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ARACHI: 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.
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.
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.
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.