The City Next to The Sea

Edited by: Vidushi Rijuta (UG 2019)

Among the many, many things I miss about home, living 20 minutes away from the sea tops the list. A stay near the beach during spring break made me realize how much it means to me.

I grew up in the Queen of the Arabian sea (formally called Kochi), a small port city in the south-west coast of India, where the air was always a little salty. Back home, the sea is so much a part of our daily lives, that we rarely acknowledge its existence and take it for granted. Sitting in my dorm room in Delhi, 2000 miles away from Kochi, my thalassophilia comes out in the form of this article.

I spent a few days of spring break in Kovalam, a coastal town about five hours away from Kochi. As a town where the primary income is tourism and fishing, the place was filled with people from different parts of the world.

Seeing tourists walk around in colourful shorts, sipping coconut water is a regular sight if you live in Kerala, but after giving it some thought, I realized that these people probably have better beaches where they’re from. Yet, they’re here to indulge themselves in our food and culture, something we often turn our noses up at.

While on the topic of food, if any Indians reading this want to live off fresh seafood, I assure you there is no better place to do it in the country than Kovalam. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of fish, but one thing I can stuff myself with is prawns. And I’m positive I ate my weight in them during my stay.

During the evenings, once the sun wasn’t hot enough to burn our heads, the weather would be perfect for long walks on the beach, and a little waddle into the sea. Have you noticed how people who live on the seaside always seem to have perfect skin? Well, I’m about to drop their skincare routine: salt water and sand. But before you put salt and/or sand on your face, hear me out. Sea water is known to be packed with skin-friendly minerals that’ll make your skin glow. Moreover, it also kills acne-causing bacteria on your skin. And beach sand is a natural exfoliant. Walks on the beach really is a three in one package. Although I will issue a warning: you might keep finding sand in weird places even two weeks later.

Overall, just the feeling of falling asleep listening to the lullaby of waves crashing, hearing the fishermen sing their songs as they gather their catch first thing in the morning, and feeling the salty breeze in your hair are irreplaceable feelings. When the stay actually came to an end, and I had to leave for Kochi, I was actually sad even though I was going home.

While Kochi’s beaches are vastly different from Kovalam’s, and the ever-busy urban population makes it difficult for one to slow down and appreciate the fact that we live right next to Kadalamma (Malayalam for ‘Sea Goddess’), I make sure to visit her whenever I go back. There is something inexplicably calming to just sit down, forget everything and watch the water do its thing; whether its from Aspinwall House post-Biennale or Marine Drive while munching on groundnuts. Whether it’s with a hundred other people in one of the many public beaches, or with five others in a hotel’s private stretch.

As much as I love Delhi, in all its capital city grandeur, the most important self-realization I had in the eight months I’ve lived here is that I am definitely going to eventually settle in a seaside city. Somewhere where every time I’m stressed, I can take a short drive to the beach, where Kadalamma is ready to let my problems drown in her. Because when near the sea, all is well.

 

PS: All these pictures were taken by me!