Usually finding a room or an apartment in a metropolitan city is not difficult, but finding one as a single woman in Karachi, seemed nearly impossible. So I assumed the best way to get anything is through a trusty network. I mentioned my interest in finding a residence to a credible acquaintance at a small get-together which resulted in someone eavesdropping in on our conversation.
After an introduction, the eavesdropper mentioned a room available in a house somewhere in DHA. Curious, I asked some of the basic questions about security, the facilities, and who my potential roommate was? The answers seemed safe and normal to me, so we agreed to speak during the week.
However, although not a big deal for me, many of the eavesdropper’s answers could be considered taboo or just plain wrong in Pakistani circles.
For clarification; my roommate was a guy. We would share one floor of a home, and we were both extremely busy people. Although to many this may not sound ideal – it was perfect for me, he would mind his own business and I would mind my own business.
I went with my god-sent local Karachite guide, Dr. Adeel Faizi; my older brother’s best friend who was specifically told to make sure I did not get into trouble while I was here.
After canceling on each other a couple of times; I along with Dr. Faizi, finally met up with the eavesdropper at my possible future residence. There were two furnished bedrooms available with attached bathrooms, and a shared dining area, kitchen, and a huge lawn space, the biggest bonus was that it was in a safe area.
Initially the bathroom did not suit me - if I was going to live anywhere on my own, I should have a nice bathroom at least. Immediately I knew this was not the place for me, but there was no need to mention my feelings out loud just yet.
I asked if I could get to meet my potential roommate and he said ‘they’ were waiting at a restaurant to meet with me. I looked at Dr. Faizi, and he gave me the ‘its okay lets go meet them’ nod.
As we followed the eavesdropper to a restaurant in Zamzama, I felt like Alice about to jump into a deep, deep hole, and Dr. Faizi couldn’t help but laugh at me.
We arrived and went to the upper section of the restaurant, where two men and one young woman were seated. The younger man in a baseball cap was all muscle – he looked like something out of a wrestling match. The older man, adorning salt and pepper hair, looked wasted from a week’s worth of partying, and the young lady had ‘worry’ written all over her face.
We said our initial salutations and the questions started; to be more exact my interrogation started.
They asked for my verbal CV and I did my best. I explained to them my job required odd timings as well as possible travel periods. But the main concern was convenience: if they could help it, no water issues, electricity issues, problems with staying up or when I come in, and most importantly I needed an environment conducive to writing.
And then the rest of the conversation went something like this:
Older man: You from New York, yeah (wink), must be fun, huh?
Me: (Nervous smile)
Older man: I have a brother in New York, he is a doctor. In the Village…West. He has three properties, he rented one out to Jello.
Me: Jello, wow, good for him.
Dr. Faizi: So what is the price for the room?
Baseball cap dude: You know man, I am in the import/export business, never around… blah, blah, blah…sometimes I don’t even come home, since everything is included, it’s 40,000 rupees per month. (in an odd mix of British and US accent)
Dr. Faizi and I exchanged glances.
Dr. Faizi: I see…
Young lady: So are you a citizen? (Looking at me)
Me: What? Oh right, I do not have Pakistani citizenship. I was born and raised in the US.
Young Lady: (laughs a little) No, whenever someone asks if you’re citizen in Pakistan it usually means of US. (Laughs again)
Me: Right… of course, what was I thinking; I will remember that for the next time.
Dr. Faizi: Yeah, didn’t you know that (in an extremely sarcastic tone)
Everyone laughs, and I do not know why.
Young lady: Will you have friends coming over from the US?
Me: I am suppose to have some friends coming over, I think there are eight of us all together, but we are suppose to go to Taiwan.
Young Lady: HELL NO, will they stay with you?
Me: Umm…I don’t think I can accommodate eight women in one room – it might be a little difficult.
Older man: Are they Chinese?
Me: No, they are mostly blonde (confused), Why?
Older man: EVEN BETTER!!! (Laughs really loud as the whole table joins him, excluding me)
Me: (really nervous smile)
Older Man: Please stay, join us for dinner (wink).
Dr. Faizi gives me the look and I knew it was time for the exit strategy.
Me: Well, it was a pleasure meeting you all. I will let you how I feel about the place through your friend.
Dr. Faizi and I said our good-byes and walked out.
On the way to the car I asked Dr. Faizi who Jello was and he laughed and explained that he meant J-Lo, the singer.
And I replied: But of course.
Sadef A. Kully is a Reporter/Associate Producer for Dawn.com.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.