Karachi received its first monsoon rain of the year 1969 on July 21. Though the rainfall measured at the airport observatory of the Meteorological Department was only a quarter of an inch, its effect was felt more in the city areas. Soon Karachia was faced with the familiar problems of pools of water accumulating on roads and in low-lying areas.

On July 22, the level of the Karachi Development Authority’s (KDA) water wells at Dumlottee went up considerably high following the one and a half inches of rainfall in 48 hours. With more downpour predicted for the next few days, officials hoped that the water table of the wells would rise further therefore the KDA would be in a position to draw maximum supplies from this source. But, with the good comes the bad: the heavy rains disrupted normal traffic and transport was not easily available to the citizens. Small taxis and auto-rickshaws were busy doing a brisk business by charging high for ‘lifting’ the passengers home [from their workplaces]. On July 23, drivers of all vehicles were advised to be extremely cautious as after the rains depressions at two different places between Defence Housing Society and the bifurcation leading to Korangi township and Korangi Creek were flooded with rainwater.

The weather forced the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to expedite its certain unfinished plans. On July 24, the corporation once again became alive to the hazards of dangerous buildings standing ‘un-demolished’ in the city’s old town area. But the first of them that the corporation had decided to bring down was held up in mid-plan as the occupants on the first floor of the structure obtained a stay order from court. The KMC Architect (Control) was forced to withhold the demolition work. And the problem was much the same for some 50-odd buildings. An official figure showed that a total of 72 structures were declared ‘dangerous’ by the KMC during the year ending in June 1969, and only 17 could be razed to the ground as the owners of the remaining buildings had gone to courts against the KMC orders.

Amidst all of the rain hoopla, the cultural facet to Karachi remained clean as a whistle. On July 25, the many aspects of Raees Amrohvi’s literary and journalistic prowess were discussed at an event held at the Karachi Press Club. He was the chief guest at the first of the club’s newly introduced series of literary sessions with noted poets and writers. On the occasion, he presented a gratifying selection of his poetry –– ghazals, nazms and qata’at. Amrohvi, one of the most prolific Urdu poets and journalists, prefaced his recitation by a commentary on his life and work. He reminisced about the days when he had joined Urdu journalism three decades back describing it as a mission which had now turned into a career. He expressed the same pessimism about the current state of journalism that haunted his poetry. Though he had been writing one quatrain [qata’a] every day for over 20 years, he confessed he found his true expression in the genre of ghazal. He agreed with the notion that his poetry was soaked in skepticism, arguing man’s agonising quest for identity was the prime concern of this age. Man’s fantastic process in some fields of science and his baffling ignorance in other spheres had robbed him of his old beliefs. He also recalled the beginning of his daily qata’a writing for a leading Urdu daily which had become an established feature of Urdu journalism. The first of which, he claimed, was written the day Gandhi died –– Jan 30, 1948 –– and was meant as a filler for the hastily brought out supplement.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2019

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