Ode to Karachi
My book, 'Karachiwala: a subcontinent within a city' was launched on Wednesday 24 February in Karachi. I have included in it interviews/stories of over sixty families, groups and individuals of varied ethinicities, religions and professions. I hope the book will serve as a good reference for people who are looking for material on Pakistan/Karachi, and its people.
Rumana Husain’s latest coffee table book is aimed at documenting and celebrating this diversity of our salad-bowl of a mega-city, in which each ingredient retains its individuality and yet forms a part of the bigger whole, as sociologist Ashis Nandi would put it. It is a book to be read and savoured in equal measure for its content as it documents and projects on the big screen the lives of the ordinary citizens, who in turn are its real life heroes and heroines. The writer has ensured that those toiling at the grassroots, and who have given Karachi its unique character, do not go unsung.
As a field researcher, she has painstakingly mapped the lives of some sixty individuals, families and groups of Karcahi’s socially and culturally diverse communities, with an eye for detail and a heart full of empathy. In doing so she has not only traced the origins of her subjects and their arrival in (or departure from) the city over the pre- and post-independence years, but also brought them to life as very much the living men and women with their hopes, aspirations, fears and disappointments.
These are people and communities the writer has interacted with over the past five decades. So here comes half a century of consistent feeling and emotion, laced with a passion to chronicle the lives and times of the communities in whose midst the chronicler has grown up, and grown. She has taken the route seldom taken in modern time, namely, that of oral history documentation through primary sources which goes back to the basics of what history writing used to be all about.