Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Day At The Beach

The first image that “Chennai” brings to my mind, is the vast expanse of sand against which the Bay of Bengal introduces itself, gently. The beach has remained eternal and constant, while the city adjoining has undergone a 'sea' change.

As we so proudly proclaim, we are blessed with one of the longest coastlines in the world. The sight of the Marina beach on a Sunday evening can be a sobering reminder of the multitude that reside beyond it's shores. I've read in several books that one can smell the sea much before gazing upon it. Sadly, that remains another art that I've yet to master.

As you approach the water, you become aware of the noise of the city, slowly ebbing away until you reach that magical mid point, where neither the city nor the bay intrude upon the aural senses. A time where you can actually hear your inner voice, feel your heart beat, temples throb. Then you feel the caress of the wind, that welcomes you like a lover, long lost. You soak in the warmth of the sand as it slowly sinks, to accommodate the rude intrusion of your feet. And as you proceed, you hear the gentle grunt, not the mighty roar, of the water as it crashes upon the eastern shelf of the Indian subcontinental shelf.

Once you look back at where you came from, you realize that this is a city built around the shore. This becomes apparent as you gaze upon the several Victorian architectural splendors, each with a rich history, all along Kamaraj Salai. Then you look forward to the coast and notice the litter strewn across the shoreline, all the way from the light house to the harbor. Such callousness towards a natural wonder leaves one seething with anger.

That anger soon evaporates when a gust of sea breezes pushes you as you push against it, to reach the grayish muddy waters. Water that approaches discreetly, as if shy of it's coolness, in calm defiance of the scorching mid day sun. With each wave that laps your feet, you feel the tug of that ancient bond. The bond that we, children of the ocean (after all, life did take it's tottering steps in it's nurturing depths) can't deny, though our history of progress has made us forget.

And then the knick knack vendors, beggars, horse riders all clamor for your attention, breaking the idyll of the spell. It reminds you of the noisy bustling and ultimately soul sapping world that you must return to. Ever notice how one always “Rushes to the shore” but always “Trudges back to the land”?

As you return back to the mainland, and look back at the sea with longing, you also notice that your footprints are lost in the midst of a billion footprints of all shapes and sizes. Which will be replaced tomorrow by a million more footprints, all lost and swept away by the winds of change and time.

The only things that will remain eternal are the waves, still gently trying to reclaim and bring back the errant land, that ran away from it's fold, eons ago.

Six Degrees of Solitude

Questions that sear and plague the mind.

Riddles whose answers seem unkind.

Despair that seeps into your bones, so cold.

Worries that leave the young feeling cold.

The burden of the world we seem to bear,

taking on risks we'd never dare.

All for a smile or a loving look,

measuring one's worth, summed up in the pass book.

Envying your peers, as they move on.

Trying to shake off that attitude forlorn.

Lack of opportunities, your only excuse,

which lets you sleep- the classic ruse.

Never admit that you're bored.

Bored of yourself and insecure.

Make a resolution, determined to change,

and fall back into the routine you wanted to disengage.

Now your chair creaks in an empty home.

A shrine to the past that will soon be gone.

And you're forced to admit – you weren't that good.

No one will mourn your passing,

nor they should.