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Monday, December 24, 2007

Southwards bound: Sidhusaaheb and the Sea

All my life, I have been reading in books about the 'blue sea'. When I was much younger and at school, I was told to use light blue crayons to colour rivers in my drawing-book or the space occupied by the various oceans in a map of the world that was blank, except for the outlines of all the continents.

In reality, all the rivers that I have seen have either been a dark shade of green or a dull shade of grey. So, I was really excited when I travelled to Goa in July this year, with the family. This, after all, was the first time that I was going to see the sea, so to say.

It was early morning when the train rolled into Goan precincts. Besides the lush, green countryside, there were the lovely villas that caught my attention, from amongst all that rushed past the window. I did not really expect to catch a glimpse of the sea until after we reached our destination. Soon, however, beyond a line of coconut trees on the shore, a vast expanse of water, which was a pale shade of grey, came into view. Stretching away into the distance, as far as the eye could see, it merged into the horizon.

Over the next two days, the sea was a constant presence, as we drove across the place. Towards the end of the first, we went on to a jetty and surf definitely was up, sending repeated bursts of spray to considerable heights. The next day was reserved for visiting South Goa and, hence, the beaches.

On the first one that we went to, no one was actually allowed to go down to the water's edge and we had to satisfy ourselves with a walk along an elevated road spanning the length of the beach. There was a nice vantage point though, which appeared to have been built during colonial times and had a distinct old-world feel to it. It was a treat to watch wave after wave come crashing down against the rocks, sending fine water-droplets up to where we stood. My brother, who had been busy taking photographs until a few minutes earlier, had to return his camera to its water-proof case.

On the second one, there were huge boulders along the edge of the water that we were able to climb down to and, therefore, enjoy quite a close encounter. On the third, we were actually atop a cliff from where we were able to watch the waves forming in the distance and then travelling, in quick succession, to the shore.

It was the fourth one that was actually like the way I had thought a beach was supposed to be. The photograph posted above shows me standing there, mesmerised. It was taken a few moments before the sea actually greeted me with, well, a cold embrace! After that I had to roll up the wet bottoms of my trousers and also to take off my sandals, which had become uncomfortable because of the accumulation of wet sand. It was meant to be a lesson in beach-etiquette, perhaps, for a novice like me.

At Cochin, where we proceeded to from Goa, it was, once again, a walk along a paved path, which was separated from the water by rocks of all shapes and sizes.

Subsequently, we went to a beach in Madras, as well, during the last leg of our journey, but, besides the hot and humid weather, that experience was caused to be less than pleasant for me by the stench from the various stalls selling fish.

The sea at these places, too, appeared to be a pale shade of grey.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seven Random Facts about Myself

This time, the tag requires me to write down seven random facts about myself, which are as follows:

1. I love animals. If I knew how, I would like to make friends with almost every single animal in the world (Disclaimer: This does not apply to humans!). This is despite the odd mishap that can and does happen every now and then, like the disagreement I had with my maternal grandfather's dog and which led to his holding one of my ankles between his teeth and, ultimately, letting me off with a little scratch rather than a bite or when a very sick little puppy bit me on my left hand, when I tried to disengage him from my shoe-laces, subsequent to which I had to be administered the anti-rabies shots since the poor little one had died soon after having bitten me (I suppose this should be publicised in the animal world's news media, so that they all know how lethal biting me can prove to be. I still feel bad for the puppy though, even as I shall always remember him by the crescent-shaped scar that he gave me).

2. I often tend to hold on to junk. Whether it be my rusty old bicycle, or my old mobile telephone handset that is now inoperational, I can not seem to throw anything away. Sometimes my mother disposes off stuff in my absence, only to have me question her about it later and go all over the memories associated with it.

3. I love automobiles. Although the only one I own at the moment is a small motorcycle (135cc, 12bhp, 2-stroke, 4-speed manual transmission) and do not know if I ever will have the money to buy another, I would, if I had all the money in the world, buy lots and lots of contemporary as well as vintage sports-cars, 4x4s (SUVs, MUVs), luxury saloons, street bikes, trail bikes, trail-cum-street bikes, and cruisers, among others. I have not yet learnt to fly, or else the list would include aircraft as well. For the present, however, I make do with reading as much as I can about automobiles, besides watching television programmes on the subject.

4. Of late, I can not seem to read any book through to the end. It is strange that I could not seem to put a book down until I had read it from cover to cover even when I did not have sufficient time, earlier, and now, even if I have all the time in the world, I tend to give up half-way. In fact, I can not seem to read anything longer than a magazine article any more.

5. I used to watch movies almost indiscriminately, though I think I have become more discerning now. One day, just for a lark, I started listing out the movies that I had watched during the two years that I spent at Indore, while studying for my post-graduate degree and the number came to about 175. I suppose I must have forgotten a few names or else the number should have definitely crossed 200. More recently, I have finished watching all of the movies associated with the James Bond marquee and the Star Wars series. There are so many more to watch, like the Godfather series, for instance. May God bless 24-hour television movie channels!

6. I like going for long walks. That is besides the evening stroll, of course! I think walking is a great way to explore a place and to be able to absorb its sights and sounds. So, as far as I can, I walk instead of hitching a ride on a vehicle, especially if the distance is not too long to be covered in that manner. I was fortunate enough to be able to go trekking, as well, in the forested areas of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, during my stay at Indore, though I have not really been able to pursue that hobby ever since.

7. I like to travel. If I were to suddenly receive a huge fortune from somewhere, I suppose that the first thing I would do would be to embark on a world tour. If not, however, budget-travel to affordable destinations is the name of the game, besides trips sponsored by family and friends.

Now, that, I suppose, should be enough narcissism for one blog-post!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Southwards bound: The Chosen One

We were at the villa at Loutolim, where our guide, Mrs. Pinto, had gathered all her charges around herself, at the gate. As she continued her monologue about the history of the place, some of us listened intently, while others, including my brother and I, took pictures.

Subsequently, as we walked into the premises, along the path that led from the gate to the porch, there sat, on the grass that had been planted alongside, a kitten. It was pure white in colour, interspersed with patches of black. Even as my brother and I tried to attract its attention, it continued to nibble on something and appeared quite content doing that. So, we walked on.

Later, while we were inside the house, we found the same little one sitting in a corner and purring softly. My brother whistled and I snapped my fingers, as each of us knelt down on one knee, on the wooden floor, to try and attract its attention.

It got up and started walking slowly towards us. It stopped in front of my brother first, sniffed a bit at him, looked at his face and then walked on to me. The process was repeated as it sniffed at my feet, followed by my knee. Then, quite inexplicably, it climbed on to my knee!

After surveying the surroundings for a while, it settled down quite comfortably there, as I stroked its head and back very gently. It stayed put, even as the other visitors walked by, some of whom stopped to take a good look. Soon, my parents called out to me and I put the kitten down. It scampered away, to go and hide under a table, as if really scared of the rest of the people around.

When I narrated the sequence of events to my parents, afterwards, they said that I could have brought the kitten along and it could have lived with us. The memory of having lost Tinkoo was too fresh in my mind, however, and I was not sure that I could take on the responsibility of another innocent creature.

The memory is always going to remain with me though, even as I, or any one else, as for that matter, might never be able to come up with a credible explanation of the reasons for which the kitten chose to make friends with me. I wonder if it had anything to do with a certain kind of smell that might have begun to emanate from the pair of jeans that I was wearing and which I had not changed since leaving home!

The following photograph was taken by my brother soon after the young one had hopped on to my knee. I would have liked him to take another one, after it sat down, but he had wandered off by then.