Touch and go
I could not take my eyes off the spectacular emerald green at the hangout of the three- Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. In the distance a deep blue edge contrasts with the green. This is Kanyakumari– the southern tip of India with some big breakers that hit the rocks with big sprays even at low tide. The breeze is sparkling fresh and if there was not a train to catch I would have just spent the whole day there- just enjoying the sun and sea. The monsoon is completely missing in Tamil Nadu preferring the state of Kerala.
Vivekanand came here and meditated for three days and a temple was built in his honour on one of the big rocks. The smooth oval rock is a few minutes ferry ride with some nice uplifts and squealing kids. There is a quiet simple meditation room that i found beautiful- a soft OM buzzing in the air and very little touristic sounds filter in. Again the train back hurried what could have been a long halt.
The next rock features the massive statue of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil saint and poet. Some chemical coating is underway and a net of girders envelops it for the next few months.
This has been an impromptu trip- began as pre dawn visit to the Janardhana temple with its waking washing and dressing the gods and lamps being lit- all very heady and beautiful. I was keeping my first ekadasi fast. By 5 am I was wondering if the beach is safe to walk when a bus comes by going to the train station. In seconds i knew i was going to Kanyakumari- i had a little money and no umbrella- the phone had no juice but to spend the fast on an adventure seemed like a great idea.
You hang out at the station and learn a lot- Kerala likes its newspapers- three malayali ones and the ‘new’ Indian Express do brisk business. Everybody reads (it has 100 percent literacy) and works. The women were waiting for trains to take them to Trivandrum – neat sarees with pin tucking the pallu to blouse- many wear white flowers in their hair. The friendliness is fabulous- two offered me tea and liked that i was on a fast (first ritualistic offering on the 11th day of the moon- complicated pleasing of Lord Vishnu- one of whose incarnation is Janardhana)- everyone has a basic command of english and some prefer Hindi- Like my coconut man Biju- he also runs an auto and is extremely dependable.
The communist government gives excellent public transport- clean, super cheap and efficient. My 127 km ride from Varkala to Kanyakumari cost 30 rupees (less than half dollar) and the ride was through lakes, rivers and finally the Cardamom Mountains- the tail end of the Western ghats- they have sharp spikes and reminded me of the Tetons though far smaller. The basic food – rice, small fish and tapioca are affordable and no one goes hungry i think. The only beggar I have seen is outside the temples. Maybe in Trivandrum there are many. Water fountains work and i have survived the municipal water so far.
Southern railways is cleaner and cheaper than its northern counterparts. The ticket reminds you that they recover only 57% of cost from sale of ticket. Made me want to buy a few extra ones. Most people have a train pass and the journey from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari is has few takers in off season. Biju has filled the auto with orange coconuts that have divine sweet water- perfect end to the fast.
An Ekadashi to remember.