The city by the sea
“Karachi has just two seasons: summer and more summer,” so says a friend of mine who hails from a land where the year is categorically divided into the four textbook seasons. Winter mellows and bursts into spring; spring warms up to summer which gives way to crisp autumn and then to icy winter again. In between you even have things like snow (oh joy!), rain (not the kind that floods the streets and knocks out the electricity for three days flat) and trees that change from green to gold to russet.
Of course, you have snow shoes, frostbite and — if you live in a landlocked city — a hot and breathless summer without a whiff of the lovely cool breeze, which is considered as the birthright of every Karachiite. So much for the textbook seasons! Now, we in Karachi don’t believe in living by the book; our trees remain green throughout the year (that’s the way we like them) and we don’t need to invest in a separate winter wardrobe — just an elegant shawl over our summer clothes is sufficient, thank you very much.
Once we have geared up for the sweltering six months of summer (ok, nine months if you insist) — upgrading the UPS, getting the generator serviced and buying as many lawn suits as we can afford (aah, lawn — now that’s something that almost makes summer worth waiting for) — we can sit back and enjoy the good things that summer brings our way, like beach trips.
When you think of Karachi, the first thing that comes to mind is the sea. Islooites may rave about escaping to Nathia Gali when things get hot and Lahoris may wax lyrical over the Ravi and take walks along the canal but these delights are pale in comparison to a day spent by the sea. It does not matter if you can’t afford (or beg or borrow) a hut at an exclusive beach. Sitting on the Seaview wall munching soggy pani-puri (or spicy bhutta or piping hot, sand roasted channa… the list can go on) is an option available to anyone who is not fussy about sharing space with a rather mixed crowd (and has the requisite Karachi stomach to eat the food available and can live to tell the tale).
Then there is the joy of the first rain of the season. Never mind that the long-awaited downpour heralds traffic jams, power breakdowns and an end to ‘normal’ life as we know it (well, as normal as life can be in this city), we Karachiites love our rain. And once it’s over, we love boasting about the hardships it brought in its wake: how far we drove in waist-deep water and how long there was electricity shortage (just 20 hours? Our lights came back after three days).
Yes, Karachittes are masters at making the best of any situation (some might call it our survival mechanism). When there is loadshedding, we make our way to air-conditioned malls and cinemas. When the humidity threatens to suck us dry we turn to cooling aids like satoo, lassi and kairi ka sherbet along with innumerable cups of tea in the firm belief that this will rejuvenate us. And when the sun sets and evening brings its blissful shade, we fling open the windows and revel in the famous Karachi breeze that is more refreshing than any air-conditioning. Yes, summer in Karachi is not for the faint-hearted but it has its own rewards.