What is it called when you are wading in the middle of a shallow sea and then your phone detects network signals from Sri Lanka?
It was only five minutes after I received The Guardian notification heralding the demise of the man who gave life to Austen’s Col. Brandon, Alan Rickman, that I get a call from the Batman. “How about Rameshwaram this weekend?” At that moment one cannot deny such an offer because you know it plainly that if you refused, you’ll spend the next couple of days re-watching Sense and Sensibility.
While boarding the SETC bus, I had apprehensions about a lot of things; tsunami, mom’s call, a sudden emergency etc. This was the first time I embarked on the idea of ‘travel’. Moreover Batman was just an acquaintance. (Pardon me Batman, if you are reading this.)
The bus left the CMBT station at 5 pm along with Batman, two of his friends and myself. The bus conductor was such a nice guy that he shouted at us for only fifteen minutes for not having printed the ticket. “If your phone goes off, you four goes off the bus!” He said. Night fell. We four played Guess who?, munched on tomato flavored potato chips and slept peacefully enjoying the company of SETC mosquitoes.
At 5 am we arrived at Rameshwaram, the hometown of our beloved Abdul Kalam. Sometime later we stood in front of the Ramanathaswamy Temple sipping on a cup of extremely sugary tea and staring at the man who threw balls of chopped onion and masala into the huge cauldron filled with boiling oil. We were waiting for the bus to Dhanushkodi.
The Dhanushkodi bus stop presented a scary picture. The complex that stood there was ruined by the 2004 tsunami. I really wished at that moment that my fears wouldn’t materialize. Describing the seas of Dhanushkodi is surprisingly simple. Take a bowl and fill 3/4th of it with water. Let is aside for 10 minutes. Now you have successfully replicated the Dhanushkodi waters. It was so calm and motionless that many a times I was annoyed by its perfection. See it for yourself in the photos below. Perfectly calm and abandoned.
We walked along the beach for a couple of hours beside the rising sun and then walked towards the tiny islands where the only trace of life were some birds (seagulls maybe). Later we sat near a grave for the much needed rest.The sugar-crystal like sand is not the kind you see in any other beach in India. They are too tempting that you’ll suspect/wish if it was edible. Talking of food, we ignored our hunger alarm for so long that the hunt for victuals was now mandatory. The shops at Dhanushkodi served only fried fish. Sorry vegetarians! You order fish by mentioning the preferred size and if required, the color (There was a fish with blue and yellow stripes, like the Tut’s mask). They’ll prepare it in front of you. As expected, it was a treat to the taste buds. Hunger makes food yummy.
A couple of hours later we were sitting on a tiny extension on the railway track of the Pamban Bridge. This is that famed bridge that connects the Rameshwaram Island with mainland India through the Palk Strait. The cool breeze and the turquoise waters here is one helluva experience.
Back at the Rameshwaram main bus station, we were waiting for the return bus to Chennai, when we saw that dreaded sight. It was the same bus and the same conductor! Post a futile search for a printing facility we boarded the bus with digital tickets. Of course, he shouted at us. This time more intensely.
At the climax of this wonderful journey Batman demanded the feedback of the trip. “It was the best day I had since I left home for college” I said. Well, that is history now. Because there were many others that followed Rameshwaram. And some of them were really better. Again, sorry Batman.
If at any point in your life, you crave to be in the magnificent beaches of the Greek islands, but is in short supply of dough, Rameshwaram would be an agreeable alternative. Very agreeable indeed.