Making Real Organisations

imageI had a session on this topic with managers of a large MNC recently. They were interested in the thought, vision and strategy involved in creating an organisation.

You cannot help but personalise such an endeavour, if you want authenticity. It all starts from a considered and declared choice. ‘Who am I’? The real authentic model! I will live ‘MY’ life; not someone else’s. It is only one life to live after all and why short change yourself.

Once you understand the ‘Who am I’ part (facing the truth is tough!), it becomes easier. The next vital question is ‘Why’ do something? It’s essential to connect the ‘Why’ to the ‘Who am I’. You want to do things which are fulfilling your aspirations. There is a very good talk on TED by Simon Sinek which explains the ‘Why’. He then goes on to secondary questions, like ‘What to do’, to satisfy the ‘Why’. And once you decide on the ‘What’, you can go into implementation and talk about ‘How to do it’. (Simon Sinek ‘Start with Why’)

The ‘Who’ is our soul; ‘Why’ is the vision; ‘What’ is the concept/strategy; and lastly ‘How’ is the tactics.

Most organisations function only on the ‘What and How’ level. Its not authentic and it’s generally not sustainable. At some point, to exist beyond plain commerce, they will have to dive deeper to learn about themselves.

My legacy, driven on by the ‘Why’, is doing ‘What’ my soul wants to do. Not what ‘someone else’ wants me to do. If I deliver on what someone else wants to achieve, that is no success. I may have wasted my life.

So from childhood I wanted to do certain things. Money or position was a minor achievement in life. Fun, adventure, helping others were the big reality. Respect for characters like Abdus Sattar Edhi was intense. On the other hand, I had little admiration for corporate executives, especially the gung-ho variety.

To use Engro, as illustration of the above process.

The foods business started on the simple dynamics of per capita consumption. Same calculations are used by other consumer organisations in Pakistan. It’s commerce, core capitalism and fulfilment of apparent needs. Nothing wrong with that, but not my game. Why take this role at all? It amounted to two things :-

A) Its about Pakistaniat. Recreate the progressive Pakistan of the 60’s, to make us seem worthwhile again. Also to do something for rural area prosperity and emancipation of people.

B) Run an organisation in Cyrus the Great mould. A people’s organisation. Here people will carve their own destiny, they will belong and have ownership. There is no London or New York to report to. This is just us. We have freedom to think and freedom to do, because this is ours. If we fail, the CEO shall be answerable, as long as it is shown that due diligence was practiced and their was no malafide intent.

In the end this ownership drives the company. It ends up growing at huge CAGRs. It ends up winning international and local awards. In the end it also becomes very profitable. Because profit is a by-product of engagement of employees. The commercial purpose is achieved, but it’s culturally done in a human way and people are still happy.

In summary

An entity is created (NewCo)

A Vision is carved out.

A Value system is instituted to cater for the workings of a free, feeling and adventurous organisation. NewCo must hold a moral high ground.

The HR strategy is based on above Vision and Values. NewCo needs risk takers; flag flyers; people with heart; people not so interested in normality, but wanting iconic things.

Put them together and make them buy into the Vision.

CEO personally must live the daily aspect of Values. He has to walk the talk.

Out of this comes a common purpose. In this common purpose there is belief.

Out of this belief comes passion. Passion leads to ownership, diligence and hard work.

In achieving all the above, a team is formed. When team dynamics come into play, We are on a roll. The team will propel each other towards the target. Any target is now achievable. Every now and then, senior management will have to give direction, nudge, cajole, pamper a bit; but the cart will goimage rollicking along on its own now.

That was Engro Foods. Not once, but twice and with different management and people each time. I have also witnessed the same formula work in Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

*the pictures are from dreamstime.com

The Sacrifices for our Green

imageThis Ramadan among other talks, I heard one from Maulana Tariq Jamil, which resonated deeply within me. It was simply because of its similarity to my father’s history. I wrote about my father’s experience at the time of Partition in Newsline Magazine a few years ago, in the form of a letter to Pakistan.(https://sarfarazar.wordpress.com/?s=Letter+to+Pakistan)

Today, the sixty eighth Independence Day of Pakistan, I shall relate what the Maulana said, as it is a very relevant message for those who love Pakistan. I translate and paraphrase :-

‘When I was young, I used to listen to various personal stories about Partition and they were so earth shaking, that at times I felt that my heart would burst. This is the only country which was made on the base of an ideology, no cement or construction involved, just a foundation built on the bones of six hundred thousand people, who sacrificed their lives in a few weeks.

We are local people or have spent too many generations after the Partition, so we did not see or taste that sacrifice, unlike the original migrants. My father’s friend was one such migrant from Jullundur and once while sitting with him, he told us his own story, which I narrate now.

When he left Jullundur, his whole family had been separated, due to chaos and calamity all around. He was very young and the only one who survived. One single soul, in search of Pakistan; trying to hide in the fields during the day and traveling by night. One immediate and compelling objective; to survive the ire of the Sikhs, who were on rampage in the three bordering districts of the Punjab.

Eventually he approached the new border, at the banks of the Sutlej which in August was a raging monsoon river. In front was death by drowning or possible safety and at the back was death at the hands of the Sikhs. So, he grabbed a piece of wood and jumped into the river, risking drowning. As the torrent took him mid river, he saw that the whole Sutlej was full of bodies. Children, young, old, women and men. They had arrived at their final destination and their sacrifice was complete. Now the Sutlej had become a coffin and grave to their bodies. The same was true of the Chenab and Ravi in those few days, all three had become the bed of the migrant soul. But he (this particular young kid) managed to cross the Sutlej into Pakistan and survived to tell his story years later.

We should read our history. It tells us how we started and where we are going. This country was given everything – soul, soil, minerals and people. Unfortunately, it was just sucked into this one cancer. Its called insincerity and dishonesty. It could have been a Jannat on this earth. You know, this country has been bled dry, not by the little people, or the uneducated, or the workers. No, this sacrilege has been committed by very high class people, who are also well educated. Simply, they obtained degrees, but did not learn humanity.

Such big sacrifices in vain, by the many. All we are left with is thorns; we never really saw a spring. Had there not been some great humans, then the country would long ago have been sold. Fortunately, in the far corners there is still some light and it reflects in places. Somehow this caravan still proceeds on its journey due to these good people, despite the evil perpetrated by the so-called privileged.

One day those six hundred thousand will rise out of their graves, and demand restitution from all the insincere, whether they be here in Pakistan or settled abroad. There is no escaping this eventuality, because there has been ‘amanat may khayanat’ here.’

For my part I pray and say Pakistan Zindabad. The sacrifice of the many shall not go waste. In-sha-Allah.

*translated and paraphrased from Maulana Tariq Jamil. All credits are due to him. The figure of six hundred thousand death is presumably only the Muslim number, as many Hindus and Sikhs also perished. Total figures vary, reaching upto 1.5 mn in some estimates.

Hotel De Wereld

imageSo sitting here in vaguely accessible places and with a very dodgy wifi, there is not much one can do with a blog. In the circumstances I thought to reminisce a bit.

Recent travel took me deeper into non-urban territory in Europe and I landed up at the Hotel De Wereld. A quaint old town, Wageningen (the pronunciation escapes me still), slightly backwater, rustic territory. Farms, greenery and a university which was closed for the summer.

This was a Sunday and not much was open. Bicycles were to be seen, but cars were few and far between. The receptionist was shocked when asked if a shop for general goods might be open. “What at 9 pm” he exclaimed.

Nevertheless, quite unexpectedly, I had landed a gem. On closer inspection and research one found one of the historic places of Europe. The very hotel at which I was residing. Hotel De Wereld. Situated in the middle of cobbled streets and with greenery around the place, this quaint hotel turned out to be the very spot at which the German Armies surrendered to the Allies, on May 5th, 1945.

On reflection, I thought a blog with some photographs might make a refreshing change to all the verbose stuff I put down normally. So enough of writing, I shall now submit the visuals. But just to add, as in any historical site, it was quite overwhelming to touch history for just some moments.

image The plaque claiming history!image The Germans signing the surrender image Post surrender photographimage The Hotel as in bygone daysimageThe green, quaint road where the hotel is located

Definitely worth a visit, if you happen to be in the Netherlands.

A Farewell Night

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My farewell speech to Engro Foods people today.

Another generation of EFL bid me goodbye just four years ago. Circumstances required a return, because the needs of the many, were more important than the wishes of one. However, today I feel a bit of a fraud and am embarrassed for taking another farewell…we have been this way before.

But khair, thank you for all the ehtemaam this night. Its wonderful and memorable for me.

Before I go further, I want to do the important things first, rather than leave it to the end.

1- I want to thank all the organisers for this wonderful night…all of them. It was funny the way they were trying to maintain the surprise element, while so much was going around, which was visible. Becharay! But, thank you.

2- I want to thank the people of EFL. Two generations of them. They have been wonderful and the respect and love given has been amazing. I shall not thank individuals by name, because there are so many. Would definitely miss out on someone and cause hurt. Needless to say, I am grateful to all of you, in one form or the other.

I am also most grateful to my wife and two sons. They have borne the brunt of my work at EFL. The missed holidays, dinners and general presence, which is the need of a family.
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3- I want to tell people that like all humans I too err and where I have erred, then I beg your forgiveness. Don’t want you guys giving me a bad time up there on Judgement Day.

So to goodbyes. I can think of a few immediately! Famous goodbyes! I shall quote three.

-“I shall be back”. Terminator. Most inappropriate for now and I assure you I have no such plans.

-“I am just going outside and may be some time”. A hundred and four years ago, Titus Oates, walked to his death out of his tent, during Scotts failed South Pole Expedition, to save his collegues lives. Again, not quite my role to be a hero.

-“Here’s looking at you kid”. Humphrey Bogart when he departs in Casablanca.

It is this third goodbye that I am thinking of. In the years to come, sitting on the outside, I wish to see a prosperous and happy EFL doing all the great things this company was made for. It was part of our vision to do great things and I am glad (despite hitches) that this has been achieved in the first 10 years. One leaves behind a very successful company, with well oiled systems and a hugely talented work force. This is my legacy and I desperately want it to prosper.

It is now your part to continue this role in the future. The first gear has been executed well, now lets go into other gears. Make it happen! Work as a team, with dedication and passion, believe in this cause and it will be successful, In-sha-Allah. Also please remember, when success comes, to keep your feet on the ground. Stay humble.

Finally, I would like to say with some personal satisfaction, that at the tables of EFL, in the corridors and in the culture, I leave behind a lot of myself. It behaves very much, as I would like it to behave.

Thank you for all these wonderful years. Allah bless you all.

1971, the flavours changed

imageThis was the year when I stopped hunting for jungle jalaybees. When the large garden we played in became too small, as the ball reached the window panes. When I gave away my Biggles books. This was the year when the magical taste of life changed into the spicy, reality taste, which exhilarates and then in a flash can burn also.

Somewhere in this life, early or late most of us come to some sort of awakening. It can be one large moment or a series of smaller awakenings leading to a flash of the light bulb moment.

I had spent a childhood thinking in terms of hours and days. Life was a series of random events revolving around myself and those immediately around me. In this serene environment, 1971 came as a crescendo. A series of small seminal events taught me that life is real, has a larger context and it is not just designed to fulfil my story.

1971 was the year when Pakistan cricket almost touched gold and then lost its grasp on it. This was in the month of July; at Leeds we lost. For a young sports fanatic kid, it was open and shut that we would get 231 in the fourth innings against England. I now cry for the confidence of a boy, who did not know better. That we ended up losing 6 wickets in quick order and missing the target marginally, was cataclysmic. It was the second sledge hammer blow in a couple of months. Earlier a young Liverpool team lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final, when leading in extra time. It all hurt that the world did not follow in natural order, my desires and perceptions.

February of 1971 saw a major worldwide hit song by George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”. GH was singing solo; it dawned on me that the Beatles had disappeared and something permanent had gone from life. It brought a reality to the fore. Nothing is forever, no matter how good, and the transient nature of this life was grounded in my mind.

1971 was also the year when I figured out that school and freedom will not last forever. Life had existed on a daily basis and the maximum length of plans were while wondering how not to get bored in the summer holidays – there were very few international or local vacations in those days. So as I saw the previous years prefects and seniors disappear out of school, it finally drove home how things are supposed to be.

That summer saw the Summer of 42 being a big world wide hit and I could relate to teenage Hermie. A picture of love and tragedy formed and filters created in one evening in the Palace cinema, have formed an idyllic image of life’s tragic romance.

In October, I also realised that in this Allah’s world, optimism and hope are the final barrier to despondency and defeat. An ageing and bedraggled Pakistan hockey team, somehow miraculously struggled past India to win the inaugural Hockey World Cup. It created some fervour at a very crucial moment in our history, as you shall see next.

Simmering in the background since March was a political crisis, which vaguely created uneasiness in many of us. Stories coming out of the Eastern half of the country were not good and it seemed blood had flowed. Those were the days of no internet and a tight media code. So basically all accounts were anecdotal. As the year subsided, it was clear we were going to war with India. Only we did not know when. For a kid, it was very black and white. We were right and we will win the war. There was no second argument here.

My personal descent into adulthood started on Dec 11th, eight days into the war. Dennis Lillee produced a crazy spell for Australia at Perth of 8 for 29. The local papers celebrated that on the back page. I was enthused and pointed out the performance to my father. Only his reaction was very unusual. Teary eyed, his sharp reply was “Stop! Where are you? This country is being destroyed and you are talking of cricket”. In that moment, that whole year of self realisation fell into place. I withdrew into my corner and went into a deep dive within. The next ten days, I can tell you were the worse days of my life. Tears, prayers, self-reproach were the order of the day. It was not very different for many in this country, who in those few days came out of a stupor which had lasted a long time. I too came into my own. My personal graduation into adulthood, had commenced. I had been lucky till then, but my magic kingdom had disappeared in a flash. Life was never the same again. All the flavours had changed.

*picture is from dreamstime.com

Why Write?

imageA recent chat with a friend on the subject of writing made me dive deep. The question raised in the discussion was, why am I inclined towards writing at all. And if I am, then what is the form it should take.

In anything we do in life, the first question to be asked is “Why”. Without knowing the purpose, how will we proceed? The bigger the subject on which we raise a “Why” the bigger the need for an answer. So for instance, when the Quaid-e-Azam, in 1934, considered returning to India to lead the Muslim League, his “Why” would have probably been the most important “Muslim Why” of the 20th century. The implications of the answer would reverberate into the lives of a few hundred million people.

Only when the “Why” is decided, can we proceed on to secondary questions. The “What” question first. If our purpose is X, then “What” are we going to do to achieve that purpose. And then only when we have decided the “What” question and know our domain, will we descend into the final question. The “How” question. “How” are we going to achieve that purpose. This is a perennial life and management system and has always been applied by us in managerial roles.

Unfortunately there is a tendency to lose this structure, when taking a personal decision. Perhaps emotions get in the way. So when I suddenly started writing some four years ago, there were no real thoughts behind it. I wrote because I felt the urge to write. Which is fine on its own. But then I went onto a blog and put it up for public consumption. Never did it occur to me to analyse this action and to rationalise it. I was mingling two thoughts. One was a personal need to put it on paper and get that inner morsel out. The second was an aspiration to actually have it read and perhaps acknowledged, appreciated and critiqued also.

This is very different from the person I had known all my life. In the past I had no need for public acknowledgement or recognition. During my Pepsi days, it was part of my job to go to Pakistan cricket matches and give out awards. This momentary flash on television was a problem for me. Therefore, I would always delegate this particular role to some subordinate. Even going on television in business or environment related programs was a problem. My job required me to do it, but I disliked it. So finally five years ago, I consigned it to the rubbish heap and have studiously avoided television exposure since.

Therefore belatedly, today, a Saturday afternoon, I sat down, some four years late (a meh smiley here is appropriate), to decide on the “Why”. The answers I have come to are fairly simple.

I want to write because:-

I feel an urge and in some form I can express myself. This urge is built partially out of frustration on what is going on out there. Its venting! Its a reform wish.

There is a secondary part of me which wants to write on sports. That is driven by a passion for sports and a feeling of self satisfaction that I know so much – a bit smug I think.

These two are the only specific personal reasons to write.

Then why run a blog? Is that not some internal desire for acknowledgement. In the case of sports writing, I suppose, acknowledgement would feed my smugness. But its fairly vague, unformed and not so much of a drive. I am quite happy with the self-knowledge, that I know so much about sports.

Related to the venting part. An out pouring of frustration and it all boils onto paper. At the same time I do not feel I have the authority to reform people. So then, am I seeking acknowledgement? In the end I finally worked out, that I really do want to fulfil a responsibility. But that responsibility only extends to the people “I Know“. It does not go beyond. I want my writing read by these people only, hence a personal blog, which is on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn account also. But I definitely shy away from being put on a public forum. So I do not want to be on a newspaper, television or a public blog.

Now what do I do with this information? I guess I have to find a method of delivery of my thoughts which satisfies my inner self and also satisfies the audience (small in numbers) who I reach out to.

A pantomime

imageRight at the outset let me apologize for this rant. I do not normally criticise or write negative, but this time around it just felt like I should say something on behalf of the common, harassed and saddened citizens. This ensuing write up, is about a stage show on television, like the many one sees regularly.

So there is this lady and there is a lot of her. Most of it is showing. She is dressed in black and the smile never goes away. Around her are twenty young men and they are all gawking at her. They are all dressed in white. The lady stands out, much as she is supposed to. She epitomises Venus and suddenly she starts cavorting. The twenty flunkies around her cavort back at her. In the background, garish music plays

Suddenly, as the music changes tone, the lady becomes still, the flunkies collapse to the floor, and out bound two scrawny looking break dancers, who somersault (or whatever they call this stuff), and have their thirty seconds in the lights. They are dressed in bright green, also to differentiate them. Shortly, the music changes again, the break dancers bound off and the dead flunkies come to life. The thirty second break has done them much good. They now make a determined effort to grab the lady in black. The lady is lifted by them and she contorts in their hands and her dress comes off, to reveal a still skimpier silver coloured outfit. She smiles throughout and the music becomes a crescendo. Then it comes to a grinding halt. The lady stretches out her arms in ballerina fashion and strikes a pose to convey acclaim.

Down in the audience, the main act on the stage is not the real thing. The front row is packed with famous known faces. Most of these faces are stuck in a Botoxed smile, to be shown to the wider world. Behind the smiles they are bored stiff and thinking what the hell. Another evening uselessly spent. They have spent most of their working lives just doing this and so it comes to them naturally. They are what you may call super stars and therefore any price is worth it. One of them wears a striped pyjama type trouser and a hat (like the Great Gatsby). He has bound on to the stage a couple of times. Its his desperate move to be noticed, as his last couple of movies have bombed at the box-office. Anything to be noticed! They are apparently icons of society, but in reality they are unstable, shallow humans, who have mastered the art of creating a facade.

Why they think they are icons of society, is obvious by the reactions of the fifty odd rows behind them. These are the so called lucky commoners. By hook or by crook these people have obtained entry to this event. Some have sold their souls to get here. Others have used influence and still others have simply bought in by paying exorbitant rates. They feel they have achieved nirvana. Tomorrow they shall boast about being there. Today, they gawk at the bigwigs and try to get close and touch them. Some dance and cavort as the stage-show goes on. Others are whistling, clapping and being altogether star struck.

Its a sight to see, as the ones in the front row smile, look superior and condescending. The objective of thier narrow existence is to be admired. They do not quite realise, that their success depends on these gullible masses in the common rows. They are so used to adulation, that they are convinced they are Gods gift to mankind and will succeed regardless. Its called ego and arrogance. The whole wasteful, ridiculous, repetitive and decadent event goes on, as it has these last dozens of years. Somehow, our masses don’t tire of this idiocy and the great unwashed laps it up one more evening.

Time to shut the television and do something useful.

* picture from blogs.reuters.com

My road-stops to fulfillment

imageRemember how in Star Trek, the older Mr Spock visits his younger version and advises him? That is a luxury not afforded us humans, but if it were, I would go back to myself, maybe forty years, and give a list of ideals. Maybe I might have applied them. Anyway, here they are, for the benefit of those who are curious about such a list.

1. Vision, have a personal goal

If you get in a car and drive without knowing where you are going, you will waste a lot of fuel and time. Know the lighthouse in the far distance, see it, desire it and then let Allah guide you there. Who knows, you might even get there.

2. A value system, be honest to yourself

There is no point in living your one and only life, being someone else. Why exactly are you acting your way through life? So, when you are yourself, then you must have a set of values. Apply them. They are driven by your belief, which then drives your vision. To get to that vision, you need your value system. Hopefully, you will be an optimistic person and have a great value system.

3. Stand by your principles, but it does not have to be a hydrogen bomb decision

Through life you will have to stand behind your principles, which are set by your value system. But, here is a secret. It does not mean that you are forever fighting and beating people. Use the art of persuasion, a sweet mind and tongue. A hydrogen bomb decision is very rare. It should not happen, Allah provides an honest way out, if you desire it.

4. Opportunities are few! Take risks, but don’t need to be rash

Every now and then an opportunity will come whistling by. Do not avoid them. Look them in the eye. Be calm and do not rush. If you absolutely cannot, then let them go. There will be others. But mostly, you will prevail and you should look at it as an adventure and take the risk. A hit rate of 50 per cent is a good figure for a benchmark.

image5. Have fun

This is an absolute must. Life will be very boring and serious otherwise. Even take tough assignments as an adventure and laugh your way through. You can always move on to your next opportunity and its not the end of the world.

6. Have some passions

Definitely! Otherwise one becomes a boring fuddy-duddy. Like your sports, or music or outdoors. Have something to discuss with people other than your work. Please!

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously, better still laugh at yourself

As we become senior, we begin to believe we are a gift to mankind. You are just one breath away from extinction. So chill and laugh. Be human to everyone, they will actually like you. Otherwise in their secret chamber, everytime they see you, they will see an evil looking gorilla. You are better looking than that, so just laugh.

8. Life is not about yourself, think of others

Always think of the effects of your actions. There are people connected to your decisions. They are human. So behave like a human and look after them. Do not be a machine, especially a corporate one.

9. Give time to family and friends, before its too late

My own biggest failure and not surprisingly many CEOs say the same. Travel is the biggest culprit. When your children have stepped out of the door and gone to live life, then its too late to reverse the decision. Travel less; leave work behind when you come home. You can pick it up tomorrow again.

10. Give back as much as you can, you will be happy and content

In the end this world does not belong to us. Its leant to us, to carry to the next generation. Leave much of yourself in this world. Especially in the hearts and minds of people. You will be happier and life will be better fulfilled, based on the goodwill of others.

We all experiment and make errors, but I do wish someone, somewhere had taken a younger me and told me these things. Life would have been easier. In the end we all eventually find our path and culmination, regardless.

*the pictures are from dreamstime.com

The Karachi Moments

imageUnashamedly, for me Karachi has attachments which only happen, when you have spent your early life, memories and emotions in a place. I have written about this before, about how one would go through the art of living daily (https://sarfarazar.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/old-karachi-a-string-of-memories-from-days-gone-by/). But living is not just about eating, playing and being entertained. The soul needs nurturing also. It is this nourishment that I will try and remember here.

My nourishment and the grounding of my insides in the streets of Karachi, has so much to do with the culture and image of the place. Its got into my head and even today, when I look at my hometown, I look at it with a rose tinted glasses. Biased and unreal, but nevertheless, my perception.

Part of that imagery recalls the old, old Karachi. From pre-partition days. Archaic, but the landscape so enticing. The architecture of Elphinstone St and Victoria Rd. Those old style stone buildings. Most are gone now, but they left an impression! One building which survives today is the Karachi Grammar School building in Saddar. Huge thick stone walls, cold as hell in the winter, but the warmth of years and the embrace of history grips one. There was Mereweather Tower. I identified it with the bus conductors call of “Tower!Tower!”. But it was so much grander than a mere tower in reality, and when you saw it, the centuries smiled down from it.

There was Wazir Mansion, Katrak Mansion and a few more. Old, walls of stone, Gothic art mixed with God knows what. To me they smelled of age and richness. The ceilings high, the walls plain white and the ‘roshandaan’ such a characteristic of old days.

There were those old houses in Bath Island. Thick Walls made of stuff (sand and straw), which fascinated one and told such a story of life within. Termites had to be regularly battled on these walls, but they have survived a hundred and fifty years nevertheless. The lawns had these pepal trees. Massive ones, maybe a couple of hundred years old, having dropped their roots all over the place and grown and grown. They reminded me of Buddha and one envisions a holyman sitting under these trees thousands of years ago. Then there were those lovely old style houses, which don’t exist anymore. Why? Because we dont need the evening breeze anymore, nor do security concerns allow it. They would have a courtyard in the middle, and around it a square structure, with a patio all around and rooms behind the patio. The breeze would waft through, but then so could an intruder from outside. So such a structure is gone in today’s world.

A necessary part of those memories are old markets. Empress Market takes precedence. It was truly fit for a queen and inside I remember fondly the parchun walas shop. There were others; fish, vegetables, fruit, meat and chaai. Then there was Bohri Bazaar with its fascinating merchants, pots and pans, shoes and clothes outlets and in the middle of those winding lanes, Capital cinema. Bolton Market, burned down today, but what a place to recall. An old style market structure, with its old building and its old shops, selling many wholesale items. Old Kharadar with its small markets and apartments. Same as Burns Road (Bunz). Those balconies, from which day long women conversed with each other and with the people in the streets and hung baskets on ropes to purchase daily sustenance.

Lastly are the parks. Polo ground, Frere Hall, Jahangir Park, Hill Park, Jheel Park. No walls and children all over the place. Before and after Maghrib. Plenty of cricket and hockey taking place there. Also people having a picnic well into the evening, when it was very dark. No security concerns. But even more fascinating, there was greenery, including grass and trees. Some shrubbery too. Tell you what, I don’t remember seeing a water tanker in my childhood. But the greenery thrived. It means that water pipelines did exactly what they were supposed to do; they delivered water to everyone.

Alas, it all seems like a dream now. My old Karachi.

*the above books were with the compliments of SEED

Management…view from above

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