Friday, November 3, 2017

City Walk 3: Frere Hall to National Museum Karachi

Sunday Heritage Walk around Old Karachi
Continuingfrom the last two months, we did another Morning Walk around Karachi’s old town; from Frere Hall to National Museum. This time we saw beautiful yellow-stone structures around  Zaibunnisa Street, although not in much detail, before having the roadside Chai-paratha breakfast near Burns Road. At the end of the walk, we explored some sections of the National Museum as well.

It was a smaller group as compared to the last walk; 7 people plus one kid. Faizan and wife joined with their 1 year old son. They finally made it on the special request of Nasreen Ghori, who has been kindly co-organizing these walks with me. Other walkers were from the Couchsurfing community; Faizan (2) – who is an experienced CS friend and an accomplished chef recently done with the recording of his cooking show at Masala TV and Yasir – also a CSer and a University mate whom I traveled with before also to Astola Island.

Most notable was the presence of Ravi Nandwani, a CSer, who belongs to Belize, a little known but exotic country neighboring Mexico and the Carribean! He had been visiting Pakistan far from his homeland situated in the Central America; the exact opposite side of the Globe.

Belize - where Ravi Belongs - Neighbors Mexico and other Exotic Central American Countries
What made his presence more extraordinary is the fact that his grandparents (Hindus) migrated from this very land, the present day Pakistan, during the 1947 partition. Ravi revealed that they originally belonged to Ranipur, Sindh and chose to relocate due to the influx of Muslim immigrants from India which was intimidating for them. Conversely, my grandparents and some of their relatives (Muslims) moved to Pakistan perceiving that they would not be able to practice their religion freely in the Hindu dominated India. Like most of the Muslim immigrants from India, they settled in Karachi, causing and helping the city to grow astonishingly rapidly!

Karachi's Population:
Karachi became a Metropolitan only post 1947 Partition
The friendly and inquisitive Ravi quickly connected to all of us, had insightful conversations, and enjoyed the chai-paratha! He had a stack of interesting stories to tell – especially about traveling around Pakistan, which he explored extensively all the way from Gilgit, in the North, to Sindh, in the South.

He got overwhelmed by the traditional hospitality shown by his hosts in Sindh, who were extra caring after knowing his local roots. Sindh’s hospitality is unparalleled and documented as well. After all, they embraced the migrating Muslims, locally called Muhajir, in the mid of last century with wide arms and warm hearts. What happened afterwards, particularly in the recent past, is better not to be mentioned. After visiting Sindh in detail, Ravi already had a clue or two about PPP and MQM!

Courtesy grandparents, he is conversant in Sindhi which was helpful while visiting his native land. Add that to his local looks, and it will be difficult to digest that you are talking to a person from another part of the world. He told me that people he met, especially policemen at the check-posts, got shocked and were not able to make sense when he showed his Belizean passport rather than the “NIC” (the National Identity Card which has now turned into CNIC after getting Computerized). He showed that rare book to me as well which he was carrying in case Police, etc. asks, especially due to his unique background!

Ravi was curious why Indian Muslim immigrants mostly made it to Karachi which is not very conveniently connected to India compared to Punjab. I explained that there are “Mohajirs” in other parts of the country as well but they chose Karachi due to the Government’s policy and Karachi’s better infrastructure. While writing this I want to throwback a counter question; why his grandparents chose to relocate thousands of miles away instead of the next-door India? I will ask him when we will meet again – hopefully in Belize, inshallah!

Fazal Manzil - A Heritage Buidling in Karachi
Fazal Manzil was Built in 1929
Balconies - Trademark of Karachi's Heritage Buildings
A Closer Look of the Dilapidated Balcony
Muhamedali Building on Zaibunnisa Street
Yellow Stone Facade of Muhamedali Building
An Old Building Near Pakistan Chowk - Rehabilitation Visible
Another Building near Pakistan Chowk - Rehabilitated
Burns Road's Food Street Starts from Here
Another Unique Structure around Old Karachi - being Occupied by a Religio-Political Party
The Old Campus of NED University
Our Omelette-Parthas in the Making
A Fruit Cart near Burns Road
Laborers mostly from KPK - the Hands Who Developed Karachi into a Mega-city
"Akas Bail"
Moenjodaro's King Priest at Karachi's National Museum
Below is the video detail of the walk - courtesy Faizan: