We drive all the way to French beach when there are three beaches under our very noses, in Clifton and DHA. We do this, we say, because these beaches are filthy and the crowd, not our type. But there’s something else. This coastline of Clifton and DHA is, for us, not even an option. It is written off almost subconsciously, before the tide can even recede. Understandable, when half the city dumps its sewage in these waters. But there’s something else. These beaches have come to be associated with a sense of anxiety; a cheapness and sleaze. A place you wouldn’t choose to go. Part of this impression is based on a tangible reality. Yet part of it is based on something else.
Certain chains of thought that are commonly accepted as the norm only serve to restrict us. Hastily reached conclusions may result in a claustrophobic closed-mindedness. Such an attitude has repercussions that are more far-reaching than we think. Our automatic exclusion of the beaches of Clifton and Phase VIII deprives us of a sense of locality and appreciation of community. In the developed world, you would, more often than not, go to the beach nearest to where you live. In Karachi, we don’t have access to much in the form of basic amenities that automatically come with living in a certain area or community. But we do have access to the beach. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from the convenience in utilising the beach nearest to where you live, which you will never feel when accessing one that is completely out of your way.
And if you happen to visit Sea View beach, you might notice that it’s not as dirty as you had thought. But Ali Mohammad Kakal, a lifeguard and former fisherman, will point out that the beach has in fact never been cleaned, and that the plastic trash and sewage waste that gets washed ashore is neatly sealed over by wind-blown silver sand. In other words, the beach is much dirtier than it looks. But this is not applicable to all parts. Further east, the coastline of Phase VIII, all the way round to Korangi creek, is known as Do Darya (Two Rivers). Here, the beach near Crescent Bay is much cleaner. You may not be able to go swimming at these beaches, but then more than half the people who go to French beach don’t go there to swim. They just hang around the huts, all dressed up. Why not go for a walk on Clifton beach or the one in Phase VIII? Or for a jog? And from there you can see how the creeping coastline has swallowed the Oyster Rocks.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2015.
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