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This week 50 years ago: Season’s first mangoes

Updated May 22, 2017 07:00am

The summer of 1967 was proving to be a relatively hassle-free season for Karachiites as far as the issue of water scarcity goes. Both the city’s main administrative units, the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), seemed to be trying their best to serve citizens. Many of us would be surprised, pleasantly at that, to know that on May 22 the KDA opened water complaint centres in all of its field offices in the displaced persons’ colonies and town expansion schemes.

The KMC was also playing its part, although it worked on a different tangent altogether. On May 25, the corporation disconnected water supply of over 300 residential buildings whose owners had not paid municipal taxes. Notices to that effect had been issued to those residents two months back, but it cut no ice with them. The KMC had intensified its campaign against defaulters because only a month was left for the closing of the fiscal year.

That was not it. The KMC meant business. On May 23, it appointed 27 officers for keeping an eye on possible leakages of octroi revenues. They included 12 principal officers of different departments such as health, information, land, engineering, water, horticulture, zoo, architecture, etc. The officers were supposed to pay surprise visits to 15 octroi posts at all hours of the day to prevent evasion of municipal dues.

On the cultural front that week, Karachi was abuzz with quite a few diverse activities. On May 23, a symposium on the life and teachings of Lord Buddha was held. It was part of the Buddha Purnima that marked the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the great teacher of tolerance and compassion. The Archbishop of Karachi Rev Joseph Cordeiro, Mrs G.K. Minwalla and Dr A.B.A. Haleem, who presided, read papers on the life and times of Buddha. MD National Bank of Pakistan Mumtaz Hasan was the symposium’s chief guest.

The next day, May 24, the Buddha Jayantee began at Theosophical Hall solemnly with the lighting of a string of earthenware lamps and prayers. The evening prayer was recited by Rev Dipankar Mahathero, a Buddhist priest from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

End of May in Karachi almost always signals the arrival of a fresh mango crop. By May 27, as per media reports, the first batch of mangoes of the new season had made their way into the Sindh capital. The pushcarts were laden with not only the succulent variety from nearby Malir, but the famous Alphanso, Langra and Siroli could be bought from all fruit markets.

Speaking of mangoes, the greatest Urdu poet Asadullah Khan Ghalib was fond of the juicy stone fruit. On May 22, this newspaper reported, nearly 300 illustrations on Ghalib’s poetry in an exhibition titled Nuqoosh-i-Ghalib attracted a large number of literature and art lovers. The show, organised by the Osmania University Old Boys Association, had artworks ranging from meaningful and evocative interpretations of the poet’s verses to amateurish exercise in drawing. According to one critic, the organisers would have done well to expose to the public view only some of the better paintings.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2017