This piece was originally published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 3 (2019). Curated for the website by Hassan Tahir Latif. All photographs are courtesy of Tapu Javeri.
As a teenager I would march through Saddar daily, camera in hand, from my school to my father’s shop—traversing one end of Saddar to the other, all the while taking pictures. Apart from creating a huge archive of my changing city, this also taught me to see Karachi in a new light, without all the ugly tangled electrical wires and unattractive signboards, and to appreciate its colonial architecture that now lies buried under mountains of modern concrete structures.
In 2008, I started a project to archive these crumbling Karachi buildings and to do a series that would display my love for it, and maybe make people aware of some of our heritage sites.
The project took a few years to complete, culminating in an art exhibit called Kolachiscope and another called KaraChakra, which I have displayed in exhibitions around the world.
Kolachiscope was meant to be a journey through Saddar following the route of the W11, Saddar’s most iconic bus, while Karachakra was a digital art exhibit using iconic Karachi buildings to create cyclic rangoli and chakra prints.
Who knew that solid stone was so fragile; in 2008, a month after I’d photographed the Bunder Road buildings, they were destroyed in a fire on Ashura. Sadly, no one had any response to this loss, which has gone unchecked.
Nevertheless, slowly but surely, people are beginning to appreciate our colonial past and the legacy of the architecture that is fading into the background. Hopefully it’s still not too late.
Tapu Javeri is one of Pakistan’s foremost photographers. Credited with numerous fashion, photojournalism and personality shoots, he has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. Tapu is author of several eminent books on photography. He is a regular guest speaker at academic institutions in Pakistan and abroad—Cambridge University, UK, National History Museum in Sophia, Bulgaria, among others. In 2016, he was named one of Nikon’s top 32 Nikon Pro photographers. Tapu has had the privilege of photographing eminent personalities of international acclaim: Princess Sarwat of Jordan, Aung San Suu Ki, Shashi Kapoor and the iconic diva, Nur Jahan. Tapu’s creativity is not exclusive to photographs—he is the son, and partner, of famous jeweller Hassan Ali Mohammad Javeri and has an extensive career of over 30 years in jewellery manufacture and design. He is also brand ambassador and official photographer for several social and charity projects, such as SIUT.