Karachi Buses

15 05 2009

It would be a real shame to bring Karachi into discussion and not mention one of the things that makes it so fascinating: The Buses.

The Karachi buses look like nothing you have seen before: colorful, hot, noisy, crowded, unsafe, adventurous, fast, undisciplined, fascinating, you name it.

The first things that will struck you are probably the colors and the decorations on the bus. I mean they look like a  Public Transportation Christmas Tree or like an advertising bus for the Amusement Park. The more colors or ornaments a bus has the more respect the driver that is taking care of it gets. It’s a matter of pride and of social status among the bus drivers club. The same thing applies for the truck-drivers as well for instance.

You should know about this buses that they are split into 2 parts: men and women, they don’t stop to pick you up – they just slow down a bit, they are almost all the time over-crowded with people – inside and out (the photo is pretty relevant) and they also have an important contribution to the chaotic traffic in Karachi sometimes.

But… there is a big “but” here… don’t even think about visiting Karachi and not having at least one bus ride. It is amazing, it is a wonderful opportunity to take a good glimpse at Pakistani society in general as they cut the city across – residential areas, city center, slums, markets, etc. You get the chance of interacting with random Pakistani  fascinated by the presence of a foreigner riding their bus, of enjoying some extra loud local music up to the point you won’t be able not even to hear your own thoughts. Plus, it’s like a cheap roller-coaster adventure.

You may think that you won’t come out of it alive as they travel very fast considering the technical condition of the thing. In fact, I heard that the bus drivers are more often referred to as Bus Pilots instead of Bus drivers as their buses are almost taking off.

busMy Bus trip around Karachi was one of the highlights, I think, of my staying here as it happened in my second day and it really helped me in shaping an image of how Pakistan is like and how my internship could be around these places. It was amazing… 3 hours of intense bus-riding.

You can find the album of the trip here on my Facebook profile ;).