KARACHI, Aug 31: Many would remember a harp on the traffic intersection near the Trinity Church and Zainab Market in Saddar. They referred to that intersection or roundabout as the Musical Fountain. Though there is a small white Mughal architecture replica standing in place of the harp now, the intersection is still referred to as Musical Fountain by people giving directions to someone to reach some destination near it or using it as a meeting place.

Similar is the case with the Allahwali Chowrangi in PECHS and the Submarine Chowk in Clifton, which despite their absence have made a place in people’s minds. There are so many other such landmarks all around Karachi that have become a part of our subconscious. The idea is to offer a treat to the eyes or put the mind off mundane matters like heavy traffic flow as one drives around a central island.

Landmarks are also significant in the beautification of a city. They feature on postcards (well, when there used to be postcards) and visitors or tourists take pictures against them. Karachi, unfortunately, doesn’t have that many roundabouts with something very unique. Where the city planners have run out of ideas they have set a pillar or something similar in the middle of a roundabout with the 99 names of Allah etched on it. At some places there are clocks fitted into the pillars that rarely show the correct time.

The Defence Housing Authority and the Cantonment Board Clifton, unfortunately, lack imagination when it comes to decorating roundabouts. The retired submarine and fighter jet were okay centre pieces and some parents possessing a bit of general knowledge educated their children about their historical significance or which war they participated in while passing them by but they are gone now.

Meanwhile, some intersections have been rented out to big companies to promote their name. Besides, there are the Teen Talwar and then as if that wasn’t enough the Do Talwar in Clifton. Agreed both are situated on the road leading to 70-Clifton and the name of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder means ‘sword’, but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s family, especially those in possession of 70-Clifton now, know best about how many swords can one keep in a sheath?

In comparison, other areas on this side of the Clifton bridge, especially North Nazimabad and Gulshan, offer a variety of concrete as well as fiberglass architectures such as dolphins, cups and teapots and what not. The fighter jets, too, one of which at least was placed at a roundabout on Korangi Road in Defence Phase-I earlier, are now gleaming on roundabouts in North Nazimabad.

There is also a very interesting and very old excavated cannon dating back to Mohammad Bin Qasim and Raja Dahir’s time there. The Karachi Development Authority had stumbled upon it by chance during digging work in the Saddar area while laying water pipelines there back in 1957. That globe outside Islamia College on M.A. Jinnah Road may have changed colour several times but it is good to know that it’s also still around.

Some roundabouts have also been politicised. Like the cup and teapot is sporting PPP colours since the recent elections. The Mucca Chowk with the fist sticking out, too, has its own political significance.

Still, all is welcome as it gives identity to the hustle and bustle of this metropolis called Karachi. That traffic signal or constable flying his arms about against a switched off signal light is far less pleasing to the eye when driving around an intersection.

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Comments (2)

Agha Ata
September 1, 2013 8:02 pm

You said: "That traffic signal or constable flying his arms about against a switched off signal light is far less pleasing to the eye when driving around an intersection." But I suppose a statue of a constable instead, flying his arms, would be much more interesting and remind people of the time when constables were there. :) (Sorry, I forgot that a human figure, if it is not a picture or a photograph is not allowed in Pakistani Islam)!

Rehan Ashraf
September 2, 2013 10:53 am

I have been around the world and have never seen any city with so many 'war ornaments' being dissplayed at the city round abouts as Karachi. As writer puts it we have fighter jets, Submarines, Mukka chowk, tanks placed at road side, swords, missiles as landmarks. No doubt the city is sufferring from worst kind of law and order situation ever. Our phsyche needs to be retrained...

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