The allure of a deserted and isolated beach was all it took to get me and a few friends out of our lethargy and onto a rickety bus out of the small south Indian town where we were spending a few months. The conductor collected our fare; it hadn’t gone up since the year before. As the bus bounced and wobbled down the red dirt road, I looked out the window and a wave of happiness swept over me like one of those waves that I would be diving into soon.
It was morning and the locals were busy with their routines: the kids were on their way to school, their uniforms carefully pressed and the girls’ hair neatly braided and tied with ribbons. Women gathered to get water from a public spigot. The homes we passed reflected many income levels but all were tidy with plants and flower gardens bursting with fuchsia, hot pink, purple and flame lit orange-colored blossoms. We passed a sedate church, next a solemn mosque and lastly a vibrant Hindu temple. Man and nature seemed in harmony here. In an odd and curious way, I fit in too. And this made me happy.
The bus let us off about a kilometer away from the small ferry landing, our destination. As we approached we heard the commotion that accompanies the boat’s imminent departure as the motorcycles and other cargo was being loaded. The river isn’t wide but it is the unloading of the cargo that takes so long and there is only one ferry-boat. If you miss it, it can feel like an eternity until it returns.
The boat is small with very few places to sit. Most people stand or sit on the gunnels and a slat across the stern. The river crossing only takes about five minutes. With great care and a lot of manpower, the heavy motorcycles are loaded. People jostle a bit into position and very slowly we push-off across the river.
With grace and dexterity we hop off the dilapidated ferry. At the landing there are a few tea stalls and that’s it. We drink a quick chai, admire the view and follow the paved road until it takes us to the canals where we will turn off.
It’s a sleepy place and not much going on. The locals view us with curiosity and smile.
Mostly people go about their business as we pass.
After the canals we turn off and continue for about an hour through fields. The landscape turns into cultivated fields and paddies and we pass fewer people until we get closer to the beach.
Out of the clearing a fringe of tall palm trees obscure the view but we know that we are only a few steps away from our destination, the Arabian Sea. Our pace quickens as we descend the slope that will bring us to a beach where few people have ever been.