Sitting there at the shore at Marina Beach, watching a bunch of kids umping around in the waves, made me reminisce all the times I have ever been to a beach.
Spending summers in Triplicane, meant a significant number of visits to Marina. But the farthest I could go back in memory was the time when I , as the only grandchild on my maternal side ( so much more attention ) , was there with the entire family and was bought a paper-fan, either through the entireprise of that seller or my persistence. But I still remember my father trying to explaining the mechanics of that paper-fan. Obvoiusly, from what I am now, I seem to have given that lesson a big pass. The next in chronology was the time it was just me and dad, when a huge wave took away one of my slippers along with, almost me. Though I had no special attachment to that pair, I felt very disappointed , when dad threw away the other one into the waves. The slippers got united with each other. I got united with a new pair at Mount Road Bata. There was another time, when I lost a pair, but this time was not all that pleasant. It was at the Hyderabad Zoo. I was running across the grass, to get near to a duck but got stuck in a marsh.
Marina is a part of me. I mean literally, there are some glass shards embedded in my right sole ( Yes Akshay. I am listening ) . Playing frisbee on the beach is not always a pleasant experience.
Continuing with beaches, the next beach on the list is Besant Nagar beach. The relatively neater of the two, this is the only place I have tasted Chukku Coffee, a good 10 years back. It is only recently, i.e., Saarang 2007, That I spent more time at this beach. To be precise, 4 times in 4 days, all till late night. The roads around Theosophical Society creep me out, as all the memories I have of them are my grandfather’s funeral, but the beach calmed me down after the first two nights. I have, some kind of attachment with water in general and sea in particular. The waves pounding on the shores create a kind of silence in the mind, helping me think a bit clearer than before. Also, though I never learnt swimming nor know how to swim, I have always felt very comfortable in the waves. Being alone in the waves is probably on top of the list of things I enjoy doing the most. Plus, any beach with a Murugan Idly outlet on the shore and your closest friends around will definitely leave you a lot of pleasant memories.
From here on I place the beaches in a chronological order.
1990 – Tarapore, MH
Went to beach from Tarapore, though do not exactly remember the name of the beach. It had those trees on the beach that they keep showing in the movies and the sand there was black. Sunset was brilliant.
1994 – Kovalam Beach near Mahabalipuram,TN
Bitter-sweet experience was this one. This was officially my first floating lesson. Had great fun trying to float. One big wave later, me, my sister and my mother were on way to join the sea. Luckily, we were pulled to safety. Fifteen years down the line and after many more such lessons, I am yet to float once.
1996 – Rameswaram-Dhanuskhkodi, TN
Rameswaram seemed to be a very quiet one. I mean the waves, they somehow didn’t seem to exist. It was almost as if we were in a pond or a tank.
Dhanushkodi, on the other hand, was a handful, so much so that did not even venture out into it. The waves were like the froth and foam in a Surf ad.
1996/2003 – Kanyakumari, TN
Kanyakumari has so much significance all with the Triveni Sangamam and what not. But the waves seemed to cancel out each other, giving a live example of destructive interference and more importantly removing all the fun out of staying ashore. But venturing out a little into the sea, onto the rocks is totally worth the risk. And the fall.
1998 – Konark Beach, OR
As part of a bunch of starved NCC candidates who were given a day off from their Camp, I got to visit the Sun temple for the second time. The beach, well, we reached very late in the evening and with a very protective Officer in charge of us, all we got to do is stand on the beach for a group photo. End of story. More on the camp later.
2003 – Kovalam, KL
The most dangerous beach I have seen. So dangerous, that the sign boards on the beach had Achtung all over them. Why German? Don’t ask me, but it was an awesome display of the sheer power that the sea possesses during monsoon times.
2004 – Juhu, Mumbai, MH
Had gone into the sea on a boat ride earlier in the day at Sunil Shetty’s water theme park ( whatever it is called ). That was a dampener, so was hoping that at least the famed Juhu beach would soothe me. All I have to say about it is that it is the most polluted beach I have ever visited and that those were the most exorbitant prices quoted for such tasteless pani-puris.
2006/2008 – Pondicherry
The Frenchie roads give Pondi a classy look. Getting to the shore off the roads, by maneuvering over the rocks is sure to give you the kicks if you get it right or deep cuts and bruises if you get it wrong. Waves were ok but the June heat wasn’t.
The beach across ECR just before entering Pondi, is worth a try. Water is too deep for novices.
Tip : If the waves are normal a few metres in to the sea but are very weak at the shore, this means the water is pretty deep at the shore.
2006 – Colva – Calungute, Goa
Though I spent 5 days in Goa, could visit only 2 beaches. Colva where we stayed and Calungute.
Calungute is another roughie and thoroughly enjoyable. Especially when you are with 60 other lunatics. We had wars with the sea amongst other things. The power of the sea there felt so good, that we visited it twice. The sand was very loose.
Colva was where we ventured well in to the sea. For, that is where we jet-skied. Did it so many times. Should have para-glided as well. Went out into the sea for dolphin viewing, but ended up being given a cold shoulder by the overtly shy dolphins. But all of this is not what I remember Colva for, for it was the nights at the beach, that gave me the best moments. The bon-fire was great; so was the cake-cutting; the kabaddi. The last hour at the beach from 3am that I spent alone on the beach with the crabs, is probably the most peaceful I have ever felt.
2007 – RK Puram – Rushikonda, Vizag, AP
Vizag. RK Puram beach. Rocks. Fear. Waves. Power. Fear. Waves + Rocks + Fear = Bruises All Over.
Waking up from bed, to watch the sun rise from behind the sea is a feeling I cannot put in words. But being bruised, battered and beaten by that sea, that I totally can. After deciding against going anywhere near the waves after seeing the rough waters, we were faced with waes which were pretending to say, Bachke Kahaan Jaoge. They roped us in and battered us against the rocks. All this in spite of playing safe.
Later in the day, we went to Rushikonda beach ( Opposite GITAMS. What I would give to rewind the clock and go there ) . This place is just great. It was a sea change ( pun intended ) from RK Puram. I recommend the hand-run boat ride into the sea. Don’t take the motor boat. It is an exhilarating experience, especially with the waves, at many instances, seemingly overpowering the boat and sinking us. No theme park ride ( again pun intended ) can s(t)imulate this feeling in us. I also recommend staying at the APTDC guest house ON Rushikonda. Pricey they may be, but the view is worth the plunge. Also, protect yourself against sunburns. Two of us lost a lot of skin off the face and back.
2008 – Clearwater Beach, FL
When Florida is mentioned, one’s mind fills up with a huge beach beaming with humongous crowds and lots of surf. Well all of that is crap in January, with the water freezing and the beaches totally empty. Was a damp squib, but the sand at this beach was too fine to be true. To hell with Clearwater, I’d rename it Finesand.
That is quite a number of beaches I have visited, but I hope I get to see a lot more, for it is the only place I feel at peace with myself.
( The above post was first written on paper in Chennai. First of its kind. Also, may be, the last of its kind )