Seashells on the seashore

So, the other day we saw a photograph in the paper of the millions of seashells that had washed up on Clifton beach (again!). Not wanting to miss an opportunity for a good photo, we put the dog in the car and headed to the beach.

Sewage pipes in DHA

Not so easy, to get to the beach, that is. We decide to take the scenic route past the golf club in DHA, where workmen were busy digging a ditch to lay pipes that would pump raw, untreated sewage directly into the creek waters. Next, we passed by the main entrance to the Clifton beach to avoid paying the hefty Rs. 20 to enjoy the fresh air, but especially to avoid wading through the weekend crowds with a naapak janwar (unclean animal).

Tankers galore

In an attempt to find a suitable opening in the envicrete wall through which to get a glimpse of the beach, and the seashells, we suddenly found ourselvses in no man’s land. Tankers to the left of us, tankers to the right of us, and that too double parked!

“Umm, should we go back only? Where’s that spot where they used to teach horse riding? What is up with all these tankers?”

It was difficult to see anything beyond our nose in the jungle of tankers. Of course, the massive cornicopus parasitus (an Ethopian import adopted by Karachi) jungle ensures you don’t think twice about skipping the Rs.20 beach tag. That’s when we zoomed past an opening on our left with boys and men from Shireen Jinnah Colony playing cricket in what was once designed to be a car park of sorts.

We gingerly nudged our way in, not sure if we should be here to begin with.

“Won’t their balls get our windscreen?”

Three minutes of arguing later, we were ten feet up the tarmac and managed to park after nudging a gola ganda wala (colourful icecream man) out of the way.

The beach!

Lo and behold, we were at the beach!The dog was excited; she could smell the beach (not that we couldn’t) and she could hear the beach. We, on the other hand, craned our necks this way and that, trying to ascertain to the best of our abilities if we were, infact, actually at the beach.

“Don’t tell me that Rs.20 gate we passed way back is the only opening to the Clifton Beach?”

So we stood on our tiptoes.

“Are those seashells then? Or is that just some random white stuff?”

It was hard to tell with all the funny transformer shaped concrete blocks littered on the rubble that was once, perhaps, a beach.

“Well, I’m heading through the blocks”, said KO, when he finally did look up from his ipad.

“Water you, crazy? See that guard there giving us dirty looks? He’s not going to think you’re *just going to the beach* now is he? He’ll think you’ll take off with one of them 8 ton concrete blocks for sure.”

We didn’t really care about the beach, anyways. We just wanted to see the seashells on the seashore. Step one, though, was to find the seashore. The Oyster Rocks loomed in the distance, so we knew the sea had to be there somewhere. We just couldn’t see it.

Being the law abiding and non trespassing citizens that we are, we decided to not have such high hopes and head back. Especially after two men sitting at the edge of the rubble informed us that they hadn’t heard about any seashells.

armoured breakwaters

So we took one last look at the big blue signboard with details about the ‘armoured breakwaters’ that are about to provide shelter to KPT’s new deep water container terminal at Clifton Beach, and said bye bye to the Oyster Rocks forever. The breakwaters are supposed to keep sediment (and marine life) at bay. They are doing a marvelous job already, given the millions of mollusks already coughed up a kilometer down.

A three point U-turn we did then, and retraced our steps to the main beach entrance. Along the way we stopped smack dab on one of the main new stormwater drains at the end of the heavy duty concreted and barbwired security fence down Bilawal Chowk. The ‘stormwater drain’ is just one of many that dumps untreated raw sewage (what we create after too much Mickey D’s) directly into Seaview and Clifton Beach every single day.

Sshh, don’t tell that to the beachfront revelers, or you’ll just spoil their day!

Our fix of noxious fumes and yet another good photo done with, we headed on towards the paid beach entrance. It was okay to take the dog in with us. She wasn’t any dirtier than the muck that awaited us.

At least two of us then seriously regretted our unwise decision of wearing bathroom slippers to the beach. Each step on the beach was met with a “eeyou, gross!” exclamation. It’s a nasty, nasty beach, folks, we kid you not!

But, once you’re done swimming in diluted sewage (do keep your mouth shut though, so you only have to deal with the phoaras (unidentified bumps) on your skin and not an upset stomach as well), for Rs.5 you can wash your feet with sea water, and then have some corn on the cob freshly baked on the beach.

Careful while walking about, though. You might trip on one of them shells. There are millions and millions of them along a kilometer and half stretch of Clifton Beach. You wonder why. Could it be the sewage killing them off? The industrial waste? The dredging? Nope, nope, nope.. it has to be nature. Nature kills millions of healthy marine creatures and dumps them on the Karachi shores every July. It’s just the way it is.

It was a sad sight indeed. And it happens every year.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted July 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    It was a kindle, not an ipad!

    I did find the armored concrete tripod structures quite charming. The country might not be building armored breakwaters against the taliban, but at least it’s building it against windsurfers and swimmers, who have been known to wear bikini’s on occasion and wreck havoc on the nation.

  2. Posted July 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    KO, the toxic industrial waste laden sludge that makes its way down lyari river and into chinna creek backwaters takes care of any stray windsurfers and other such like.

  3. SS
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Extremely Sad

    No wonder, with people like Ko, who would rather live with suicide Bomber ideology, dirt and filth, rather than wind surfers.

    And as for the Bikini, have some self control and just look away, Ko.

    Our 7 year old daughter, still cant forget or ask us why Mummy??? Why were there so many dead fish and garbage, littered all over the Sea View beach. You were lucky if you could aviod stepping over them. This was three years back. We had taken her proudly, for a lovely walk early morning, by the Indian Ocean, showing off our land and heritage, on one of our annual trips, back home.

    Anything elese left worth showing to the next generation???

    Thanks Mo for writng about our Karachi and giving us a reality check. So easy to forget when your away and get all nostalgic. I got all excited for a moment, thinking something good and beautifull finally out of Pakistan. It only gets worse. but Iam still hoping soon there will be some good, as is present in the Gilgit/Hunza / Shigar Region of Pakistan. May some of the beauty and clean spirit of the north, rub off on Poor Old Karachi!!!

  4. Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Dear SS, places with more windsurfers tend to have fewer suicide bombers.

  5. Shahla Shareef
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    MO, love your tongue-in-cheek humour. A great way to soften the blow of what its really like! As for the killer bikini clads, I am with them, even if its only a fantsy.

  6. Posted July 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    thanks, aunty shals! no killer bikini clads on clifton beach. those 8 ton white transformer blocks will keep them at bay!

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  1. […] Photos and Text by Mahera Omar. Find Original Post here […]

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