I have lived in cities that have a beach – New York City, Mumbai, Valsad, Chennai. Apart from these, there have been so many vacations to cities with beaches such as Puri, Bali, Split, Montegro, Goa, Corfu, Colombo, etc.
I wouldn’t count the vacations so much. But I used to be a regular visitor to the beach in all the cities listed above where I have lived. And there is an association with the sea in each of these places depending on the stage of my life. Every time I see the sea, those associations come back. The mind categorizes them all as one, even though geographically they may all be different and distant too. The mind is a powerful place. It can take you anywhere it wants. Back in time. Back in memories. All in of a flash.
Golden Beach, Puri
This was probably the first beach visit of my life. Always a darpok kid, I was scared of the waves and was clinging to my mother. She was wearing a blue sari, I remember that. I don’t remember much else as I was very little. Put I distinctly remember the name of the city.
More than the beach, I remember what amazed me was that there could be a place by the name of Puri! Poori as I knew it was something I ate. A round, tasty fried thing made of Atta or Maida (which was even tastier). I remember when my parents told me we are going to Puri. I imagined it must be some place that looked like a gigantic Poori. When I finally went to Puri, it was just water. I was disappointed. I could not make the connection. Why would they call it Puri? It looked nothing like a Poori!
Another beach visit I remember from my childhood was to Goa. I must be little then too though older than I was in Puri. My father and sister had taken the water scooter ride. I don’t know if my mother was scared of it, so she didn’t opt for it or was it just because she had to stay back with darpok me! The moment the scooter took off with my father and sister, I started crying and stopped only once I saw them return!
That time and place signified innocence for me.
New York City – Coney Island Beach
I was very young then – 13-14. We had gone to the beach on a school trip. I was overdressed. I had worn shorts, which was stylish enough by my usual wardrobe standards but of course all the other girls had changed to bikins. Me – I just changed into another pair of shorts and T-shirt! At that time I could not imagine wearing a bikini.
I was walking around the beach when suddenly I felt something sharp stuck to my foot. I limped a little and tried to look at it but couldn’t figure out what it was from that angle. It just felt like something rough. A few of my friends came towards me to help but there were also not able to do much either. Just then, a very cute older guy who I had a crush on ran towards us seeing the commotion. He told me to relax and stay still as I was being quite fidgety. He took a closer look and within no time he was able to pull out whatever it was. I thanked him shyly. He said ‘You are welcome’ and left immediately. He left just as he had appeared out of nowhere – like a professional saviour!!
That was the highlight of my trip. For many days I wondered if he liked me that is why he came to help me or was he just being a nice guy. He never spoke to me again even though whenever I saw at him in the school hallways I smiled like a creep.
The other memory I have of the beaches there is how everyone looked so picture perfect. I was at that age when I was unsure of myself and when I looked around everything looked too good. I wondered if I would every grow up to be good enough.
If there is one thing I can associate to those memories – it is glamour!
Valsad – Tithal Beach
For those who do not know, it is a small town in Gujarat. I never lived there as such. But my father was posted there so I visited him on vacations. My father had a chauffeur driven car and every evening I requested the driver to take me to the beach which was very close to my house.
This beach was clean and peaceful. There was a temple close to the beach. Some local food would be sold outside the temple. Lots and lots of families would visit. Women wore sarees and salwar suits and leggings, because the visit to the beach was accompanied by the visit to the temple.
For me this place meant visiting my father. I felt safe.
When I looked at the sea there, it meant security for me.
Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai
I lived here very briefly. This was again a very clean beach, and luckily enough I stayed closely.
By this time, I had started studying for CA exams. Staring at the sea I wondered when my studies will be over. When will I become a CA? Where will my father’s next posting be?
The sea signified uncertainty for me.
Juhu Beach, Mumbai
The most vivid memory of this place is a random visit. I was just out with a guy in the cab probably returning late night from work. i was wearing formal shirt and trousers! We were going somewhere else for dinner and then I just saw the beach and decided I wanted to be there.
He was kind enough to let me go in the water while he watched my shoes and purse!! I was working in a big firm. I was a CA by then. Earning my own money. Living on my own in a PG.
Life had started. It was a place of ambition. This place meant big dreams for me in the big bad city.
Bali, Goa, Split, Montenegro, Corfu, Colombo
There were so many Goa trips in between. And one trip each to Split, Montenegro, Colombo and Bali. I cannot attach a single mood or feeling to all these places. I distinctly remember the beach in Corfu because I had got so tanned there! The heat was something else altogether! Especially my legs and arms had become at least three shades darker than my face. When I had come back from that trip, everyone noticed my tan and one of my colleagues said it looked like it was wearing stockings in my arms!!
Morgen beach was so green and beautiful. I had done kayaking there.
Those places signify adventure for me!
My recent visit to Goa
My recent visit to Goa is the trigger for this post. I was staying at a beach resort and I spent a significant amount of time on the beach.
I spent time in the water, all alone. Sometimes we are afraid to be alone. The mind is a dangerous place. Especially when it does not have a job to do. Where will it take me? I was afraid that I will get lost in thoughts. Thoughts that I did not want to face…
But to my surprise, I did not have any thoughts. No associations. No feelings
Except the feeling of the water, the waves and the sand on my body.
I was in the moment. It can be as simple as that.
I have never felt so rejuvenated. I mediated in the water. I tried some yoga. I sat there and did nothing for a long time. And nothing can be more relaxing.
I came back refreshed. I had gone to Goa last year too around this time. Mentally, I am much better now than I was last year this time.
It doesn’t matter what the world is doing. If I am doing better now than I did last year, I am going good.
Maybe that is all that matters….
The sand still feels the same no matter what happens in your life. The waves still give you a thrill even though you see it coming. And for the waves that you did not see coming – it may land you up somewhere you never thought you would be, but you still end up okay.