Friday July 01, 2022

Remembering the Karachi of yore

July 15, 2016


“With the a continuous and rapid increase in the city’s population, areas once considered the centre of the city now appear to be nowhere near it,” stated curator of exhibition ‘Look at the City From Here’, Hajra Haider at the Gandhara Art gallery on Thursday.

Second in a series of three, the exhibition – by Bani Abidi – would go on till August 8.

It was indeed a matter of consideration that an entire generation was alien to the city’s versatility. Being one of the largest cities on the globe, Karachi carries innumerable cultures within itself, which could certainly be witnessed at a distance of every kilometre.

A colony under the British Raj, the city’s cultural heritage was evidence of the sub-continent’s history. But unfortunately the sense of unity, unlike the past, of its inhabitants was missing.

“We used to have common amusement places but class segregation and violence has taken that away from us,” stated Bani.

Despite an increase in population, the fear of terrorism had also played a crucial role in supreme exclusivity of the people, she added.

Amusement parks like Sindbad, Aladin and Hill Park were the only sources of enjoyment but now within a short span of time these places got associated with a certain class.

“I still remember days when sweet corns bought for only Rs5 and swings at Sindbad were the ultimate entertainment for us. But now we have malls which do not even allow people from all classes to enter it,” opined one of the attendee at the gallery.

Because of increased urbanisation, class system became stronger and eventually we had people, although of the same generation, but alien to each other.

Bani said she had tried her best to portray the common essence of the city in an unconventional fashion by not displaying only paintings but also virtual images.

One of the optical images depicted a man sitting on a chair against the sea, a famous trend in old times. The frame centrality of the image was well maintained along with a fine use of the ‘Rule of third’.

“It is indeed impressive to watch such representation of outdated things,” said Steven Winkler also an attendee at the gallery.

Another image portrayed empty swings at amusement park to show the vacuum that got created over time.

” Karachiites have been divided into two prominent halves, burgers and bun-kebabs, and so have been the places, unfortunately,” opined Abidi.