i love both cities. theres a chance i like karachi more beause its very mixed, i love the coast, and it has that big city feel. however, i also love lahores history and traditions, its tree lined roads (in some areas) and greener overall look.



Footloose, NOS, The News International

Despite many similarities between Lahore and Karachi, city life and its assorted offshoots differ on many levels

By Aziz Omar
Having been born in Karachi, I have lived most of my life in Lahore and have visited my birth town only a few times. Since my last visit to the coastal city, I have been out of sync with its sights and sounds for more than a decade. Studies, work, cost of travel and logistics - all seemed to become an excuse for holding me back.
Chancing upon an opportunity recently to spend some time in a city that is home to around 13 million inhabitants, I found myself zipping along Shahra-e-Faisal the city's main boulevard close to midnight. This would not have been possible in Lahore as its denizens are plying their roaring chariots late into the night in order to satisfy their thirst for some "scene", mainly socialising and dining out.
Though both Lahore and Karachi are two megapolises of Pakistan, city life and its assorted offshoots differ on many levels. For one, the high life of apartments never really took off in Lahore, as perhaps they like being close to the ground. Though you have three-story structures housing floor-wise units, there are very few and far between. What with their affinity for the soil and its produce, the zamindaars and chaudaries probably want their feet planted squarely on the terra firma. Hence, as if to cater to their love of the land, there are myriad housing societies spawning literally out of the ground, especially the ones patronised by the armed forces.
Karachi on the other hand has expanded so much that there is no place to go but up. A typical cluster of apartment blocks overlooks the stretch of sea with the oyster rocks. Though the living spaces are stacked on top of each other, the demand for residing in them is so high that the rent and maintenance charges run into the tens of thousands. Unlike Lahore, where even a first floor portion of comparable floor space is not that attractive, apartments such as the West Wind Estates in the China Town area of Clifton draw a lot of interest as they offer safe and anonymous living.
Karachi seems to offer a cosmopolitan feel. One comes across a large number of foreign nationals and locals who have been living and studying abroad for most of their lives that have opted to experience Pakistani life for a while. The hardcore Karachi residents who have visited Lahore from time to time feel that the pace of life is more fast back home and the latter city gives a laid back appearance. Yet ask any zinda-dilane-Lahori and they'll confirm that when it comes to hulla gulla, they can rock the socks of Karachi walas.
Yes, it's true that Lahori folk are quite capable of going wild and overboard when it comes to fun and games but take a back seat when it comes to routine life. With a platoon of domestic helpers at their bidding, many in Lahore's upscale communities are leading a sedentary lifestyle especially the ones who have reaped the rewards of the real estate boom. Even the educate elite are comfortably ensconced in the knowledge that as their families' assets are always going to bear fruit then why labour so hard. Their counterparts in Karachi, especially the ones working in media and music may have their exclusive GTs and parties every now and then, yet know that they have to roll up their sleeves to sustain their lifestyles.
A phenomenon that is unique to the Karachi way of life is that of the Sunday Bazaar. One may argue that there are vendors who set up shop every Sunday in other locales of Pakistan, yet no such marketplace can be quite compared to the weekly "event" that takes place in the DHA area of Karachi. This low-scale and open shopping mall attracts buyers and bargain hunters in a huge multitude that rivals the crowds of a sporting event. And it's not just the ones whose purse strings have tightened but people from every strata of society that throng to the venue in thousands. Moreover so, it is mostly the gaari and kothi log that dominate the narrow passage ways among the hundreds of close knit stalls that comprise this bazaar. Some even dress up to come to this place and I am not talking about the aunties and housewives but entire families and even teenagers. One happens to come across the same people that one may have socialized with at last night's wedding function/GT, buying the dirt cheap clothing or domestic wares. Girls and young women especially frequent this temporary marketplace, and dressed casually in western attire feel quite comfortable in meandering amongst the shops. It is quite apparent that they don't have to face the stinging stares that females in similar situations have to withstand in Lahore.
Of course, I concede that one may not render definite conclusions based on a brief sojourn yet at times certain sights and sounds and sounds may convey many subtle layers of meanings. However, the nature of things is though all things have their downside, and it is only with an entrenched living experience that the stark realities are laid bare.