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The lights of Lighthouse

November 19, 2017

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a row of shops selling electric light fixtures on M.A. Jinnah Road.
a row of shops selling electric light fixtures on M.A. Jinnah Road.

“This entire area is called Lighthouse because of our presence here for almost seven decades now. The electrical light fixtures shops started opening up here in 1948,” says Mohammad Siddiq, manning one of the shops lined along M.A. Jinnah Road. Strangely, the other shops which also sell lights in this vicinity also believe that the name of the area is thanks to them.

“What else,” challenges another shop owner there. He is then educated about what a ‘lighthouse’ actually is and its purpose of helping in the navigation of ships to which he shakes his head. “Do you see water or ships here? It’s just us. We are emitting all the light here,” he insists, and one just gives up arguing about it because no one is willing to listen, certainly not these owners of modern light houses on dry land.

He is surrounded by all kinds of fancy light fixtures. There are the dazzling crystal chandeliers and ceiling lights. There are also wall units, lamps, concealed lights, garden lights, tube lights etc.

Hanging ceiling lights. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Hanging ceiling lights. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Just above the counter is a hanging from which a row of goblets hang upside down. It has been decorated with lights above the goblets with look like thick scented candles but are not really as they are lights. The fixture is designed and meant to be hung above a kitchen counter or dinning table.

In the shop next door, a young couple with a toddler seem particularly interested in the wall units. “We have just bought a new flat and we are selecting lights for its different rooms. When the shopkeeper tries to persuade them to look at some ceiling lights as well, only the baby looks up and keeps staring. “No, thank you,” Mohammad Ashfaq, res­ponds the young customer. “I’m afraid we got a bit carried away and had false ceilings put up there. Now the ceiling is too low for us to have ceiling lights or ceiling fans there. So wall units and lamps is what it is going to be,” he smiles, explaining their problem.

The fixtures can have any kind of bulbs such as energy-saving, LED or regular bulbs. “What bulbs you put in the holders are entirely up to you,” says another shopkeeper there. “Earlier, some chandeliers were designed in such a way that you could only have candle light bulbs there. But now the energy-savers and LED bulbs also come in different shapes and sizes,” he adds.

The shops don’t just have light fixtures; they also sell different varieties of fans such as ceiling fans, pedestal fans, table fans and those meant for ventilation, besides doorbells. But it’s the lights that you see first. And its the lights that beckon customers towards them. They seem to have a hypnotic effect. One woman wants to buy a beautiful lilac light lamp which looks like a miniature lamppost with three hanging lights, even though her husband reminds her that there is no place for it at home. The price of Rs8,000 may have made him take the collision course with his better half.

Rope lights. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Rope lights. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

The cheapest chandelier can be bought for around Rs3,500 and from there the most expensive ones can cost you lacs. All the lights are made in China. There are also some that look like the traditional Chinese lamps.

Apart from the gate, garden or lawn lights, there are also shops selling the twinkling strings of fairy lights in different colours. These are all LED lights, which consume very little electricity. There are the rope lights, too, used for decorating trees, poles and pillars. They really make one feel like they are in fairyland. And the rows of shops with their lights, which can be spotted from quite afar, do really look like little lighthouses despite being on dry land.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2017