“I registered for the session only to see his house up close”, a girl confided in us, a small group who was taking a look inside Tofiq Pasha’s humble double storey home. We were at Tofiq Pasha’s farm to attend a gardening class and were taking a break around lunch time.
Tofiq Pasha calls himself a ‘Maali’, a gardener, which will make him perhaps the coolest and most well known Maali in Karachi. I knew that he had a great following but the commitment and attention with which people listened and followed him, he could very well be a Rockstar.
Tofiq Pasha’s farm is situated in Malir. The drive to Tofiq Pahsa’s farm is much simpler than it appears at first. Just one turn from Sharah-e-Faisal and a straight road leads to his farm past Malir Nadi. The farm has remained with Tofiq Pasha’s family for several decades now. This is what his parents chose as their home when they moved back from abroad and this is where Pasha grew up. Despite the obvious challenges of living in a suburb, Pasha has remained steadfast and never owned another home in the city.
I found him relaxing on a couch when I entered the lounge. He was having conversation with some of the participants. I had a brief introduction and drifted away casually to make most of the little time I had inside his home. There was delightful old furniture, radio, reel-to-reel recorder, masks, contemporary art, dozens of family photos and other memorabilia. He appeared to be a man who would cling to the past, cherish and take pride in it. The setting was casual, with everything being an extension of him and not a mere decor item. There was a lion taxidermy in one corner which was given to him by his in-laws. “It’s a reminder of what they could do should I make them unhappy”, he chuckled. He was a great host.
I drifted out of his home and took a round circle. There is a courtyard in front of his home, used for hanging out and gathering around bonfire in winters. There was a small water pond on one end and a winding passage led me to what appeared to be the quarters of people who work at the farm. There was color deco on the doors. Greenery made everything picture perfect. There were orchards on both sides in which he has grown all kinds of vegetables; bindhi, kaddu, karelay, lettuce, rocket, tomato and much more. There were age-old trees; neem, peepal, keekar and much more. There was a well in one corner with water deep down which fluctuated with water table of Malir Nadi.
Tofiq Pasha once said that he loved his relationship with soil. It was very much evident in his choices.