Kala Pul (Black Bridge) is a name shrouded in mystery. It hints at a sinister place with dark secrets. At one time it was indeed a black steel bridge that was replaced with a concrete structure many years ago but the original name has stuck. What is more significant than the bridge itself is the large shantytown that exists below and has hosted the less fortunate people of Karachi for a very long time.
Many a tale of human misery is associated with Kala Pul; flooding after rains, fires, disease and crime. At one time most of the little boys that sell newspaper on the streets of Karachi or scavenge for useful garbage lived in the slums under the Kala Pul.
When I mentioned to a friend that I plan to go and take some pictures there, there was an instant reaction, “No, don’t do that, it is a dangerous place”.
Ignoring the “dire consequences” I had been warned about, I went there twice to take pictures. Again, like in other places I had been warned to stay away, I was not bothered by anyone. The visits to Kala Pul only strengthened my faith in the decency and honesty of the under privileged. One day, I hope I can say the same about the affluent.
—Text and Images by Vaqar Ahmed