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Karachi to Florida

April 28, 2011

Karachi, the city with the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea, whichever you prefer, and Florida, the state with the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I recently spent a week in Florida and could not help but notice how the feel of the weather, atmosphere and mosquito bites is very similar to that of Karachi. For all the cynics wanting to jump to quick judgments, hear me out.

I lived in Miami, Florida in the ’90s and upon general inquiry of, ‘isn’t it muggy and humid?’ I would simply reply, ‘I like it. I’m from Karachi and humidity is great for the skin, a natural moisturiser, and a real body booster for straight hair, so no complaints. For someone moving from Karachi to Florida, one could not ask for a better transition into the US.’ Karachiites know what I am referring to; we understand humidity and know how to live a life with it.

Except for May, June and October, the rest of the nine months the city entertains its locals with decent weather. There is a cross breeze in the city that is absolutely beautiful, no other city in Pakistan can boast of it. And although Karachi’s proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at a high, we are also blessed with cool sea breezes relieving summer heat to some degree. Let me clarify, that sans the power and water crises, which is government created and a multitude of other problems which are also government created, God, in his ultimate wisdom gave Karachi a wonderful geographical location on this huge planet. If we, as a people, cannot realise its worth then it is surely our misfortune.

Karachi has miles of coastline and we still have not learnt to capitalise on it extensively. Where locals should be living a good life next to the sea we willingly let go of priceless land. It sits there unused, barren. Why?

Our city has gorgeous beaches, Sands Pit, Hawks Bay, Paradise Point, French Beach, and no one to develop it as residential and recreational property at a mass scale. Are only a few supposed to have access to the oceanfront?

Then there is the beautiful island of Manora, a gorgeous little landmass almost out of an Enid Blyton book.  As a kid I used to make frequent trips to Manora to visit Azim Bhai, my cousin who was then a cadet in the Pakistan Navy. It was usually a road trip – I do not remember if there was a boat ride involved – with a dinner stop at the dhaba for what has to be the best chapli kababs and garam naan. Ah, I remember the taste of the kabab so in sync with tamatar, annar dana and the cool breeze playing pleasantly with all the senses.  There is almost nothing like the feel of gentle refreshing wind and yes, Karachi has a lot of it like Florida.

Tragically we do not realise the value of warm waters and how heavenly it is to dip in them. Lucky us, the Indian Ocean harbours the most amazing temperature throughout the year, at least off the Karachi coast, unlike the Pacific off the coast of California.

In all my years of beach vacationing in California, I have never felt comfortable in its waters because the ocean temperatures in the Pacific, even in the summer, remains stuck in the ‘50s because of upwelling. Upwelling occurs when winds blow away warm surface water replacing it with deeper cold ocean-water. No upwelling off the coast of Karachi. Pray, get better usage out of it.

Another remarkable feature of Karachi, we have the sun setting over the Arabian Sea, not even the American east coast can boast of that. Ah, how we underrate what sits in our backyard. There is God’s ultimate bounty, grace and beauty hidden in a setting sun where the horizon is an azure sheet of endless water and hues of brilliant colours play magic as the sun’s fire mellows its brilliance and allows us to capture and catch a fair glimpse at itself as it prepares to rise in the other half of the world.  Our beautiful Karachi, God gave us the landscape and waters, we just need to start collecting seashells on its seashores, once again.

Bisma Tirmizi is a writer based in Las Vegas

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.