Photo Story – Empress Market Revisited

I often wondered why an ordinary Karachi walla should long for colonial structures such as Empress Market. It was only when I read the prolific Intizar Hussain that I realized that people connect with these buildings because they play a great role in their lives. Slowly and gradually, they become a part of our lives, our stories and our folklore; as Intezar sahab puts it, these buildings become trees with their roots within the people. Therefore, a Karachi walla feels compassion for the Empress Market even if it is named after Queen of England. Even if it was built at the site where number of soldiers who rebelled against British in 1857 were brutally executed.

Sunday walks in Saddar have become a ritual for past several years for me. Gradually Empress Market became an integral part of it as I started buying groceries from there. The parking guys started recognizing me and so did the waiters at Dhabba adjacent to butcher’s section wall. The dhabba also served delicious daal and mutton rosh. I also bought vegetables and Heera fish from there. Then I crossed Kite Market to go to a flea market little further to Fire Brigade Station. All of it has been erased to the ground except for the original structure. See the photos.

My experience was not always pleasant. I often got stuck in the traffic. I can only imagine the plight of the residents of Saddar. The hygiene conditions were poor. There was dirt, garbage and flies. There were no public toilets and one could only assume the quality of water used for washing vegetables. I had to walk through bird market and I could only feel helplessness at the plight of animals which were kept in poor conditions. I could see that the building was in dire condition and required immediate attention.

What is next for Empress Market? The answer must address concerns of all stakeholders. Flea Markets and Hawkers of Saddar are integral part of it’s charm. They cannot disappear from our city and our conscience.

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One Comment on “Photo Story – Empress Market Revisited”

  1. Anonymous
    November 29, 2018 at 10:22 pm #

    Empress Market is not just another building!
    Look at this monumental building with new eyes, look at the structure! Think of how it was built in the days and age when there were no cranes, no lifting gear, no diggers, no electronic lifters of heavy goods.
    Look at the stone work. How did they build the tower?
    I used to go to Empress Market from the age of Seven.
    Once inside, because it is built of stone it was always cooler than outside. The meat section was cool enough for the meat not to spoil. The fish Market was always separate! The poultry was always sold outside as it was halaled fresh!
    This Market was built in the late1800 and to this day it stands stalwart!
    Similarly, The Kothari Parade at Clifton, Frere Hall, Mohta Palace. All these buildings have stood the test of times!
    Go look at them in a new and different way!
    These are the Icons and reminder of what Karachi used to be!

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