The beach reflects the purple sky as the waves wash our feet. I stand, accompanied by myself, watching the infinite expanse of ocean. My friends are playing in the water, small waves breaking surf around their bodies. I am waiting, for the sun to rise, for the fifth element of nature to unite with the rest four in salutation and service to the Human in me and His pleasure.
We are in Mandawa (Mandve), a small neglected town on the Konkan coast, known (or rather unknown) as a mere stop on the passage to Alibaug. People rush past it in a hurry to reach the more popular destinations further South. Yesterday, we took the most indirect route to reach Mandawa from Pune.
Instead of driving straight from pune to Mandawa, we caught a bus to Mumbai and got down at Dadar after relishing the scenic Mumbai-Pune Express Highway. From Dadar we took a local train to reach the Gateway of India, the southern most tip of Mumbai which is separated from Mandawa by just a small stretch of water, part of the Arabian Sea. On a map these two places appear to have frozen midst an attempt to touch each other.
Last night, when we were playing in the ocean, under the moonlight, we could see the lights sparkling miles away in Mumbai. The sea was swollen in the high tide and the waves were rocking us every now and then, but the shore was absolutely inhabited at that time as well. Mumbai’s lights looked like a loud noise desperately trying to reach us, but the silence of the crashing waves shielded us from the disturbance and kept us tranquil in our nowhere. The two shores are frequented by powered boats which ferry people to and fro. We will take another ferry back to Mumbai sometime later today. It will take us barely an hour to reach Mumbai and some more time to return home, back in Pune. But we will take a long time to leave this place (and this place will take a long time to leave us).
We are staying at a small farm house, located a couple of kilometers from the beach. The Cheulkar Farm has all basic amenities and people with a splendid sense of hospitality. The owner of the farm, Mrs. Cheulkar is a gifted cook. Sea food is her forte, and for the first time in my life I regret being a vegetarian. But, I am thoroughly enjoying all her Maharashtrian veggie treats. In fact, eating was our major exertion yesterday. We had left Mumbai at noon, so the mercury was high when we touched Mandawa’s port. But the greenery and the cool breeze from the sea saved our asses. We walked to the farm and died at the swings on the patio.
After quick showers we came back to life at the dining table. We ate as if it were the end of the world and died again in the clean and cozy bedrooms. The food was really delicious and worth a second mention.
We got up real early today, and came to the beach immediately, to see the sun rising. The winding road to the beach is full of natural beauty, the trees and their smell, scores of birds, each chirping in its unique voice. It’s a pleasure to walk through that road, despite availability of auto-rickshaws. Last evening we had taken a wrong turn and drifted to the wrong side of the beach, but we eventually stumbled here. It was different back then, the sun was setting and the sea was rising. We all wanted to soak up in the saline water and played till our bodies ached. But today, all I want to do is to stare at the purple beach, our footprints on the sand and the ebbing sea and wait for the sun to rise. I just want to be in the moment, in an effort to preserve its sanctity and vitality. It is a matter of just few more hours before we go back to the sea of human beings waiting to engulf us and steal our identity.
All six of us who went for the above trip are thankful to Smita Dhavale for suggesting this amazing destination. We are also thankful to Mrs. Cheulkar and the entire staff at the farm for making the trip extra special.