In the fall of 1982, while living and teaching in Bahrain, I was asked to spend five days aboard the USS Coronado the flagship of the Navy's Middle East fleet teaching developmental English to crew members during what's called a "show the flag" run through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan, then return to Bahrain with the admiral and his wife on the admiral's plane. How could I say no?
The ocean voyage was a delight I've written about it in one of my Mahboob Chaudri stories, "The Ivory Beast" but the best part of the trip was Karachi itself. Seaman "Bear" Jensen (who appears in the story under his actual name) and I hired a horse-drawn Victoria carriage and driver and spent five days exploring the city.
I remember being impressed by the Tuba Mosque, the tomb of Moulay Ishmael, my camel ride at Sullivan's Beach, and the side trip a group of us took in a psychedelically decorated schoolbus out to the archeological site at Thatta, the fact that the ship's bursar changed my dollars into pads of rupees which had to be ripped free of their adhesive binding a bill at a time. But it's these three things which most stand out in my memory:
I understand that Karachi is a very different place today, a city often erupting into anger and violence. But I remember it as one of the most vibrant and friendly places I've ever visited.
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