Karachi: A Sensory History

Tropics of Meta

IMG_4227 A roaming band of musicians who arrive at weddings to seek donations, tips in Karachi’s Defense Phase Six

Karachi is one of the world’s largest cities—by some measures, the second largest in terms of population, and likely the world’s biggest “Muslim” city. (In this way, it is like the Indonesia of cities.) More than twenty million people live in this messy, dynamic, fractured megalopolis, the center of Pakistan’s financial and media industries and a major commercial entrepôt on the Arabian sea. Pakistan itself has a population of close to 200 million people, making it sixth in the world, just behind Brazil and ahead of Nigeria. This fact reveals a sobering reality: as Bangladesh places eighth in total population, the Indian subcontinent of the former British Raj counts some 1,611,000,000 souls—more than China (about 1.4 billion).

In other words, despite the subcontinent’s ethnoreligious and linguistic diversity, what once was “India”…

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A Note To My Readers

The Dish

shipcape.jpg

[Re-posted from earlier this week]

One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.

Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s…

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Meet Maggie. She makes her own clothes.

Little Stories

During my recent foray into wardrobe minimalism and a general engagement on the philosophy of what to wear and where to find it, I’ve been thinking a lot about buying well-made clothes. And well made in two senses: made with a high degree quality and made in an ethical and socially responsible way. I’d love to jump off the fast fashion train entirely, but let me tell you, it is hard to find affordable, ethically made garments. If you get tired of searching, you could be like my friend Maggie, who just makes her own clothes.

Yes! She makes her own clothes. Even though I was homeschooled, I cannot even imagine attempting the same. But I find her endeavor so inspiring, and I wanted to sit down with her and talk about her lifestyle of dressing herself in handmade garments.

Interview with Maggie Stein, Who Makes Her Own…

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572

securing rights

On December 15, 2014, the one-year anniversary of South Sudan’s first national conflict since independence, a group of South Sudanese volunteers announced a tribute to the deaths of South Sudanese civilians during the country’s violence. The memorial, digitally displayed in a PDF document titled “Naming the Ones We Lost–South Sudan Conflict: 15 Dec 2013 to the present day,” is a modest object. Its organizers’ two-page introduction precedes a 15-page chart, five columns across, that lists the names lost to mass violence. The names in question, listed in alphabetical order, currently number 572; for each of the dead, where possible, the chart also provides an approximate date of birth, and a location and date of death. The document’s single medium, Calibri text, is the default font of a Microsoft Word document, from which the PDF was likely created; the memorial contains neither photographs nor video, nor archived testimonies of the victims’…

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Ghlaghghee, 2003 – 2015

Whatever

Glaghghee came to us in May of 2003 when my then next-door neighbor Jerry knocked on my door, said, “here’s the kitten your wife said she wanted,” thrust a small, furry thing into my hands, and then walked off. I looked at the small puff of fur, literally no larger than my hand, said “okay” to myself and then took it upstairs with me.

Then I called my wife, who was at work, and the conversation went like this:

Me: You didn’t tell me you ordered a cat.

Krissy: I ordered a what?

Me: A cat.

Krissy: I didn’t order a cat.

Me: Jerry just came over with a kitten that he said you wanted. He mentioned you specifically.

Krissy: Oh, lord. I was talking to him the other day and he said that his cat had had kittens and that he thought that one of them was an albino…

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Michael Christie: Reading and exercise

National Post | Arts

Michael Christie’s debut collection of linked stories, The Beggar’s Garden, will be published this month by HarperCollins Canada. He’ll be guest editing The Afterword this week.

We all know these moments. We emit a sigh while stranded in the wasteland of a particularly arid and soulless passage, the words blurring like a prison wall constructed entirely of bricks of text. We sigh again, tip the book forward, examining it from the top, gauging our progress as a fraction — (¼, ½, ¾) — which never seems generous enough, given all the effort we’ve already invested. We flip a few pages ahead to see how much of the chapter is left, only to find that the book does not have chapters, that it is one continuous text, like the overheard monologue of a deranged auctioneer. We then decide on the necessity of doing the dishes, setting the book back on…

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This Is The Last TIme I Get High

A Buick in the Land of Lexus

heroin 2

I snapped a picture of my surroundings and sent it to him, so somebody would know where I was.

“Pretty,” he said. “Where is that?”

“Downtown Newark.”

Downtown Newark, New Jersey is anything but pretty, but nighttime hides a multitude of sins.

“Are you going to score?”

“Yes” I  texted.

“Don’t be a dumbass” he responded.

“If you don’t hear from me in an hour-there’s a problem.”

An hour later, I was laying in front of a magical Christmas fireplace with the whole family I never had.

The most magnificent church bells rang in my soul.

My brain was massaged by Kafka and Burroughs,

as I bathed in the warm golden sunshine of a perfect life.

I squinted at my cell phone at 7:45 the next morning. My cell phone alarm had been beeping for 45 minutes.

7:45? Fuck. I usually am up at 6:30. Get my kid up at 7.

My heart…

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Fog

WANDER HOME

There’s an unpredictability to the grayness of days in our cove by this water, us in this dent on the edge of the west. As if caught in an eddy, our Bay sends swirls of dark air to engulf us and wrap our landscape in mystery. It is something circadian, yet somehow always sudden.

When I was young, we would visit my grandparents in the Oakland hills, winding up and up the steep streets to the top where on a clear day you could see San Francisco glinting like a toy in a blue pool. But most visits, we’d arrive fresh out of the hot valley where we lived, full of sun and heat and sweat, and find that an eerie world of cool clouds had swallowed everything around us. In the dead of summer, when home was shining bright, we’d find ourselves in darkness.

Now this fog is a part of…

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#KenyanAndIndian

chanyado

What is the sound of thousands of Indians rolling their eyes?

This evening sitting in traffic, suffocated by a furious heat, I listened to the news on the radio. There is something odd about being alone in the bubble of your car, right next to someone else in their bubble, both of you listening to the same thing at the same moment. A shared experience expressed privately. As I learned of the identity of the alleged private developers who grabbed the playground of Langata Primary School, I joined thousands of other brown people in Nairobi snorting in their own air conditioned bubbles.

This was my inner monologue.

Seriously? Come on guys. Do they really have to be Indian!? Great. As if suffering through Brother Paul/Pattni wasn’t enough. Why do you need to go out and add another nail to the coffin that is ‘Indians are thieves and stealing this country.’ That’s like a Luhya going…

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