A City On The Move

Things you see on the streets of Karachi: a motorcycle with five people on board (a father driving, a child in his lap, a child behind him, wife behind the child, riding side-saddle, holding a baby); donkey pulling a cart laden with 30-foot steel girders; motorized rickshaw with six or seven schoolkids crammed onto a seat that fits, typically, two adults; a camel; colorfully decrepit buses with passengers on the roof, spilling out the open doors, hanging on for dear life during their daily commute; blind beggars led by young boys; hawkers selling newspapers, roses, bracelets, coconut slices; traffic cops in white uniforms; para-military troops, known as Rangers, on patrol in pickups, with machine-guns; late-model Hondas and Toyotas, the vehicles of choice for Karachi’s middle class. You feel the heat, hear the noise, inhale the dust. Exhilarating, exhausting.

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.