The Karachi Walla met Abdul Waheed by chance. At seven thirty when I woke up in the morning there was as little probability of visiting Laloo Khet and seeing him repair a harmonium as Torres and Caroll scoring in one match or Kamran Akmal successfully reading a doosra. So this is how it started. A friend and me had breakfast at Cafe Mubarak in Saddar. The waiter brought an omelete with onions in it which my friend absolutely loathes (and he had explicitly asked the waiter not to put onions in it). Since I chose the cafe, I had to oblige and drive him to Laloo Khet via PIB Colony where we picked Zeeshan from promising underground band ‘The Bell’. After driving through perfectly paved roads, we reached Abdul Waheed’s tiny shop where we found him repairing a harmonium.
Abdul Waheed is a man of few words. His fingers did the talking instead, expertly connecting broken connections, untangling copper wires and setting the wood a tone which would mesemerize so many that detractors have to bring religion and morality to restrain its following. Abdul Waheed has been in this business for decades. He has worked with many musicians and the mementos on his wall were the evidence. The jewel of the crown was, of course his photo with great Mehdi Hassan.
“Why Laloo Khet. Is not your clientele mostly in the posh areas”, I asked.
How little that I know about Karachi. According to him and his clients Laloo Khet has been home to many self grown musicians and the whole supply chain established around the area. There are other similar shops in the area as well. The small industry does suffer from our collective apathy towards arts and music in general but there are still enough clients to keep it running.
There was a wide range of musical instruments; violins, guitars, ukuleles, harmoniums, tablas and many other smaller instruments. In otherwise unappealing area, it was a small getaway which inspired and put a smile on our faces.