Down The Memory Lane: Recalling Mideast Hospital

20070321_03.jpgMarch this year when Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz performed the ground breaking ceremony for Sofitel Hotel Plaza, yet another addition in this establishment’s growing facade of so-called “developmental projects”, I wasn’t the least of a pleased spectator. Mideast Hospital, at whose site the plaza would be constructed, was a corner stone of some of my most cherished childhood memories. Hospitals aren’t exactly meant to be places children are fond of, but for a multitude of reasons, Mideast was something different. I was born at JPMC but my family pediatrician practiced there, and trips to his clinic, if not always specifically anticipated or welcomed, were at least worthwhile; an alleviator of pain I saw him as, and the big aquarium in his office, a cause of much, much fascination.

It wasn’t just Dr. Mohsin though, the whole hospital over all, seemed to hold a special value. Even as a nervous 10 year old when me and my sisters use to go there to get booster vaccinations, I relived in the fact that at least this hospital didn’t smell like “bad doctor stuff” that you had to suffer smelling at say the National Child Health Care Center right beside JMPC. That is not to discredit the National Child Health Care Center in anyway, but all children have their own brand of unique and simplistic theories on how to judge people and places, and this was mine.

It wasn’t either that I was one of those spoiled brats that were taught to despise every state run institution right from the word go. Quite on the contrary, my late grandfather had spent his entire life in civil service, retiring as senior professor at JPMC, much of family, as a matter of fact, breathed their first few minutes of life at that very institution, so respect for them came by default. But even then, I couldn’t help but admit, even to my Nana sometimes, how Mideast seemed to have “nicer nurses” or how their doctors’ “coats looked whiter”.

Puerile innocence meant I knew little of the quandaries of private vs. public health care back then, but even today, as I reflect on the days gone by, its ironic how some of these observations about the health care system still stand. Whether out of lack of funds, or simply out of official indifference, most government hospitals today drape a picture of neglect. Private health care, on the other hand, has probably never been more expensive. Health officials over all remain in a perilous shortage.

What then, I wondered, was the point of bringing down, an existing, functional hospital, and that too, for the sake of building another shopping mall cum hotel! Inspirex, fellow blogger at KMB, argued correctly in a discussion over our mailing list how one private hospital going down -especially one that “catered to clients of a certain financial standing”, clients that could effectively “buy” health care from any decent hospital- was not going to make any significant difference to the state of health care in this city, especially when majority of those most in need of this health care lived in places like Orangi and New Karachi. Those are the place, he argued, we need more hospitals in.

While that being a fair point, it doesn’t hide the fact that only in a country with such fascist rulers like ours, would we see a hospital being brought down for the construction of a multistory plaza. Even keeping aside my own personal emotional attachment with Mideast, the whole logic behind the idea is struggling to dawn on me. Its not like the road towards Do Talwar coming out of the Clifton Underpass isn’t crowded enough as it is for it to be further cramped by another structure, and that too a shopping mall. And not just any other shopping mall, but customary to Karachi’s culture, another shopping mall with no logistical planning for parking arrangements.

Traffic use to be an issue in that lane even when the thinly populated Mideast was around and it just scares me how much worse it will all become if and when this Mall is up and running. With traffic from the adjacent Plaza Mall (yes, you have a mall no further then just a few paces beside the Mideast spot) also accumulating in the same service lane, and rest assured it will be transformed into a virtual no go area. Unless of course, God forbid, you actually have to go to one of these malls. In which case of course, since their wont be enough parking space inside, opposite, in front or anywhere near the actually plot of the mall, Pathan and Punjabi drivers will double (and even triple) park their latest models cars right on the main road it self.

I can already invasion the entire scope of the chaos. Several overzealous female shoppers will be all too happy to just nonchalantly get off from their chauffeur driven cars right in the middle of free flowing traffic and then conveniently hop back in when they’re done. And by some cryptic law of probability, at least one of them will always end up being in the car in front of you. Then as you wait, first politely, and then impatiently, for them and their baggage to get in or get out, you’ll probably honk, get irritated, and ultimately get late for what ever it was you were going. Rest assured, in short, that every time you happen to be a random commuter having the misfortune of sharing the same roads as the said mall, a traffic induced head ache will be all but guarantee.

It may be that my regret at seeing a portion of my juvenile memories being blanked out from the landscape of this city, or a more generalized aversion for shopping that I endorse has coloured my vision and made me partisan but I still can’t see the point of this mall. Informed sources have told one member of the Karachi Metroblog team that the lawyer community is abuzz with rumors of how the courts have already or will in due course issue a stay order for the presently ongoing construction of Sofitel Plaza on the grounds that the premises was allocated for a hospital and could not be used for a commercial venture like this one.

Another separate petition against the construction was laid by a lawyer two years ago also, when the plan was first proposed, in response to which the Sindh High Court had also issued a notice but I’m not aware what happened after that. And only time might tell us if there’s any truth to the stay order rumors this time. But either way, I remain, once again, dismayed. I wish there was a time when I wouldn’t view every third development project with such direct suspicion, but I can’t seem to help it now. Its almost a default reaction. There you go, I can blame the government for one more thing. They stole my innocence and prematurely metamorphosised me into a seemingly perpetually complaining cynic. Sigh.

Image Credit: Daily Times

32 Comments so far

  1. HelloPerson (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    An excellent article. Very evocative, well-written, and invested with personal passion ! Keep up the good work !

    I live just around the corner from the Mid-East Hospital site, and I could not agree more with all that you have said.

  2. Sohail (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

    Man I miss that place…..was born there…..I saw my Uncle there right before he died. So many memories……any hospital would be better than some mall. We already have Plaza there……why another one?

  3. Sohail (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

    Man I miss that place…..was born there…..I saw my Uncle there right before he died. So many memories……any hospital would be better than some mall. We already have Plaza there……why another one of those commercial buildings?

  4. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

    Zainub, how about you try to post these lengthy articles in Dawn etc to earn few extra bucks. This is the waste of your time and KMB space. No sarcasm, it is just a sincere suggestion.

  5. danny (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

    @Mr. wan Kenobi: I disagree that this is a waste of space on KMB. As a Karachi native who lives abroad, I utilize KMB as a news source as well as a way to keep in touch with what’s happening around Karachi, and this is something interesting to read about.

    Keep up the great work Ms. Razvi.

    Hope to see more posts like this from you and the KMB team.

  6. muhammed ansari (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 12:19 am

    might seem a bit obscure, but back in the day when i use to study at saint peters just ard old clifton, use to make a daily stop outside the gates off mideast too go inside and use the toilet dont noe why but did bizaree ahha

  7. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 12:23 am

    I wouldn’t say that it’s a waste to write for KMB but I do agree that such quality work should be published in papers as well.

    Excellent article Zainab,asusual. I must say that you are one of very very few authors of KMB after Awab who are not frequent but whenever they write, they create interest in this blog. Keep it up!

  8. original-faisal (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 12:49 am

    Excellent topic as well as very well written
    as always. Besides being on KMB, it certainly
    deserves to be published somewhere.

  9. Imran (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 1:39 am

    Nothing lasts forever.
    Doesn’t make a difference.

  10. Straight Talker (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 1:49 am

    Great job, Zainub. But this article is too good to be here. Look what’s on the agenda of KMB these days? Let’s face it, it’s eating at some Western style pathetic place and baragging about it here. That is not real Karachi.

    Zainub, you should consider “”. You are definitely over qualified for KMB.

  11. Zainub (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:02 am

    Quick thanks to everyone for their comments, I’m much too flattered but must admit that I am certainly not “over-qualified” to write at KMB. To ‘straight talker’ in particular, I do write at Chowk.

  12. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:16 am

    What I simply mean was that KMB is not worth of her articles and time. It would not help her in long run but if she publishes these articles in Dawn or any proper newspaper, that could always help her in finding some overseas scholarship or many more opportunities. When you have talent(which is nothing more than luck)and you waste it, it is ridiculous.

  13. Zainub (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:32 am

    Mr. Obi,

    I really do appreciate your concern, but one can’t self publish their work in newspapers just by wishing so, I wish it was as cut and dry, but it isn’t! Really, it isn’t. Your assertion henceforth that I am “wasting” my talent is slightly absurd, with all due respect of course. I do freelance for Spider magazine, part of Dawn group of publications. And if anyone else approaches me, trust me I’d be very willing. For the meanwhile though, can I please request everyone here to keep the focal point of the discussion here on Mideast Hospital and its associated memories. Thanks much again.

  14. nin@ (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:55 am

    zainub u made me weep…cos i used to take my father there for monthly check up to Dr.Abdul huq..later both died.. only memories left… but… now memories also have gone:(:(

  15. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:57 am

    Whatever. I just believe “Talent is luck.The important thing in life is courage.” Woody Allen

  16. nin@ (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:57 am

    zainub u made me weep…cos i used to take my father there for monthly check up to Dr.Abdul huq..later both died.. only memories left… but… now memories also have gone:(:(

  17. nin@ (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 3:02 am

    zainub u made me weep…cos i used to take my father there for monthly check up to Dr.Abdul huq..later both died.. only memories left… but… now memories also have gone:(:(

  18. nin@ (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 3:06 am

    zainub u made me weep…cos i used to take my father there for monthly check up to Dr.Abdul huq..later both died.. only memories left… but… now memories also have gone:(:(

  19. Sana Farhan (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 3:59 am

    OH MY GOD!!The memories u brought back!!!I was born there literally have grown up in the hospital cause Ami was a doctor there!!!Haaaaai!!Miss u Mideast!!
    Though its true that it was a very expensive hospital nd for the higher class!!!But had seen poor pateints treated there too esspecailly from interior sindh!!!khair now its hard to find good docs all under one roof!!!nd now the small lil clinic type hospitals that have sprang up around are minting money like anything!!!!nd i am saying from a doctor’s point of view!!the lil room they get for some few hours is starting from 10 thousand!!!nd that room it being used by 3 different doctors!!!

  20. Darthvader (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 7:12 am

    I wonder what punjabi and pahtan drivers have to say having been singled out as the cause of parking problems in karachi ..LOL

    peace ,love and rus-malai all

  21. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

    Mideast Hospital was Owned by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi.

    Established to cater for the Elites and diplomats of Karachi. Mideast was more a maternity home then a hospital, other then Clinics operated by the visiting physicians there was never a Faculty to cater for OPD for accidents, burns, injuries and whatever not a human body suffer.

    However, Not many know that It was the most Haunted place on the face of Karachi. Further discussion on it will be damn controversial as many of this readers does not believe in such stuff.

    It become notorious as nursin home-cum brothel after Mustafa Khar was found in a highly objectionable 3some situation by Mahmood Haroon, who went to see him as courtesy call late night, Haroons used to live next door.

    Come Ziaul Haq regime, the hospital went down, and 2nd floor was converted to Commerical offices of Jatoi enterprising Son.

    Later in 90’s Dr. Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi Cousin of the Senior Jatoi revived it as Nursing home and it remained a QUALITY nursing home in terms of Pre & Post Delivery cases, and some very good names from Medicine Faculty use to have clinics till after land was sold for commercial purposes.

    :) Dr. Rukhsana Mughal * Parveen Kanji were the KEY Guns behind the success of that nursing home, which failed to treat the bleeding Murtaza Bhutto.

  22. Imran Quadri (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    Um… Zainub.. did u went there before it got tore down.. come on.. the Hospital looked like crap.. no maintenance nor quality..

  23. mansoor (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

    well written zainub!

    Dr. Mohsin was my pediatrician too while growing up. Have many a fond memories of him, and you’re right.. he did have a way of making the pain just disappear.

    Me, my sister were treated by him, and so are her kids, both of which were born in mideast hospital.

  24. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 11:22 pm

    Mansoor: ..both of ‘whom’, not which

    Zainub: Though, quite long, but very well written. It brought back many memories. My eye specialist Dr. Humanyun and dentist, Dr. Mahmood Abid had clinics there on the first floor. Infact, they used to use the same room, one sitting in the afternoon, the other in the evening.

  25. Dubai key Bhai Log (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

    National Hospital has that particular strong pungent smell that comes from disinfectants at Jinnah or Abassi sort of hospitals.

    I wonder why thet dont do anything about it,especially after putting up so much investment. Not to mention, more civilized service peple are needed, not that they misbehave, but i guess the benchmark of service quality for all hospitals is AKUH.

  26. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 12:00 am

    ‘Bhai’, even AKUH have certain days of pathetic service.

  27. Balma (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 12:45 am

    I guess the question is: what was that piece of land designated for? Hospital, school, factory, general commercial, Khar’s Three’s a company, or what?

    If the land was for commercial purpose, and Jatois out of the goodness of their heart let it be used for hospital, my hats off to them. But, for some reason, I doubt this. I guess it was the other way around. I guess in a typical corrupt Karachi fashion, they got that parcel of land meant for hospital (or a simlar use) zoned for a hotel cum cheap-Dubai-style-mall. If this is the case, inn badmaasho’n ko itnay jootay maarnay chaahyae that……

  28. Adil (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

    Not sure if this has been discussed, but the owner of Mideast sold the land for a decent amount (Rs. 1 billion, some say). Not sure how one could stop him from doing so and keeping the hospital going (unless the land is only for hospitals, in which case a newer, better hospital like the new South City Hospital should have come up there).

    While I am also not for a huge project going up here at the mouth of the underpass and it will invariably cause a permanent mess (think about what’ll happen to the drainage once thousands of people start using the hotel… not to mention the security nightmare), and while Mideast had positive memories for us all (my daughter was born there), it was a 3rd class hospital and needed refurbishment, and if the owner wasn’t interested or couldn’t afford to do the proper maintenance, then he had to sell.

    There needs to be public-private partnership on hospitals as they are not a purely commercial venture neither can we afford neglect like the public ones go through. We need big corporations or foreign hospitals to manage these hospitals with land gifted by the City Government, with proper oversight and accountability by NGOs. Wishful thinking perhaps, in our land of the pure.

  29. Zainub (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

    All fair points Adil, I hadn’t been to the hospital lately, so I’ll take your word on the need for an overhaul. What my understanding is that the plot was indeed allocated for a hospital, that’s why there’s the talk of the stay order and that’s what my main gripe is against too. No person with the least amount of common sense would advocate sustaining a hospital that was in need of help, sure they could have renovated it, brought it down, re-build it from scratch, but no, a fancy mall must go there, to extend their showcase of achievements on improving the city. I suspect that the issue of the plot being a designated hospital site may well have been brought to the notice of the powers to be before by their lawyers/ legal advisors, but because they’re not normally concerned about logistics like the ones we’ve bothered to discuss (traffic, security, drainage, parking, etcetera) and more with face value (‘ooh look, look, see we made this big mall, and brought in all this foreign investment via it, and this and that and bla bla, that’s why we’re SUCH good leaders, no government before EVER did this to you, you should worship us and forgive ALL our wrong doings because of it) they might have decided to brush it some where under the carpet.

  30. Hasan Zuberi (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    @ Zainab:
    Very good article indeed. It is very much related to Karachi city’s history. Keep writting and ignore the ignorants.

    As for others; Blogs are the modern day “Noushta-e-Deewar” where one is free to share his/her opinions and is one of the strongest form of Media nowadays just like any other publication (newspaper, magazine or e-zines)

  31. Concerned (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

    Not a bad article, but there are no room for sentiments in this world. The fact of the matter is that Mideast was too expensive and even though South city and Ziauddin (the one in shre jinnah colony) opened well after Mideast, they were gettin more business. The reason Mideast closed down was dues to competition and bad business management.

    A hotel makes more business sense. And it looks better then an abandoned hospital.

    Therefore this article though well written has no point whatso ever to make.

  32. Nida (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

    Well Zainab, thanks for bringing back some fond and not so fond memeories. Dr. Mohsin was my pediatrician and I am 25 yrs old now. Mideast was a nice hospital when it started but lately it was a in state of disrepair. I believe that if they had turned the hospital into a building with just doctors’ offices they wud have done a lot better. As a doctor now, I can assure you that it served no purpose in continuuing its casualty services,The place had one doctor on call at night and was not equipped to deal with any real emergencies. I once saw three very questionable ladies in the ER, I say questionable only because they were drunk, it wa 3 in the morning and i heard their conversation which was centered around who paid more for a nights stand. I recognize one of them as being a really well known sindhi actress.
    All in all, I dont think we need another shopping mall but we could have used a better hospital.

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