cars? vintage, please

The Western phenomenon of being obsessed with everything  retro / hipster / second hand / vintage hasn’t reached Pakistan in a notable extend yet, so “new” generally is still considered better than “old” – but some things are thought of the same way everywhere: one example being the fascination for vintage cars.

Today was the last day of a vintage car show held at a place close by, so while everybody else was busy studying for their upcoming exams, Sufian took a study break to take us to the show.
Right at the entrance, a very special car greeted the visitors with explanatory signs and photos telling its story: It used to belong to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the country Pakistan. Of course I had to get a picture with this piece of history:

Unfortunately the owner didn’t allow us to sit inside, but many other car owners were friendlier about it:

Huge car, isn’t it?

We don’t know for sure whether the car has always been like this or parts of it got lost over the years, but it did not have a complete floor! In fact, no floor at all, just the necessary construction parts for the engine and stuff (I don’t know much about cars) but there were big gaps through which you could see the ground and get some basic air conditioning for your feet. (I imagine one must have been careful not to drop anything or loose a flip-flop on the road)

There is still more to say about this particular car: It is an ambulance. At least it used to be one, once upon a time, and it still had the two benches in the spacious back part which you could see through the window behind our backs (but unfortunately not on the picture):

We strolled around the well visited place and saw all kinds of cars, taking pictures and occasionally asking if we could sit inside. They had them all: really fancy ones and really old ones…

From very colourful ones…

to very big ones…

and very small ones.

Looks even smaller if we exchange me through the tall Viv 😀

The Isetta may look like a toy car, but we still both fit in and if I’d have too much money on my hands, I think I would get myself one!

Here’s another thing I would get, if I’d have the money:

This is an old Volkswagen bus, converted into a complete living space and although it might seem like too small to include all features of a flat, nothing is missing and it even has a terrace on the roof and a ladder leading up to it! You might not be able to fit a whole family in there, but it’d definitely be big enough and good enough for me.

I’d probably paint it some different colour(s), but still… isn’t this awesome?! 😀


dangerous rocks and fancy restaurants

Yes, Karachi is a city at the sea and no, we don’t get to go to the beach every day, but we still enjoy the coast once in a while. Today we went for a little road trip – first stop: “The Rocks”. For some reason, public buses had parked around the area of “The Rocks” – an area that has its name for obvious reasons and where you can jump into the sea from the rocks without fearing a blood poisoning from the dirty water.

This is what local public buses look like in Karachi: some of them are quite old and some of them are really old, but most of them most probably wouldn’t pass the German TÜV (technical inspection of a vehicle). However, they do look lovely, don’t they? This one is one of the more boring ones, and still it is more interesting and creative than the buses I travel on in Germany which are either plastered with advertisements or all in the same colour and design. But here, most of the buses are individually hand-painted – how amazing is that?! (at least I have been told, and I like thinking it is true, although I have never really seen a bus at that close range until today)

The thing about the rocks, though, is that apparently they are not that safe anymore; not at this time of the day (sunset) and not if you don’t come in a group with enough guys… which is why I took pictures only from inside the car and didn’t take the camera out when we quickly stepped out of the car and took a look around.

The scenery didn’t actually look as dodgy to me as it sounded, but I guess in these cases it is better to trust a local. So off we went again.

I asked Sufian to take a picture of the sunset and these men because he had a better view on it.
Considering he was driving the car at the same time, everything turned out pretty well! 
Next stop: Kolachi.
Kolachi is one of many restaurants lined up at this particular part of the coast in Defense and we have been told that they serve the best food here in the whole of Karachi.

And probably also the best view – it’s just lovely! On the picture above, you can see “the rocks” in the distance.

No matter where you sit – you’re most probably going to get a glimpse of the sea somehow while enjoying your delicious food. Unnecessary to mention that this restaurant is one of the fanicer ones (duh, it’s in Seaview, Defense).

What we actually didn’t expect here, was finding German writing on – whatever the picture above shows, really.

Obviously we had to take pictures as a proof of how common German is over here. The other day, for example, we saw that on the stitching on a bank guard’s uniform’s front pocket it said “Sicherheit” which means Security in German…
More than the fanciness of the restaurant, I even liked that just like everything about this place, the kitchen is completely outside and open – this way you see the busyness in the kitchen while you cross the big entrance area and can actually walk up to the men preparing the food or just watch them from the distance.

I am already looking forward to when we come back to actually dine at this place and try the amazing food. See you soon, Kolachi!

Pumpkin Carrot Ginger Garlic Soup

A day in can be just as much fun as a day out, as we proved to ourselves today:
These two crazy flatmates of mine decided to loose weight together and went to the supermarket (which here in Pakistan really means super as in big, not like our German supermarkets, but more like Tesco or Wall Mart-style) where they got all the less Pakistani but very healthy ingredients for our future cuisine.
For tonight, it was decided to introduce Monti to the deliciousness of  hipster/vegan Pumpkin-Carrot-Ginger-Garlic Soup and although he was quite sceptical at first, he ended up really liking it – so a big thanks to our chef cook Vivian!
Whoever has made this dish before, knows that it takes a bit longer than, let’s say, simple Pasta. So to make the whole process more fun, we spontaneously made our own cooking show: we just set up the camera and had it film us while chef cook Vivian was telling her two very competent helpers what to do and how. To be honest, we made quite a mess in the kitchen, and we had to improvise regarding certain kitchen utilities which we couldn’t find, but somehow me managed to provide Monti with the deliciousness we had promised and he hadn’t believed in.
What made our private cooking show stand out from all other cooking shows, was the amount of (loud) music and dancing involved: lots and lots of both Western and Eastern, old and new – perfect recipe for funfilled evening with friends!
Culinarily speaking, though, it must have been the most Western experience in a while, as we usually try to taste every local dish we come across… a treat for Monti, with love from his German guests.

The Ride at the Place

Sometimes we are exhausted after work… and sometimes Viv feels cold with all the fans at Monty’s place.

But our chill mood had to wait, as the guys came by and bailed us out for some fun time at THE PLACE:

We had heard about the place called The Place before and the reason we came, was The Ride on which you fall – right next to a big window while everybody else in the mall can watch you.
Noone was at The Ride when we got there, people didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about it… except for us, of course!

It was fuuun! To be honest, I don’t even remember if it was my first fall ride or if I had done it before, but it really wasn’t too bad, I just had a funny feeling in my tummy. It was cool that you could look outside the window and funny to watch peoples reactions – they mostly stopped what they were doing and just stood there with different facial expressions, some amused, some worried, some horrified, some curious…

At least Viv and I had a good time and didn’t scream, but the guys did! Apparently they aren’t used to this kind of ride here… of course we had to make fun of them! They were such babies… And boy, we were such trend-setters:

Once we had proven to all bystanders how much fun it was, they came all at once, mostly girls. We stayed to watch a bit, too, laughing because of how much they screamed and squeaked, before we went on to have Chinese food and eventually going back home.

A visit to the underground… Hindu temple! :D

Today at work, instead of ordering food, we got picked up by Usman and Charlie who took us out for lunch to a lovely place called the Elephant Warehouse where we had Bun Kebab and Lassi. Bun Kebab is like a traditional Pakistani burger and very tasty. People who know me, know that I dislike the concept of taking pictures of food to just share them on instagram, but I thought it would be easier now than explaining how a traditional Pakistani burger differs from an international one – you get me?
For those who don’t know: Lassi is a very refreshing milk/yoghurt drink which you can have either sweet or salty (but so far I haven’t tried salty).

Later this afternoon, we moved from Faria’s place to Monty’s place and then met with Moomal to visit the Hindu temple of Lord Shiva. In an attempt to fit in better and show our respect towards the culture, we were also wearing our kurtas again.
On the place in front of the temple, we saw this man and his family sell the flowers you burn for prayer; I actually wanted to take a picture of the cute little kid, but it wouldn’t stand still.

We could only enter the Shiva temple because Moomal had asked for permission in advance, normal tourists wouldn’t have been able to enter that easily. We still got held back at the entrance, but Moomal could clarify the situation and we proceeded to take off our shoes and give them to the shoe guard (or however you may call them) in exchange for a little ticket.
Once Sudesh had also joined us, we passed the entry archway and stepped downstairs, our bare feet leading us into the yard, first, and then down the main stairs into the underground temple of the popular Hindu deity of Lord Shiva…

We didn’t take any pictures inside of the actual temple, but Moomal walked us through it and explained us the stories behind each deity whose beautifully decorated statue was arranged in a showcase. The temple was getting crowded, as the prayer was about to start, so we had to leave the peaceful incense-filled rooms and continued our little tour in the big yard we had passed earlier. 

On the way to the actual temple, at the right side of the main stairs, we had passed this statue and now that we had time to look at it again, Moomal explained us that he is not a specifically Hindu god, but that everybody can pray to him.

On the other side of the main stairs there was another deity showcase like the ones inside, but bigger.

In front of it, people were sitting and eating or just talking, and although it was outside, you still had the incense smell everywhere: you can tell that this place is not only about religion or spirituality, but also about conviving and just spending time at a peaceful place together.

The whole yard was enclosed by a corridor in which we had the chance to pose with another deity showcase depicturing Ganesha/Ganapati, the remover of obstacles, who people had offered flowers to in prayer.

What I liked about the whole sentiment was the naturalness you feel when the soles of your feet touch the ground and the ease of people just sitting on the floor and eating rice with their (right) hands, as well as the spirituality that was somehow chaotic and peaceful at the same time: people were moving around to pray at one of the many small spots and throwing flowers or burning incenses, the mass was in a current gentle flow – but still everyone was calm and inward-looking; everything and everyone accompanied by the omnipresent incense smell and wafting smoke.
Even though this was my first real contact with the Hindu religion, I didn’t feel out of place, but was fascinated by the general atmosphere and felt like this was a religion who welcomes everyone who treats it with the appropiate respect.

As I mentioned, people were eating rice with their hands, but they didn’t bring it themselves: they actually give free food away in the temple’s yard, so we got some, too:

While we were sitting on some steps and having rice with our hands (which is actually not as difficult as it sounds, I finished it quickly, and it also tasted very good) I observed the people around us: Everybody looked so pretty! I like the colourful Pakistani/Asian way to dress anyway, and I can’t know how these people dress and look when they don’t go to the temple, but the appearances of some of them was like from fairy tale based prejudices: Many girls, even baby girls, were wearing make up and jewellery.

It was adorable how they were all Hindu religion/tradition/manner experts, though… growing up, the little girl will just have to learn not to eat with her left hand anymore.

After our temple dinner we went back up to a little praying area next to the first stairs:

See the cow in the middle? Whisper a wish into her ear and some time in your life this wish will get fulfilled.

This was the door seperating the little praying area from the stairs and was actuallyincluded into the big tree which the stairs were kind of built around. The sign on the top is the sign for the “ohm” used for meditation.
Right across the stairs, opposite this door, was a small shop with souvenirs/religious knick-knack which probably all has a meaning or purpose that I don’t know. 

I got a tiny lamp à la Aladdin which you fill with oil and burn a small piece of cloth in, a necklace with Hanuman, the monkey deity of courage, power, faith and selfless service, and a white shell which you can blow to cast out all evil – unfortunately I can’t blow it yet, as I don’t get a proper sound out of it, so I will have to keep practicing.

We left the temple when we had gotten enough souvernirs and our shoes back and strolled around on Jehangir Kothari Parade, the place in front of the temple.

Fun foto session included, of course.

Behind the balustrade you can see the park Bagh-e-lbn-e-Qasim which is supposed to be very nice, but not at all at his time of the day, which is why we didn’t go.

Instead we went to this pretty pavilion where we waited to be picked up and driven home, after a short historical annecdote from Moomal about how once the sea water level had been up till this spot.

It had been a long day, but the Hindu temple was a beautiful and truly inspiring experience, very different from what I knew.
Once home, though, the fun wasn’t over; unfortunately, my camera’s battery was, so I am only able to share this one second with you, but let me tell you that we were kicking Aaqib’s ass quite a bit 😉

AIESEC Annual General Meeting

Big day for all AIESECers today – IBA had its AGM (Annual General Meeting) and we didn’t know, what we had gotten ourselves into…

It was quite a formal event, so I finally got to wear my new fancy kurta and everybody loved seeing us in traditional fashion – this must have been one of the occasions when I got the most compliments in my life, so far. People got excited about how we tried to adapt and told me quite a few times that I looked like one of them, now, which I wasn’t exactly sad about hearing – because how cool is the feeling of being able to adapt anywhere, feel at home anywhere? It makes you feel like a world citizen, a cosmopolitan rather than “just German”.

Faria had shown me the event’s agenda the night before, so I knew it wouldn’t start on the time stated (smart move to plan ahead and distinguish between Pakistani and international time) and still it started even another hour later, but I overheard a girl saying that this was typical for AIESEC in IBA and wasn’t surprised anymore…
It was an event full of people I hadn’t met yet, speeches about achievements and goals I didn’t understand, power points personally dedicated to the old and the new EB… Basically, this event was to say a big”thank you and good bye” to the old EB and a “welcome and good luck” to the new EB in every way possibly imaginable. Motivational AIESEC chants and rythmical clapping included.
Overall, is was interesting to experience, but for a non-AIESECer like me a bit lenghty and confusing after a while, as most of the time I didn’t know what was being talked about and all the AIESEC-internal abbreviations weren’t very helpful. We had had a quick lunch before, because we knew they wouldn’t serve any, but not everybody had known and people started to get hungry, very hungry. We were sitting at the table in the back, which was the closest to the snack buffet, and Sufian explained us, how it is the same concept on most official events, and especially weddings, when it comes to food: Because events usually start late and people come with an empty tummy, knowing there will be free good food served, after a certain while people get hungry and start getting ready to storm the buffet table. The second the waitors open the buffet plates, people start appearing out of nowhere, the ones sitting closest to the buffet being the first ones in a quickly building queue.
Due to the advantage of a short distance between us and the buffet, we probably made it under the top 10 and got to taste everything, but when we wanted to go for another round 10 Minutes later, the plates were empty… sadly. The mini pizza was really good.

After the snack we had some chocolate cake and sparkling wine – alcohol-free, obviously, as you can see in the pictures.

Food and drinks marked the end of the official AGM, so pretty soon afterwards we went to Usman’s house with some others to just hang out together; we had some really good talks about religion and other things, even though religion is a taboo topic when you don’t know someone that well, but  what I like about AIESECers is that they are generally respectful towards others, open-minded and not judgemental.

Camel ridiiiing!! :D

Last night, around 2:30 in the morning, I was texting with our friend Sufian who cracked the joke to pick us up at 7:15am (on a Saturday!) to go for breakfast. Turns out it wasn’t a joke.
At least we could convince him to pick us up half an hour later, but  the place at boat basin which we went to for traditional Halwa Puri and tea, was indeed packed considering the day/time; probably because the food there is delicious!
Afterwards we went straight to Seaview again, which was way emptier now.

Camel riding had been on our bucket list for a week now (since we knew you could do it at Seaview) so this was our chance!

Faria had told us a funny Story about the former intern Jose who went to Seaview on his own to ride on a camel and, though easily identifiable as a tourist, through bargaining ended up paying Rs. 1000 instead of Rs. 3000… which was still 10 times the usual price.

But we don’t just want to be tourists – we try to adapt, as you can see on the picture below. (Selfie time!!!)

It was a beautiful scenery, weather and temperature were perfect and we stayed at the beach until it got too hot around 11am/12pm.

The poor boys had to walk all the way, while we were comfortably chauffeured by the camel. Ok, it might not have been as comfortable as a couch, but I’m sure the smooth back and forth was good for digestion after such a heavy breakfast.

The boys, though, are just not used to walking. In Karachi you don’t walk – at all. If you can afford it, you go everywhere by car, and you always park it as close as possible – mainly out of security reasons; this includes being shuttled by your driver and given a lift by family or friends. Yes, it is not uncommon here to have a driver. From what I’ve seen, the guys usually drive themselves, however, while girls don’t.

So, one moment we’re on this beautiful ride, the camel wading through the water, and the next moment it goes down.

Ooohh, so that’s what the camel owner had just said in Urdu… yeah, thanks for the warning.

But we had fun!

Peace of advice: always take your native friends, if you want to get the local’s price!

We didn’t even understand a word of their urdu bargaining/conversation…

By the way: do you see the camel’s nose pierce?

The camel looks so peaceful and prettily decorated, and his nose piercing might somehow appear stylish, but I don’t imagine it to be a very nice way to be controlled by the owner. It’s always the same with tourist attractions: where there’s pretty for some, there’s ugly for others. I would have liked to ask the camel itself, though, I always wonder how these animals feel and whether they are loved and taken good care of by their owners and whether they like their “job”.

Now here comes a simple “yeay, I’m at the beach and it’s wonderful!” photo session, jumping pictures included. No further captions required. (Plus I need a new facebook cover picture anyway.)

Yes, my jeans got wet up to the tights, but I didn’t mind as it was so hot.
As you might recall from an earlier post, Seaview is the commercialised area of Clifton beach, so you can also rent these adorable beach buggies.

They were a bit disappointing, in my opinion, when it came to speeding, but I’m pretty sure my friends/co-drivers from both rounds didn’t mind too much, we still had a lot of fun!

Slowly, it was getting too hot out there in the sun, so we went for some refreshing Lassi and then to Mohatta Palace. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we were told that they had some constructions and preparations for an exhibition going on or something, so we would have to come back some other time on a weekday.
From there we went to Dolmen Mall; to Sinbad’s, to be exact, which is kind of a gaming/playing hall where we played basketball, bike races, flipper and a shooting game, but in total we won only 4 of those reward tickets – another 496 and we might have left with a nice price.
Getting exhausted from all the action after such a short night, we decided going home, where a pile of dirty clothes was waiting to be washed. Usually, the maid washes all the clothes in a household, but Vivian and I thought we’d rather quickly do it ourselves.
Forget quickly, we had to ask Faria’s mum to help us through every single step of the washing process, in the end.

They do have fully automatic washing machines in Pakistan, however in some parts of Karachi there is a water shortage and people prefer using a semi-automatic washing machine which allows you to fully controll the amount of water used:
First, you fill the machine with your clothes, water and some washing powder, you let the machine work (as in wash) for some time, wring the pieces of clothes out one by one, to then rinse them with clean water by hand, and again wring them out very thoroughly before hanging them on the washing line. I really didn’t mind it, I even kind of liked the process, but my hands didn’t, after wringing out the fourth pair of jeans…