Mum in Mama school….late 40’s, spilling over into the 50’s

18 Sep

Mummy was transferred to The Mama Parsi Girls Secondary School in class III. Before this she went to the Saifiyah Girls School, a Dawoodi bohra community school.

I guess she didn’t really learn the English language all that well there, because she and her sister Maimuna had to be sent to Amy, Gooly’s sister, for tuitions.

Mummy on the left, Maimuna on the right

Gooly was my mother’s best friend in school, a Parsi. They’re still in touch, more than half a century later.

Gooly with Iskander Mirza's Iranian wife, Naheed begum. Mummy is standing next to her with cinched waist and curly hair

Mummy never really studied but she managed to have a good academic record, and won The Shield for Best Girl in class X.

Every morning they would have P.T, and then all the students stood outside class for inspection. Shoes, nails, uniform, hair, pins—anything amiss and there would be minus marks.

Lunch was in school, and for Mum, that was the most wonderful time of the day.

There was a dining room with tables, and come lunchtime, around 1:30, the servants carrying tiffins with home-cooked food would start arriving by tram. She remembers a girl called NurJehan….very stylish….her lunch was very proper with all the works, including a placemat for her spot on the table. Mum thinks she was Khoja, which might explain the ‘properness’. The main reason for such an elaborate lunchtime was because the girls played games after classes were over, and hometime was at 5 o clock! The food would be shared all around, and Mummy remembers vividly how much her friends especially enjoyed the tiffin that came for her from her house….the food would all disappear in a flash 🙂

Little Mummy was in class VI or VII when she auditioned for a show on Radio Pakistan and got selected, but the principal, Ms Thompson (a Goan Christian) didn’t allow her to to go for it, she doesn’t remember why or much care about it. It’s not like her hopes for a fabulous career in radio were dashed or anything. It was just for a lark, and like a lark, the opportunity flew away.

Games consisted of basketball, tennis and tenniquoits for Mum. She enjoyed the exercises they were put through, taking pride in her flexibility, and remembers the games cupboards were full of dumbbells and clubs which they used for their exercise routines while Mrs Jacob played lively tunes on the piano.

There were performances in formations for visiting guests and dignitaries and the girls wore special smart tunics for these. Mummy was a regular participant until she became self-conscious about her bare legs and stopped, and henceforth it was said in her report, ‘She does not take active part in sports, but she is a good spectator.’ 🙂

Mummy was used to being the ‘favourite.’ She had great handwriting, very neat, and her books were made examples of, as were her drawings. She took pains over her diagrams and illustrations, and her Geography and Science journals were works of art so the teachers just loved her. She would always be 1st or 2nd in class.

There was a cooking class conducted by Ms Jerbai, and she taught the girls to cook things like….. jaggery toffee……sago pudding…….bread pudding…..dhansak…..potato and mince cutlets….

There were laundry classes by Ms Divecha, who taught them how to starch and press napkins, boiling them with soda first to remove stains, using scrubbing boards.

Ms Rodrigues taught needlework, and Mrs Engineer taught history or some such subject.

There would be assembly every morning after the bell and there would be prayers, Parsi style, reciting the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda prayer…

addendum:  1) All the girls were grouped into one of four ‘Houses’, named after four prominent Parsi philanthropists of Karachi. They were Mama house, Contractor house, Pochaji house and Dinshaw house. Mummy was a proud member of the Pochaji house, and all her daughters were subsequently placed in the same 🙂

2) Maimuna dropped out of school in class 5 as she suffered from headaches….


College days (AJ writes to the President!)

5 Jul

Something about this picture makes me look at it more closely.

Well-dressed young men in suits posing on a railway platform…on the verge of a journey….47 years ago.

That’s my father in the white shirt and tie, standing second from the right. The year was 1964, and the college was sending a batch of final year students on a 20-day educational tour, to visit major industries and hydro-electric power plants around Pakistan.

A special bogey had been booked for them on the train, a group of 40 students….the ‘cream’ of the crop as they were called by the principal of NED Government Engineering College in Karachi.

But let’s rewind the tape a couple of years…

My father (whom I refer to as ‘AJ’ in this blog) did his B.Sc. from DJ Science College, located in the heart of old Karachi. ‘DJ’ stands for Diwan Dayaram Jethmal, a Sindhi philanthropist whose financial support was instrumental in building the college. The foundation stone for the college was laid in 1882 by Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy of India and was inaugurated as the Sindh Arts College by Lord Reay, Governor of Bombay.

DJ Science College, many many moons ago.

So, my father did his Bachelors degree in this glorious institution, unfortunately flunking Urdu and Religious Knowledge in his Intermediate year. But don’t blame him dear readers, bear in mind that my father came from Sidhpur….where the medium of his education had been Gujarati.

freshly baked graduate 🙂

He wanted to pursue engineering after that, and to that end he applied for admission at the NED College of Engineering, the oldest engineering institute in Pakistan…..

This institution was initially founded as the Prince of Wales Engineering College with the donations of the citizens of Karachi to commemorate the visit made by the Prince of Wales to the city in 1921. The College was renamed as the NED Engineering College in 1924 in memory of Mr. Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw, a well-known philanthropist, whose heirs made substantial donations for the development of the College on his first death anniversary.

AJ’s form was rejected at the NED, for the simple reason that he had crossed the age limit for applying… 6 whole months.

All of a sudden, he was at a loss. He HAD to get into NED somehow, but it seemed there was nothing he could do. Desperate, he could only think of one course of action. He must write a letter to the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the country.

But first, here’s a little video to give you a picture of Karachi in those days, and the man himself: Ayub Khan.

Muhammad Ayub Khan, (May 14, 1907 – April 19, 1974) was a General and later self-appointed Field Marshal in the Pakistan Army and the first military dictator of Pakistan, serving as the second President of Pakistan from 1958 to 1969. He became the Pakistan Army’s first native Commander in Chief in 1951, and was the youngest full general and self-appointed 5 star rank Field Marshal in Pakistan’s military history.
Appointed Commander in Chief after the death of several senior generals, a combination of ambition and his distate for politicians led to his increased interference in Pakistani politics. Close to President Iskander Mirza, Khan supported the President’s decision to declare martial law in 1958 but had ousted him shortly afterwards, becoming increasingly frustrated by the level of corruption, he overthrew the government and declared himself President.

AJ wrote to Ayub Khan, saying he wanted to be an engineer but had crossed the age limit for admission. Could he help him?

He sent off the letter and let fate decide what it wanted to do with his dreams.

He was working at his uncle’s shop at that time, the Small Tools and Hardware Supply Agency on Nicol Road in the Wazir Mansion building, named after the Quaid’s house. About eight or ten days later, AJ got a phone call at the shop.

It was the principal of NED.

AJ was out on an errand in the bazaar, so his uncle (Yusuf) sent someone to go search for him. He had been asked to come to the college immediately.

‘Are you a cricketer?’ asked Pestonji, the principal of NED, as my athletic-looking father walked into his office.


AJ replied that he did play cricket, but he wasn’t a cricketer. He played a lot of volleyball back in Sidhpur, and was a table tennis champion at DJ. He was also a champion at chess. And boxing.

‘Why did you write a letter to the President??’

AJ told him that was the only thing he could think of in order to get admission in the college.

Pestonji looked at him, then smiled and told him to hurry up and fill out the application form once again and submit it along with the 150 rupee admission fee and three photographs by 3 o clock in the afternoon.


So it came to be that my father spent four years studying at one of the top engineering colleges in those days, and the reason why he was one of a group of forty final year students on a railway station in 1964.

Who knew then where their journey would take them.

But it’s easy to understand why he should have a soft spot for Ayub Khan in his heart.

Mummy’s Quran

27 Jun

There used to be a very popular show on good ol’ PTV called ‘Neelaam Ghar’ (literally meaning ‘Auction House’). It was a general knowledge quiz show that ran for many many years through the 70’s and 80’s, hosted by a man who ended up becoming a household name throughout Pakistan.

You can’t talk about Neelaam Ghar without mentioning Tariq Aziz. The two are synonymous. Even as I type these words I can hear his deep sonorous voice saying those famously dramatic opening words….’Dekhti aankhon aur suntay kaanon, aapko Tariq Aziz ka salaam pohnchay.’

The show encouraged the audience to participate, with commercial sponsorships for specific questions or question rounds, and generous prizes as giveaways. Tariq Aziz would conduct the show with his characteristic informal bonhomie, frequently referring to audience members and guests as ‘mere dost’  or ‘mere bhai’.

I doubt if any other PTV personality could have pulled off the show with as much flair as he did.

Those were days when Pakistan Television (inaugurated by President Ayub Khan in 1964) was all we had in terms of visual entertainment and Neelaam Ghar was up there in the list of favourite shows, and Mummy watched avidly.  I remember my sister had even made a bunch of flash cards with Neelaam Ghar-style questions (answers written at the back) and the show would be re-enacted at home where my sister would be Tariq Aziz and I the hapless audience.

It was on one of the episodes that Tariq Aziz either introduced a guest who had written the entire Quran in his own hand, or spoke about someone who had done so. Mummy was struck by something he said at the time…something along the lines of God giving everyone the ‘naik taufeeq’ (good intention) to do something similar.

And that’s all the impetus Mummy needed. She decided she would write the Quran too.

All she had to bank on was her ability to write neatly and with precision, a skill that earned her a good reputation amongst her teachers at school. That, and her intrinsic willfulness that carries her through the most nitpicky tasks.

She was untrained in the art of calligraphy, but that didn’t faze her. She just sent my father to buy her some flat-nibbed pens and a pile of pretty bordered paper and set to work.

It took her around five years to complete the task at hand, page by painstaking page. It was very difficult going, and for my mother to say something like that tells you a lot. She had to write with grave concentration, as even one mistake meant she would have to do the entire page all over again. This she learnt the hard way.

So she wrote in the mornings when she was at her freshest, and even then for just half an hour, as that was the most she could manage. This is how five hundred and eighty three pages managed to get covered in neat, beautiful Arabic text, day after day, month after month, year after year.

And this gem of an endeavour, a testament to Mummy’s faith and tenacity, has been bound and covered in ochre velvet and lies on a shelf in the house, unseen, unremarked, forgotten by and large. Family and some friends are all who know about Mummy’s hand-written Quran.

What matters hugely to my mother is the fact that she managed to show her work to the spiritual leader of our community of Dawoodi Bohras,  Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, whom she humbly requested to inscribe in his own hand, the opening phrase.

quran bismillah

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

This Arabic phrase is spoken before embarking on anything significant, and having the ‘Bismillah’ written by Maula was a foregone conclusion in Mummy’s scheme of things…..which is why she left those areas blank, until the opportunity came along….

it had been written in blue ink but had faded over time, so Mummy went over it with a gold pen

Syedna Burhanuddin wrote the first Bismillah in his inimitable lovely hand atop the Surah e Fateha, and then, to the surprise of all present, passed it on to his second son, Shehzada Mufaddal Bhaisaheb, to grace the beginning of the first chapter with a Bismillah of his own, a move that sparked a buzz in the family as being something rather significant.

That was around 15 years ago.

Recent events have revealed the foresight and wisdom of Syedna Burhanuddin, a fragile yet powerful presence in our lives, whose centenary we all celebrated the world over, just a few months ago.

in the hand of Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb

Mummy’s Quran will have the honour and distinction of being inscribed by two Da’i’s, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, and his successor, now titled Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb Saifuddin.

She has also stuck on the first page an autograph she procured sometime in the late 50’s, when she was still a school girl, of Syedna Taher Saifuddin, the eminent and much-loved father of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.

a revered autograph

this is stuck right above….


the first page…

the last page..

and all that lies betwixt..

the 100 names of Allah

Surah e Lahab


…and then some

And to think Mummy has Neelaam Ghar and Tariq Aziz to thank for the inspiration. 🙂

A fee receipt, 1945.

27 May

I can’t help wondering how much this school charges for monthly tuition nowadays, if it still exists.

And I wonder if anyone can tell me what the present-day equivalent of two Indian rupees would be 🙂

fee receipt

Abbaji, please translate what is written next to ‘Received from’  🙂

Now you see me, now you don’t…(Sidhpur 1944)

10 May

There’s something wrong about the date in this here letter. The year can’t be 1934 as it so says, for the simple reason that my father was born in 1935, hence probably not even a twinkle in my grandfather’s eye yet. 🙂  Therefore, it must be 1944. Whatever the case, it was written by a most elusive figure in Little AJ’s life. Here it is, in all its yellowed, fragile, historical glory…

I asked my father to read it aloud to me so I could transcribe it into a form that is understandable by those who cannot decipher the quaint Gujarati script, and this is what it says:

”Waala dikra Mahmibhai,

Tamaro kaghaj malyo chhe. Waanchi khushi thayo chhoon. Tamaro aanglo saaro thai gayo hashey. Tamari Ma lakhave te parmaanay saara akshar thi kaagal lakhta rehjo.

Aam lakhwaani aadat paarsho tou akshar shudhri jashey. Roj time sar madrassa maa parhva jaajo, anay ghar maa Master paasey dhyaan thi sheekhjo.

Mota Bawaji ne roj salaam karva jaajo. Moti Ma batavey tey kaam kaaj baraabar karjo. Lucha chhokrao ni shohbat maa farta nai.

Kapra bau saachvi ney perhva joiyye. Kapra mela kari faari naakhta tou badhha chhokrao ney aavre chhe, parantu sambhaal thi dar waqte nava lagay tem saachavta bahuj ochha chhokrao ney aavre chhe.

Tey tame jaano chho?

Sughrabai temaj Zaitunbai saathey hali mili ne rehjo.

Dua go, Tayyabbhai Mulla Abdullahbhai.”


There. I think that should be understood by my family and all the Bohris and Parsis out there…perhaps even some of the Khojas and Memons. I do realise the unintelligibility of both these versions to everyone who does not understand Gujarati, so I shall proceed to translate it into a language that is, I trust, pretty much universal…

”My dear son Mahmibhai,

I have received your letter and was very happy to read it. Your finger must be better now. You must keep writing letters in good handwriting as your mother dictates to you.

If you keep writing this way your handwriting will surely improve. Do go to madrassa on time every day, and pay attention and learn from your Master at home.

Go to Mota Bawaji for salaam every day. Do everything Moti Ma tells you.

Do not hang about in the company of naughty idle children, and do not spoil your clothes in games and play.

Clothes should be worn with care. All children know how to dirty their clothes and tear them. But very few children will know how to be careful and to keep their clothes looking new every time they wear them. Did you know that?

Stay close to and behave well with Sugrabai and Zaitunbai.

Best wishes, Tayyabbhai Mulla Abdullahbhai.


My father’s name is Mohammadi, so Mahmi was a nickname. What amazes him is the formality with which he has been addressed by his father when he was so very young….. Also the way he ends his letter…with his full name. That typically Sidhpuri, Gujarati formality is quite lost in translation.

Mota Bawaji was Tayyabbhai’s father, and Moti Ma refers to my father’s Nani, my grandmother Sakina’s mother.

The ‘Sughrabai’ referred to in the letter is my father’s aunt, his masi, who is actually just five years elder to him, and Zaitunbai is his father’s step sister. Sughrabai and Zaitunbai were the same age, and were more like playmates than aunts to my father.


Nanima's house (photo taken in 1988) in Sidhpur.

the door of Nanima's house

Abbaji on the doorstep of the house he spent his childhood in (photo taken in 1988)

Mota Bawaji's house in Sidhpur (photo taken in 1988)

the upper windows as seen from the street outside

Isn’t it simply beautiful?

And this is us, inside Nanima's house when we visited Sidhpur in 1979...and that is me, the little girl in green (and the author of this blog) sitting on the left

The grandmother I never knew.

18 Mar

Piecing together the past, from letters exchanged between the siblings of my father’s mother, and from correspondences between her and her husband, I have learnt a little bit about my Dadima. Her name was Sakina, the eldest child, with big expressive eyes and a soulful expression, something we can only tell from the few pictures of her in my father’s collection as, sadly, we never got to meet her….

The Rangoonwala family sometime in the 30's. On the extreme left is Yusuf (younger son), then Sakina (the eldest daughter), Shirin (her sister), and the young man on the far right is Hatim (the older son). Seated on chairs are my great grandfather Akberali with Sughra (youngest daughter) on his knee, and my great grandmother, Mariam with my father, Mohammedi sitting snugly in her lap. Sughra grew up to marry Qadir, the boy standing behind her, her cousin and the son of her father's brother and his wife, the couple standing behind.


These are a few pictures of my Dadi Sakina taken by her husband, my Dada, TayyebAli.

Sakina with Bano who was born when my father was 7. She died at the age of one. I wonder how different life would have been for my father had he known the company of a little sister...

One of the biggest regrets in my father’s life was that he had no recollection of his mother. Whatever little he knew of her had been gleaned from his grandmother and his aunts and uncles. Little did he know that his uncle Hatim had been entrusted with holding on to her correspondences or burn them, whatever he deemed fit…

Hatim mamaji called him over one day in 1985 thinking it was time he showed my father those letters he had preserved from all those years ago. As you can imagine, my father went through an intensely emotional experience then. He still does, as I witnessed today, when he was reading some of the letters out to me since I can’t read them myself (they’re in Gujarati), and his voice choked up as he read some of the passages describing his mother’s funeral in a letter written by his dearly beloved aunt Shirin to her brother Hatim, who was away in Poona at the time, studying to be a doctor. This is what he wrote to someone back home the day after being informed of her death…

a letter from Hatim to an undisclosed person, dated 10th January 1946. Sakina passed away on the 9th.

She died of tuberculosis of the intestine, a condition that began with a pain in her stomach that persisted for months. My father remembers them splitting aloe vera leaves in half and tying them onto her stomach to ease the pain. He also remembers the confusion he felt in what were to be her last hours in this world, when family members urged him to recite the aza’an in her ears and to ask for her forgiveness. What was he to be forgiven for? What had he done? It was all very strange and inexplicable.

My grandfather, Tayyabali was one of two sons by his father’s first wife, and from bits of information from here and there, we gather that he was a bit of a scallywag, and not in the good books of his father at all, a man my father refers to as Dada Bawaji. He had studied agriculture from a university in a town close to Sidhpur and wanted to be a farmer, for which his father gave him a plot of land to experiment on. Sakina must not have been too convinced of his prowess as a farmer after they married, and declared her desire to see him doing some big business for which he had to go away from Sidhpur and work elsewhere, a place he described in one of his letters to her as somewhere ‘there were no people of their community, and no one spoke Gujarati.’ He meant Madras.

Tayyebali (looking rather debonair) with his better half 🙂

In the meantime, Sakina lived at Dada Bawaji’s house with her step mother-in-law and hated it. The wrath Dada Bawaji felt for his errant son probably rubbed his bahu the wrong way and she longed to live separately. She wrote to her husband, telling him Dada Bawaji had scolded her for something and told her to leave the house and go back to her mother’s…..which she did, along with her little son.

When my father read about this, so many years later, he was outraged. How could Dada Bawaji drive his daughter-in-law away this way? But his anger subsided when he read the letter from his Shirin Masi, where she revealed how Dada Bawaji stayed with Sakina the whole night as she lay dying, praying, and reciting the Quran…

She died around 3 am on the 9th of January, 1946. According to Shirin Masi’s letter, her funeral prayers were led by none other than Syedna Taher Saifuddin, who not only sent a handful of blessed earth for her grave, but also headed the sipara for her on the third day after her death.

Hatim had sent Rs 150 enclosed in a letter with instructions to his mother to use the money to fulfill a ‘minnat’ she had made to perform ziarat at the grave of Syedi Fakhruddin Shaheed in Galyakot, so her first-born would get better. But before this promise could be fulfilled, it was too late. Shirin asked her brother what she should now do with the money. She was instructed to use as much as was needed to order a tombstone made of marble, the same as for their father Akberali (who had passed away earlier the same year), and 25 rupees from the same were to be donated to the local library.

Mohammedi was to be given his love and regards, and was not to to be made to feel the loss of his mother by anyone.

Even so, my father still remembers being met with sad faces and pitying words everywhere he went, reminding him that he was now an orphan.

Before the Divide. Karachi, early 40’s.

24 Feb

Last night, a friend posted this decades old video, taken by a British soldier during the final days of the British Raj in pre-partition Karachi.

I watched it, enthralled (as I’m sure you will too if you’re a Karachiite) and all I could think was…..THIS was the backdrop of my mother’s childhood..

I called her up first thing in the morning to tell her about the video and see what she could remember about those days, and what she said was a revelation for me….! I got dressed as fast as I could and dashed over to unearth some more of the past….from the horse’s mouth.

Mummy (Khatija) sitting on a stool on the left, Rubab (the eldest daughter) standing behind her. Maimuna sitting demurely on the floor, Nanima(Mariam) looking bemused and regal on the chair between them, Bawaji standing behind her, carrying Hatim(the eldest son). On the far right is Amina, Mariam's sister and Mummy's most talented aunt. And the lady in the middle? That's Bawaji's mother.


When Little Khatija was a year old (or thereabouts) 🙂

Mummy was born in 1940 to Mariam bai and Fida Hussain Marvi, third in a line of eight children, in the second year of the second World War. They were a well-to-do family amongst the old Bohra families of Karachi, and Bawaji (Mummy’s father) was an enterprising trader running a Lever Brothers agency, operating his flourishing business from the ground floor of a huge house on Marriot Road. Their family was known as ‘the house of the great Moghuls’ amongst Bawaji’s peers, for their prosperity and lavish lifestyle.

One of Mummy’s earliest memories is of British soldiers rolling down Bunder Road on army trucks, throwing chocolates to the excited children lining the street, standing by to watch the fascinating spectacle with their families.

She was 3 or 4 when Karachi was declared unsafe, it being a port city in a time of war, so the entire extended family, including aunts and uncles and their children, deemed it wise to bundle themselves into a coach of the North-West Railway and move to Sidhpur temporarily. Mummy was too small to remember anything much. All she knows, or was told, is people in Sidhpur (some of whom ended up being her unwitting in-laws!) adored her as the short, cute little thing with curly hair, famous for roaming around with a ‘jharoo’ and sweeping the patio of the house they stayed in, and they would hold her little hand and take her everywhere.

They ended up staying in Sidhpur for a couple of years, coming back when the coast was clear.

Mummy smiles wistfully as she recalls the peaceful, quiet life of the Karachi of her childhood. Those were the days when traffic consisted of bicycles and horse-drawn carriages (ghora-gaaris) camel carts (oonth-gaaris) and donkey-carts (gadha-gaaris). Troughs dotted the landscape as watering-holes for the thirsty animals. It was a clean city, where the streets were swept every day and washed with water.

Trams of the East India Tramway Company plied the streets with a route that went as far as Keamari on Bunder Road past the Boulton Market and Mereweather Tower. Other routes took people from Garden Road to Preedy street, from Frere Street to the Karachi Cantonment Station and from Bunder Road to Mansfield Street on to Commissariat Road and Soldier Bazaar. Another route took the tram to Lawrence Road.

Mummy has vivid memories of Marriot Road being permeated by the mouth-watering smell of frying pakoras and bhajias every evening. It was a popular snack, and a common sight to see people munching from a stash of pakoras in cones made of newspaper, accompanied with tea from a shop called Sadaqali chai-wala.

An old woman, generally addressed as ‘Dosi’ (old woman) would sit with her basket of red sour-sweet berries called ‘ber’ all strung together in strings, packets of sliced guavas, red badaams (almonds) and tiny little cucumbers called ‘kotimba’ (Mum thinks they’re extinct now). These snacks cost 1 paisa or 2 paisas in those days.

A woman called Sara sat by the wayside with a deg full of chickpeas in a savoury gravy. She made squares of bread smeared with red chilli paste, doused in the chickpea gravy and sold it by the plate. Mummy swore by its deliciousness.

It was a wonderful, enjoyable childhood for Mummy, with moonlit excursions to the Kothari Parade Ground and Lady Lloyd pier on Clifton beach. They would pile onto an oonth-gaari and set off for the far reaches of Clifton which were nothing but sand dunes then. Sometimes the road would get covered with drifting sand too, and it was an exciting, fun-filled expedition involving a long walk down to the beach, culminating in refreshments at a snack bar by the sea with the whole family laughing and enjoying each others company. But their favourite outing by far had to be the West Wharf at Keamari harbour, where they would hang out at the Native Jetty bridge (popularly known as ‘Netty Jetty’) and watch the goods-laden ships coming in.

Karachi was a small city then and its civilisation ended with certain landmarks. The Polo Ground was one, as was the ‘tekri’, or hill, where Quaid-e-Azam is now buried. Mummy remembers the ‘Parsi no kunwo’, a place shrouded in mystery for non-Parsis……I presume the Parsi Colony near present day Mehmoodabad must have been on the outskirts of the city then, as was a certain Sanatorium for patients of tuberculosis somewhere on Korangi road. It used to be that Karachi was populated mainly by those which are now known as the minorities. Marriot Road was full of Bohras, living amicably alongside the Hindus and the ubiquitous Parsis and Goan Christians and Khoja Isna’asharis of Saddar, Soldier Bazaar and Kharadar. (This is what Mummy recalls from her memories, which are at once clear as day yet fuzzy around the edges.)