Marie, an inspirational blogger and someone I admire a lot, has been posting encouraging posts in her blog, Create Space, relevant for the ugly times, the tentacles of which have gripped our planet now! And in this particular post, to inspire each one of us, to seek happiness and to find peace around us, she asks us to take a stroll along the beach, if that is permissible, or reminisce the happy time spent by a beach. Although a mountain boy by all means, someone who seeks happiness in the vastness of magnificent mountains, in the peaceful undulation of green blue hills, there is an undeniable tranquillity that I have sensed when idling by the seashore. To immerse oneself in the joyous sensation of gentle waves lapping at one’s feet, to stare at, with merriment, at the gently whooshing tall palm trees and to see little crabs, pink and translucent, scurry over the wet ochre yellow sand is certainly magical!
Ever since I read her post, I am unapologetically guilty of staring at pictures from my recent beach holiday, an extended weekend in God’s own country, the magical southern state of Kerala. What began with absolute enthrallment at the hippie town of Varkala, through the greener than green backwaters of Kerala, under bluer than blue skies, across merrily swaying paddy fields, to end at the eclectic metropolis of Kochi, now remains etched in a million shades in the corners of my mind! I can still sense the tingling sensation of waves on my feet as I strolled across the lonely Black Beach shaded by palm trees, blessing my stars to be the only person on the beach that morning-the rewards of waking up early! I remember the salt settling on my hair, on the folds of arms, the saline taste every time I smacked my lips.
I remember the little fishing village, the air intoxicated by the smell of fish, wherein older men called it a day by drawing back their fishing nets, their shouts to each other mingling with the sound of the sea. I stood possessed staring at a busy sun painting the horizon, the sea, the sand in shades of brilliant orange and golden while a group of young men engrossed in a game of football never bothered to look at the intruder in me.
I recollect with fondness listening to retro music from the bygone era, reading my book inside a quaint little café, over my coconut cake, gazing at the vastness of an aquamarine sea-a balm to tired eyes! I remember listening to the sound of crashing waves, from atop the Varkala cliff in the stillness of the night, pearly white in the enigmatic darkness, while a silvery moon peeked through coconut groves and a salty warm sea breeze whistled through leaves whispering secrets of the sea to the trees.
The chime of church bells, St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the oldest churches in the country, where I walked to one afternoon, still ring in my ears, and the hum of the service that I was privy to bring about a subtle smile.
At Alappuzha, quite a few people started at me with utter amazement as I shunned the majestic houseboats to take the local ferry across the backwaters. Reflecting and breaking the sunbeams into a thousand brilliant sparkles, these backwaters meandering through paddy fields, showed to me the secret of quaint little hamlets, churches that appear suddenly in little islands and swarms of ducks swimming happy and content! Nature was in abundance and I admire the respect the people there have for Nature, and she in turn has vowed to protect them under her tutelage, a fact we must learn, appreciate and incorporate in our lives.
I remember landing at the wrong port, walking, hitchhiking, and smelling the dust floating off the dry street that cut through vast fields, the green of the earth interspersing with the purple blue of the sky, smiling at my wonderful stupidity! I remember sitting by the rocky beach at Kochi along with fellow wanderers and a group of cats, staring at the setting sun through majestic fishing nets erected along the shore.
Now, as I scroll through the several photos, trying to be safe inside the confines of home, I cannot stop smiling as I reminisce the time spent walking across the sandy beaches. I can hear the sound of approaching waves, crashing and withdrawing, over red and orange rocks, green-blue in patches, jutting through the golden sand. I can still see the creepers with their little purple flowers climbing trees and daintily spreading across grey rocks. I revel in the cacophony of quaint cafés that play inside my head, while the mysterious smell of hot cinnamon coffee and the camaraderie therein take me back in time.
And my reverie is brought to an abrupt end by the chirruping of birds who have returned home to the mango tree outside my window. Perhaps one day we will return ‘home’ and perhaps the tickling sea waves will be doubly rejuvenating when this plague ends. I hastily pick up my earphones, and before I get back to my evening work calls, I take the liberty to listen to a relevant song, by one of my favourite bands, Westlife, from my growing up days, and pray along,
So I say a little prayer, and hope my dreams will take me there, where the skies are blue, to see you once again, my love. Over seas from coast to coast, to find the place I love the most, where the fields are green, to see you once again, my love”