My father, Mohammed Bux Baloch, was the founder and owner of Balochi of London, a small chain of souvenir shops in the West End. Although the stores were commercially successful, they were perhaps more important as a meeting place for countless numbers of newly arrived Pakistani immigrants; somewhere they could get their bearings, seek help and find friendship.
Over the years Mohammed never stinted on the informal assistance he gave to such visitors, helping them to settle academically, professionally and socially in the city. The shops were also a place where exiled Pakistani politicians and democracy activists could meet to discuss their strategies, often with the accompanying comfort of food and tea.
Mohammed was born in Khudabad in what is now Pakistan but was then pre-partition India, and grew up in the central Saddar district of the nearby city of Hyderabad. His father, Ahmed Khan Baloch, was an office attendant (known in British India as a “peon”), and his mother, Allah Bachai Baloch, a housewife. After attending Noor Muhammad high school in Hyderabad, he worked as an entry-level associate at the Burmah Oil Company.
In 1970, in search of adventure in his mid-20s, he headed by ship, train and bus to Europe, unsure of his destination but eventually ending up in London. After a short-lived dalliance with accountancy on Wimpole Street, he arrived at his true calling on bustling Carnaby Street, where he began selling records on the street before opening up a souvenir outlet in a basement shop.
Within 10 years he had two stores on Carnaby Street and one on Oxford Street. Although the shops were mainly aimed at tourists, they also sold clothing, including leather jackets, which were fairly hard to find in London at the time.
Thanks to Mohammed’s welcoming demeanour, the premises also became meeting points. His wife, Hassina (nee Murad Shah), whom he married in 1976, often provided her renowned cooking, but food was sometimes ordered in, and would be eaten by visitors behind the cash counter or in the stock room. On more special occasions a large group would troop out for a sit-down meal at one of the favoured local Indo-Pakistani restaurants: Gaylord, Shezan or Kundan.
After retirement in 2009, Mohammed dedicated himself to charitable and philanthropic work, mainly in Pakistan, where his financial contributions helped to build mosques, drinking water pumps and schools in low-income areas.
A devoted family man, he later became a full-time carer to Hassina after she was diagnosed with dementia, and never left her side.
He is survived by Hassina and their four children, Tariq, Mahreen, Shahzeen and me.
• The photo caption was amended on 16 January 2023 because one of those shown was misnamed. Standing, right, is Rooma Khan, an owner of the Carnaby Street shop where the picture was taken.