"Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!" ~*~Jane Austen

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Land of the Pure

Ok, so I understand that this has been a long time coming but considering that I had to deal with non-functional PC's and tons of schoolwork I've finally managed to type up what I had written soon after coming back from Pakistan. Hope you find it interesting.

Ok, so I’m back. Back from the “land of the pure”. That’s literally what the word PAKISTAN So, how was it like? Considering it had only been 4 years since the last time I had been there I was surprised at just how surprised I personally was with things there. I suppose 3 years of university (and a few more years on the board for me) led to a whole new world of observation. I got there and one of the first few things I noticed was the number of billboards. I promise you that Karachi can put Time Square to shame. Well, except that while Time Square has billboards that light up Karachi doesn’t. No point having billboards that light up when there is no guarantee that you’ll have electrical power at all times of the day. Power outages are a part of life and yet people have come to deal with them. Gasoline-powered power generators, UPS, and good ol’ candles for those that can’t afford the above two options. It is truly a nation that makes things happen with what it has. A lack of sufficient traffic signs has led to a highly specialized driving code. To an outsider the traffic may seem chaotic but to a resident there’s nothing chaotic about it. Traffic in Karachi is anarchic – i.e. it is an organized chaos. People who function within this anarchic system know exactly what to do and when to do it. Everyone knows that you save your ass and your car and let everyone else on the road worry about saving theirs and so everyone drives defensively. There are no STOP signs at street intersections so people have deviced an elaborate system of flashing their headlights and honking their horns to signal that they are approaching the intersection. The person who honks first gets the right of way. Traffic lights are plenty and most are functional. However, when one breaks down for whatever reason it may not get fixed for a few days. The traffic police may not even know about it for a long time. What do people do? They manage. I agree that it usually leads to MASSIVE traffic jams that take hours to sort out but somehow they manage. It is a country of people that may tell you to “relax” if you’re cursing away while sitting in your car during one of Karachi’s infamous traffic jams. means for those of you who are unaware.

Enough about the traffic situation. The only thing I can say about it is that you have to experience it to know it. Just so it’s clear, I can’t drive there. I’m not afraid. Just don’t know how to drive a stick shift car and because I’m too used to rules and regulations. I’m going to go back to the point I made in the beginning about billboards and talk about how much more competitive the Pakistani market is than the Canadian market and perhaps to some degree, the U.S. market. I find that the Pakistani market for most items has quite a few characteristics of a perfectly competitive market. Especially if one looks at the textile sector (which is the single largest sector of the economy) one can see that there are 1000s of textile mills producing almost the same kind of cloth and it is being sold at the same rates almost all over the city – whether its at the Sunday Bazaar or at the local fabric stores – and everyone knows what price the fabric is being sold for and where. There are a few textile mills that have differentiated themselves and they charge a premium for their product but on the whole I find the market for textiles in Pakistan to be perfectly competitive. The next thing I want to talk about is the wireless communications sector…in simple terms, the cell phone companies. I realized just how uncompetitive the Canadian market is when I realized that there are more cell phone companies in Pakistan than there are in all of Canada…enuf said. I am far too appalled by this situation to continue. So, on this note I shall end my ramblings about my fourth month trip to the “mother land”. Do let me know if you find flaws in my economical analysis…