Port Grand, not so grand

Published: June 19, 2011

Those in charge should keep a limit on how many people should be allowed in the food street at a time.

I’m just happy that I got back from the much talked-about Port Grand without any major respiratory issues.

The mega entertainment and food complex, where Governor of Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad claimed people would find peace and comfort, turned out to be quite the opposite. In order to catch up with the rest of Karachi, my family also decided to visit the recreational project that hopes to become a top tourist destination of the country. After having heard numerous positive tales of the food street there, it was only natural that we had high expectations of the place.

Therefore, when I was told Sunday night we will be visiting the place, I jumped in jubilation. Due to no parking space anywhere near the venue, we were told to get off the car and start walking towards the gate. There we joined scores of other people, mostly families, in the march. Finally, after a good ten-minute walk on the road, we came close to the gate of Port Grand only to be greeted by an ever-growing line for tickets.

The queue took a while to reach the ticket counter but this wait did not reduce our eagerness to go to what many claim to be “Thailand in Pakistan.” As we walked closer and closer to the main food street, the swarms of people choked us more and more. With barely enough space to walk, we pushed through people while checking out the restaurants and coffee shops on the left.  Alfresco dining places did not have enough chairs while the other restaurants were full, not accommodating any more customers. Therefore, for an hour or two we were forced to walk around without giving our tired legs a break.

As if this wasn’t enough disappointment, I was further shocked to find out that a small water bottle at even a random stall cost Rs75. The exorbitant prices of food items were not justified as the food quality was sub-par. Those in charge should keep a limit on how many people should be allowed in the food street at a time, so that the place doesn’t get packed like sardines in a can. This would help people like me enjoy the beauty of a harbour-based social and recreational space.


Sarah Khan

A sub-editor on the sport pages of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • H

    The problem with people like you is that they always complain and never appreciate if something good is happening in our country. Everything cannot be perfect and you guys should know that and however Port Grand is, it is nice and something new which we Karachiites badly need after a lot tension surrounding us. Besides, obviously you will find so many people on a Sunday evening because that is the time most families go out to eat and hang out. Appreciate what your fellow countrymen are doing because certainly you do not even have potential to do at least half of the work they have done. Recommend

  • Local

    Criticism with decent rationale is justifiable. Nevertheless, this is just unreasonable on part of the author. You had to wait in line? big deal! so does the entire world’s literate populace that adheres to civil norms of living. The Japs did it after an earthquake.

    Had to wait for a table? well, how conveniently you forgot to mention that you never made a reservation in the first place. It’s about time the people representing the bourgeois community learned how to wait in line rather than to enforce their social standing over others.

    I find it quite amusing to see people looking for tiny bit of shortcomings. Even when such a development is a rare in Pakistan. Nonetheless, to confer Port Grand as not so Grand that I find unreasonable. Granted, people in Pakistan at times are uncivil but that’s no excuse.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Its a novelty right now. Give it a few months and then we can see how it fares.
    The problem in Karachi is that its so entertainment starved that we accept almost anything thrown at us.Recommend

  • Hussam

    No surprises here. This was a given and is bound to happen with any new hyped place opening up. You should’ve seen what happened here in Lahore when Hardees opened up. It caused traffic blocks for many a mile with the place overflowing with people 24 hours a day. Also this just proves how starved Pakistanis are for any sort of entertainment.

    Give this new place a few weeks and it’ll return to normal. Recommend

  • Fooz

    move to Islamabad then.. there’s lotta walking space there lolRecommend

  • worried

    Good to know that there was a ‘line’ to buy tickets and there was a parking space in a 10 minutes walking distance.Recommend

  • disbelief

    I have several things to say to you. Let begin with

    You went on a SUNDAY – any public place is crowded on a Sunday. Why did you expect that this new attraction would be any different?
    People are not accustomed to waiting in line in Pakistan – it’s a pretty loosely-adhered-to concept. And if the authorities had turned you away, you would have written another rant about it.

    I’ve been to Port Grand, and i went on a weekday because i am aware of how crowded places can get on the weekend. There were a lot of people, and no one seemed to mind the occasional bumping into someone. Everyone chatted and laughed in their queues as they waited for their orders to be taken.
    I didn’t buy water there but i had naariyal paani which cost 50, an icecream cone which cost 60 and a gola ganda which cost 50. Price wise, i think the place is fine.

    I suggest you have a more positive outlook to life. Go there again and look at all the people who are happy to be entertained.

    PS Your blog should have been titled “Port Grand – I hate to stand”Recommend

  • Bourne

    God bless Islamabad ……..Recommend

  • CaffeinatedBliss

    Haha do you not remember when McDonalds came to Karachi? It was chaos in the city!

    I don’t see the problem. The crowds swarm in around 9pm. That has and I think always will be Karachi’s favorite time to out go and dine. So you had to park far away, and walk. If you’ve ever been to a ball game in the west, it’s not very different. Neither is going to most theme parks etc. across the globe. There is nothing wrong with waiting your turn. Your sense of entitlement clearly shows you’ve either never walked along a crowded boardwalk, or never noticed because it was not in Pakistan.

    I am sick and tired of this ‘glass half empty’ syndrome, people like you seem to always have about this city, and this country.

    And, it’s funny, because the picture heading your post is of the place at sunset… Looks like a lovely time to take a stroll down that food street.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahsan

    fully agreed! give it a break! if you have issues with mingling with the common lot then just stick your parties in defense!Recommend

  • Anam

    Get a grip. Given that there are such few entertainment places in Karachi, there will be a lot of people visiting Port Grand – especially on the weekends. What else do you expect, given that we live in the most populated city in the country. Are you even surprised? Quit whining about things. Recommend

  • Alien

    Only because it was over crowded and you had to stand i line does not implies that its not Grand, rather it proves that the place is Grand. They were not expecting that much response in such a short time. Any ways one should appreciate what ever efforts being made to give the people place to relax and enjoy and also improving the overall image of the city.Recommend

  • 007

    well the crowds are totally understandable…. but the prices should be in control else port grand will lose its popularityRecommend

  • Pond Ering

    How much money have they spent on building Port Grande?Recommend

  • saad hashmi

    Some people just blog for the heck of it. Perhaps they lack the skills needed to write an actual blog of substance. So what if you had to walk ten minutes to get to Port Grand? In places like United Kingdom and USA, people walk for 2-3 hours on average whether this includes commute to university, workplace or even town market. And so what if you had to wait in line to get into Port Grand? Did you expect them to have a Q-jump or a separate entrance for you? Perhaps that would have lived up to ‘your expectations.’ This is the problem with Pakistan, everything and everyone has become about ‘me, myself and I.’ Once we start focusing on ‘us’, the problems themselves will disappear. Recommend

  • M

    Thailand? Give us a break and stop comparing a mall like eating place in Karachi with a whole country filled with islands… Stupidity :) Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Have you never visited a tourist destination before Ms Khan? I surely have my doubts!

    From Times Sqaure, New York to Eiffel Tower in Paris, and various bazaars in Thailand and Turkey, every tourist destination is packed on a day off. Infact, these places have the longest cues on weekdays too. That’s how it is all over the world. So why should it be any different here in Karachi? Why do we expect a notch more from our countrymen? You’ve probably waited in line for your passport and NIC, so just a few minutes in a line outside of Port Grand shouldn’t hurt so much?

    It’s so very easy to point out the flaws Ms Khan, but it takes real courage to appreciate a good venture! Port Grand is exactly what the Karachiites need on a lazy Sunday evening! and I’m glad someone thought about it!Recommend

  • Saman J

    Well for the author I just have to say that its a sad sad thing to see lack of thankfulness that your blog showed and even lack of patience and more than that lack of respect for systems.. no wonder the country is in such poor state,I mean we keep on ranting and blaming the common man for lack for patience but wow here we have an educated person talking about walking 10 minutes and standing in a line as if its something which lacks respect.! get a grip girl..stay home and go to private parties only..Port Grand is a public place and so obviously ‘Public” would be there.stop complaining not for you maybe but for majority Port Grand is GRAND.

    I have to say though that after reading the other comments I am happy to see that sanity still prevails in our society and majority appreciates the efforts being made to improve the image of the city and provide people with a place to enjoy and relax.Recommend

  • http://ww.ithink-labs.net Saad

    Y blame Port Grand for the huge Crowd , almost all public places are full on weekends.. ! Stop whining , the place is good , beautiful environment , good for hanging out with family ! One should not expect an empty “food street” !! … Recommend

  • Tariq RAheem

    Overcrowding at port grand despite an entry fee of the Rs 300 per person reflects a huge success of this project. In my opinion the Auther of this article ” port grand not so grand ” belong to a 2% ruling elite of this country who always want to enjoy their distintion over others. I have never been to the port grand as yet, but wish to go.Recommend

  • Tauseef

    stupid article indeed, ppl like you never appreciated any good step. u wanted to show your media card n entered without line or ticket?:D Living in metropolitan city is different to living other small cities.. u should move to islamabad where u can find some bore entertainment plcaes n enter without line.. Recommend

  • Syed

    no doubt stupidity,
    this is a testimony for port grand to be Grand that so many people are visiting!! if you want some peace and quite than go to some place else
    Neither “peace and quite” is the selling point of port grand, nor is this the characteristic of Thailand. Just think of what you said, keeping up with the rest of KArachi, when you think of rest of Karachi then you should expect rest of Karachi, why were you expecting peace and wuite in the first place??Recommend

  • Talal

    After such a long time people of Karachi have a place to visit with their families and here she is …calling it “not so grand”. But seriously “welcome to pakistan”, They’ve taken an initiative and instead of appreciating it people like u can only see the bad aspects. And talking about the crowd there, then just visit any market on weekend same will be scene everywhere. And even tourist places all around the world get crowded at the peak hours so whats the big deal about it. You know you should learn to be content with what you’ve at your hands instead of just criticizing everything.Recommend

  • IH

    you must be joking. A place is a roaring success and because you have access to a newspaper you want it to be controlled especially for you. Pakistan is rotting because of this selfish attitude. And if a government functionary had it closed to attend and you werent allowed in you would have then complained too. Come on. You line up anywhere in the world. Start doing it in Pakistan too. And celebrate success!! Recommend

  • Mobzilla

    Okay I hardly comment on any of the blogs that I read but I just must on this one. If there was a limit to the people entering, you would’ve been the one kept out since it was so full before you got there. Then you would’ve been blogging about how they should let more people in. And if waiting to get in was so difficult for you then I can only say you have no idea how a civilized nation works. People all over the world stand and wait in line for hours for several things, no one complains, they just enjoy. Kids cry about everything, specially the spoilt ones.Recommend

  • safir

    karachi new name mariachiRecommend

  • Ali

    I would love to move to Islamabad..Recommend

  • Fazl Hussain

    stop insulting her yaar..she is innocentRecommend

  • sana khan

    Impresive article.. i totally agree with you i had exactly the same experience… the long line and walk..there could have been a better arrangement for ticketing and seating too.. i came across a lot of empty spaces which could have been filled with seats… this soo called thailand the only impressing thing was the lightnings…a project of 1arab but the government and the multinationals is just a place you can visit once to update yourself as per my experience i wouldnt want to drive soo far spend thousands of rupees for spending my time on such a cramped place.. Enjoyment was witnessed no where…Recommend

  • :(

    This Post = F-A-I-L. I hope they don’t let you in if you ever try to go to Disney Land. :)Recommend

  • sane

    you know i have observed one thing.. u have a real complainant mouth, full of grievances and complaints. u need to think POSITIVE lady!Recommend

  • Burhan

    High prices such as of water are not justifieable…These little things matter alot…as they deprives ordinary people in pakistan from enjoying a dinner at such a place…and creates a hub for only upper class..!!Recommend

  • Kolachi

    Firstly, you show up on a Sunday night and then complain “OMG how crowded in this place”.. ignorance is a bliss… may be you should have stuck to your corner tikka place.. clearly there are limited number of places in the sprawling metropolis of Karachi where people and families can hangout so i can definitely understand the crowds etc.. Secondly, I would say that when these people go out of Pakistan to other countries, they usually take pride in waiting in line and are happy/impressed and even inspired with the discipline that they see… So dear blogger let me tell you.. it’s actually a good thing that people were in line and buying tickets to get in.. cheer up.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/asad84 Asad

    Author….see the glass half ful instead of half empty…Infact see the glass 8/10 full instead of 2/10 empty..Recommend

  • Raj

    Though I am from a different country, I must say that I agree with author on one point i.e. the price. It’s no good in my country as well and unfortunately these are not monitored and regulated by the government in our countries and common people suffer. I repeat , Rs75 for bottle of water and Rs 300 for entry !!! I am not very aware of the finance and market in Pakistan but I guess if this is not looting people then what is?. Few people are filling their pockets with hard earned money of commoners and the administration remains unmoved. Agreed that business men want to make money on their ventures, but that does not mean they are given a ticket to rob people. And we also don’t think twice before wasting our money but then what can a common man do. Imagine how can a father accompanied by his son and daughter refuse to his children’s request of a bottle of water or a glass of soft drink. Recommend

  • Naheed Naveed

    Are we Pakistani now a bunch of whimpering babies ; or is controversial blogs a new phenomena in the ET? There are lines for all new attractions if they are in Karachi or Disney World in America. As someone mentioned earlier weekend are more crowed then weekdays. Lets face it fact of life being courteous and mindful is not a Pakistani family value and given the few venues that Pakistanis can enjoy given the dire atmosphere of insecurity and mob mentality lets enjoy the few attractions we haveRecommend

  • P

    stop hoping for preferential treatment everywhere.Recommend

  • aisha

    they have a organized parking 10 mins away from port grand.

    lines for tickets is a good thing you are just not use to it.

    too many people is a good thing .. the place is successful…

    surprise surprise …. restaurant have limited seats…. seriously…

    all the bad things that you have mentioned are actually good things…. Recommend

  • sam

    the problem is plain and simple……….we dont have any other such places to visit in karachi.. if we did the crowd would be divided.. you wouldnt ahve to waste ur precious time to walk ten minutes… or be humiliated by sharng space with other pakistanis.. Recommend

  • Aafan

    Sarah ?? Who are you ??

    Lord … this tribune blog is becoming so predictable, You read a biased blog with no rationale behind what so ever, the comments are more of a frustration then in appreciation, criticizing the author for being so one dimensional and that is it.
    As for me i really dont need to write some thing new, will just paraphrase my previous comment on another blog of this very same tribune.

    Dear Tribune
    Please have a rating system in which readers can rate the authors so that no random person can come up with any piece of crap and we all have to go through it just in a hope that some how we will be disappointed this time and will not have to go through another crappy writing.

    Thanks Recommend

  • sarah

    hmm………..interesting!……planning to go to karachi and visit port grand…..the place looks lovely………Recommend

  • IZ

    Surely the point then is that Pakistan, and Karachi in particular, need more Port Grand-like projects (though hopefully open to the public for free). People are starved of public spaces where they can be comfortable and hang out and it would be wonderful to have more such spaces. Rather than criticizing them, lets recognize the need for more of them.Recommend

  • AppleSafari

    Grapes are sour; you might have heard this!

    All literate people respect queues and standing in a Q is better than creating havoc… you may need to grow more and respect the norms.Recommend

  • http://Islamabad Taha Ceen Tayyab

    Ohh cummon! A harbor tourist spot jam packed with people, restaurants full, no place to sit…
    isnt it supposed to be that way?
    You obviously havent visited many tourist destinations hunny thats how it is everywhere and its FUN…Recommend

  • Amer

    Really Pathetic article! Shows the mentality of the so-called elite of this country! Recommend

  • http://ruqaiyakhan.blogspot.com/ Ruqaiya Khan

    Oh My Goodness!! How could the author of this article steal my blog title!! Such a bad piece anyways.

    For the rest of the readers, you can read my blog on Port Grand on this link:


  • can’t stand you

    How sad, you had to stand, you had to pay a little more for water… boo hoo … you make me weep for the sorry state you must have been in. If crowds aren’t your thing I strongly suggest you stay at home. As ridiculous as your blog is, and no one in their right mind will take you seriously, I still think I should comment just to set the matter straight. lady it seems to me that you are extremely lazy, conceited and anti social. you also seem to be ungrateful and quite the penny pincher. your article annoyed me to no end and further strengthened my belief that Pakistan has become a nation of whiners. someone has made an effort to bring entertainment and pleasure to the people of Karachi. give them some credit and let them settle in. its very easy to criticize. by the way I was wondering what have you done for your city lately? This blog was a total waste of space and time.Recommend

  • Ihk

    I really want to go there… :(Recommend

  • Muffadal Ali

    you wont even find a place to sit at a normal place like boat basin on Sundays ! Recommend

  • Sir Charles James Napier

    May Lady you, apparently are the dweller of a place where its not common to pay for the entertainment and dinners at its premium.
    Now after a hundred and sixty four years later, I admit that I had not foreseen the use of a Jetty in such a manner, however I must congratulate the current establishment to find a good one where the citizen are provided with innovative recreational facility. Remarkable

    Charles James NapierRecommend

  • mona

    a request to authoer of this article……dont give ur bias openion for such a good place…..first of the palces which u will find a good class of gathering are expensive…..if this palce is a low budget palce…the pople who are living in karachi turn this palce into garbeeg…in my openion if u think this palce is expensive then dont vist that palce but dont demotivate other people to go n enjoy the good time…..Recommend

  • Zubair

    Appreciate Karachi, lived in Islamabad more but I think the city of Lights is classier. Recommend

  • http://fmradiopk.blogspot.com Fm Radio Pk

    Author you wrote “Those in charge should keep a limit on how many people should be allowed in the food street at a time.” , Promise me you won’t complain about it if they stop you on gate and say please go because so many inside already.

    Totally negative approach.Recommend

  • Burhan

    OMG!! I am not saying this for the author but for the readers of this blog..!! Hell with your extreme kind of narrow minded thinking…Go and wash your heads with mineral water as some minerals lack in your mind due to which majority of the readers can’t understand and analyze this article..The author has just briefly described the short comings of Port Grand according to her view and u all just started to criticize her and many of you trying to make, what we say in Punjabi…”sho marda paiya ee”…that similar kinds of que are found abroad and its exactly like places in other countries…come on readers…she is justified if she writes that prices of eatables or drinks are so high such small bottle of water costs 75rs…its just a decent way of giving a positive criticsm so that some one..If really someone in authorities have any plight for ordinary people of Pakistan could get over to it and control the prices so that maximum of people even ordinary people could enjoy this place…but no…Says our commenter’s…they are happy because they think they are only eligible for such a place and they want to avoid ordinary people…height of sickness…!! And moreover I presume many of the commenter’s haven’t even read the article and just read few comments and started giving out their opinions(giving opinions is good but they should be given once you have understood what the writer means)..She writes…”Finally, after a good ten-minute walk on the road, we came close to the gate of Port Grand only to be greeted by an ever-growing line for tickets.” she writes a good ten minute walk…and simililarly where is she critizng the que..She is just describing her experience…and if the writer has criticized the queue…then there should be some better solution chalked out by authorities so that people don’t have to wait for long…rather giving a lame excuse that similar are the ques in other countries..!! Why you take things so much negatively instead of correcting yourself…that the only reason we aren’t able to go ahead and feel happy in copying things form ABROAD rather than considering our own society culture and make things accordingly…very sorry to say that our comments represent what kind of thinking prevails in our society and it’s no more better than those narrow minded religious extremist..rather it reflects narrow minded upper class who is happy and have no care whether things are sold 5 times the prices cz they could afford it but the poor or ordinary Pakistani can’t..Recommend

  • Burhan

    Author you wrote “Those in charge should keep a limit on how many people should be allowed in the food street at a time.” , Promise me you won’t complain about it if they stop you on gate and say please go because so many inside already…courtesy FM radio Pk..i agree with this..Recommend

  • Aafan

    Sarah we really want you to come back and respond to all these comments.
    its high time the bloggers should respond to the criticism and comments, not just write a senseless blog and run away !! Recommend

  • The Critique

    @ Ruqaiya Khan: i read your blog and i found it 100 times more entretaining than sarah’s. Sarah i must say its a really bad piece that you have put together.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/piraliraza Pir Ali Raza

    I dont agree with most of the things you said. You do have a point when you said there is no parking space but the reason you found so many people is because you went in the early days when it had just opened so obviously there were a lot of people. I went there a week back and there was no line. there was a valet to park your car and inside there was no huge amount of people. since not all the sections are open to public yet I see a good future for this project (touch wood).Recommend

  • Maxi

    Extremely disappointed with your intellect level. I doubt if you exactly know what you have written. Biased!Recommend

  • Sasha

    In this blog the only fact that I am really really glad about is that so many people actually stood up to support Port Grand and I am sure the writer will think twice before writing another review. :)Recommend

  • Ali kazmi

    I bet you can write an article on shanzay lizay and make it sound like juria bazaar :P…ubber feminine writeup! so complaining Recommend

  • Ali kazmi

    Burhan baby!!!! yesh she is listening :PRecommend

  • Anonymous

    This is a typical BURGER SYNDROME of the Elite people of Pakistan! They only travel in their cars, so they dont have to walk at all! they dont wait in long ques as all their work is done by their servants/drivers etc, they r “precious people” of Pakistan who take it as an offence if someone just bumps into them even by mistake! and this Upper class/lower class difference is so much pronounced only here, in Pakistan! its not there in NYC, London,Stockholm etc! thats why civilised people there behave like normal Human beings, not like the Pharoahs!!
    We are Soirry mam, if you have felt offended by this so “typical GHAREEB” kinda gathering at the PORT GRAND!!Recommend

  • Sumaiya

    “Finally,after a ten-minute good walk”- please don’t whine.If anything,walk is good for you! Please learn to appreciate positive side of thingsRecommend

  • NinetyEightPercent

    A beautiful addition. Very good atmosphere. But in my humble opinion, not for Ninety Eight percent people. Recommend

  • NinetyEightPercent

    I really appreciate all the comments – thank God – Now there is no need for any Inqlab.Recommend

  • http://riqkhan.wordpress.com Tariq

    A lot of people have voiced their opinion and I concur with them when I say that this is a frivolous blog; not even worth the time I spent reading it. The writer mentions four points based on which she has given her verdict. Granted the parking place is a little farther from the main entrance, but it hardly takes 10 minutes; more like 2-3 minutes. Moreover, the queue for the ticket is not a new thing, it’s there at every attraction, park, etc but what I noticed when I went there was that a ticket can be bought by just one person for his entire group, yet the entire group is in line; that’s what makes the queue longer. As for the expensive bottle of water, I guess no one told her that out of the Rs.300 ticket she paid, Rs.200 can be used to buy stuff inside, like water, or ice cream or chaat or even food at restaurants. Recommend

  • saad

    any observations about the loops of flyovers above it? pollution apart pretty dangerous considering heavy vehicular traffic. safety measures anyone???Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    And what respiratory issues could you possibly get from going to such a place? Sybarite Pneumonia ?Recommend

  • http://riqkhan.wordpress.com Tariq

    @ Saad & Said

    Do you know why it doesn’t get as hot in Karachi as it does in e.g. Lahore. Or for that matter it is not as polluted as say Islamabad? No. Let me help you.

    Because of the sea breeze. Recommend

  • Parvez Iftikhar

    Perhaps for the first time I see that the comments are far more interesting than the so-called blog itself!Recommend

  • osama chhaya

    I think I quite agree with what you’ve got to say but the fact is, how can you stop people from coming?? The simple answer- don’t go on a weekend!! I went there for the first time on Sunday and our car got stranded among other hundreds of cars. So its better to go on a week day, say Friday. Thats what i did. As for your concerns regarding the accommodation I personally asked the manager of Aylanto Bistro, the man said that there are two more floors for each restaurant being constructed to accommodate the huge numbers of people coming in. Well, we all have to remember that Port Grand has not been even completed yet. As for the prices, I agree with Sana that they’re quite elevated.The fact that it is new and has been able to grab the attention of the public has encouraged elevated prices but i’m sure they’ll drop in a few moths. However, I personally think that the place is phenomenal regardless of the elevated prices and the accommodation crisis. It had a soothing effect on me and I’m pretty sure that if u go there on a week day you’ll agree with me.Recommend

  • HIK

    There was valet parking when I went. The crowd was decent. It was crowded but not choked.Recommend