The fading flavours of Pakistan’s ‘Little Hyderabad’

March 30th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by admin  

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim
Karachi, March 30 (IANS) Tailor Shafi Ahmed peers disdainfully from behind his glasses. Specialising in stitching sherwanis, the Karachi resident bemoans the loss of Hyderabadi culture that has meant fewer footfalls at his shop. “Gone is the kurta pyjama and with it the Hyderabadi ’saqafat’ (culture) with all its ‘adab’ (etiquette) and murawwat’ (consideration),” said 58-year-old Ahmed, wearing a shalwar kameez.

He lives in Hyderabadi Colony, opposite Karachi’s Central Prison. The place derives its name from the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad that during partition became a part of India.

Comprising some 350 homes, the neighbourhood is predominantly inhabited by those who migrated from Hyderabad. But old timers in this quarter say the place has lost its sophisticated ways, be it in terms of manners, cuisine or sartorial traditions.

Ahmed must have stitched thousands of sherwanis - a coat-like tunic with a fitted collar. Among his clients he counts two former Sindh governors and qawwal singers.

His father, before him, stitched the dress for Khwaja Moinuddin, the famous playwright who with the money earned from his plays set up the BVJ School, Ahmed’s alma mater.

“Khwaja sahib would never even think of wearing a sherwani stitched by anybody other than my father,” said Ahmed.

But today designers abound in Karachi and sherwanis are worn strictly only on formal occasions like weddings, that too in winter. The pajama, lungi and kurta have turned into attire meant for home.

“You won’t understand, our sherwani is like the famous ‘kacchhey gosht ki biryani’ (a Hyderabadi rice speciality). You have to be a connoisseur to know the difference.”

A fast-paced life and western influences have reversed the fortunes of many a famed symbol of Hyderabadi culture. Many original migrants have also left the place.

In a nearby lane, rightly named Achar Gali - from where every shop seems to let out a mouth-watering aroma - there is the famous shop-cum-caf

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |