This one is about a welcome escape from the concrete jungle called Mumbai. I'm talking of our recent trip to Nagaon and Kashid beaches, situated about 150 k.m from Mumbai.
To begin with it was not easy to believe that such peaceful roads covered with greenery on both sides exist at a distance of a stone's throw from the maddening crowd and nauseating traffic in Mumbai. The fact that you also add to all that by being there does not make it any better. So you set off in the early hours of a long weekend morning and find the roads almost empty. The entire moving population has already left the metro, may be in the previous evening itself. The rest of them happily in bed still, perhaps trying to clear some of the backlog in sleep accumulated during the busy week. Whatever the reason it made our start hazzle-free and monsoon breeze added to the pleasant coolness. We were off from the concrete jungle soon and on to the Konkan route. The roads were lined thick with trees on both sides instead of high rise buildings. A welcome change for the eyes and mind too.
I'm sure some of you would have noticed it while travelling through straight roads with trees on both sides. When you keep looking ahead branches of trees from both sides join together to give us a visual treat. The gap between them would form images varying from human faces to animal forms to India maps and what-nots.Even while you are watching these images would transform into another and suddenly the branches would give way to reveal a bright sky. If you are lucky to travel during monsoon, as we were during this trip, clouds would conitnue the kalaidoscopic treat of forming faces looking at each other now, animals fighting with one another next and so on and so forth. The swiftness and speed with which the clouds change(here the trees too did the same) the pictures they form always remind me of Kannadasan's lines "எந்த வேதனையும் மாறும் மேகத்தைப் போல".
Soon trees give way to paddy fields on both sides. We could see people busy with paddy transplanting work which has never failed to fascinate me. In a few fields full grown paddy dancing in the breeze is again an ever pleasing sight. It also as usual brought to my mind Kannadasan's lines பூத் தொடுக்கும் கையாலே and other lines in my all time favourite song ஏரு பெரிசா இந்த ஊரு பெரிசா; சொல்லடி நெல்லு பெரிசா பயக சொல்லு பெரிசா in the film விளையாட்டுப்பிள்ளை. (I don't know why they don't telecast it in TV.)
After some time you are surrounded with thick bushes and wild plants on both sides that you feel you have entered a forest area. Monkeys jump hither and thither to confirm your doubt as does the Sun playing hide and seek with monsoon clouds.
Thus you reach your destination wishing the journey to continue. After taking some rest you proceed to the beaches, one after the other. For one coming from the land of God's own country with beautiful and clean beaches such as Shankumughom, Kovalam, Varkala and Kanyakuamri (the last one though not in Kerala, quite nearby) the beaches as such were not much. Still considering the Mumbai beaches polluted with the city's population and industrial waste, Nagaon and other beaches were good enough. The tides changing their force, frequency and height quite often is a fascinating scene. That part of the beach which was dry a while ago would suddenly get flooded with waves. Also waves would be coming from left and right unlike in Kerala. The sand also is not as coarse as in Kerala. In fact used to seeing the coarse sand in Kerala and Tamilnadu I have often wondered how people manage to ply vehicles in the coarse sand in films, that must be only a photographic trick. But the sand in these beaches are finer and you can actually see vehicles being driven touching the waves.
My two year old granddaugher got so excited seeing the waters and bathing in it that it was quite difficult to get her out of it when it was time for us to return. She keeps talking in her baby language of the 'moattaa paani', bathing in it, horses taking people for joy ride and the balloon purchased there which burst making a sound while we were returning and such other things even after three weeks. Perhaps she too has started realising that ' A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.'