Baghdad Gali Lyari: Color Us Impressed
Feature Image by Hamad Syed
A few months ago Express Tribune uploaded a picture from Lyari. It was an alley with houses painted in vivid and vibrant colors. book – pink, yellow, green, blue. The photographer stood at the end of the lane and took a beautiful shot of the pink, yellow and blue houses dotting the lane. I was shocked at my lack of knowledge about my own city and decided to immediately visit the location. When I heard that the picture had been captured in Lyari, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of visiting the notorious area. However, three courageous friends offered to join and me and so we decided to put the stereotype behind us head to Baghdad Gali.
It was definitely a sight I would not forget about very easily. These buildings were peoples houses. There was a man at the beginning of the alley, scrutinizing us from behind a pair of vintage sunglasses. Children played in a small cemented ground while a few people sat outside their homes. As we walked through the lane we were well aware of how we looked. Absolute outsiders. Tourists in our own city. Kiran Foundation is the organization behind reforming Baghdad Gali, they keep the streets clean and educate the children. Their offices are also located in Lyari.
After a certain point the lane transitions into something that looks like every other alley in a place like this and you can notice how greatly it impacts the aesthetic of the place and your interest in it. It reminded me of how painting poverty in a different light never actually solves the problem but it sure does give you a momentary deception of the solution.
Saima Khatri, of Kiran Foundation, said that they want to change the perception that Lyari is an area that is only home to gangs and spread the idea that it is indeed a beautiful place. Our entire time that we spent in the area, we faced absolutely zero threat to the security of our person or possessions, in fact, the residents were more than willing to take pictures of us and make us feel at home. Despite how intrusive we were being to their space. Right outside the lane is a limca stall which offers deliciously flavored limcas to kill the blistering heat of Karachi for just ten rupees a glass. We got lemon and lychee limca which served as a beautiful end to our trip to Baghdad Gali.