Two Zero Eight Four :)

I stood on the edge of land.

“I’m back, baby,” I whispered.

“I missed you,” she said.

“I missed you too.”

She responded by gently swirling around my ankles, gurgling as she withdrew and made way for another of her waves to wash over me. I had a smile the whole weekend in Gokarna. I’ve written about what it means to me, so I won’t do it again. I missed the sea, her warmth, her cold, her whispers and her screams, her love, her fury and her caress.

I made two wonderful friends this time in Gokarna. Here’s a shout out to Mahesh and Chris. Hope life takes you both where you want to go, and I hope Gokarna has been as therapeutic to you as it has been to me.

I was born on August 20, 1984. Or, in other forms, 20-08-84. A contraction of the same – 2084 – has always been a special number to me, at least for the past few years when I discovered it. It’s a perfect contraction, and aesthetically speaking, it feels beautiful and complete.

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So, all my contemplation and thinking and chickening out ended on Saturday. I got my first tattoo, and I think it beats the shit out of any abstract designs!

Gokarna & Why I Go There

This one goes out to all those unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals. Get off your high horse and read this.

There may be a hundred reasons why a person goes to Gokarna. People looking to get laid, people looking to score and get high, people looking for a nice, secluded beach and people wanting to offer their prayers in India’s most sacred temple. I don’t know if there are any other reasons, and frankly, I don’t really care why people go there.

I go there for a totally different reason, and its none of the above.

I lead a difficult life. I need to balance my passion to work, my unceasing urge to travel and roam aimlessly across the country, my singularly fierce attraction to beaches and my bank account. Juggling these four volatile substances while playing air hockey with the family, the bosses, the peers, the juniors, the friends, the foes, the creditors, the goons, the loons, the whackadoodles, the geniuses, the crap, the stench and the slippery slopes of bankruptcy, unemployment and loneliness around every corner is taking its toll on my nerves.

There are very few things I’m passionate about, and those that I am passionate about, I am so with a vehemence unseen in anyone else, for anything else. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘do drugs’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘sleep with women’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘drink drinks’. I do not go to Gokarna to visit the temple and offer my prayers. I do not go to Gokarna for the sea food. I do no go to Gokarna for the rustic beauty of the village. I do not go to Gokarna to ogle at half-naked women lounging in the sun. I do not go to Gokarna because I love beaches and water. I do not go to Gokarna to swim in the ocean. I do not go to Gokarna to live. I do not go to Gokarna to die.

I go to Gokarna once every three months because I need to get away from the Greek tragedy that my life is fast unraveling to be; to clear my head of all thoughts – good and bad; to reboot myself. I go to Gokarna because its the only place on Earth that welcomes me without judging who I am or what I have done. I go to Gokarna because that is the only place on Earth where I am at peace. Completely.

I have a sea rock, which I call my own, ten feet out into the ocean, at Om Beach. Its a bit of a hike to get to the top of the rock, and once I get there, I sit, looking at the waves crashing into me on all sides, rising twenty feet high and spraying me with a mist of cold, salty water. I listen to the rush, the gurgle, the power and the wordless songs of the waves and as I stare out into the horizon, imagining a place beyond comprehension, where the sky kisses the ocean, I realize that I am peaceful, within and without.

Gokarna - kudle beachNothing of what is happening in life matters here. Time stands still for me, for the 48 hours I’m there. I put my feet up at a cafe, sipping sweet tea and reading a good book, or people watching on the burning, golden sands. I take a nice pleasant trek up to Kudle through thick brambles and open moors and I wade in the white sands until the sun starts to set. I walk back amidst the gathering darkness to Om Beach, walk all the way up to Half Moon and back again. As night descends around me, so does the peace, deeper inside me.

I need this. I can’t do without it. For the unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals, I recommend it. The only thing I get high on, when in Gokarna, is Gokarna itself.

Hippie For A Weekend!

Perhaps the best weekend of my life so far. The title of this post is in appreciation of Bina‘s wonderful retirement plans (she plans to retire as a hippie in Goa at the age of 25!), which inspired me to do something similar, if only for a weekend.

In Gokarna, I was a hippie for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with nothing to do except lounge around on the beach, lie down on the sand in the heavy rain, waiting for the waves to come crashing into me, a bottle of cold beer by my side and a packet of cigarettes handy. We left Bangalore at 9 pm on Friday night and the first sign that this was going to be pleasant journey was that the bus was a sleeper AC coach, with long beds where I could stretch my 6’1″ frame comfortably and plug in my music and go to sleep. 🙂

A clear, blue sky with a spectacular sun gave way to dark clouds that bore ominous signs of a wet weekend. And wet it was – the skies opened up a few hours after I entered Gokarna, and didn’t let up for the three days. It rained intermittently and heavily and at one time, it rained for half a day continuously. This was perhaps the best part of the whole trip. Waves six feet high crashing on to the rocks made a spectacular view.

Imagine this: you’re sitting on a piece of rock that doubles as a chair in a beach-side restaurant, you have a cup of piping hot tea next to you, you’re sitting under an asbestos sheet that barely covers your outstretched legs, the sound of the rain thumping down on the roof is deafening, this sound has been masked by the crashing of the waves right in front of you, waves that rise to astronomical heights, spraying you with a fine, cold mist of salty sea water every time it does, you sit there from morning till evening watching the tide ebb and rise, and at the highest tide, the waves almost come up to the rock on which you’re sitting, instilling in you a faint fear of being washed away, but sitting there with the confidence that the place has been built there to withstand the highest tides, struggling to light your cigarette because the wind is blowing with all its fury, adding to the harmonic noise, and finally, just when the ancient clock in the café strikes six and the tiny lights go on, you see similar lights turning on all along the beach, hundred yards away from each other, and throwing a magnificent view of the entire beach in twilight, corresponding to the distant lighthouse and the small specks of light on the horizon among the waves.

I made friends with a nice, cute dog there, who had a striking resemblance to Balto, and I christened him Murthy. This was because he had only three front teeth, and I couldn’t think of any better name for him. I was having a conversation about existentialism with him and I asked him, “Do you believe if the whole concept of existentialism holds water, no puns intended?” He gave me the most logical answer I’ve ever heard on this topic: he scratched his head, sniffed his balls and trotted away. 😀

Gokarna town is a rustic village, located twenty minutes away from Om Beach, and is famous for its historical temples. There’s one very famous Mahabaleshwar temple here and legend has it that Lord Ganesha tricked the demon Ravana into leaving behind a Shivalinga here. In spite of the might exerted by Ravana (Maha Bala), the Shivalinga stayed fixed, hence the name Mahabaleshwar. The pull exerted by Ravana, is said to have caused the Shivalinga to resemble the shape of a cow’s ear and hence the name Gokarnam (literally means “cow’s ears” in Sanskrit). I had a nice time at the temple with the crowd of people thronging there, braving the rain to offer their prayers.

I started reading Roland Barthes during the journey, a French thinker who had been on my list for a long time. His book Mythologies is quite fascinating, and most of his essays are really intriguing. A good read for any occasion. But the most excitement came in the form of Italo Calvino.

I fell in love with this book called If on a winter’s night a traveler, which is perhaps THE best book I’ve ever read in my life! Thanks Anushree for getting the book for me!! I could not put the book down and once I finished it, started kissing the book all over until it was sloppy. I really suggest this book. I love Italo Calvino! You have to, have to read it!! 😀

Caught the bus back on Sunday night and reached this morning, thus bringing to a close one of the most beautiful journeys in my life. As I said earlier, if anyone hasn’t been to Gokarna, please do. It’s one of the most breathtaking places you can ever go.

Getting there is not much trouble – buses leave from Bangalore every night at 9 pm, and the tickets cost around 500 bucks. I don’t know about buses from other places, but I’m sure it’s well connected. Any bus going to Goa stops at Gokarna. From Gokarna town, catch an auto to Om Beach for 120 bucks and stay there at Namaste Café, at 150 bucks a night! That simple! 😀

Part of me wants to go back there and part of me knows that it’ll not happen again for at least a few more months. I guess I can wait! 🙂