A world of its own: The beach-party

Published: February 5, 2014
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Bustling with activity: This strip of Clifton beach, opposite Bilawal House, is a popular getaway for these people each Sunday. A stall rents out swimming trunks and also holds shoes in the custom-made shoe racks. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

Bustling with activity: This strip of Clifton beach, opposite Bilawal House, is a popular getaway for these people each Sunday. A stall rents out swimming trunks and also holds shoes in the custom-made shoe racks. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Take a stroll down the Sea View Beach on a Sunday evening and you will find yourself in a completely different world – away from the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan.

The visitors at this patch of the famous Clifton beach, towards the side of Bilawal House, are not your usual vacationers – they largely comprise those of the very low-income group – the security guards, labourers and construction workers.

A man stands next to his horse, which customers may rent for a ride
(above). He may charge you for the ride but the horse dance is free to watch. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Clad in multi-coloured shalwar kameez, these ‘tourists’ arrive in large groups on buses, in rickshaws and any other means of transport they can afford. Some have even walked the three kilometre stretch from Shireen Jinnah Colony where a large number of them live.

The crowd at this stretch is pre-dominantly male. What is most surprising is the warmth and humility with which they welcome you, make you feel as one of them, no strings attached. One gets the feeling these men lead hard lives – these outings each Sunday, their solace from their physically tiring routines.

One thing is for certain though. These men, young or old, certainly know how to enjoy themselves. A look around the landscape shows various groups playing cricket, football or water sports. The equipment may not be of the best quality but it is indigenously improvised to suit the sandy turf.

Then there are the make-shift stalls that sell anything from traditional delicacies such as ‘channa chaat’ to re-usable swimming costumes. The costumes may be used by one customer for a nominal fee after which it is hung up to dry.

The next customer is rented the same pair of trunks after they have dried up on the line. The custom-built shoe-racks, furnished out of old fruit containers, hold the shoes for their owners while they are out for a swim. Perhaps the busiest stalls are the photograph booths where one may stand beside life-size portraits of famous personalities to capture memories of the trip. Another type of stalls that do a roaring business is the ones that provide water for washing purposes. The men use the water to rinse their hands and feet or to perform ablution after their games.

 photo Thebusiest_zps07b59e8a.jpg

The most interesting aspect of this particular niche comes at the very end of the day, just before the sun sets. The men huddle in groups and dance to the beat of the drums while holding each others’ hands – the last of the rites of these vacationers before they head off to their homes.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Usman
    Feb 5, 2014 - 7:47AM

    I know what you’re talking about as I was at Seaview for a few weeks at the start of the year. I don’t know whether we can pin this as a responsibility of the govt. or the people or both, but there is a strip of rubbish, that runs the entire length of the beach, and the beach as a whole is used as a giant rubbish dump. .
    .
    I remember when I was growing up in the 90s, there used to be many public campaigns against rubbish, which were midly successful. We need more attempts like those. The effort needs to come from the government, and the support from the public. Provide rubbish bags to each vendor to collect his rubbish for the day. Then also provide rubbish bins at the entrance of the beach..
    .
    Dolmein Mall is right next door, I wonder if the politicians and government officials who frequent there ever thought about cleaning/sustaining the Seaview beach and make it more enjoyable for the normal public? There’s an unsightly park being built there, but what about the basics? What about cleanliness? Elections are 5 years away, Sindh govt. doesn’t need to build vote grabbing projects at this stage, just focus on cleanliness and sustainability, if you don’t mind.
    .
    From
    .
    A concerned citizen.

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  • Asad
    Feb 6, 2014 - 10:52AM

    Usman I completely agree with you.

    I have noticed that, not only at the beach, but elsewhere on the streets, trash cans are pretty rare, and so the public has no choice but to litter. I, myself, try not to throw my garbage away on the streets, but then it usually ends up with me pocketing whatever I want to throw away until I get home. Before we can ask people not to litter through campaigning, we have to provide them with the basics (public trash cans most importantly). I believe it is the government’s job to make garbage disposal more convenient for the public, for us to be able to keep our city clean.

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