Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memoirs of a vacation..

I dropped my 8 year old at my parents place and took the 6.22 am Veraval Express from Udupi to meet my husband, Sagar at Kudal. Sagar drove down from Pune in our Grey A star and had spent 2 nights already in Konkan. I was greeted with a warm hug and a red-mud coated car, which had already taken the flavour of Konkan on itself.
We had lunch at Kudal and left to a recommended home stay in a place called Parule. The GPS takes you to the village, but later the direction to get to the location, uses a language of Pimpul no:1, Vad no:3, so on and so forth. Pass the first Pimpul tree, take thrid right until you see the temple and then take first left, go on until you pass 3 Vad trees...
This Samant's house we were headed to, was a little more complicated. Sagar was on the phone with them. Sagar loves to talk, understand the language, usage of words, tone,intonation, notice gestures of people, all differing from one village to another. Meeting every 'treemark' we surpassed the 2 Pimpal trees, finally took the left and were headed our home stay, at the Samants.
One of his daughters who was on the phone with Sagar giving directions, was a little taken aback seeing me on the drivers seat. I wondered why, for a a moment and then held back on starting my judgement process. From the car park on the road, their house was almost 50 feet below. The road was not leveled and it was a walk downhill and then a group of 4 independent houses, with a cow shed of 5 cows ( 4 Indian bred, 1 Jersey) and 2 buffaloes in the middle. Guru Samant's house was in the end.We were greeted by a group of 7 ladies in varying age groups.Each coming out either solitary or with someone and checking us out.Expressive and inquisitive eyes were questioning, judging and making impressions of us, we could see. Since none of the rooms were available, they gave us a room inside the house. A 10x10 feet room with 1 window. They wouldn't charge us for the stay , but would charge us only for the food. I was tired from my journey , didn't want to look around,found the ladies friendly, knew we wouldn't be spending much time in the room, so said an "yes" to Sagar. Sagar in turn is pretty much okay with any place where people are welcoming.
Once we agreed, we got our 'welcome drink'- Kokam sharbat in our room. There were 2 beds put on the floor and with our 4 bags inside the room, even the meow of a cat seemed to crowd the place !
We freshened up in a common toilet outside the house, and slept for a while. Got good sleep, surely a sign of the body needing it and the surroundings acknowledging it wholeheartedly.
After the nap, we discussed our judgments,perceptions- all that can be made, in a instant, without having any background information in hand. We wondered why there were no 'guys' in the house, how come so many ladies were there, and all these questions led to one single comment- Hope things are okay here! Limited acceptance of anything new, combined with our smartness of urban education, invariably brings up this 'doubt'!
We get out of the room, to be welcomed by this huge 6 feet guy, bear chested full of hair , sweat oozing out from every part of his body, and adorned with a dirty shorts resting just below his paunch. But the eyes though not highlighted in his hair laden body, had an innocence,which spoke with all honesty and pride. We finally get to meet the 'MAN' of the house, the owner, Guru Samant, who is a cook by profession. He does the catering business and charges(according to us) very nominal. For any function in their own village, he doesn't even charge money. Sagar started talking to him and after getting to know a basic structure of what he does for a living, I dissuaded myself from the conversation and started observing him. He was just like 'Bhalu' from the Jungle book. Hair had taken over his body and was starting to come out of his ears and nose too.The colour of his body, was a dark shade- I couldn't distinguish if it was by birth or the effect of the scorching sun falling on it repeatedly. Some parts among that had also begun to grey. The pot belly suited his body structure, emulating his liking for food! I extrapolated from my side, that he would have a loud and innocent laugh :) Never got a chance to verify it though.
He along with the ladies, explained the whole family structure and then we got to know how wife, 2 daughters, sister, sister in law sisters grand daughter,another lady working for them, all made up the big group of ladies we were greeted with at the entrance :)
Now with a changed perceptions of the hosts and feeling connected, we left to Bhogave beach,the closest beach to Parule. Though its all the Arabian sea, I have realised, every beach has a different personality, probably it absorbs some of the traits of the people living by it. We saw a beautiful, pollution free sunset, walked a long stretch and headed back.
Back in the house, the lady of the house was now peeling the 'kokum'  fruit.They differentiate the fruit from the skin and use both of them individually after further processing. All the kokum was from their 'wadi' ( a huge garden encompassing huge trees,fruits of which are mostly used for commercial sale) . I tried my hand at it, but soon realised my pace and action was far from her finesse.As we were chatting with her. the group of 3 dogs,all loitering in the house suddenly ran into the wadi and broke into a unison loud bark.  The lady in front of me, shouted out to her youngest ( the only other male member of the house) to check what had happened. She said it could be anything from a snake to a leopard. Apparently leopards have been spotted in that area a lot of times.I loved the fact that an adventure could happen at any instance in their life. Their life seemed so alive!
Dinner was filled with chatter and conversation. Another family from Vasai were also staying there and we all spoke about just random topics. We then went on a after dinner stroll and walked into a temple which had the Gayatri mantra playing on record. I realised as I entered the temple, that after 9 pm, is probably the best time to visit an Indian temple to observe the energy and sanctity of the place. We sat there for a while, read all the boards of moral science wordings put up on their walls. We couldnt really connect with the sanctity of the place,even with the background music on; so we relooked at each other, and left .
Though I had slept in the afternoon, though it was one of the smallest rooms I have ever slept in, I got amazing sleep and woke up fresh at 6 in the morning.We decided to  walk up to the Tsunami island, another tourist spot which was a 20 minute walk from Samant's house. It was a beautiful walk with jackfruit, mango and vad trees accompanying us along the way. I also saw 2 hornbills that flew over a tree, perched for couple of minutes and flew away. It was like they made a pit stop especially for me. Once we reached the coast, we realised there were no boats yet ready to take us to the Tsunami island.Then a young guy in his late 20s came by and asked us what we wanted. He had a house there on the coast and also rented out kayaks for tourists. He was fondly known as Rama in the village. Soon we both were seated on one of Ramas kayaks and set sail on the Karli river at 7.30 in the morning. The river was all to us. This definitely was a rare sight for any tourist spot in India, where you butt brush across people continuously and lose the sense of your identity.
It was romantic,if I may use the word, but the connotation was beyond just the two of us. It was the sky, the sun, the sand, the water all blessing us and telling us its okay to be different and alone, as long as you are true to yourself!
We dragged the kayak on the island and walked past the small island and sat on one of the shacks for 10 minutes. As we got back, we realised there was one more kayak and both were almost 90% under water. We ran and caught the kayak and realised, Rama had come to get us, because the level of water was rising and we had to head back.
We headed back along with Rama, understanding the nuances of  kayaking against the flow of water.In continuance of the conversation, I asked him, what his qualification was.He replied-MA,LLB!We both simultaneously gave him a look.He along with couple of his friends decided to stay back in his village 3 years back. They were ridiculed back then, but are bringing tourist business into the village and getting a second chance from their fellow villagers. He also takes Maths classes for the village kids, as he loves the subject and wants to be in touch with it. Sagar just asks him,how much money one would need to live in a village like theirs.Rama answers. "For a family of 5- around 5-6K. I immediately wonder where we stay!! where a salary of over 1 lakh is also not enough for a family of 3!!  Difference being that they get everything they 'need' right at their backyard. And we go all over the place just defining 'basic needs'or should I say 'basic wants'..
After having lunch at the Samants, we decided to see their wadi once and leave from there. In the short 10 minute walk with one of the daughters, we realised the family was divided and everyone had their share of trees marked. Even though there were no physical demarcations, the fruits of the respective trees were mutually identified accurately.
Another feature of any of these native, less populated villages is that wherever you go, there is a local dog which accompanies you either behind, ahead or along with you. Depending on the perceptive you see from, you may find the dog a follower,a guide or a companion.One such dog stayed with us and brought us back to the house as a companion.
As we got our bags ready, one of the ladies of the house asks me"What do you do?" I was surprised, for the little I talk, I rarely get asked about myself.Though now, I explain to her what I do, to which she quips back - "Oh! I thought you were in the police. You look like a police officer !"
I smiled from the bottom of my heart and felt at peace to have lived my childhood dream, though in another's imagination, atleast for a couple of days.
That definitely was the icing on the cake!!


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