Considered to be the eighth most populous metropolitan city in the world, Karachi is the land of culture, history, trade, fashion, entertainment, investment and high rise sky scrapers. I remember the first time I went to Karachi and was taken in by the humongous Jinnah International Airport alone. It was the month of July, and once I stepped outside, a cool breeze welcomed me, which was quite surprising because Lahore in the month of July is the worst month to be breathing in. People later told me that it was due to the Arabian Sea that the weather remained humid during the day but pleasant at night time. Other than the huge airport and the gentle, cool breeze of Karachi, I noticed that the geography and the landscaping was quite different to that of Lahore. It was more rugged, gigantic, confusing and elaborate. While every street, road, residential as well as commercial area looks well planned in Lahore, the symmetry and angles are very different in Karachi. In order to get from one place to the other, one needs to get out of their homes an hour before at the least. But then, that’s the beauty of Karachi. Once you’re on the road, you notice how the city is always brimming with so much energy, enthusiasm and warmth -it’s a party city and a cultural one at the same time. Also, never have I ever seen so many cathedrals and churches in Lahore than I see in Karachi. It’s a melting pot of various religions, ethnicities, cultures and languages. And all these features add to the uniqueness, diversity and versatility of the city. In order to get from one place to another, one needs to get out at least an hour in advance. But then, that’s the beauty of Karachi. Once you’re on the road, you notice how the city is always brimming with so much energy, enthusiasm and warmth — it’s a party city and has a vibrant cultural scene. Also, never have I ever seen in Lahore as many cathedrals and churches as I saw in Karachi Travelling to Karachi at least twice a month, there are a couple of places in the city that I regularly visit on each one of my trips and ones that I feel every person coming to Karachi should always go to, regardless of the season, which more or less remains the same throughout the year. I write about them in alphabetical order. BOTS – Short for ‘Biryani Of The Seas’, BOTS takes your breath away. This is a roadside restaurant, with chairs and umbrella tables lined to one side, and a menu that is rich in desi cuisine and seafood. It’s situated on the busy Prince Complex, Frere Police Station Road and never experiences a dull moment. Maybe since it’s open till late in the night and welcomes in guests from all over the city. When I visited BOTS for the first time, I had the good fortune of meeting its owner, MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi. He asked his staff if they would like to dance in their cultural Sindhi style and so much to my amazement, the entire team began singing and dancing away in coordination. It was a truly memorable moment. It’s my request that you order prawns, french fries and kheer when you’re there. CLIFTON BEACH – For those who visit Karachi for the first time, the famous Clifton Beach gets you very excited. It is humongous with a plethora of camels, children, families, and tourists busy on the sands. I remember walking near the shore, barefoot at night, with my friends, and having a great time. The Clifton Beach is always busy, irrespective of the hour and is well guarded by tight security. The food stalls and carts are parked right next to the pavement, adjacent to the sand and there is so much energy on the entire seashore, it’s almost tangible. The Clifton Beach is a popular hangout spot for children and families on Sundays and public holidays. CREEK VISTA – These apartments are considered to be the most pricey and luxurious in the whole of Karachi city. Their rent is extremely high and only the top-earning individuals can afford a place here. The apartments buildings are tall and towering, with more than 15 stories, and the USP is that each apartment floor has its own independent elevator with a key access only the resident holds. All in all, the security is very high. There are football fields, golf courses, salons, supermarkets, pharmacies, tandoors, marquees and cafes present, all exclusive for Creek Vista residents. I always make it a point to visit and explore these amazing flats where some of my friends live – it’s a unique and beautiful locality. DOLMEN MALL – I like how Karachi has everything king size. The famous Dolmen Mall of Karachi is huge. It has some of the best international and local brands with big outlets, be it food franchises, retail brands or fashion houses. Other than these, there are play areas for children, a few banks, lots of ATMs, and a few offices of multinational companies. The mall is brimming with activity attracting people from all walks of life. There is something out there for everyone – the cheapest of things to the priciest. Dolmen Mall is used by filmmakers, anchors, TV personalities and media persons to promote their shows, films, projects and causes, and is filled the most on public holidays when there are colourful and artsy installations propped inside the premises. KOEL ART GALLERY – Entertain the art lover in you by paying a visit to this beautiful art gallery. The Koel Art Gallery houses stunning artworks by both veteran and upcoming artists and is a walk in a drawing room for all art enthusiasts. The premises is hypnotically beautiful, with shrubs, trees, benches, ponds and railings surrounding it. There is a café right next to the gallery that goes by the name ‘Koel Cafe’ with some of the most exquisite dishes. KOLACHI – Not just for outsiders but for Karachi locals too, Kolachi is the coolest hangout spot in the city. It’s actually a restaurant, which is so popular that if you go there without a booking, you have to wait on the lounges for a good one hour, if not more. Kolachi is popular for two very big reasons – location and quality of food. It’s built above sea level and has a breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea. Since it’s situated right next to the sea on a higher ground, you feel like you’re having dinner on a boat floating over the sea. There is no door or barrier and so the interaction with the open is unique. It’s beautiful to see the endless sky kissing the ocean and looking downwards, one can see crabs, lobsters and other sea creatures touching the shore. The food is delectable and delicious. I have always had desi meals every time I have visited Kolachi and I believe it’s for you to personally go and experience their food which is so well prepared and flavourful, you feel like you’re in a different world altogether. Kolachi combines the ambience with the richly prepared items that are served to you. It is the closest you can get to experiencing heaven on Earth. MOVENPICK ICE CREAM PARLOUR – This might be very usual and common for Karachiites, but for me, it was unusually new. I have always been a die-hard Movenpick ice cream fan all my life. Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s etc have never impressed me to the extent that I am able to devour entire packs all on my own, but Movenpick is next level genius. To see an independent stand-alone Movenpick ice cream parlour in Karachi made my jaw drop when I visited the city for the very first time. It’s located in Khayaban-e-Tauhid and has so many flavours, toppings and add-ons to choose from, that one can entirely get lost in the tussle. This is the perfect place for me and I visit it every chance that I get. Swiss Chocolate and Praline are their best flavours, if you take my advice. The writer is incharge Lifestyle & Entertainment at Daily Times. She Tweets at @cheenaagha and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, November 29th 2017.