An old-world sensibility, born of a love of the vintage and a gracious sense of hospitality, permeates this unique home in Karachi. It is hardly surprising then that this is the home of the late Zubaida Apa and her son Husain Tariq and his family.
Beautifully patterned floor tiles, antique-style wooden doors and a bewildering array of paintings, beautiful rugs, ceramic dishes and other collectibles make visitors stop and look around in interest.
Husain Tariq, an executive consultant in the food industry, gave us a warm welcome and opened up about his mother, his passion for collecting things and other interests.
Your home reflects a lot of character. Who is responsible for the design?
I do all the interior designing. I’m very finicky about what I like. But the family is on board of course. If you look at the elements in the home, you will find the same aesthetic sensibility in the homes of my extended family as well.
And although the purchases might be mine, I would definitely consult Amma (Zubaida Apa) before making an investment. Also my wife is the one who executes my vision in terms of home décor and display. She is the one who manages things, gets them cleaned etc.
Your mother was such an icon and so loved by everyone. Is there anything special that belonged to her in the home?
We have still kept her cupboard the way it was in her room. Her collection of bangles and various necklaces is all displayed there.
Did you build or buy this home?
We bought this house about 5 or 6 years ago and renovated it extensively. All the old-style floor tiles, wooden doors and windows, railings, wooden stairs etc were added. I have actually done some work as an interior designer so I knew what I wanted to do.
This is obviously a collector’s home. You even have antique plates hanging in the porch outside.
That’s me. I have a real passion for collecting things. It’s a problem really. I’m like a problem child. (laughs) If I see something I like, I have to have it. But I wouldn’t rank myself amongst the big collectors.
You have a staggering collection of china and porcelain dishes. How did you build up this collection?
Well, I have bought a lot of things from India and other places when I would travel. I picked up a lot of my Gardnar pieces in Quetta. Many from other travels and some were gifts.
In the early days when there was little restriction on weight, I would carry heavy packages back with me on board the plane. I have been known to carry upto 40 kg of items in my hand carry. I have even gotten into altercations with the airline staff and managed to talk my way through. That’s all over now, of course.
And what about the local antique stores?
Yes, of course. I would visit the shops in Nursery. Earlier, they had fewer customers and one could build up personal relationships with them. So even with low budget one could buy things.
Do you have a favourite piece or something with a story behind it?
On a trip to Bombay, I was introduced to a Parsi lady selling some ceramic bowls. I liked them so I bought the whole lot and I got a good deal on it. Some years later I visited a museum in Qatar and saw similar style ceramic bowls displayed there in the Islamic History museum. It turns out that they are actually museum pieces. I researched it then and so this collection is very special.
You are also a painter?
Yes. I have been painting for some 35 years but have not exhibited much. I don’t claim to be part of the art fraternity. It’s fortunate that I have a dedicated clientele which buys my work.
You also own an impressive collection of art work.
My whole collection has been built over 20 to 25 years. Some of them have been inherited from Amma, like the Shakir Ali and Mansur Aye.
Others have been bought over the years. Paintings are so expensive now, one can barely afford the new artists. So I’m lucky I have some great contemporary as well as masters like Gulgee, Sadequain, Ahmad Pervaiz and others.
Do you entertain often?
Oh yes! We entertain a lot. I love to cook and have people over. In fact, there is a standing joke that anyone can drop in here off the road for a meal. I can cook for up to 80, 90 guests. For Amma’s 70th birthday she and I cooked for 150 people!
How do you accommodate so many people in the home?
We throw open the whole house, the upstairs and the downstairs area. People can also spill outside and into the balcony upstairs.
Which is your favourite area of the home?
It would be the small breakfast room upstairs. It opens into a small balcony and it’s lovely to sit here when it rains. Or just to have tea here. When we entertain I put the dessert out in this area.
And who is responsible for the lush foliage outside?
That would be my mother. When we moved here there was only one neem tree. She planted the gulmohar and the bougainvillea. And she would oversee the plants.
Photography by Naeema Kapadia