WPC: Harmony

Harmony: “the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole” 

The most harmonious I’ve ever felt was probably on my trip to Varkala. If I could have transformed into a tree to stay at this spot for eternity, I probably would.

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Have a great week, folks.

A Trip to Varkala – Part 2

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In the beginning there was the sea,
Then there was a coconut tree,
And then a glass was placed in front of it,
And I thought it was good.

So, in the Part 1 of my travelogue, I told you how I made the trip from the east coast of India to the west to visit a charming little sea-side town called Varkala. Relatively unknown by the general populace, it makes for a fantastic getaway nevertheless. Be it for just a weekend, or months together. Varkala is one place where you can find time slipping by without notice as you lazily amble through the day. And like I said, it is one place I wouldn’t mind moving to for good if I could.

It is also obvious why the average see-all-the-things tourist might give this place a miss, because “technically” speaking, Varkala just has a beach (with a cliff, though), a temple and a handful of restaurants that serve good food. Just as well, because Varkala is not a place you come to to see things. It’s where you come to relax and rejuvenate yourself. Basking in the glorious sunsets everyday on an ever changing beach, letting the whiff of fresh air from the sea sweep over you, and taking in the splendid beauty of the coconut trees lined up pretty much everywhere – it’s an assault to the senses in the most pristine form.

And that is what you do best in Varkala. Nothing.

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A trip to Varkala – Part 1

There are some places that you get attached to so strongly that your heart never stops to linger over there even after you’ve left the place. Ooty had been one such place in my childhood. Maybe it’s because the first hill-station I’ve ever visited, but those hills and valleys haunted me for months after we’ve returned from that trip. And now, Varkala is doing the same to me. I’m still basking in the afterglow of the whole experience. Even now if I close my eyes, the first image that comes to mind is this:

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I dreamed of the cliff last night. That I was just taking a stroll on the deserted pathway, on a full-moon night, with a dog walking alongside me. The sea was illuminated by the moon, and the rumble of waves droned on in a soothing rhythm. What is strange is that I did not really see the cliff under full-moon so I have no idea how my mind conceived that image.

What is even strange is that Varkala is not exactly the best by any standard. You have definitely been to better beaches, have definitely eaten at better restaurants, have definitely seen better sunsets – but what Varkala does ever so successfully is to bring all of these in one spectacular package. With spell-binding views of the sea, a cliff-top that is lined with eclectic restaurants (all have free Wi-Fi) that serve everything from authentic English breakfast to Indian cuisine, friendly locals and waiter staff – it’s hard to not see why this place is such a hit with the tourists. And it brings something unique to the table too, being the only beach in India that is adjoining a cliff. And in case you haven’t notice before, cliffs are awesome! All of this leads to a place that’s almost irresistible to visit.

But you know what is even more strange? Varkala is relatively unknown to the Indian population. When I first told my friends of my visit, everyone – mind you – everyone were like, ‘Wut? Never heard of that.’ And this is of a place that TripAdvisor India rated as the Top 4th beach in the country! But if I’m being honest, I wish Varkala remains unknown. As it stands, it is a sleepy sea-side town with a healthy influx of foreign tourists and much lesser Indians. Which works perfectly because the last thing you want is thronging crowds in a place like this, especially the wonderful irresponsible crowd from my own country who don’t think twice before littering.

So anyway, my trip began Thursday morning with the arrival of the Trivandrum Mail at ‘Varkala Sivagiri‘ railway station. And I have to say that I was a little rattled throughout the train journey as the Weather app on my phone predicted that there would be ‘Light Rain’ throughout the days of my visit. I know of Kerala rains and how unpredictable they could be, and I knew that if there was anything that could spoil my trip, it would be the rains. But thankfully, it wasn’t as worse as I imagined at all. Sure, it had rained intermittently all along my trip, but it would only last for a couple of minutes and then there would be sunshine again. And anyway, I love overcast skies for crying out loud! So everything was just perfect; I got the clouds and the rains, and I got to go out as well!

Of accommodation and meeting fellow travelers:

Now this time, I decided to do something different. Usually when I go on solo trips, I always book a single room as that would give me my space and privacy. But this time I decided to book a backpacker’s hostel, just to see how it’d be. And turns out I did not make a bad decision at all. I never realized the kind of people you could potentially meet when you share a dorm room with them. Ours was a 6-bed dorm and I shared it with two amazing chaps from The Netherlands, one Tamil guy who is also from Chennai and incidentally works in the same company as mine, and then there was a young lady from the USA as well.

I found it surprising how easily the conversations flowed with all of them. I guess it was the mutual eagerness we had to learn about the other culture. Casimir, who is from Amsterdam, has been backpacking across South East Asia for 18 months now and he told me of all the places and experiences he’s had on his trip. I can only dream of pausing my career like that and traveling for years together. We were later joined by Simon from Norway, who’s been doing his Master’s field work in Calicut and was in Varkala for a week’s vacation before returning to Oslo.

All in all, I had to say that I had a pretty good time at the stay and it was delightful to meet new people, for a change. The best experience? Casimir making us (with a helping-hand from me, of course) the perfect scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, which was apparently his dad’s recipe and was simply delicious.

In Part 2 of my post, I will write about the places we saw and the food we ate. Even though there’s not much to see, you will never get bored of seeing the same place again and again. And that is the magic of Varkala. Once you lap up the mysticism of the place, it’s very hard to let go of.

It is a place I wouldn’t mind settling in forever. And calling it home.

Varkalizing

WP_20150918_18_12_53_RichOkay I’m doing this over the pathetic app on my phone for the first time, so I’m not liable if this doesn’t turn out well! Just saying.

So I’m here in Varkala, you folks. And having one of the best holidays I’ve ever had! Everything’s so laid back and serene, man I never wanna return to the hustle and bustle of the city. Damn, I should be taking longer vacations than this!

I’m attaching a photo just to give you a taste of what I’m up against. 🙂

P.S I’m so sorry for not replying to any of your comments in the past couple of days! It’s so crappy to do that on my phone. Will remedy that ASAP!

A pop of color! And a wedding bell!

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Just an other flower.

So I’ve finally attended a wedding after ages. Like literally! I’m usually not very fond of them. The people, the noise, the lights – it just tires me like no other. So unless the couple getting married mean something to me, I try and avoid going to weddings as much as possible.

But this time it was a very close colleague of mine and also it was in Kerala, a state I’ve always wanted to visit! So, I thought why not! And now I’m so glad I did. The wedding was in a church, and it was beautiful from start to finish. And needless to say, the food was awesome too! 🙂

I also got a little taste of Kerala! Man, is it green!! There’s trees and plants and grass everywhere, coating the entire place in green. To go from a concrete jungle to what felt like a real jungle, it felt like such a welcome respite. Oh, and it is the beginning of monsoon season too. I finally understood the real meaning of intermittent rains!! 

I don’t have any wedding pictures for you as I don’t think they’d like them to be publicly displayed but I did capture other stuff. Like Moss! And the wonderful flora, one of which I shared above.

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Also, a perfect fit for Monday’s Photo 101 theme: a pop of color!