Welcome to Karachi, the city of lights. Here, you’ll find every type of food you can possibly imagine from Javed Nihari’s Nihari to Nazimabad’s “Anday Wala Burger”. You’ll see us swarming the beach (one of our most prized possessions) every holiday and come across bustling markets that make being lost a habit, not a rarity. And here, you’ll find a city that never rarely sleeps.
But while you are busy eating niharis, roaming the beach or haggling with a market vendor, don’t dare take your phone with you. Be it a busy chowk, an empty street or a cheerful mall, your phone is not safe. Ask the Karachiites. Some got pick-pocketed while on a public bus, others got robbed in broad daylight on a busy street, while some even had their phones magically disappear from their homes, schools or offices— yes, it happens.
I am a proud owner of the mammoth-sized Nexus 6 and I am no stranger to these stories. As a university student, I regularly commute via buses or bikes. During this routine, I have developed a complex combination of tricks to keep my phones and my wallet safe.
It might not be the most high-tech solution, but it works most of the time. Here, I will share some tips on how NOT to get your phone stolen in modern-day Karachi.
1. The “Secondary Phone”
If you want your phone to remain yours, get another phone.
Most Karachiites already carry two phones. It’s a way of life over here. All you need to do is get a simple, cheap, tough-as-hell Nokia 1100 (or any other feature phone) if you can and make that your primary phone for calls and texts. It’ll cost you around a couple of thousand rupees —or nothing since most households already have one or two lying around. That’s the first and most useful trick in “Karachi 101”.
2. The “Being Modest”
Never take your phone out in public! Never.
If you have the latest iPhone or the latest Galaxy S, congratulations! Now keep it to yourself unless you no longer want to have the latest iPhone or the latest Galaxy S. Whenever you’re in a public place, such as a road or a busy street, do yourself a favour and don’t take it out. Not even when you stop at a signal. Malls are allowed, so are shopping stores and restaurants (I can email you the full list if you want) but not bustling markets like Saddar or Sunday/Saturday/Friday Bazaar.
Your phone should also always be on silent. Need to contact someone urgently or waiting for an urgent call/text? Use the secondary phone I instructed you to buy. If you still haven’t bought it, what are you waiting for?
3. The “Don’t Take Your Smartphone Everywhere”
Since almost every Karachiite carries a secondary phone, the “other side” has gotten smart too. They now know that you have two phones. So now when you have the secondary phone from step 1, make it your primary phone. Try limiting the places you take your smartphone to.
Take your smartphone only when you absolutely need to use it.
4. The “Back To School”
If you don’t follow step 3, this is for you. If you absolutely have to take your smartphone with you, buy a big bulky school bag. First, it’ll remind you of the good old days when you carried a bag heavier than your own self. Second, you can fill it with a few books and wedge your smartphone in between those. Now if someone points a gun at you and asks you for your phone, tell them that you left it at home. For good measure, give them the secondary phone if you have it (you should).
Seriously, who has the time to go through loads of books, looking for a smartphone while holding a man at gunpoint? To make it more convincing, you can even buy a pencil box and put your phone in that!
Note: I haven’t tried this out yet. Use this technique at your own risk.
5. The “Being aware of Pick-pocketers”
Have you ever seen the sign “Be Aware of Pick-Pocketers”? It’s everywhere, at railway stations, hospitals, busy markets, etc. Yet you don’t pay heed. That isn’t a joke. Please be aware of them. Seriously, they are quick as hell. You won’t even know what happened until you tap your pocket five minutes later and realize that your phone isn’t there. That feeling is one of the most shocking feelings you’ll ever have. It’ll scar you for life.
Carrying an expensive fifty thousand rupee smartphone in the pocket of a Kurta is a big mistake. Don’t do it. Ask me. My little Samsung (RIP) may only be worth 1-2 thousand rupees, but money doesn’t define how much you love your phone. That was my very first phone. Only the tightest of jeans are good enough to take the risk of carrying your beloved phone in your pocket and still be care-free.
Last but not the least, pray that the “other party” hasn’t read this post.