Sunday, 11 January 2015

Karachi exhaling the new, inhaling the old

The sun is spreading its light and the birds announcing the message of God that O! Lovely creatures open your eyes and get enrich with the beauty of the sea, the atmosphere, the shrillness the birds are facing they want everyone to feel it. The sounds of shore slowly marching ahead and spreading over the soil is bringing a pleasant smell to one’s senses. The light of God has spread more and the sky has fully turned on and darkness gone. With unusual amounts of guests, walking over the shore, some feeling the water and other’s chanting sounds that seems to come from the depth of their vocal cord. Announcing that today is Sunday and they want to spend most of their time at sea. These chanting slogans and excitement makes the neighbors near the Sea view get onto their feet as soon as possible. As if we are guests to all these people and we are welcoming a worst day. People from far off places came to visit Sea-view and Sunday is the best time for it. There is a fact that those who come from rural areas to Karachi if they haven’t visited Sea-view than their journey is incomplete. Young guns go crazy on their bikes and their silencers make the worst sound they imagine themselves to be doing a Hollywood action film scene.

Families, couples, young guns and sometimes disabled children came to enjoy and feel the atmosphere which indeed is very different and if you have been there you can smell it right now. The sea is calm; the smell acts as a magnet and the joy is never ending. The neighbors due to unusual guests all the time are sometimes fed up of so much joy. And they wish the Government should banned picnics on Sunday.

We had two guests my cousins at our home that have come from Larkana. After they got free from their busy schedule we finally planned to go to Clifton and Sea-View as it is the famous spot for visitors. So finally the day came and on Sunday after eating lunch we left our home for Clifton. I was accompanied by my sister and two guests.
It was 31st of July on the eve of Eid when we switched on our televisions and we heard that many people have drowned in the sea. It appeared as a common story because once in a week or on weekends many young souls lose grip over their legs and go deep into the water and are drowned. The life guards can’t stop them they seem to be dysfunctional and they can only help people to survive by putting their lives in the sea.  Initial reports informed that three young souls and a 12 year old girl have been drowned near famous picnic spot “Do Darya”. But after people arose their voices that more people are missing, government washed their eyes and awakened from a long sleep, the rescue teams expanded their search activities and rescued more bodies whose breath was no more and subsequently the amount kept on increasing as administration failed and Navy with their helicopters came into the battlefield rescuing innocent soldiers and at the end it was reported that more than 40 people lose their souls in water. 

The car starts, put into gear and moves slowly and starts to march towards the destination. In the middle of the journey, our guests were enlightened by our tales about the earlier tours with our other cousins. Meanwhile my cousin asked me that can I take them to Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine. So we decided to pray at the shrine. My last visit was before 2007.

Karachi besides its ethnic and Political activities is also famous for its largest Sufi shrine, located near sandy shores of the city; Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine has its own symbolic presence. The Shrine attracts the beauty of the city because the admirers believed that the reason cyclones usually miss hitting Karachi is squarely due to the mystical power and presence of Shah Ghazi’s spirit that resides within the shrine. Of course many people also laugh off such beliefs but even to this day there are number of people who believe the shrine is encompassed with supernatural powers that Fautus failed to earn. But still the shrine enjoys devotional power and which is only fulfilled when devotees pray on the shrine and their souls are gifted with supreme peace. The shrine is dated back to 1400 years ago but the first picture which appeared in newspapers was taken around 1950’S in which the shrine was just a tiny, shaky hut on top of a sandy hill in Clifton area. During the 1960’s a whole culture of festivities including Qawalli and dhammal became regular practice at Urs, along with this small shops began emerging around the shrine. And in 2007 the shrine appeared more beautiful when extensive repair, cleaning up and renovation job on the shrine was done. But the militant extremists have gone so deep in their hatred against the state that this shrine which is land of peace and symbol of hope for many devotees was bombed on Oct 7th 2010. The blast went off at the entrance as people were queuing up to enter the shrine. Many innocent devotees and believers were butchered to death. Media reports that more than eight were killed and over sixty were injured. As a reaction a strike was called on the other day as it is a common practice. The shrine survived the carnage and kept on attracting many homeless and downtrodden believers.

We finally reach Clifton Road but when our feet touch the soil, we saw dug-up roads, mounds of earth, choked thoroughfares and alleyways, all were presenting an image of Moen-Jo Daro. It was all due to construction work on a flyover and two underpasses on the site. The area appears to be barren especially the recently renovated Bagh Ibane Qasim and lots of other historic places such as Jehangir Kothari Parade and ancient underground Shree Ratneshwar Madadev Temple.
The temple’s existence is of historic importance. The stairs of the temple lead to as many as six levels, situated in the opposite direction under the parking area many believe it is under Bagh Ibne Qasim. The tunnel which lie in the fifth and sixth basement levels leads to Mohatta Palace, fourth level is courtyard on the terrace there is a cement pigeon house with clean water, situated so near to the sea a sweet water springs at its lowest ebb is another nature’s miracle. Just as the followers of Ghazi believes that the shrine holds the sea back from flooding the sea. The Hindus believe that Lord Shiva third eye watches over the sea and keep it in check. But many of the rocks in the cave have developed fresh cracks due to the digging and heavy construction work outside. But the Hindus haven’t appealed against this development; they are indeed trying to reduce violence between Hindus and Muslims.

We cross this ancient ruin for a good cause left by the mastermind owner of Bahria Town and reach our destination i.e. the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi. But the shrine which is famous for its spiritual power was under high security zone now and in order to reach the stairs which were zig zag in the earlier days when I have visited the place. We have to cross high small security street and twice we were checked. And finally we reached the stairs and went to pray at the shrine. There were a lot of devotees praying, reciting in loud voices; some were snapping pictures, others crying with their heads bowed and in a line we have to stand to pray at the shrine. Finally after a long lane our turn came but 15 seconds was the time, there were some “protectors or soldiers of the shrine may be” who don’t let you stand for more than 15 seconds and ‘move ahead move ahead’ were the instructions. So in 15 Seconds we came out. I hardly know what my cousins prayed at the shrine in such a valuable time.But it was a technique to let everyone pray as there are enormous amount of devotees. Now we live in an age of terrorism where not even mosques, religious saints and Sufis are protected. But our internal security measures can let to make a difference.  Walking back to the main entrance from the stairs, in between we snap some pictures so that my cousins can relive the memories. And walking again through the security lane we reached the main road from where we have to go to Sea-View.
 Passing through the Hyperstall mall, the sea was attracting us towards itself; the first sign of it gave you an everlasting joy.  But as we reached near the sea my sister suddenly said why there are no people around the sea? Memories of the past events flashes back in my memory, the complaints of the neighbors that we read in the newspapers, the car racing, the bikes going crazy and families and couples at the sea side. We finally parked the car near the street, the car parking instructor was not there so the extortion money was saved. When we arrived there we saw very few people there and then we came to know that section 144 has been implemented and government has banned bathing in the sea. Life guards were standing nearby and they were stopping people from going into sea. Perhaps the government in state of confusion banned not only bathing but walking near the sea as well. Police vehicle was marching on the soil, the sea I think was also in the state of terror and the water which on usual days is on the shores almost near to the end of the footpath was too far thatday. We were unaware of the fact that the government could ban going to the sea-view for so long because almost a month has passed since the incident occurred. But we didn’t give up we felt the soil, snapped some picture and also tried to play with the law and tried to wet our feet’s in water but as we go near to the water , sound of whistle kept on increasing and warning came up that don’t go near the water. Perhaps bathing and getting your feet’s wet are two different things I guess but it was the precautionary measure for future I guess. I didn’t want my cousins to break the law and spent a day at Clifton police station. So we stayed at the shore, saw the sun playing with us. Eating chaat there, we finally left the place as darkness was spreading its shades and the street lights were closed not to be opened till the government orders. And we left the sea for our home with little disappointments in our heart. But days after I was happy to read that people are allowed to visit and bath in the sea. And the sea was spreading its magic again.

So Karachi which is known as the city of lights was hiding itself under article 144, security and terrorism for some time. But we are continuously struggling to make it better, passing through the security zone every day, breaking each wall that it is building around itself in the name of protection. Yes the new Karachi has replaced the old one. But still the old one is alive in our hearts and the sea, shrine and the parks they all are reflecting the joys of the past. And by visiting such places once a week we are being revolutionary against the government and atmosphere which is restricting the people of Karachi to make borders between it and ourselves. But we will break all the barriers and keep on living with the glories of the past.

1 comment:

  1. Totally loved reading this detailed account of a trip across Karachi!