The Karachi Walla was looking for the abandoned reading room in Jehangir Park. Unfortunately we found it closed and started walking back to the car. There on my left I saw a small opening into a stone structure. Turned out that it was back entrance to the Edulji Dinshaw Dispensary. I have documented the dispensary few years back but did not get a chance to see it from inside. And I wish that I did not this time either!
I found a receptionist inside the main hall chatting with a friend. I asked him if I could take photos. He hesitated and asked me to ask permission from his senior. I find his senior in a corridor and was kind enough to allow us. As soon as the senior nodded in affirmative, the receptionist started telling me about the dispensary. He pointed to one end of false ceiling from where I could see part of a plaque commemorating the foundation of the dispensary. The part of it was hidden under false ceiling which was a misfit anyways, an act of development in finite wisdom of people in-charge these days!
We moved from one room to another. The dispensary which looked in good condition from outside was in dismal condition from inside. The roof is falling apart at few places which has been hidden through false ceiling. The arches have been filled up with cement destroying the original look. The staircase at the back was broken at many places. Tiles have been added to control the salinity issue in the area (which is due to stormwater drain which has been affecting other historical landmarks such as St. Andrews, Khyber hotel and Empress Market).
I take the staircase which seem to have replaced the original to the first floor. I found the door shut and saw pairs of shoes inside. It looked as if someone was living inside the rooms opening into the hall upstairs. I walked back to the reception and asked the receptionist if someone lived upstairs. He shook his head and then looked to his senior for help. He told me that no one lived upstairs and then started giving confusing statements that they did not have the possession of the first floor.
We stepped out of the dispensary. I looked at the balconies and the dysfunctional clock tower and Edulji’s name on the facade and the Pakistani flag hoisted on the top and felt sorry for Karachi.