Reclaiming Public Spaces. One at a time. Pakistan Chowk. Check.
Pakistan Chowk is one of the most well known landmarks in Karachi. The Reference Point. It comes handy when one has to give directions, or eat bun Kebabs, or get wedding cards printed.
Pakistan Chowk is a fantastic place. It is surrounded by most beautiful of buildings in the city. It has seen better days though. There is an abandoned library on one end and abandoned water trough not very far. Beautiful balconies are biting dust and residential buildings are being converted into commercial shops and godowns without a concern to their condition. It mirrors the journey of this beautiful city, into decay and dearth of aesthetics. The Project to reclaim Pakistan Chowk is first of many steps in right direction.
The Rehabilitation of Pakistan Chowk was undertaken few months back. Trees were planted at all corners and garbage removed. The central monument which was lost behind the posters of political parties and proprietors was recovered in its original state. I remember seeing the video of cleansing work on the monument on Pakistan Chowk. It was therapeutic.
Few months fast forward and it has been handed back to public. New benches have been installed which commemorate distinguished denizens of Karachi, a very well thought gesture of gratitude. Lights have been installed and new boundary wall constructed. A shade with a modern feel has been installed on one end, which looked somewhat out of place. Later someone told me that it was designed by a German artist (can we have local artists experimenting with such iconic landmarks?)
The Karachi Walla went there on a lazy Sunday morning. People from neighborhood were hanging out at the chowk. One of them was reading newspaper on the bench while a father watched his child play. Other kids joined the group. In a congested neighborhood with dearth of public spaces, it is bound to make people happy. This is what we need Public Spaces for!