It has been a hectic two days in Karachi. Very hectic. The KLF kicked off this morning under a glorious sky and wonderful weather. William Dalrymple must have been distracted by something or someone, for instead of delivering a keynote address, he read extensively from his book... and nobody stopped him. The reading ( about the Afghan War) was terrific. But it couldn't in all fairness pass off as a keynote address! I enjoyed my own one hour solo session thoroughly, even if my poor interviewer was suffering from a really bad throat. The questions from the audience were lively and informed. All the press interviews that followed were fantastic as well. Karachi has changed since I was here last ( but then, which sensitive city hasn't?). I was told not to wear jeans or sleeveless tunics by a well meaning lady. Of course, I ignored the advice.... and hey - I'm still alive , right? In fact, over a delightful lunch with the ladies of Karachi at Okra ( superlative food ), we discussed several tricky issues ( sorry... girlie stuff. Can't reveal) But I was struck by more than just their beauty and style. At the hotel ( Carlton) where I am staying, I'd noticed a prominent sign at the entrance which said, "No weapons allowed inside." It sounded, errrr, ominous. It IS ominous. Thank God for ignorance! I am happily traipsing around the city minus body guards ( the norm, btw). I fact I attended a fabulous sangeet and mehendi evening last night at which tout Karachi was present. I felt right at home as the youngsters took to the dance floor energetically while the dj played 'Dhinka Chika' and 'Ooh La La..." Such deja vu, darlings! I had dragged Vikram Seth with me, and quite a few Suitable Boys came up to get introduced, along with sexily clad Suitable Girls. Vikram is adorable! And I enjoyed his astute observations, as he surveyed the scene, sipped a mild Scotch and water ( flowing like the Indus) and spoke about Mohenjo Daro.
Tonight I shall be attending a Quawali with my local friends. It promises to be a sizzling soiree. Shall go in search of Multani plates at the Itwar Market tomorrow. And inshallah meet Imran Khan who's in town to attend a shaadi.