Where more is less
‘The more the merrier’ may seem fine in some parts of the world, but the phrase holds no meaning in Karachi. Despite there being too much of everything in the city, a corresponding increase in quality has not been witnessed.
Take TV for instance. Before the 1990s people used to watch the evening news on the only available channel to stay updated about happenings in the country. Today, for example, the marriage-divorce saga of a local cricketer and an Indian tennis star is given more coverage than the historical 18th amendment on the plethora of channels.
Every news channel has at least six discussion programmes where the guests blab on more or less about the same issues, yet they are never able to come up with any positive solutions for society’s problems. Loadshedding is still happening, corruption is still unstoppable and the common person is still struggling to survive. Bomb blasts are given more coverage than the issues of economic instability, tax evasion and record-breaking inflation. Gone are the days when being right was superior to being first as all channels want to take the lead in reporting an issue that isn’t an issue in the first place!
TV plays are not far behind their counterparts on the news channels. Racy issues centring round adultery, sex and whatnot that were once considered unacceptable are shown as if there is no other topic left to portray. Family plays, period dramas and celebrity talk-shows that were once considered national television’s biggest assets have taken a back seat. As for the calibre of actors, a bunch of ‘talented celebrities’ with the right connections are appearing in serials, replacing acclaimed thespians.
Moving on to other things in life, every person who lived in the 1980s knows that the sole telephone company gave a hard time to those who wanted to have a landline installed. The advent of mobile phones has changed all that, but the mass advertising blitz of cellular service-providers can give anyone a headache. As for their service? The less said the better. Same goes for the high-speed internet services.
Eating outlets are also growing in quantity but no one tries to check their quality, service and most importantly their prices! A normal paratha roll – arguably Karachi’s very own creation – can cost you more than Rs70 for no rhyme or reason, yet no one cares or questions why.
The education system is in shambles. It appears the city has more uneducated persons than learned people, yet the number of schools, colleges and universities in Karachi paints a different picture. Judging from the number of educational institutions in the metropolis, Karachi should be producing Einsteins in bunches! Yet this is definitely not the case and the institutions seem to be concentrating on everything apart from the core agenda: education.
Everyday items from soap to detergents, bakery items to canned food, car lubricants to tyres, all have witnessed astronomical price rises, yet the quality has hardly improved. Driving a car is more of a nuisance than a luxury because every time you go for a ride on the city’s bumpy roads, there is a fair likelihood you’ll get a flat tyre or worse, some other mechanical problem. But the abundance of mechanics at every step of the way is no guarantee that your vehicle will be in safe hands. In fact, it might end up in worse condition than before after the barely-trained mechanics are through with it!