When I was a wee lass, my grandfather got me hooked onto classic literature. In a way, I have him to thank for my reading mania. From “The Last of the Mohicans” to “The Three Musketeers”, I read the all. However, my favourite book back then, had to be “Treasure Island”. The images of far off Caribbean isles, mysterious maps, the Jolly Roger, and swarthy pirates. Which kid could resist? But what really got me was that quest for treasure, to find something precious, something hidden from the world, something which I found, I discovered.
Now, in this day and age, it’s a bit difficult to actually search for treasure. However, sometimes you find it in the most unusual of places. Which place, you might ask? Vintage shops, flea markets, antique shops or second-hand stalls, there’s something magical about them. You have absolutely no idea what you might find. In some cases, you can actually find literal treasure in the form of incredibly valuable items such as real jewelry, rare ceramics and books. I know quite a few people who feel a little squeamish about buying stuff someone else had used and discarded, but let’s not be so picky. All it takes is a good soaping and rinse, and voila, good as new! Plus, in this cookie cutter age, do you really want to have the same thing as everyone else?
Two Vintage stores in Karachi
So far, I have identified two locations for my treasure hunts, after I lived through the calamity of Sunday Market closing, and with it, my weekend vintage hauls. It was truly a sad, sad day and I can’t think about that catastrophic moment without shedding a tear for all the bargains I lost out on, and all those vintage goodies which were snapped up by others.
The best part? These places are smack dab in the middle of Clifton, super accessible and with decent parking to boot! The first is a collection of stalls right opposite the DHA school right next to the Zamzama Park, while the other, admittedly smaller area, is right next to Bank Al Falah branch next to Damascus, near Schon Circle. I usually end up going to the Zamzama location, as there are multiple vendors there and you get a little more variety.
I walk into the market and I can already feel my fingers twitch and my money bouncing around in my purse just begging to be spent. There is so much to look at! I don’t know where to start. You can quite literally find anything and everything here. From coffee mugs to baskets, candles to plant pots, serving ware to goblets, wedgwood trinket boxes to Royal Doulton tea cups, its simply incredible. The only sad thing? I was taking pictures for this article and now that I’m home and going through them, I can see all the awesome stuff I missed out on!
A walk here, and I spot the most unusual wicker basket, perfect for storing remotes or just as a decoration item on the shelf. Another traipse to a stall, and I see a lovely coffee mug collection, perfect for that morning cup of tea. A candle here, an antique collection of thimbles…I could go on and on and on.
4 Items to keep an eye out for:
There are 4 items I always keep an eye out for at these shops, because they are an absolute bargain. I also occasionally shop for gifts here as well. I don’t shy away from telling someone I got their present at the flea market and for good reason. Why is it that if we are abroad and buy some presents from a vintage shop, it is considered incredibly chic but doing the same here smacks of cheapness? I mean, seriously? If I spot the perfect candle stand for a friend, or a lovely china cup for my sister’s collection, will it make it better or worse to claim that I got it from *insert random shop*?
You can find the most incredible chinaware at these shops. From that perfect sized coffee mug to the cutest little butter dish, some incredible bowls and a whole plethora of serving ware. In fact, while looking at the photos I snapped, I can see some gorgeous large platters which would probably
be Rs 500-800 max. A coffee mug here is maybe Rs 200 tops. On the flip side, if you go into any chinaware shop, you will find that these items, brand new, would be almost three times the cost. I recently found a vase of a particular Wedgwood pattern which my mom collects and promptly picked it up. Cost? Rs 200. I’m not kidding.
Yes, I know we have lots of book shops and everyone goes there, but I’m not talking about new novels. I keep an eye out for leather-bound novels, which are absolutely perfect presents for the bibliophiles in my lie. I have picked up a 100-year-old leather bound book of the collected poems of WordsWorth, a couple of Charles Dickens novels, and my current aim is to find a book on the Mughals, dated from the British Raj times, for my dad. Now these are a little pricey, but I think well worth it. It’s a totally unique and very special present.
3. Paintings and photo frames
Rather than having a generic poster up on your wall, why not buy some original art instead? Vintage shops are filled to the brim with paintings, etchings, calligraphy. Best of all? No one else will have that item. And if the picture isn’t that great, take a look at the frame. You may have a perfect painting or photo at home which needs a really special frame. You could easily swap it out!
4. That special something – the talking point
This category is for the “je ne sais quoi” factor, that certain special something which an item may have, something which is uniquely personal and speaks only to you. Something which calls out to you the minute you see it? Want an example? This stunning Grecian brass horse I spotted at the Zamzama location a week ago. Totally not something I was looking for (I don’t think anyone looks out for Grecian brass horses willy nilly) but once I saw it, I knew it was mine. And it was a steal!!!
In this era of plenty (unless you’re looking at the inflation, at which point, scroll past!), there is a dearth of individuality. We wear the same clothes, eat at the same places, take instagram shots of the same views, and life just seems to be the same image shot at different angles and with different filters. Where has our individuality gone? What makes us different, unique, individual? I think in a way, that’s what draws me to these places, places of lost memories, of debris from lives spent. It makes me think about what my life would leave behind, and whether that is what I want my life to be about.
And of course, the fact that for all extents and purposes, I’m basically on a treasure hunt!