City: Karachi, Pakistan
Years on Couchsurfing: 1.5
Hi Habib! Why did you decide to get involved with CS and how do you mainly participate?
I liked this unique idea of meeting people from all over the world, interact, listen to them and exchange my travel stories with them, and off course make new friendships. I really love this idea of meeting new people, be a host or become a guest while traveling. I believe this way of meeting people and learning from their experiences will help me a lot to better understand about people and off course any part of the world.
I mainly participate by creating CS events, joining interesting CS event created by other members, attending meetups and joining hangouts with other travelers and couch surfers. I also try to post a good travel plan few days before I am traveling to any destination to let the other couch surfers know about me and once when I am at the destination, I try to create a good event if there is nothing happening around. Believe me, I did it and I have got a very positive response as well as made some great friendships, from both the local couch surfers as well as those travelers visiting the same area.
Incredible! And what was your first experience like?
My first CS experience after creating my profile was attending a CS meetup in my city Karachi. It was surprisingly a great experience as I was meeting some people during that meetup for the first time who turned out to be some of the great experienced travelers as CouchSurfers from whom I learned a lot about traveling, couch surfing, countries, cultures, food and people. Today, they are my best travel and Couch Surfing buddies 🙂
Such a great first memory! I think events are great ways to get introduced to the community! What was one of your most interesting experiences hosting on CS?
My most interesting hosting experience was with a Chinese guest who arrived at my place from Africa. He was the first Chinese I’ve hosted ever. During his stay with me, I learned a lot about his culture and way of living and so he about ours. We rode bikes and explored about 8 places and attractions of my city. During his stay with me, I kept on creating events so the other CouchSurfers and travelers of the city were also joining us at different places. So it was all fun and a great experience!
Just what CS should be! A true cultural exchange! What about surfing?
The most interesting surfing experience was staying at the place of a city Ambassador of Lahore city who organized a historical Grand National Meetup and a visit to Kartarpur Corridor. That event was attended by more than 200 people. It was a wonderful experience from the comfortable stay at my host’s place to the event itself. I never met such a huge number of couch surfers at a time, with whom I spent all the day and night, Had awesome dinners, lots of interactions, explored the city together and much more. It was a great fun and the most interesting surfing experience of my life.
Wow! 200 people, that is a serious event! What has been a gift you’ve received from a surfer that was especially meaningful?
I was very happy to see a pack of famous black tea from Kenya brought by my Chinese guest (Surfer) who was visiting my city Karachi right after completing his trip in Africa. That was the first gift I’ve got till today and off course I enjoyed it a lot.
If you could host any celebrity, who would it be and why?
Bruce Wills, because my friends says I looks like him especially my eyelids, when I am bald 😉
Ha! I can see it!! What is a book that has inspired your travels?
“The Forty Rules of Love” By Elf Shafak, The story of a Wandering Dervish “Shams” for in search of his companion “Rumi” as well as the love of divine. A wonderful tale for It is provocative in the best sense of that term, a rare novel that succeed in illuminating the mystical aspects of daily existence, a novel of intelligence as well as heart, with wisdom that infuses every page.
Sounds very interesting! What is a quote that inspires you?
Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.Ibn Battuta
I’ve never heard that before. That’s beautiful. What is one food from Karachi that everyone needs to try?
Biryani, A mixed rice Indian and Pakistani dish composed of meat, rice, spices and marinade, and can be made in a number of different ways. Besides meat, it can be cooked as vegetable Biryani by adding vegetables instead of meat, mutton or chicken.
Yum! I am in for any rice dish! What is your go-to Karaoke song?
I love the Spanish song “Bailando – by Enrique Iglesias”
I am a huge Enrique fan, so I totally get that! What is somewhere everyone needs to visit in Karachi?
I would say to go see Empress Market located in Saddar area of Karachi. This will gives you both the past colonial history of Karachi as well as the current markets in surroundings, off course this is the city center too which will connect you to many accessible historical and worthwhile places nearby.
Sounds gorgeous. Last question, what is one piece of advice for any new Couchsurfer?
CouchSurfing is not about staying at someone’s place for free. It is more than a unique opportunity to meet new people, explore their towns and cities through the eyes of people who lives there so be always kind and generous to your hosts when you visit them. A little or a small piece of gift to your hosts may lead to a great friendship. Also, always try to find a host who seems more genuine to you by reading their references written by the people stayed with them. On the other hands, if you are a host, it is very important for you to understand how your guests feel when they arrive so always be kind with them too : )