Masayuki Nishimura / Marubeni Corporation Karachi Liaison Office
What do you imagine when you hear of Pakistan? An Islamic country? A country of scorching rocky deserts? A country with tasty curry? Pakistan is far from Japan in both distance and culture, and might be a country whose image is hard to grasp, so I would like to give a report about daily life in the commercial city of Karachi, situated at the southern tip of Pakistan.
The biggest impression about local life is that it’s hot. Apart from late November to late February, what in Japan we call “the days of real summer heat” continues. On many days, the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, and on occasion the temperature has been so high that the digital thermometer placed on the lawn of the garden at my home has been unable to measure it. But thanks to this high temperature, low rainfall climate, from May to July one can enjoy highly fragrant mangoes with a tightly packed sweetness. There are over 100 varieties of mangoes, and they are presented to the British royal family each year.
In the town, colorful buses, trucks and rickshaws (three-wheeled motorized taxis) with their whole bodies painted draw one’s gaze. Many second-hand buses imported from Japan run with the signs “XX Driving School” and “XX Kindergarten” still painted on, giving one a renewed appreciation for the performance of Japanese-made automobiles. What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as “passenger capacity” for vehicles in Pakistan, so people get on until the roofs of buses, beds of trucks, and roofs of long-haul trains are overflowing.
Regarding leisure time, there are three fine turfed golf courses in the precincts of Karachi that used to be a former British colony. Since this is Karachi, which suffers from extreme heat and serious water shortages, treated sewage is used for the upkeep of the grass. Also, about ten minutes drive from the residential block, the Arabian Sea spreads out before you, with colorfully decorated camels for tourists walking gracefully along the beach.
Since the waves of the Arabian Sea, being higher in summer, die down in the winter, we can go out to the sea for fishing on chartered wooden steamboats. It is one of my biggest joys to eat fresh bream sashimi only in winter in Karachi, where one may have difficulty purchasing Japanese food.
Though Japanese tourists rarely come to Pakistan, by all means stop by if you have the chance on a business trip.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.40 (July, 2007)