why i want to be a high powered city government honcho
i, like all the other denizens of our concrete jungle i know, cannot claim to have seen the whole of karachi. this is both a tragedy and a comedy. it is also largely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. for this post is about the bits of karachi that i have seen. that and the funny names they have. its amazing some of these are actually officially recognized names. thats why i want to be a city government person. the guy who gets to name places what he wants to name them.
this post will have to be interactive so if you know of a bonafide place with a wierd name, please do include it in the comments area. meanwhile we start our list with geedar chowrangi (hyena roundabout)…
1. geedar chowrangi: a place in landhi not far from bhains colony (buffalo colony) apparently so named for the hyenas or jackals or maybe just wild dogs that used to be seen around here when karachi had not sprawled as much as it had.
2. golimar: the unofficial name of gulbahar. golimar (which literally means “fire a bullet”) attained notoriety in the 90s as a hotbed of violence lending some reason to the name it is known by. it is much better known these days as home to one of the largest plumbing products market in the city.
3. nagan chowrangi: a major traffic junction in north karachi, this roundabout which would be called the female cobra roundabout in english, branches off in so many directions its impossible to count them from a moving vehicle. indeed, one story goes that it was actually named nau gun initially, meaning “nine ways”, which later got distorted into nagan. in karachi, everything’s possible.
4. do minute chowrangi: as wierd names go, the two minute roundabout probably has the wierdest of them all. and i haven’t even been able to find a single story for why its named what it is. to further compound the wierdness, to get here you have to cross unda mor (egg turn) and karaila mor (i’d translate that but i don’t know what a karaila is in english. it’s a porcupinish green vegtable).
5. perfume chowk: this is not such a wierd name as it is an interesting story. the perfume chowk person who basically owns or owned an eastern perfume pushcart which was permanently parked at a spot in gulistan-e-jauhar, marketed his business with a can of spray paint and the confidence that graffiti was his right as a citizen of karachi. you can find the words perfume chowk spray painted on walls and shop shutters from gulshan-e-hadeed to surjani town to clifton. the spot has become so famous that bus conductors call out “perfume chowk” to commuters to signal the arrival of the bus stop.
this list could go on for ages. but i’d like to hear your contributions. so give us a name and a story to go with it if possible.
(note: i may have gotten some of the geography and most of the history wrong here. being what it is, there is no way some of this can be verified. most of it comes from stories of people who live nearby. but sometimes that adds spice to the local flavour. so don’t kill me if you know something i don’t.)