City Life – Seashells on the seashore

Photos and Text by Mahera Omar. Find Original Post here

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.


Categories: City Life

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2 Comments on “City Life – Seashells on the seashore”

  1. December 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    so are those sea shells really there still? Does this mean Karachi’s beach air will stink again very soon. I live close to the beach and the smell gets to us. nasty.

  2. December 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    hmm. the timing of the post is little misleading. It happens every year. But in July.

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