the The ticking of hundreds of antique clocks fills a small room in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, where collector Gul Kakar swears he will spend all the time he has left caring for them . Delicate wristwatches, heavy pocket pieces, and dented tabletop models clutter every surface, while the pendulums of self-contained wall-mounted grandfather clocks sway as their deep bangs mark each new hour. “I know their language,” Kakar, a 44-year-old policeman, told AFP during a visit to his collection. “They tell me about their problems, and I understand.”
Kakar’s collection, some of which date back to 1850, is housed within the city’s police headquarters. This means they are behind heavy doors and high concrete blast walls in a province that for years has been plagued by ethnic, sectarian and separatist violence. The heightened security can contribute to the lack of traffic, although Kakar admits that he has found few other aficionados to admire his museum and that there are hardly any visitors. “People in Quetta don’t show much interest,” he admits.
Kakar’s obsession began decades ago, when two family clocks broke and were sent in for repair. “I started to get interested … then I got the idea that I should have more clocks.” Soon he began to collect seriously and his museum today is the result of more than 18 years of searching the internet for antiques – even persuading friends overseas to buy second-hand pieces and sell them. send him. He’s also lost count of how much he has – or how much he spends on his collection – but income from family land ownership means that a “major chunk” of his police pay goes to clocks.
“As long as I’m alive I’ll take care of them,” said Kakar, clad in a sleek black waistcoat and carrying a brass cane. He admits, however, that no one in his family shares the passion, and that after his death the collection may simply be sold. He is willing to give his all if a government official or the private sector steps in to fund a museum in his name. “I haven’t received such an offer yet,” admits Kakar.
Despite all the parts, he still longs for one final item – a grandfather clock similar to a famous 19th century timepiece kept in Jacobabad, Sindh province. This clock – considered by some to be the oldest in present-day Pakistan – was handcrafted in 1847 by John Jacob, the colonial administrator of the East India Company who gave the city his name. Kakar lights up as he explains the mechanism of the clock, whose pendulum is sunk 32 feet deep into a well. He has never seen it, but is keen to do so someday. “I’d give up my entire collection for that one.” – AFP