A stroll through the ‘I Am Karachi’ museum makes one realise that there is no place like Karachi – it is loved exactly the way it should be.
Teachers’ Development Centre director Abbas Husain said this while speaking to The Express Tribune at the museum organised by ‘I Am Karachi’, in collaboration with The School of Writing (TSW) at Alliance Française de Karachi on Saturday.
“Having spent my whole life in Karachi, I have a bundle of memories to cherish – from taking the last ride in a tram to watching movies in all the cinemas of Karachi,” he said. “I have visited over 26 cities around the world but there is no place like Karachi.”
TSW founder and executive director Mohsin Tejani explained how the museum was set up. “Travelogues Karachi was a 42-hour programme designed by TSW in collaboration with ‘I Am Karachi’ to capture the city like never before,” said Tejani. “Over 320 young photographers from Karachi came up with more than 70,000 pictures from six districts: Malir, Korangi, East, West, Central and South.”
Tejani said he was overjoyed by the response the campaign received from the youth of Karachi. “We feel like life in Karachi has been captured in these photographs,” he said. “I strongly believe that the ‘I Am Karachi’ campaign has become the ‘I Am Karachi movement’ with this last effort.”
Seasoned with magnificent pictures of the crumbling graves of Chawkandi tombs, the flamboyant shops of Meena Bazaar and the candidness of people at the moving circus of Korangi, the ‘I Am Karachi’ museum portrays the true picture of the City of Lights.
The centuries-old Chawkandi Tombs spread over an area of two square miles were the highlight of Malir. “It is hard to tell how old the tombs are because of the lack of dated inscriptions on the tombs,” said Umer Qazi, a photographer and an art director. “We were pleased to see that the youth reached every nook and cranny of Malir to capture the beauty of Karachi.”
Meena Bazaar, a famous attraction for women, remained the most attractive destination in this district. “The flamboyance of Meena Bazaar exuded an air of culture that we have inherited,” said Qazi. “It was essential to cover Meena Bazaar since it is part of Karachi’s cultural fabric and has been the most visited place for decades.” He added that the shrine of Behzad Lakhnavi and the Golden Gate were also the highlights of this district.
Danial Shah, a travel journalist and photographer, said that the Gaddani ship-breaking yard, which is one of the world’s biggest, was the most attractive spot in this region. “Though, it [Gaddani ship-breaking yard] falls in Balochistan geographically, it didn’t stop the students from capturing the lives of the people of that region,” said Shah. He added that the ship breaking yard is also known as ‘Kashtiyon ka Qabristan’ [A graveyard of ships] locally.
District South and East
Built in honour of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere in 1865, the Frere Hall still stands tall as one of the many British colonial era relics of Karachi. According to the instructors of ‘I Am Karachi’ Travelogues, the South district was the most appealing because of the colonial era architecture. The main attractions in this district were the Khaliq Deena Hall, Frere Hall and Radio Pakistan Building.
Karachi Zoological Garden, formerly known as Mahatma Gandhi Garden, located on Nishtar Road and Sir Agha Khan III Road was the focus in the East district.
“The moving circus is an attraction for the residents of Korangi and is an escape from the bustle of city,” said photographer Zain. “It includes a Ferris wheel, a well of death, tightrope walkers, jugglers and unicyclists.”
He said that the mangroves were yet another fascination found in the environs of Korangi Creek.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2015.