City Portraits – Masoodul Hassan – Tailor, Pakistan Chowk

Masoodul Hassan is a man misfit for present day Karachi. The world around his “Tailor De Pak” has changed much quickly than he could have anticipated and adopted to. He has started finding refuge in his past, finding solace and comfort which is hard to come by these days. The Karachi Walla met Masood at his shop near Pakistan Chowk on a warm Karachi evening. We smoked cigarettes as he narrated his story.

Masood’s grand parents forced his father to stay away from them due to a family feud. He joined army and learnt his trade as a tailor. He moved from one city to another and opened his first shop in Quetta near Staff College. He called it “Tailor de Pak”, after it was recommended by his clients. They have carried this name ever since. After a massive earthquake struck Quetta in 1935, his father relocated to Bombay from where he finally moved to Karachi in ’47. His father opened his shop in Sarnagti building near Pakistan Chowk. Masood joined his father and still run the shop. Over time he has specialized in surgical gowns, scrubs and lab coats which provided decent income stream for his family. However he has started catering more to individuals than institutes as he had to struggle for the payments in later’s case. The shop is still in its original shape except for the false ceiling. The tiles were in exceptionally good condition. “There was a factory here in Karachi which used to make it”, he said.

Masood has spent his lifetime around Pakistan Chowk. “It used to be a place where lot of learned people lived. Students from DJ, NED and other universities lived here. There were some government offices in Sarnagti building and some publication houses. People used to sit out in open after work hours and discuss life and politics. ZA Bhutto used to frequent this area as he had some friends here.”, Masood’s eyes shined as he walked towards the door. A mechanic was fixing a rickshaw right in front of Sarnagti Building. The area behind the building has been converted in a junkyard. “I am going to perform Umrah soon and once I am back I will move out of this area”, his eyes glistened. As I discovered later, Masood and his shop had benefited from low rents due to complex ownership rights related to evacuee properties. The welfare trust that managed Sarnagti building, has suddenly been active in managing the building renewing contracts at new market rates, rates that Masood could not afford. He tried to reach some consensus with the trust but eventually gave up and decided to relocate to a shop near Agha Khan University. The defeat weighed heavily on his shoulders.

“Tailor De Pak” will relocate from Sarnagti building in a month’s time and be replaced by some gaudy and glittering shop. It’s probably in no one’s interest to save Masood’s shop. It’s our sorry history in the making.



Categories: City Portraits

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2 Comments on “City Portraits – Masoodul Hassan – Tailor, Pakistan Chowk”

  1. Zafar
    June 11, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Good article . .

  2. Zafar
    July 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

    Received this blog on 15 jul 17.
    Excellent articles.
    I liked the Bhit Island article the most.


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