Flat, dusty and crowded – Karachi is 15 million strong.Reminiscent of India, but clearly more conservative here – the men, many of whom have long beards, are dressed in either western wear (shirt and trousers) or in off-white salwar kameez. Women also wear the salwar kameez (the saree is more common in India) – I saw the most beautifully dressed women on their way to a wedding in my hotel – gorgeous fabrics, scarves and vibrant colors. Many women I see are fully covered in the black robes – although not in the burka. About half have their heads covered.
The Karachi Marriott, where I am staying, overlooks a pretty park (which I can see from my window). Much like in India, the service is great and the people are very kind. When you come to the hotel, they do an extensive search of the car before you can enter the parking lot involving dogs, mirrors (looking for bombs attached under the car), and opening the trunk and engine. Then, once you are in the parking lot, you leave the car and go through a special entrance where you have to go through a metal detector and put your bags through a machine (like you are at the airport). It is clear that I should not go out wandering the streets.I am pretty noticeable, not only due to my dress but my hair color. During my four-day visit, I saw one other non-Pakistani woman (an American) and several Western men, who were also staying at my hotel. I never saw a recognizably non-Pakistani on the streets.
Karachi is on the coast, but I have yet to see the sea. It is drier than I expected and the city’s buildings are all variations on beige. Except for the pretty park across from the hotel, there are not many trees. There are however, very colorful, decorated minibuses everywhere — these are the primary mode of transportation, much like you see in India, but more elaborately decorated.
The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) faculty and administration have been excellent hosts – driving me to the campuses (main and city campus), arranging meetings and feeding me wonderful Pakistani food. IBA is potentially an interesting partner for Haas and the International Business Development (IBD) Program- it is Pakistan’s oldest business school and one of the two leading business schools in the country today. IBA is interested in exploring whether there might be opportunities for joint activities with Haas – perhaps a joint project with IBA and Haas IBD students with multinational or local companies based in Pakistan.