The first question most respondents here have asked us is: how long will it take? “An hour at max. We’ll be done between 30 and 40 minutes, but lets mark an hour, just-in-case.” This is usually followed by a deep sigh and an “oh dear, okay, let me see…”

“But what is this project about, exactly,” they ask then; which is when we throw in the magic word: ‘open governance’. Aah, so! They perk up. Governance and accountability are ideas that are close to the heart for most people in this city, for these are concepts that residents we’ve spoken to believe are most closely related the solution of most of Karachi’s problems, all the way from violence to damaged civic amenities.

Then we go a step further: we mention ‘open eGovernance’ and our interviewees perk up even more. “Yes, that would be awesome,” most respondents then say. “We’d know where to file a complaint, whom to contact, y’know.” And so, one part of the interview begins on the phone itself, and most of them can hardly wait for the rest of it!

As such, the experience so far — as an exercise in time and logistics management (Karachi is a sprawling metropolis and our interviewees are stationed all over the city), salespersonship, political discourse, and empathy — has been great. Not only have most of our respondents been excited about the project, they’ve also brought their own thoughts to the table. And so, instead of being formal question-and-answer sessions, most of our interviews here have been rigorous discussion circles, which have resulted in a number of ideas that we hope to be able to incorporate in future phases of the project.

Thank you, Karachi, for being awesome! We’re hoping to wrap up interviews here by the end of this week, and join the rest of the team in Islamabad to continue our research there.