“Let’s stop and see Lady Dufferin?”
My escort suddenly got excited and insisted that we make a stop. We have been driving for past one hour on and around MA Jinnah road and he was getting the hang of my liking. I followed his directions and we soon ended up on Lady Dufferin Hospital’s gate where a guard was catching a wink, in refreshing shadow of a neem tree on a relatively warm Spring day. The hospital’s main courtyard was empty. Only resident nurses and few checked-in patients were strolling by. The first impression: The place was unusually calm for any hospital in Karachi. Have not been there on a working day so I maybe wrong.
The Edulji Dinshaw Building is to the left of the main entrance. The foundation stone was laid on November, 1894 by Lady Elgin, the wife of Viceroy Lord Elgin. It was named in memory of Lady Dufferin. Edulji Dinshaw contributed funds for the construction of the institution. On either side of the entrance are two marble busts without any labels. I assumed one was of honorable Edulji Dinshaw and other was that of queen which was presented by Mr. Edulji at some occasion. There are marble tablets on the left side commemorating donations from different philanthropists. There is a wooden staircase leading to the first floor from the entrance. It is in a weary state but reeks of gone-by days glory. The first floor of the building has been abandoned for some reason sadly and been used for storing junk. However corridors on both ground and first floor were mopped even on a Sunday morning. The building which is a sign of Karachite’s benevolence is not in a healthy condition and needs funds asap. You could assume that any public sector institution in Pakistan would not have the luxury to set aside funds for restoration from their meager budgets. Therefore it calls for another Edulji Dinshaw? a Seth Ram Mohatta? A Seth Chatomal?
Old building of OPD has still survived, albeit with few modification which makes it look confused. From the first gallery you could see the new contemporary construction. Thankfully they have managed to keep the facade of Virbaijee Kartak Maternity Wing. Women well being was a foremost concern in Karachi of yore. Their presence in social scene made Karachi more colorful than any other city in the country. Is it too hard to understand? On the first floor, it read that it was renovated by American Club of Karachi. Where have such groups disappeared, you wonder.