September 11, 2005

God's spy

There's good reason to believe that to write this, I'm using the country's most southeasternly internet connection. You can get further east, you can get further south; I don't believe you can get further southeast in India than here: Koddikarai, gateway metropolis to stunning Point Calimere.

Just a few hours ago, I was actually at that southeastern point: if you look at a map, the coast makes a right angle turn here, going from heading due east to north. From where I stood, in a watchtower on the beach there, I could actually see that right angle, not 200 metres away: the land swings broadly around and runs north. And I felt much like that inimitable comic Steven Wright, among whose cornucopia of one-liners is this gem: "I have a map of the United States at home. The scale is 1 to 1."

Indeed: 1 to 1, laid out in front of me, the land might be my map.

And I'm standing there in the tower, using my trusty Swiss Army knife to peel a mosambi which is my late breakfast, and I look all around and I can see for miles and I am the only human being for all those miles. Nobody else. Me and my hired cycle that has brought me here, nobody else. And it's as that sinks in, that the idea also sinks in. And as it does, I find myself peeling faster and faster, then absolutely wolfing down the fruit.

Then I strip and tumble down the stairs and race across the sand and dive into the waves. Skinny-dipping. The feeling is nearly overwhelming, nearly indescribable: the water, the breeze, the freedom, the utter loneliness (I have never been so completely alone), the pure exhiliration of having this splendid spot all to myself. Without my clothes. Only me to notice my expanding waistline and for once I don't even give a damn.

I roam the beach, pick up shells for my son, find a flopping gasping silvery muscular fish at the waterline and throw him back into the waves (not so much of a thank you), walk down to that gigantic corner, go back up the tower and have another mosambi. I'm here for nearly two hours and there's still nobody in sight.

But others have come here before. Graffiti all over the tower, from "S Senthil" and "Main Mani Pondy" and "K Siva (or) Paramasivam" and a heart with an arrow through it that says "Leena and Asha" and "God's Spy Jeevan."

Yeah, in this right-angle of India you can feel like God's spy, though all you'll have to spy on are the electric blue and green parrots and the flocks of blackbuck and the wild ponies. None of whom pay you much attention if you go skinny-dipping in the Palk Strait.

So for once, I added to the graffiti too. You know me, you'll recognize it somewhere in that watchtower. Don't forget your clothes.

5 comments:

uma said...

amazing. thanks for these despatches.

Sriram said...

Dilip, when you added to the graffiti, I bet you felt the same way I feel when I add comments to your posts ;-)

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sriram, I have no clue how you feel while adding comments to my posts.

Roshan said...

oh i'll bet those ponies and blackbucks had a thought or two when they saw you charging in and out of the waves. and can you imagine the storm those parrots would have chatted up :-)

teamshenoy said...

I visit Pt. Calimere tomorrow morning and hope to add to your graffiti. This is the point where the (Black) buck stops here, right? On a recce to Koddaikarai this evening, I meet a Mr. Thandapaani (his north Indian friends never let him hear the end of this.) He blames the faux pas to an phonetically challenged school teacher who wrote a "T" instead of a "D". Anyway Mr. Cold Water, a successful travel agent from Chennai who traces his origins to Koddaikarai, has built this new "leisure resort" to be inaugurated on Pongal Day this Sunday where he has promised clean bed sheets, flat screen TV's and air conditioning to all future visitors to this place. Hallelujah, civilization as I know it.