this article was written?by Mohammad?Salman?of dawn.com it basically?sheds?light on the phenomenon that the old architecture of karachi?is being mixed with new hence both mingle to bring about some thing different. courtesy dawn.com
Last month a reader of this column came up with an interesting analogy. According to him, old Karachi is like a puzzle most of whose pieces have gone missing. The ones that remain have been wrongly placed.
The analogy makes sense, to a large extent. In fact, a lot can be added to it. For instance, the pieces that have now become part(s) of the old Karachi puzzle do not even fit into the vacant spaces. Some of them outgrow their base horizontally, and some expand vertically. It is no more a puzzle. It is a jumble out there.
In order to verify this observation a visit, not a brief one, to Faiz?Mohammad Fateh?Ali Road where it meets Outram Road would suffice.
Faiz?Mohammad Fateh?Ali Road is a small but quite?a wide street that serves like a connecting bridge between Outram?Road and Frere Road (now Shahrah-i-Liaquat). To be exact, it is right in the centre of the famous Pakistan Chowk?area. It is largely a commercial area, known as ?paper market? (part of which has already been discussed in these pages). It is the beginning of Faiz?Mohammad Fateh?Ali Road, basically one corner of Outram Road, which is strewn with colonial buildings. But two of them, one in the corner and the other next to it, are strangely delightful sights to behold.
There is nothing colonial about these two structures. Yet, they look pre-independence exhibits to the hilt. The first one is called?Nagori?Building. Its projected balconies are heavily decorated. They are the most conspicuous feature of the structure. You cannot be sure of its age. Once you look down towards one of the entrances only then do you get the idea that it could not have been built after partition. However, it has that typical 1940s air about it.
Next to it is Tapal?Building which almost has similar architectural attributes. Do not be mistaken. The two constructions are not identical. This structure appears to have been built?round about the same time as Nagori?Building. Oddly, both have been maintained?in similar fashion. The rest of the buildings on this road are older than these two, but these have been better kept and the additions made to them do not look particularly jarring. Having said this, a little bit?of refurbishing won?t be a bad idea. The reason for the observation is that the entire stretch has some remarkable works of stonemasonry and these two pieces represent a time period not too many years before independence. Hence they are historic.
Time to turn to Faiz?Mohammad Fateh Ali Road; and this is where the ?puzzle? analogy fits like a glove. This street has about a half a dozen beautiful but carelessly maintained buildings. In between them are new works of architecture some of which tower over the oldies, some do not. There is no pattern, no logic to them. They are just there, in your face, as if suggesting, ?take it or leave it?.
Though the colonial buildings here are smaller in size, they are fascinating nonetheless. The thing about them is that despite the noticeable alterations, they have not lost their ambient touch. For example, a small building sandwiched between two contemporary structures has a big hall on its ground floor, looking into which you will instantly forget what flanks the building. The staircase leading up to the first floor will inevitably make you marvel at the (so far unharmed) stone used in its making. It will give you a fair indication?of the resoluteness?of this work of stonemasonry to stand its ground.
Hatim?Manzil?is the first one on Faiz?Mohammad Road. No one can miss it, because the name is written?on the entrance. Then comes Issaji?Trust Building. Both have classical features which are not easy to identify. The paper wallahs work here quite nonchalantly, tied up with their job, not giving a hoot about these old pieces of stone. Why should they? They are here to earn a living.
A little ahead are Zohra?Manzil?and Salma?Manzil. They too are nice works of colonial architecture and might have been known with different names when their designers came up with their blueprints. Or Zohra?and Salma?could be their maiden titles. The argument is: they need to be preserved.
Architect Mukhtar?Husain says: ?Some countries have laws because of which entire neighbourhoods are preserved. We don?t have any such law in our country. What happens is that some buildings are listed as heritage sites therefore no one touches them. But those that are not listed, everybody feels free to do anything to them.?
The architect has a point. So too an American writer when he says, ?If you don?t know history, then you don?t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn?t know it is part of a tree.?
Written by Mohammad Salman email@example.com