Situated on Preedy Street with Peshawari Ice Cream outlet on its left, Khyber Hotel on its right, Jahangir Park on its rear and Bohri Bazaar right across the road, the building of Eduljee Dinshaw Charitable Dispensary in Saddar has retained much of its grandeur despite the vagaries of weather and bureaucratic or official neglect.

Built in the second half of 19th century, this was the first building in the port city designed in the Italianate style.

The design was strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance—a period in European history that made a dynamic transition from the medieval period. It was a time of rebirth of art, architecture and Classical scholarships.

Unfortunately, however, this building is in a pitiable condition for quite some time. It needs to be protected and preserved without any further loss of time. Eduljee Dinshaw, a noted philanthropist from the Zoarastrian community in Karachi, is said to have contributed Rs5,500 (five thousand and five hundred rupees) or 50 percent of the cost of this building.

It is interesting to note that none of the members of the Parsi community that built and ran a host of social welfare institutions in this city of teeming millions leave Pakistan for India after Partition of the Subcontinent in 1947.

How ironic it is that most of their neighborhoods present a deserted look due to a host of reasons, including very high celibacy and birth control rates among them. Moreover, a vast majority of them has moved to the West, particularly Canada, and the process of emigration accelerated since the late 1970s.

I don’t know whether or not the Karachi Parsi Institute (KPI), which had hosted at least one official Test match before Pakistan became a full member of ICC, still has the Turf wicket where KPI team comprising the Iranis, the Dinshaws, the Khambatas, the Cowasjees, the Markers and others played cricket matches on every Sunday and hosted tournaments for Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCI) regularly.

Needless to say, legendary Hanif Mohammad and his siblings, among other great cricketers, were regular visitors to this properly manicured ground that had always maintained a proper wicket made of soil/mud brought from Nandipur Punjab, and a 100-yard boundary.

Parsis, a Gujarati- and English-speaking community along with members of other minorities such as Gujarati- and Sindhi-speaking Hindus, English- and Hindi-speaking Anglo-Indian Christians and Konkani- and English-speaking Goan Christians, constituted the face of Karachi till the beginning of the decade of 1970s. Yes, they were the old Karachites and the original face of this port city.

A Karachiwala (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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