Thursday, 15 March 2018

Zaibunissa Street

I recently learned that Elphinstone Street (named after British official Monstuart Elphinstone) in Karachi was re-named Zaibunissa Street in 1970 after writer and journalist Zaib-un-Nissa Hamidullah. This interests me as Elphinstone was in Saddar, the area my paternal family migrated to in 1950s after Partition. I've read that Saddar was then full of book shops and (Iranian) tea houses. The streets were washed every day. Elphinstone was a street people strolled down. There was ballroom dancing on Elphinstone Street.

Today, the population of Karachi is approximately 16 million, Zaibunissa is a busy shopping street with over one hundred and thirty jewellery stores and most of the book shops have gone. Yesterday, I came across a purse that held earrings my Karachi family gifted me when they visited a few years ago after many years of little contact. The jeweller is in a building on Zaibunissa Street.

I looked up Monstuart Elphinstone, a Scot born in Dumbarton in 1779. I grew up five miles from Dumbarton - in fact, my GP practice was there - that's where we had our innoculations for visiting Karachi in 1974. And in early-mid eighties Coxsackie virus was locally being called 'Dumbarton Disease' because so many had become ill. I love how narratives link together, little synchronicities often appearing.

No comments: