An instant favorite. Despite all the troubles a low income neighborhood in Karachi harbors, such as filth, garbage, sewerage water and traffic. But there is warmth in people, a distinct taste in roadside food and character in buildings that make this area special. Marwari Lines or Gazdarabad is a neighborhood in Saddar Town, which has a significant population of Muslim Marwaris, who moved to Karachi from Jaisalmer in Rajhistan. The area is named after Muhammad Hashim Gazdar, a Marwari Politician who also served as Mayor of Karachi. ‘Gazdar’ comes from the title that Hashim’s father received from the Raja of Jaisalmer for his craftsmanship.
The area around Poona Bai Tower is perhaps the most vibrant in this locality. There are some famous shops known for their signature Gottala, Bhel Puri, Malai wali chai and Paan. One particular characteristic of the area is that you will see a lot of wooden benches and takhts in most of the streets with people sitting on them and chatting leisurely sipping chai or eating gottala or paan.
Marwari women are known for their empowerment and it is pretty much evident as soon as you step into the maze of streets off the main road. As you walk further deep into the area, the streets get narrower and more private and this is where women rule. The children play out in the street while women chat leisurely on takhts or manage their shops. This ecosystem is only possible due to vigilance of women who not only keep an eye on who move around in these streets but are vocal in establishing their writ.
Marwaris are known as expert stonemasons. Beech wali Masjid and other mosques in the area are testimony to their craftsmanship. They stand in deep contrast to the current dismal state of the area. On one of the walls, a banner by Marwari Youth council reads, ‘if we live in a dustbin?’ The answer should weigh heavy not on Marwaris but to the authorities.