The Lighthouse Market: Navigating Karachi’s Landa Bazaar
Saddar is one of the busiest areas in Karachi. On M.A. Jinnah Road, you stumble upon market after market, after market. Only a minute or so after Urdu Bazaar, you arrive at Lighthouse Market. On both sides of the road, it seems to extend forever. You make the simple mistake of associating Lighthouse Market with just sporting goods, but actually, have no idea what you’re in for.
The first few shops in sight are indeed Jinnah Sports, Malik sports, and so on, with all kinds of sports equipment and accessories, from balls to bats to guards, and everything in between; dumbbells and treadmills, golden trophies and medals. Schools and institutions often buy their awards here.
The main road hosts larger shops and retail chains, with large glass windows serving as entrances. Like an x-ray, you can see the shiny pieces of equipment from outside, even when driving by. Seeking out the innards of the market, you find a curation of dedicated shops, niche, if you will. The fact that prices dip here is just a bonus. The streets here are mostly narrow, and as you’re walking, you come across small stalls for fresh juices and snacks ever so often.
Lighthouse Market eventually leads to an area dedicated to bicycles. Here, you find all sorts of bicycles, including those for up for rent. Almost every shop is also a repair shop, while some also sell imports. Tires, brake pedals, and all sorts of cycling paraphernalia can be found in this market. The mechanics at work and the arrangement of the parts and cycles make street photography a breeze.
Even further ahead, towards the left side of the road, comes a food street of sorts, with places serving items like samosas, spring rolls, and pakoras. Near this food street, you see stalls selling shoes and cobblers sitting on the sidewalk. There is also a mosque in the area, and while walking through the streets you are surrounded by small apartment buildings. Bang opposite, on the right side of the main road, you can see green gates canopying the entrance to the main Lighthouse Market.
You go through these gates, and the market changes color immediately. There’s an area dedicated to carpets, curtains, and rags. You can’t help yourself. You have a look. Some imported, some handmade, intricate designs of all kinds call out to you. The prices are high, but you haggle. You negotiate at length, but the shopkeeper pushed back. You move on.
Then there’s another area dedicated to shoes. There’s sneakers, boots, wingtips even. A few shops carrying handbags are also grouped together, with suitcases and school bags peeking through the windows. You soon realize that Lighthouse Market is a larger and more chaotic than you thought.
You come out with a new perspective on street markets. The traffic and the noise aren’t too much to handle in the early hours of the day. The people in the area generally seem hospitable and friendly, and when you entered through the gates with your camera, people from all sides called to you. Arm in arm with their friends or posing alone, they all wanted their moment of fame.
One of the shopkeepers even gave you his card, asking you to send him his picture via Whatsapp later. You have it tucked away somewhere in the insides of your wallet.