Karachi Vs. Lahore

Over the past few months, I’ve met a huge number of Pakistanis here in Toronto. Unlike the ones from back in Dubai, who become an interesting blend of Dubai’an-Paki, the ones here are unadulterated. As such, I’ve learnt more about the mindset and culture of urban Pakistanis in the last 5 months than I ever did in 18 years in DXB.

Overwhelmingly, the Pakistanis here are from the 2 biggest cities: Karachi- the most populous city and the center of commerce- and Lahore- the cultural capital of the country.

French Beach @ Khilahore

As in many countries with 2 cities at the forefront (Brazil: Sau Paulo-Rio, Spain: Barca-Madrid, US: NYC, LA), there is a passionate rivalry between Khi’ites & Lahoris; the debate ranges from cricket to cuisine to nightlife. What I found fascinating is the difference in the Urdu(de facto main language in both) slang between the two cities. Khi’ites have a narrower body of slang, they tend to use more English loanwords than Lahoris, while the latter have a strong Punjabi influence and take generous creative license with the Urdu language.  Thanks to lahoriii at Lahore Metblogs for some of these:

Khi                             Lahore                           Meaning in English

Tafri                                    Shugal                                  Fun, Chilling
Kuch Nahin Hota                 Koi Nahin                            No worries
Set hai                                 Fit hai                                  Sounds good
Girl/Guy                              Bandi/Banda                        Girl/Guy
Farigh                                 Wela                                     Idle, Got all the time in the world
Bharam                               N/A                                      Attitude
N/A                                   Cheeta                                   Someone brilliant, baller
N/A                                 Miss Karao                              Screw it, forget it
N/A                                 Chaa gaya/Yeh Cheez!            Awesome!/You rock
Dar gayee                        Pack ho gayee                         Got freaked out
Kuch Bhi                          Bongi                                       Bulls*&t
Bharambaaz                     N/A                                         Showoff
Lush push                      Chikni                                       Hot, sexy

Please feel free to suggest some more or fill in the blanks…


11 responses to “Karachi Vs. Lahore

  1. AA, thank you for the first comments on my blog! Please check the slang to see if I got it right…:)

    This post had no negative connotations whatsoever. In fact, it is a celebration of Urdu, one of the world’s most interesting languages. What fascinated me was how different the Urdu spoken in the 2 cities is, and the extent to which the phrases unique to each city shape the person’s identity. For e.g., suppose 2 Lahoris are meeting for the first time, and neither knows where the other is from. While they are speaking (in Urdu), one of them may use slang such as ‘Miss Karao’, ‘cheeta’ etc. This will probably evoke delight and camaraderie from the other, and they will tend to bond a lot faster.

    National identity is very strong in Pakistan; most of my friends are proud to be Pakistani and I’m glad this is so. However, you cannot deny the inter-city rivalry that exists, and instead of looking at the dark side of it, I wanted to talk about how it makes life more interesting 🙂

  2. There was a meetup of bloggers in lahore recently. Do not know you followed up that or not. Anyways nice translations and meanings above. Nice job. pretty amusing.

  3. Thanks Hiroshi…I actually wasn’t aware of the meetup, and I haven’t ever visited Lahore (nor Khi). There is something magical about the city though; after reading Mohsin Hamid’s books and chilling with the many Lahoris here in Toronto, I definitely feel that I will pay a visit there someday. In the meantime, it’s good to see that Lahoris are communicating through what is sure to be the most potent medium of the future.

  4. Amusing. And quite true. Though now it is harder for me to make the distinction, having lived in the indiscernible melting pot of Toronto. Perhaps, I must return home, if for no other reason to regain the lost distinction. =)

    • But the distinction is really evident here too, else I wouldn’t have noticed it! It’s fascinating, the way language shapes so much. Check out Whorfianism

      • I did. Definitely an interesting notion, but I have very significant issues with some of its fundamentals. That language in and of itself is able to guide mental processes is something I strongly disagree with.

  5. LOL… maaannnn!! i live in canada too, in vancouver..! i am a lahori and my friend is a karachiite! but we dont have ANY differences at all!! i mean we speak the same language.. the same slang words.. we are from the same religion.. the same country and we have the same skin color! so whats the point of doing this karachi lahore thing? we are all PAKISTANIS!


    • Rohaan, if you think that by writing this post I am trying to create a divide between the two cities, I have failed. I simply wanted to point out the differences in slang (which are many, and have been verified by both my Khi and Lahori friends) and the delightful conversations it leads to. Cheers

  6. well even if you have tried to point out the slang differences, you definitely have failed doing it 🙂
    as i said before, there isn’t a difference between the urdu we speak, the only difference between me and my karachiite friend is the difference of our “accents” and the way we speak english and thats probably because i was born here and she is an immigrant!

  7. Thank you for your incredible wisdom in stating that I have failed to point out the differences in slang, even though the post has columns that make it quite clear.

    This is my opinion, and it has been corroborated by various friends, both Lahori and Karachiite. However, you’re free to have your own opinion as well. Peace

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