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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Fort Galle.. My memories of people and places, way back then !

I have no idea why my father put up a name board calling  our house " Pakistan House" which stood on the corner of Lighthouse St and Rampart St, Fort. I am inclined to think that this came about out of gratitude to Pakistan ....on a deal that happened when wapa (Vadood Careem) was in London..'broke' in London and knowing not what to do or where to go ! His wife and family..in Fort Galle.. relied on money he could send..to enable Thaiba his wife..to meet with the daily living expense of feeding and clothing the family.


Wapa told me that he was whacking away with two fingers on a borrowed Underwood Typewriter, writing to friends and contacts in Karachi, Pakistan , offering all sorts of English manufactured products..mostly used.. ( second -hand goods..the terminology of the days of the past). He was barely able to sustain himself in London..as translator of French into English language and in the process picked up some clients wanting to learn 'spoken' French..Some clients called him 'professor' !..he said. For those who did not know...my father spoke 12 languages...and he mentioned that his FRENCH was better than his ENGLISH.


Wapa mentioned that he hung a handwritten sign on a piece of cardboard..outside his meagre flat..the sign that enabled him to earn a few English Pounds..out of which he paid his rent and bought food. There were those who sincerely advised him not to 'waste' his time trying to deals.. which established business sectors are masters of....and there is not much hope for a 'broke' individual to break into the export-import trade in England.


Wapa mentioned that he drew inspiration with the example of his uncle MA RAHEEM who went to Singapore without anything and proceeded to establish a famous diamond jewellery business in Singapore...So, he battled on..writing to those he knew in Pakistan and offering ANYTHING from England.. at unmatched prices..He had nothing to lose except the time he spent on a battered old typewriter...and  the cost of stamps ..to post his letters.


Then one day, a friend of Mubarak Ali Khan.. wapa's friend in Karachi...enquired if he could get hold of second hand blankets..cheap.. offered for sale to the poor 'freezing' populace of Pakistan.
His mind took him to the days of Madras India.,where he and his elder brother Ozman were contractors to the English Army...for food and other provision.


He made an appointment to meet relevant personnel in the English Army..and yes, they had hundreds of thousands of Second World War blankets at throw-away prices ! Wapa proceeded in the correspondence with Pakistani contacts...and what finally eventuated was....that Vadood Careem made a profit of.....wait for it !  about 50,000 English Pounds...in 1950 !


And so, he told me that...he made 50,000 English Pounds, punching the keys of an old typewriter!
I shall take you to Fort Galle...and Vadood Careem's arrival at 'Pakistan' house..in my next blog.









Friday, 20 May 2011

vadood careem and thaiba careem of galle

 Vadood Careem ( popularly known as Vadood Hajiar) was the son of Careem Nana and his wife who was the sister  of Raheem . founder of Ismail Raheem  Crown Jewellers of Singapore. Careem Nana was the trustee of the Thalapitiya mosque.... looked upon as prestigious and respected position... by the Muslim community of Thalapitiya Galle.


He was also known as 'Goda Perakorr'...a rough English translation of this would be ' uncertified village proctor'..He earned this 'friendly' name because some people of the Galle  community went to seek his advice on various common law matters..obviously his advice worked for them and the resultant 'Goda Perakorr' nick name.


I had to mention these facts of Careem Nana..(father of Vadood) because of a misconception that sticks..even today.. to this grand old man.. According to my father Vadood Hajiar, a man came up to Careem Nana and mentioned that the well water around the area they lived was "kiuool" taste meaning ..that the water was bitter ..smoky..taste.


One knew in those days that the taste of water from certain wells either had a fresh 'sweet' taste or
it was not so good..as this 'kiuool' water from this particular well. There is nothing one can do to rectify the quality of water from this well. So  Careem Nana ..tongue in cheek..told this man to go get a sack of sugar and empty it in this well and this would make this well water sweet!


The man was angered by Careem nana's reply....and spread the word that Careem Nana advised that the water would be sweetened by this sack of sugar!..As time passed, gossip took on the shape
that the grand old man went himself and emptied the sack of sugar into this well!
So, why was this 'gossip' accepted? It appears that there were losing candidates for the position of
Trustee of the Thalapitya Mosque..and thus was created the 'sugar sack' story to taint the credibility of Careem Nana...


A person who was accepted as 'Goda Perakorr' and appointed  Trustee of the mosque, must be a man of acceptable intelligence.  And, in those days..one does not go to a local grocer and buy a SACK of SUGAR...Remember, a sack of sugar is heavy and cannot be readily hauled or carried by a single man..I ask the reader to consider the facts and arrive at the correct conclusion..that it was
untrue and UNFAIR to label this man as..gossip suggested..Molen Careem Nana" or Fool Careem
Nana.


I had to explain this to the reader....because the name still hangs around as Molen Careem..and
his offspring..Vadood and Ozman were referred to as 'Molen Careem's' sons !