City Nostalgia – Typewriter Shop, Frere Market Akbar Road

The Karachi Walla is highly susceptible to Nostalgia. Typewriters evoke Nostalgia. It was only a matter of time before I find my way to ‘Fine Office Machine’ – one of few shops in Karachi dealing in typewriters – situated inside Frere Market.

Frere market has an interesting layout. I enter the market from Akbar road which has become a popular hub for auto mechanics now. The main building is like any other market but there is a portion of it which is spread like butterfly wings. It is attached to the main building by an opening in the middle. Most of the shops house printing press. The area used to be a hub for writers and journalists and there is a building adjacent to the market which was used as an office by journalists’ union.

There is flora in the middle of the market which has created canopy over the corridors. It is around noon and market is bustling with customers. There is a constant mechanized noise of printing presses in the background but somehow it does not sound annoying. I ask around for the directions to ‘Fine Office Machine’ and find it after some luck.

At first sight, ‘Fine Office Machine’ does not look very different from other regular shops in Frere Market. The tiny shop must be smaller than a rest room in an average house in Karachi. There are three people sitting inside. One of them is Bahroze, the founder of the shop and a veteran technician of typewriters. Javaid, one of the other two is his son and helps his father in running the shop.

‘Fine Office Machine’ was founded at this very location by Bahroze in 90’s but he has been associated with this business for more than forty years. He has seen innovations come and go and has adopted to stay relevant. Today his shop deals in Printers, Photocopiers, Fax, Duplicators and others but he remains fond of typewriters. His son Javaid has inherited this affection from his father. I ask him if it is purely out of passion that they keep typewriters.

‘There are still some institutions such as courts which use typewriters.’, he responds. ‘However people have started treating them as showpieces which has given old typewriters a surviving chance’. To show his prized collection, he leads me to the adjacent shop which serves as the store. He takes out a Remington typewriter – an ancient and delightful machine – and sets it up in the middle. He tells me that it works perfectly. I ask for a demonstration and he happily obliges. The next one is a Monarch Printer, a different line of Remington but very much similar in looks and performance.

I have brought a malfunctioning typewriter along. I ask him if he can repair it. Javaid has a closer look and shakes his head, ‘Even if I manage to repair it, it’s going to cost you more than a refurbished typewriter’. He is a good salesman too and manages to sell me a Japanese typewriter. It’s turquoise.

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Categories: City Nostalgia

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One Comment on “City Nostalgia – Typewriter Shop, Frere Market Akbar Road”

  1. Aly
    July 23, 2017 at 3:50 am #

    How much was the cost for these vintage typewriters ?

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