Monday, October 06, 2008

Condiments of the Soul. And other Rajanna stories!

Phew. Six puris wolfed down in record time, a delightful cup of a masala tea, a bottle of cold mineral water and a whole ten drags of Kings later, I sat down in a sleeper coach, legs outstretched in exactly the position that allowed my feet to bask in the AC air. And as the iPod shuffled over to Raghu Dixit, I actually felt heady vapors of a memorable time wafting out from the top of my head, leaving that typically dumb, satisfied smile one has on one's face when everything with the world is JUST perfect!

Sometimes, your days are only as good as the last thought or image in your mind before you fall asleep. It is the same story with holiday trips! All that happens in between is like a succession of slow-burning, percolative rhythms that add on to that one final solsticial ensemble where suddenly every beat, every riff and every mood is in place.

And ah, those rhythms!

My trip to Gokarna this time was a departure of sorts from my last one, which was more than a year ago. The chief differences were - one, I went with a group of friends that I've known all my life and two, we planned for ages before actually embarking on the trip. This time, it was a fresh circle and there was minimal planning. It was like the coming together of travel's two most popular adages - "the most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway" and "half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness". No, I'm not making these quotes up!

The repugnance and pain of traveling 13 hrs on a crowded, non-deluxe bus was eased out by a brilliant KFC meal (thanks to Cwappah), conversations about Real Estate in Panama with an advertising guy I met and also many small gulps of Port Wine (Cwappah again).

Gokarna struck me with all the adorable appeal of being a village of rundown beauty, like it did the first time I was here. Waiting for people, like always is made easier by Patiala-sized helpings of Signature and lunch. Our caretaker, Mr. HG also chipped in for the entertainment cause with compelling narrations of Gokarna's history - laced with big words in that lovely Uttara Kannada dialect. I was quietly wondering how he would refer to the origin of "byootiful virgin beechas and breathtaking laandscapes".

Beaches. I have this peculiar quirk of having to spread my visit to beaches over at least two separate days. The first visit will be characterized by long, solitary walks, despondent staring into the sunset and elaborate attempts at being reflective about Life, Universe and Everything. The second visit is when I actually realize I am on holiday and refrain from thought processes that are too hard on the cerebrum. In other words, indulge in manic drinking and trying to sing like Vadivel.

The thing is - for most people, stepping into a beach is the ultimate realization that they have gotten away from all things that bother them in daily life. They force themselves to think about the happiest things. But because of the crazy vastness of the area, their ears become vast aural blackholes, begging the sea to fill them up with the voices of the world. And everything goes downhill from there! I mean - what can you think about that is so happy that will push away all your daily worries in an instant and also last till you walk the entire stretch of the coastline? It's futile - face it. So you come back the next day, determined not to think too much, drink a lot and stare at all the real sights the beach offers - forget the achingly pretty twilight and the beautiful landscape, here come the women!

Getting to know people is the best! And nothing brings new friends closer like the sunshiney cheer of the beach, tales told over dinner tables and around candlelight on dark nights.

And to complement that, Gokarna does not offer great public transport service. Getting from one beach to the next (which is pretty much all one can do, especially if one is an inveterate atheist) is mostly best done by foot. For all those who want to visit all of Gokarna's beaches in any season except the monsoons, I strongly recommend the trek from Om Beach to Paradise, with a stop-over at Half Moon. Its brilliant and best done over an empty stomach. Also, I challenge you to bring along Rufus Weinwright to the trek and see if his rendition of Stairway to Paradise is really that happy at the end of it. This is strooong stuff man! The fact that we did not expect a simple day at the beach to entail lengthy treks over mountains and water somehow made us muster more character and stick as a group! If anything, atleast that should make us keep in touch with each other. For everything else, there's Puri Saagu at Shivaprasad!

Terrific trip. Pity I couldn't indulge in the last offerings - Old Monk and more Signature. For those who did, a belated 'cheers and here's sand in your eye!'

Manudo's back. Gimme a hell yeah!
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