Every year around February, Instagram gets flooded with sponsored posts about Valentine’s Day gift baskets, couples’ game nights, heart-shaped things and flowers. Usually Karachi as a city has a lot of warmth and love to share – and stories, but there is something about Valentine’s Day that seem to have lost its steam. While coming up with a gift guide, we wondered: is the celebration of Valentine’s something people actively participate in or does it now seem forced?
“Too forced!” was the almost unanimous response.
For one – the avenues of celebrating it are limited. In Karachi, one usually celebrates it by reserving a curated dinner at a high-end restaurant or splurging on a collection of gifts to surprise their loved ones.
However, both those options now don’t spark as much joy because of their predictability.
A pre-set Valentine’s Day menu is usually now just a mix of a restaurant’s standard menu with a few dessert specials thrown in while the Valentine’s Day gift offerings by businesses have not evolved or fail to give it local flavour so the over-the-top red and pink visual looks rather jarring and misplaced.
Moreover, while most special occasions and festivals come with a holiday, Valentine’s Day does not.
“The day seems out of touch with reality,” says Nida Ihsan. “It’s just another normal day for us working people.”
This is not to say that people don’t celebrate Valentine’s at all. All the restaurants who offer a Valentine’s Day menu get booked in advance and it’s often difficult to find a table on the day itself.
However, there is an increasing number of people who are moving away from making it about grand expenditures.
“Giving expensive things is kind of outdated now,” says Sarina Kamran, who runs a home-based dessert business called The Bake Street. “A small dessert goes a long way.”
Then there are people who prefer to celebrate it with a big group of friends instead of their partners.
“I love celebrating Galentine’s with my girl friends instead,” says Munnazzah Raza, a pilates instructor.
It also speaks volumes that most of the events Karachi has lined up around the day are stand-up comedy events, indicating people would rather watch someone roasting the day than celebrate it in earnest.
Overall, we do wish that brands and businesses evolve to change things up a bit when deciding on a menu or gift options for Valentine’s Day in Karachi. The city has definitely outgrown the usual hallmark greeting card vibe – if it ever even embraced it in the first place.