many things to many people, our one common theme and shared love is food. If you are looking for a the right combination of food and ambiance there is nothing better than Port Grande. A converted pier at the port that now serves as the place to sit down and catch a combination of summer breeze and a sampling of local food.
The beef skewered kebab (above) and Bohri chats (below) are two delicacies that you are likely to find only in Karachi. Variations exist across cities but Karachi flavors stand tall.
10. Watch live theater, attend an art exhibition or hear a concert.
If you are looking for art, Karachi’s galleries, theaters, festivals and live performances have much to offer to the deprived and weary. Ask a friend to take you for a tour of galleries or catch a string of plays over the weekend.
Before I started writing this post, I promised myself that I will not talk about shopping malls, street food and cinemas. Two out of three isn’t that bad. And remember this is just my list. Each die hard Karachiite carries his own list of things to do with a guest, friend and visitor. The list changes and grows as we age and start families. Catch up and spend time with enough of us and you will fall in as much love with our city as we have.