Read Malvan Notes - 1- The Journey here.
A conditioned early riser, it took quite an effort to wait for daybreak when I would sneak out of the cottage and hurry down to the beach. I don't remember when was the last time I'd heard the rooster crow. The chorus of the birds around rose in a crescendo but was soon drowned out by the cawing of the crows. Twigs crackled and the flames leaped up. An old fisherman warmed his hands stoking the fire while the water boiled in the aluminium pot. Two boats looked out at the sea from the shed that sheltered them and watched the others come home.
A Boat Brought Ashore
"Ma, what are those holes in the sand?" the younger one had decided to give me company while the others snored their journey soreness away. The holes in question were perfect ones bored in the beach.
"Must be crabs..." and before I could complete "...or some little crustacean", she was hopping over those little holes lest one comes out and grabs her.
The Chiwla beach in Malvan is a pretty crescent shaped one, a little more than a kilometer long, lined with homes of the fishermen and quite a few tourist accommodations. This morning, we had the beach all to ourselves except of course the fishermen. They went about their chores and the two of us just stood there admiring the vast expanse dotted with boats in the horizon. The boats were coming home for the day. Small dark specks taking shape as they drew closer. The graying dawn was gradually spreading a white sheet. The waves nudged and playfully lapped up around the boats and the men who were pulling them ashore.
One end of the beach is rocked in while the other end sports the local political leader's bungalow. One of the most striking features of Malvan is the presence of vibrant colours. A neat row of brightly coloured fishing boats rested on the sands and more joined in while we stood there. At a distance were the more stately and bigger boats with beautifully carved bows, sturdy and wizened with years of sailing, watching the others out in the sea like matrons keeping an eye on the children. The colourful smaller boats looked like their next generation, sprightly and lively in their bright hues. The early morning walk along the beach sharpened the senses. The taste of the salty air, the grains of the sand massaging the soles of the feet and that sweet smell...
|Colourful Small Boats|
"Do you smell that?" I ask my daughter.
"Ma, I have a cold" she reminds me.
It was a light sweet fragrance and it came from peculiar looking white flowers, only two of which rested on a shrub with long linear leaves. But it was enough to seek the attention of the passers by like us who voraciously took in the details of this new land. An early morning walk enthusiast helped me out.
"It is the Keora flower. We call it Ketaki also. Come see, there is one on top also" she said.
Ah! So this is what gives us those bottles of Kewra water lined up on the stores' shelves. And that incidentally is the diluted byproduct of the more tedious and expensive process of extracting Kewra perfume. Later a Google search said it is the Pandanus, screw palm, screw pine tree for the rest of the world whose natural habitat is the shoreline of tropical and subtropical regions. That is what I like about trips. It lets me discover little things that I never pay much attention to.
The sun was slowly brightening up the sky from behind, illuminating the coconut tree tops with it's golden rays and colouring the little tufts of clouds into a pink hue before it finally made an appearance. It was amazing to watch this pastel shade being reflected on the water creating rosy little streaks on the rippling sea. From the other end of the beach, a road leads up into the land, past the administrative area of the town, to the rock garden. There was not much of rock inside the well manicured garden but a gap in it's perimeter led to one of the most enticing views of the sea. A stretch of dark slabs of rock covered the distance between the garden and the sea. A perfect place for solitude. And a perfect place to watch the sun go down.
View From The Rocky Malvan Shore
To the right of this part is the Chiwla beach from where we walked up. And to the left is the Malvan jetty almost a kilometer away. An excited chatter broke the morning's solitude. Skipping down the garden were a bunch of school kids dressed in their best for the trip. Perhaps the teachers wanted to consolidate their geography lessons. It was time to leave the scene for the others to marvel at the vista spread out. The sun had already risen above the tree line. The others back at the cottage would have woken up by now. And I did not want to miss my share of the steaming hot 'ghawane chutney' and 'solkadi'.
Please read the next part here....An island, a fort and a legacy.