Friday, January 04, 2008

Sunsets Over the Beaches

Silent Vigil
Today my daily vigil was rewarded, with that large, shimmering globe of deep orange sinking slowly into the sea where it met the distant horizon - the haze that had swallowed the blazing orb every other day in Goa and in Tiruvannamalai had burned away, leaving a show of nature's glory that left me with a goofy smile of pure pleasure.

Returning from the rocky crags at the distant northern tip of Palolem beach, where I perch each evening to watch the setting sun, I paused a moment in front of my resort, opting to walk straight out into the welcoming sea rather than retreating to the confines of my little bungalow.

Wading into that vast ocean, the amazingly calm water seemed to be a sky in itself, reflecting the deep rose pink of the post-sunset heavens in a grand, sweeping work of art that gently shimmered as soft waves disturbed the glass-like surface.

Looking back towards the beach, the reciprocal was apparent, instead of the fading pastel of the waning day, the inky black surface was a deep and seemingly impenetrable portrait of night.

Yet the water itself still held a hint of the day's tropical sunshine, maintaining a pleasant lukewarm temperature that invited me to straighten my body, tense my muscles and arc forward, cutting the rose-hued surface to allow the salt water to swallow me and then gently support me

Coming back back up to the rapidly cooling early-evening air and the still startling sight of twin skies - one in its rightful place above and one like a watercolor painting below - I swept my wet hair from my eyes and took a deep breathe of satisfaction. Ahhh...

I am currently staying on Palolem beach, in South Goa - the beach-studded province that hosted the Portuguese enclave in India. Apparently the legacy of that colonial period remains in magnificent churches in the heavily Catholic provincial capital, which I plan to explore with my sister when she arrives in India in March.

For now I am camped out on the beach and not even thinking about entering a city if I can help it - I am enjoying my leisure, eating my muesli, fruit and curd every morning and devouring the novel Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, a page turner that I recommend VERY highly for a gripping insight into the underbelly of life in India's teeming cities.

However, I am also slightly haunted here, as I can see the shadows of the beauty that this place must once have presented - the seemingly endless crescent of white sand, with palm trees gracefully bowing over the border between lush tropical jungle and the expanse of fine powder sand sloping down to the whispering, green blue sea.

Now a jungle remains, but one of bars, restaurants and tourist accommodation established "in harmony" with nature - as some palms are allowed to grow through floor and roof of even the most offensive noise-making establishments. The amount of garbage on the beach and piled behind the the hut settlements is heartbreaking - much as it was on the peak of Mt. Arunachalla in Tiruvannamalai and in the soft flow of the sacred Ganges in Varanassi.

Such is man...

Thai Massage
I begin a massage course here on Jan 5, and hope that this will add to the larger purpose of my trip by helping me better appreciate the beauty and function of the human body - my own and those of others - and thus enforce the unity of body and mind that I am ostensibly fostering/strengthening on this trip.

I will try to keep you updated....

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