City Portraits – Ghani Bhai

Ghani Bhai makes his living by cleaning cars at City Court Karachi. I met him at Antique Market by chance. He was there to pay weekly installments for a Grundig turntable that he bought few weeks back. He cleans cars and with his meager savings he purchases some classy memorabilia.

I tried to strike a conversation but he was busy in his stride, moving from one antique piece to another. I saw a familiar spark in his eyes whenever he came across a piece of his liking. Something I could relate to. Ansar – the owner of a fantastic shop at Antique Market – told me that he was a frequent customer buying vinyl records from him.

I follow him to another shop where he picked up an old photo from a heap of garbage. It showed a band marching in a parade or something. The shopkeeper did not mind giving it for free as it was of no use to him. I wondered what importance did it have to Ghani Bhai but this is the thing with collecting antiques, memorabilia. You never know how it strikes a chord with someone. He made another stop, at the entrance of Antique Market where a footpath seller was selling bronze cast collectibles. A few people had surrounded the footpath stall but Ghani Bhai sneaked into the crowd and had a closer look. He did not pick up anything from there and left.

I asked him if he had mobile phone for I wanted to come and see his place. I imagined him relaxing and listening to forgotten melodies after a hard day’s work. It’s a slippery slope, romanticizing poverty while being in no position to understand the suffering and hard work one endures.

He said he did not own a mobile phone.

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Categories: City Portraits

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