Escapists hunt for opportunities that open up escapist avenues. This year, the Sun God promised me the same and I got a rare off from work for Pongal so I could visit Puducherry during the weekend and take the much needed break from professional madness that I oh-so-wanted. Now, that’s one place off my To-Do list 🙂
Puducherry has been on my To-
Do Go list for almost a decade now. I fell in love with the place and my idea and perception of it the day I learned about the existence of this Union Territory during one of my Geography and/or General Knowledge classes. French, and almost anything European, interested my Euro-centric mind back then. Today, of course, I have grown more neutral in terms of selecting places solely on the basis of their roots and without any knowledge, whatsoever, of its historic origins and context.
But, French cuisine, the language, people, their French accented English, architecture and literature (more so after reading Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett –two very interesting authors who propagate intriguing philosophies, though I never read anything that was particularly French in their works), reading descriptions of French houses, paintings and walls in some of the short stories by Guy de Maupassant (one of my favourite writers as a teenager, his name and its correct pronunciation enthralls me even today) and Victor Hugo plus my History classes of the French Renaissance were enough to sow the seeds of exploring something even remotely French some day.
Last weekend provided the perfect opportunity to do the same, though I planned it with my friend a few weeks ago. Puducherry, as most may be aware, was a former French colony before it became annexed to independent India. It still boasts of a remarkable French influence in terms of architecture, buildings, people and culture, in general.
I have always been more of a beach than a mountain person. I love mountains and the calm atmosphere of cold bliss that they bring with themselves but I believe that the serenity that a beach or a land near any moving water body has to offer is rarely found anywhere else. Thus, Pondy scored even on the beach front as it boasts of some extraordinary beaches, a few of which have, sadly, been affected by cyclone ‘Thane‘ recently. The devastation caused is for everyone to see. Fortunately or unfortunately, the bay (here, the Bay of Bengal, the largest bay in the world) that brought the calamity continues to flow, roar and sing according to its own freewill.
A significant period of our trip was spent on the Promenade beach, one of the most popular beaches in Pondy on Beach road (Goubert Avenue) . We saw the sea and all its colours at various points of the day–dawn, early morning, morning, afternoon, dusk and, finally, night. Each had a charm and a certain mystery of its own. Perhaps it is because one spends time looking at a gigantic, powerful force of Mother Nature (a bay in this case) spreading its enormity in front of us, the Yahoos (to borrow Swift’s term) that one tends to ponder more than usual. I, for one, actually devote time to my own musings and wondering on a regular basis. But there certainly is an added advantage of a beach and the quietness it offers.
To look and judge the enormity of the wave that’s approaching. To feel the wind rush against your cheeks. To dare your silky hair to take its roughness. To stare continuously at the horizon and wonder at its endlessness. To think about the exact shade of blue that the bay is. To contemplate swimming in the middle of nowhere. To wonder if you’d even be able to swim in the undefined and uncertain depths of the water body. To ponder about the wetness of the rocks that are lucky or unlucky enough to be slapped by the waves every few seconds. To listen intently to the sound of the waves. To find silence in their noise. To think about peace in the middle of commotion. A beach is a storehouse of irony, oxymorons and so much more.
A walk by the beach certainly turns one philosophical. And unconsciously so. It inspires contemplation on subjects one either never got the time to think about or the opportunity to dwell upon further. My friend believes he’ll pen his book some day sitting on the sidelines of a sea. The inherent individual inspiration that the sea offers seems to fuel much thought, beliefs and apprehensions. I even read somewhere that poets and writers (and others of the ‘creative’ lot) have unanimously found the sea and the moon to be awe-inspiring. Interestingly, tidal waves are caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon!
I don’t know if it’s ‘inspiring’, really. To borrow Marquez‘s lines: “An inspiration comes without any warning.”
I would rather revel in the blissfulness of the rarity of my own existence. 🙂