Archive for September, 2010

My experiences with the sea

September 23, 2010

I have never been to the sea before. The only time I remember I went there was when I was probably 7 or 8. There were only two things I distinctly remember about going to the beach. One, when the waves receded the sand below my tiny feet also went away and I reeled. Suddenly I was in my hindi language class in the school. ‘Bacho, Pairo tale zameen khisakne ka matlab hai ki chakit ho jana’. That line which the teacher used to explain the phrase roughly equivalent to loosing ground from under the feet meant to be shocked, well, almost. Damn. That teacher lied to me she doesn’t even know that the land from below feet can actually move !! Jesus Christ, I wanted to look up, whats happening to our education system. Anyway I fumbled and groped for the tall legs of people I had come with and finally felt secure. The human need of a shoulder to hang on to was very evident. Legs, in my case. The only other thing I remember from the beach are my little legs covered from their head to toe with sand. Some of it would always be stuck on the skin and would never go away, how much ever I tried. When I exclaimed this with surprise to the elders with me they replied, well, what did you expect? Your legs be covered with flowers ? Now that was a double doze for that little mind of mine to understand. I was trying to get around knowing the fact that sand on the beach can actually stick, quite literally, to my skin and then the alter thought implanted in me, feet covered with flowers. I wondered if there were beaches of flowers somewhere. I missed my dad accompanying us then. He would explain everything to this little overly inquisitive mind of mine, including why the bogies were loosely coupled to each other on a moving train. I guess, if being extremely curious about everything and repeatedly asking that to everyone till I could remember it was to be a kid syndrome, I would be the best sample the drug research labs could work on.

So, I went to Puri recently and went to the sea. The beach is fondly called the Golden beach. The old thoughts of a ‘flower beach’ suddenly resurfaced. If I were a kid still, I would have thought the beach was made of Gold! Almost effortlessly the song, fields of gold, rung in my head. The last time I heard that song, I couldn’t stop humming it everywhere. I love Sting’s songs. I anyway somehow got rid of the tune and reminded myself to be the Buddha. To be only an observer. To be aware of everything including and excluding myself. The first thing that caught my attention was the gigantic nature of the sea. It is so big! Huge waves and a lot of breeze. The other immediate thing were the birds around, crows mainly, which were on a little trip of their own.Just hanging in the air there. No flapping of the wings. No movement. Nothing. Just precariously balancing their bodies and the body’s weight just smoothly and effortlessly sailing along with the waves 0f breezes. Just suspended. Wow. So, I had tested the waters or tested the beach sand, so to say. I was prepared to get a taste of how it feels like to enter the sea on feet, at least on the shore.

Next morning, I set foot out to hit the sea. Was alone soul so all the usual asiatic doubts like, What do I wear and go, what if someone steals my clothes while I am at the sea flooded my already tsunami hit mind. Scared of such thoughts, I just set out in a swimming trunk and towel. I had nothing to be stolen from. Some peace of mind. With the gushing breeze running through my gradually balding head. I walked towards the sea excitedly, not a wee bit intimidated by the huge water body. It was time for me to enter the waters. It was a strange feeling, being a water sign and having learnt swimming in the swimming pools, I had never been to the big home of the fish, the sea.Finally, I was ready. With all the grit and research of how many people the sea can swallow and after carefully evaluating my chances of being alive I started walking towards the white waters. The first touch of a small wave was exciting. Then I looked around and saw people wading in deeper, relative to where I originally was. If they can, I can. The usually asleep competitive trait in me woke up. So I decided to be strong and dared and walked towards the sea a little more. A relatively bigger wave hit me almost trying to push me to the ground. And I stood there like a warrior. Trying to dig my feet into the sand below. I could feel the sand drifting away from below me. The old excited memories came back. The more I dug my foot in the more I felt the power of the sea pulling me inside. But I stood ground. I am a strong warrior after all. Or atleast I can act like one. But can the sea be fooled by facades of acting strong. I wondered. Then, I dared again and walked a few feet further in. A huge wave hit me and took me off my feet and nearly threw me to where I was standing originally. I was’nt hurt.
Just some water went into my mouth and I spat. Damn, so much of salt. If you had a heart, you would have blood pressure problems, I yelled within myself. I grinned at the sea and stood again. I looked around and saw a strange thing people did. Many of them would turn their backs whenever a huge wave came towards them. I wondered what purpose it served. But I am an observer at heart. So I studied them and their reactions carefully. It wasn’t too long before I had almost cracked what they felt.

So I decided to do it myself and walked back into the sea. A wave arose and it was running towards me like it wants to get me and I turned my back towards it. Nothing happened. No, I know what should happen. It was just a slight nudge. May be it was a warning to sod off. Ok, I guess may be I need a bigger wave. So I wait, watching a few little waves come and go. Then came my wave. A big one. I turned my back and held firm to the ground, I didn’t even know what to expect, in a way. And then the wave hit me and it lifted me up and gently placed me back to where I was thrown earlier. I was just floating.
Finally some respect. What a feeling. To be carried away by the waves. I wanted more of it. Now I knew what the technique was. It just took a keen observation of people, a trait I learned early in life. Now I thought the sea was at my command and I was like the old pirate with a bandana and with a cigarette in the mouth and a bottle of alcohol in another. I know what ‘size’ of a wave I needed to have the fun and moreover I thought I knew how to do it.

Alrighty, here I come, I hollered and went back in. This time there was a mightier wave. Well, multiple waves coupled together, which I realised only at the end of it all. Could there actually be so many waves rising together. Well, the moon has its own laws of attraction I guess. As I gauged a wave and turned my back to it just about when it was to hit me, it carried me. But it wasnt the way I had expected it. I wasnt on the top of the wave, like I was earlier. I was not floating. I had water all over me.I was ‘in’ the wave ! And to rub salt, ah well, to the wound, I was quite a distance from the shore. All the fears of being swept into the sea crammed in my head. Swim. As I started moving my legs and hand a huge wave smashed me down to the ground and I was bouncing quite literally towards the shore. With my chest and abdomen skin being brushed against the sand below every time I touched the bottom, I had to think fast. All my calculations went wrong. Is it the time to turn to the God. Turn. I said to myself and swiftly changed my position in one quick action, somewhat like turning parallel to the wave. So I was gently rolled back to where I had began, yet again. I quickly checked my self. No blood, thankfully. It had hurt so bad. Did the sea feel bad about my comments on it not having a heart ? I just sat where it had placed me, in a reverie that may be the sea ultimately does have a heart. It even has so many secrets. Must have one hell of a heart to hold so much! Oblivious to the wave in front of me, I just gazed long into the sea and out of no where, another high wave hit me and pushed me further from where I was. This was the farthest I was thrown so far. The power was so much that if I were sitting a tad to close, I think the waves would have thrown me back to my hotel !

Alright. Enough, I hollered. And walked back to my hotel. My legs covered with sand. Bringing back foggy photos of a childhood visit to the sea. My legs, longer than before were yet again covered with sand.Now my body had become a lot more grains of sand than what it was. I was just hoping the grains of sand dont accumulate over my tummy, over the years. Wishful thinking. I went back planning for my sojourn with the sea the next day.

The next day, I was scared, when someone told me that the current can be very strong sometimes and the sea has pulled in many a bodies. My thoughts of my silent comments to the sea the day before came seeping through. Could the sea read someones mind ? The sea will definitely swallow me today, I thought. Still, I walked back thinking of simply apologising to the sea and coming back. So I walked to the sea in all my clothing and shoes. I made peace with the sea in my heart and wanted to walk back. The moment I turned, at least one more time I can touch the waters, I thought. Who knows when I will return. So I decided to just wander in a bit and return immediately. I took my shoes off and placed them at a safe distance. No, there is no way my shoes will go missing. They are too huge for anyone to steal, so they’d be useless to steal and have mass enough so the breeze wont fly them away. I could only imagine my shoes being suspended in the air like the little birds were balancing themselves. LOL, I said. and walked towards the sea. I should take a picture of me in the waters. I was alone, so I walked towards where there were a few people. So I could request someone to click a pic for me.

As I walked away from my dear shoes, I repeatedly turned back to check if my shoes were there.They were there all the while. So, finally, someone obliged and clicked a photo. I walked back looking at the pic. How stupid can one be. He clicked the photo when my eyes were closed, in their regular natural activity of blinking. As I slid back my cam into my pockets and looked up, quite automatically, at my shoes. One of them was gone!

WTF, I said, why would anyone steal just one shoe. I quickly looked around and the place was empty with no people. Who comes to the sea at 6 am ! Then, like lightning striking the neurons of my mind inside and a stream of a single enlightening bolt hitting me, I doubted the sea and turned my head towards it.

There it was.

A huge piece of rubber just floating like 5 feet away from the shore. A huge tide must have swallowed it. Shit. I had already apologised to the sea and yet it harms me. It surely doesnt have a heart ! Then I wanted to wade in and get it. But I had my day clothes on and didnt want them to get wet since I had to leave that day and I did not have time to have them dried so I wouldnt be able to pack them. Damn. So many things a mind can think in a fraction of a second. What do I do. I had to device a way pretty quick because I could see my shoe oscillating with long strides between the shore and the sea. Damn. Was it reminding me of its own time ticking away ? The thing then I did was very childish, I requested the sea to ‘please’ return back my shoe. I wouldnt mind if its wet and I have to wear it and move about and risk warts on the fingers of my feet, which is what happens if I wear shoes on wet feet. Just that this time the shoes would be wet. I waited, and like the Good Lord listening to his kids and answering innocent little prayers, just that moment when the little prayers are answered and you think ‘shoot, should have prayed for something else’, with the next wave, the shoe was thrown ashore. It almost got the same treatment like I did yesterday. I was too delighted to get my shoe back and wore it like I would be so depressed to lose a shoe like this ! Nike. 45. I bowed my head to the sea in respect and walked away. It has a huge heart. It takes care of all the fishermen community to live for generations off it. And all it has got in return is some royal abuse. I hope I was able to give it some relief by showing some sincere gratitude to what the sea stands for, in its entirety. Good bye, Bay of Bengal. I had a ball of a time. Thank you.