16 September 2018

Cumballa Hill Walk and Book Readings

What does one do to find inspiration? Read poetry? Drink Coffee? Watch TV? Meditate? Or Sleep? I did the next easiest thing... took a walk!
I dropped my kids for a class at Breach Candy. I had to pick them up again after 90 minutes. Looking for inspiration, I decided to walk. I decided to walk to the Crossword at Kemp's Corner. Read something. Not to get tempted to buy anything and then walk back. Let's see if I get any inspiration. Breach Candy and the adjoining Cumballa Hill are one if the most upmarket locations in Mumbai. There are large bungalows. Some of them dilapidated and encroached up. Others are empty and watched over by snooty watchmen who baulk at the merest hint of intrusion. A few are brightly painted over and looking over to the shining Arabian Sea with optimism. Almost all have large metal gates that are tightly shut. No, I couldn't find any inspiration looking at these. 
Then there are tall skyscrapers built on plots that had perhaps expansive bungalows once. Narrow lanes lead to these. They have rows of extra large sedans parked, some of them on to the main road, the Bhulabhai Desai road. While looking unapproachable, these skyscrapers lack character and don't have the majestic look that their neighbouring bungalows have. So, No, no inspiration in these either. 
There is a large seaside garden, Tata Park. But the setting sun is shining brightly and its reflection from the sea dazzles the eyes. Yet, the park is crowded. One dare not try to find any inspiration there. So one trudges along the winding road that skirts Cumballa Hill towards Kemps Corner. Now there are shops, big and small. Most catering to the upper-class crowd here. A shop is named Argentina. It sells woman's clothing. There is a paanwala by the name of Muchhad Paanwala and the proprietor does have stately moustaches. I shy away from shooting his picture surreptitiously. There is a big boutique clothesline store of Millionaire. Apparently, it has seen better days and is still going strong. Beyond lays the ancient bungalows of Parsi lineage, mostly. They must have looked beautiful once. Today, the paint is peeling, the grand driveways are encroached upon and huge hoarding covers their colonial architecture. Yet there is a sedate beauty in them. However, all they can inspire is nostalgia. 
The crowded Bhulabhai Desai road, erstwhile Warden Road, is choc - a - bloc with Saturday evening traffic and it would be foolhardy to cross it, let alone find any inspiration in it. The September sun is shining harshly and it has been a sweaty and uncomfortable mostly futile ten-minute walk trying to find inspiration. That seems tragic because it was here that, the great Salman Rushdie grew up and has described this locality well in Midnight's Children. 
I trundle along to reach Crossword. Here, I have been trying to read Paul Theroux's collection of essay's Figures in a Landscape. I was tempted to buy it but I realised as soon as I would buy it the novelty of reading it would be lost and the book would lie somewhere gathering dust in my house. So I promised myself that I would buy the book once I have finished reading it. 
The trick is not to get distracted. On the same bookrack as the Paul Theroux, there were rows of Lonely Planets and for some reason, I picked up Beijing, even though I have no plans in the near future of visiting that city. Only with a certain reluctance and great determination to reach the Paul Theroux did I replace Beijing. As I was carrying the book, I looked at the top ten best sellers in the fiction segment. I stopped myself from picking up the Roopi Kaur poetry book, knowing full well how I had detested her poetry the first time I read it. There was Paulo Coelho's Alchemist. It had been more than fifteen years since I had read it but I managed to contain my temptation to pick it up again. As I was passing through the classics section, a Jack Kerouac caught my attention. And involuntarily I picked it up and chided by my brain, kept it back almost immediately. This did not go unnoticed and soon I was accosted by a pleasant shop assistant, 'May I assist you?' Somehow I become very uncomfortable when facing this question and I embarrassedly and apologetically answered, 'No, thanks! I will help myself!' 
I surreptitiously carried the book to the cafe in the Crossword and started reading from where I thought I had left off the last time. I had forgotten which page I had reached. So I started somewhere in the middle, a portion that I felt I had not read. But soon I realised there were passages which felt familiar. On the other hand, the part immediately prior seemed alien. I was distracted. Instead of focussing on the book I eavesdropped on a couple who were sitting behind me. The male voice was describing a photo shoot - he was apparently a professional photographer and the female perhaps a model. The female voice was distant and incoherent. I had an urge to turn around and look at them but it would have looked rude. In my mental image, the photographer was tall, dark and with a ponytail. Now I concentrated on the book and finally got my rhythm. After reading for about forty minutes, I reckoned it must be time to leave. As I got up to leave, I looked at the photographer; he was a short stout fair guy, looking more like a bank cashier. I replaced the book at its place and walked back to Breach Candy.

12 September 2018

All roads lead to Rome

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

The medieval  map section of the Vatican Museum

One of the several painted ceilings of the Vatican Museum

The gateway to the Holy See!

A three-hour drive takes us from Arezzo to Rome. Rome, at first sight, reminds one of Delhi. Wide open boulevards, neatly laid out with a further space between the road and the buildings. Shielded by tall trees. Once in the older part of the city, it feels even more like Delhi. Every few hundred metres there is a monument, ruin, church or ancient building. It’s too hurried a visit to soak up on any of this. In any other city, each one of these monuments would have been a major attraction. But this being Rome, they are worth only a dekko from the large glass windows of the bus we are travelling. We are in a rush as we are heading to the Colosseum or the Colosseo. We have a pre-booked guided tour there and we are running late. Out guide is wondering if we might miss it. We get off the bus and wait patiently. There is a long queue for the tickets. But that is for the tourists who are not on the pre-booked tour. If everything goes right we should be able to jump the queue and head straight into the Colosseum. And just like Delhi, everything does fall into place. We are able to walk in the massive Colosseum. Whatever one's idea of the magnitude of the Colosseum is from photographs or Asterix comics or movies, pales into insignificance in front of the real thing.
How does one fit 100,000 spectators into a space to watch their favourite sport? Build a stadium of course! Why should one be interested in seeing a stadium? Why indeed the Colosseum has nearly a million visitors every year? At its simplest, the Colosseum is indeed a stadium. But it is a gigantic one at that. Built more than 2000 years ago, it’s a marvel of architectural design and engineering of the Ancient world. It is also a symbol of the Roman Empire and its wonders. It’s also a symbol of the flagrant power of the Roman emperor. But unlike other monuments of the same age, this is dedicated to the people of Rome, and is not for the personal convenience of the Emperor, although it does magnify and embellish his power spectacularly. It’s where gladiators fought in a death-defying blood sport in front of cheering crowds of citizens of Rome. Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant! (Those who are about to die salute you!) That’s what the gladiators shouted to the Caesar (or so Asterix comics would have us believe!). What greater display of power an emperor needs! But in no other civilisation of the time, there were similar displays or facilities for the common citizen. In that sense, the Colosseum is also a symbol of people's power. One gets daunted merely by walking on its gigantic stands. Imagining the gladiator's fight seems too gory and too much of an effort! We move on to another of those Great Roman sites, or to be precise Vatican site - The Vatican Museum. If one thought that going into the Vatican would have any illusion of moving into another country, one is mistaken indeed. There is no physical border or sign that one has crossed over from Italy to the Vatican or the Holy See. Instead, there is a large hall which serves as the entrance to the museum. While the museum is incredibly large, being the personal collection of the successive Popes of the Catholic Church, the main attraction remains the Sistine Chapel. It’s a large hall. And yet, it seems small because of the sheer number of people packed inside it at any given time. Talking and photography are not allowed so there is a constant hum of sotto voce whispers. It is incredible the way paintings have been done on the ceiling and the large murals on the walls by none other than Michelangelo. That it is awe-inspiring is to state the obvious. On exiting the Sistine Chapel there is a large cathedral and then one can see the balcony of blessings from where the Popes hold the audience to thousands every week. By the end of it, one feels overwhelmed by the volume of visual feast one has encountered in just two of the sites of this eternal city: Colosseum & the Vatican Museum. But that is not enough. After all, one lifetime is not enough for this eternal city on seven hills!

11 September 2018

Roman Holiday

Altari di Patria

Sculpture at Piazza Navona

Sculpture at Capitoline Museum

Painted Ceiling at Capitoline Museum

Romulus Wolf

Sculptue of Medusa at Capitoline Museum

Legend  of Romulus Wolf painting

Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps

Narrow streets of Rome
The fountain of seven rivers at Piazza Navona

Rome, a lifetime is not enough (to see its sights)!
So when we got another day at Rome, thanks to our flight being rescheduled late night, we decided to make good use of it. Only this time we were on our own, un-chaperoned by the venerable tour manager of the package tour. We paid heed to another of the aphorisms, 'When in Rome do as the Romans do'. We planned to take a bus near our hotel to the nearest metro station. The Google app showed a waiting time of 7 minutes for the bus. We waited patiently. The minutes ticked by. Fifteen minutes. And then twenty minutes. As we waited, I noticed the drain covers. They had SPQR inscribed on them. Being an avid reader, I immediately recognised it as the abbreviation of the Roman Empire. Senate Peoplesque Romanus! This was curious, carrying on with the abbreviation twenty centuries down the line with a virtually nonexistent Empire to boast of. By now, our patience running thin, I ordered a cab using the taxi-hailing app. It dutifully arrived in 3 minutes. A short ride of 12 minutes later, we were at EUR Fermi. The ride cost us €17. By now, I had trained my mind not to automatically convert the Euros into rupees. The shock and guilt are too much! Outside the metro station, there was a tabaccaio (Tobacconist). I went in and asked for tickets to Colosseo. The shopkeeper answered in Hindi, 'Don't take it for your younger kid. Children below ten years travel for free!' It was then I noticed the very South Asian features of the shopkeeper. I asked him in Hindi, 'Where are you from?' 'Bangladesh!' He answered. I pondered over this as I boarded the train. A Bangladeshi shopkeeper in a Rome suburb speaking in Hindi.
Rome has a remarkably uncomplicated metro network, consisting of just two lines crossing each other at Termini. And a fast airport line. Two stops short of Termini, we got off the metro. Above us was the mighty Colosseum. But we’re not here for the Colosseum, that we had already seen the previous day as part of the guided tour. We headed to Capitoline Museum on the hill of the same name over a narrow lane guided by the venerable Google Maps. The narrow lane led us to the top of the hill over a grand open piazza. There was a conspicuously tall statue of an evidently Roman hero riding a horse. There were lion sculptures. We entered the massive building with shiny marble floors. Soon we realised why Roman cannot be seen even in a lifetime. Even though this museum was not as big as the Vatican Muse that we had seen the previous day, it was still massive. Artworks, sculptures, calligraphy, earthenware’s all seemed to fill gallery after gallery. The rooms were massive and very ornately painted with medieval age murals. The art section has oil paintings by nearly all the Italian masters. The fable of Romulus and founding of the city of Rome was depicted through sculptures and paintings in various halls. The Romulus twins suckling the wolf. After walking for two hours in the various galleries of the museum, we gave up. Enough for this visit, if not for this lifetime! We were tired. So we exited the museum and made our way to the Pantheon. But despite Google Maps, we got lost. We landed up in front of the massive stairs of the Altari di Patria. This massive building is a memorial for the war dead and also houses the Defence Ministry. Massive Italian flags flew over multiple grandiose structures. We stopped to catch our breath. And then again guided by the Google Maps walked to Pantheon. It had a long serpentine queue. So we decided to skip it and hunted down the nearest McDonalds. The surest way to calm the frayed nerves of a tired child is to feed him. And what easier way than McDonald's! We finished our lunch and then coaxed the kids again to walk to the Piazza Novona which was right next to the McDonalds. This large enclosed space houses multiple fountains, sculptures and is lined by cafes. It’s a typical holiday atmosphere here. There is a fountain which has got sculptures depicting seven ancient rivers, including the Ganges. We threw a coin each (a few Rappen of the Swiss francs that were now un-exchangeable for Euros) in the fountain. The square is full of people - tourists and performers and artists. Lot of painters, sketchers and photographers are there. We move on to the next stop in our itinerary. We walk the narrow cobblestoned paths led by Google Maps. On the way, we see brightly coloured buildings on both the sides. There are street sellers of knick-knacks all along. Most of them are perhaps Bangladeshis and spotting a brown skin, they speak in Hindi. There are other types of performers here on the street side. Dressed as perhaps a fakir, one person is apparently levitating ... A very clever trick ... As he has balanced his entire body through a stout stick fixed to the grounds. There are Africans who are dancing. But everyone is looking for your Euros. We have been warned that such streets are full of pickpockets. So we walk undaunted, with only a singular determination to reach Trevi Fountain. This is a massive fountain with terrific marble sculptures. If one wishes to come back to Rome, one needs to throw a coin here. Having got rid of our Swiss Francs and mindful of not giving up our precious Euros, we throw Indian Rupee coins in the fountain! We walk to the Spanish Steps. We sit on the steps soaking up the atmosphere. The harsh Midday June sun of Rome is beating down on us, but we are used to the much harsher Indian summer. This is practically the last stop in our two-week sojourn in Europe. We have travelled nearly 3000 kilometres. And today we have walked over five kilometres, two kids in tow. I guess we should be proud. We take the metro from the Spagna station, change at Termini and go to EUR Termini. A quick cab ride to the hotel and then even quicker ride to the nearby Fiumicino Airport. There are lots to see in Rome in this lifetime, hopefully, we shall have several more opportunities to come back. 
Addio Roma!

09 September 2018

A modern day fable

A Japanese kid growing up in New York is a great fan of an African American Tennis star. OK, lets call the idol, Serena Williams. A dozen years later, the Japanese kid is now a budding tennis star. She is twentieth seed at the US Open. She is playing her idol at the finals and giving her a hard time. Serena's coach gestures to her from the stands, which is illegal - coaching in the course of a match. It is unclear if Serena sees the gestures, but the umpire does. He duly penalises Serena Williams. She retorts, "You are a thief!" The umpire docks a game against Serena for verbal abuse. She loses the match and the chance of winning her 24th Grand Slam title. The crowd boos the Japanese player and she is reduced to tears. Serena urges the crowd to calm down. She congratulates her 20 year old opponent, who is sixteen years her junior. Later Serena says that she got the game docked against her solely because she is a female. Men players have called umpires much nastier things and gotten away with it. So she claims. Meanwhile, sports fans are struggling to recollect the name of the champion.

Moral of the fable: Like all modern day fables, there is no moral!

08 September 2018

Timelessness in the post-plastic age

I sipped my iced tea. The cold ice singed my teeth causing a painful sensation. The straws have recently been outlawed; hence I was reduced to sipping the iced tea rather than sucking it through an environmentally damaging plastic straw. I could feel the aroma of the mint leaves floating alongside the ice. I wondered why I had never felt that aroma before. I always used a straw earlier. The straw penetrated the superficial layers into the depths of the fluid. Where the Iced tea was sweeter and a little less cold. Less aromatic too. As I used to suck the fluid it bypassed the sensitive teeth right into the palate and the back of my tongue where the taste buds were. I could “drink” my iced tea thus at a comfortable distance. The tumbler need not even be in my visual field. That left me free to concentrate on the book or the screen I was reading. No longer. The ban on plastic products put paid to that convenience. Now I had to put away that book, while I sipped gingerly on the lemon iced tea. I could not reach the sugary not so cold tea without the aroma of the mint. First, I had to encounter the floating ice and the carelessly floating mint leaves. The sugar was diluted due to the melting ice. And this fluid touched my incisor teeth numbing them even as the aroma hit my nose. I was perplexed. This was not what I had bargained for. So, I kept the tumbler down and took a breath. I looked around. This was the cafe at the largest bookstore in the town. A neat place to get a book and surreptitiously read while sipping your iced tea. But today, I started noticing the other customers. There were five or six ladies in the restaurant. A group of the trio were talking loudly and irritatingly. The others were immersed in their books. I took a sip again. Cautioned by the previous experience, this time I took a smaller sip. It still numbed my teeth but it was tolerable this time. I glanced at my book. I mulled the last paragraph. I re-read the line, which I had found entrancing, relishing it again, as I rolled the tea in the mouth as if it were single malt. The tangy taste of tea and lemon was good. One wanted to take another sip. But not so soon. Let the numbed teeth come back to life. Watch your breath. Count your heart beats. Smell the book. Look around. And then muster enough courage to subject my innocuous teeth for another assault of the iced tea. It was almost like a ritual. Making the time pass slowly. Taking one to the depth of the moment. Timelessness!

04 September 2018

Stories of Rhine

Quaint German Town on the Rhine

The German flag flies over the Rhine

A typical scene on the Rhine with a castle on hilltop

The Rhine is one of the longest rivers in Europe. Though it flows through several countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Netherlands, it is best known as a German river. It has long been celebrated as a symbol of German nationalism. It flows through the economic heartland of Germany, through its southern and western parts and has on its banks several large industrial towns. Not the least of which is Cologne. The area in which the Rhine flows is hilly and holds significant natural resources. Being navigable for a majority of its course, a considerable amount of freight and passenger traffic passes through it.
I had the opportunity to take a river cruise on this vast might river recently. I travelled from Boppard to Saint Goar in the Saarbrucken area of Germany for over an hour on a large river cruise vessel. It had an open upper deck and soon it became crowded. I was fortunate to board it early so I managed to get a table with the prime viewing experience. Downstairs there was a small bar which served German beer, drinks, chocolates and biscuits. The vessel had tourists of all hues, Koreans, Chinese, Indians and Americans. It was interesting to notice all these different nationalities fit neatly into their often derided stereotypes. The Koreans were extrovert and tried to communicate in broken English. The nouveau riche Chinese was a bit subdued and kept to themselves. The Indians were busy getting prime seats for themselves and their families. However, it was the Americans who were the most boisterous. Speaking the loudest, and treating it as if they owned the place. Initially, I was cautious not to pander to my inherent biases and stereotyping of foreigners, but I realised some stereotypes are indeed true!
Among the numerous Americans, there was a large group and looked like an extended family of three generations. An elderly couple, with apparently two daughters and their partners and four or five grandchildren who ranged in ages from eight or ten years to teens. The elderly woman was most vocal, constantly trying to enthuse her daughters and grandchildren into the journey.
The wide river passed through low green hills on both the sides. There were railway tracks on either bank and one could see freight trains often running the lines. Being hilly, the train tracks passed through tunnels. Every few kilometres there were small towns on the edge of the hills with multicoloured rooftops and flag masts displaying usually the German flag and often others. I spotted a Sri Lankan flag and wondered how did it find its way here in a corner of Germany. The towns had large visible hotels. Occasionally one spotted a castle on the hilltops. Some were remarkably intact and others were dilapidated from age and possibly allied bombing in the second world war. This region of Rhineland being an industrial region was intensively bombed by the allies. A few scars from that time still remain in the form of buildings, tunnel entrances, fort walls and remnants of castles.
Meanwhile, the old woman, scion of the American family was keen to keep her children and grandchildren interested in the journey. She offered 10 Euros to the first kid who could spot a castle but they were interested in munching on her french fries, much to her consternation. Her daughters were unhappy with the German beers they had ordered and were coaxing their mother to finish it. Their partners smoked and chatted a safe distance away, happy to avoid the raucous mêlée caused by the grandma and kids. The woman's husband, an aged man with a large cowboy hat held a Nikon camera in his hand but was not shooting anything. It was the same camera that I had and he noticed this after a while. He walked up to me and asked me if I spoke English. "Of course!" I replied. "You are from India? I noticed we have the same camera!" I said, "Yes! Isn't it a good one?" He asked me about certain camera settings and when I was explaining to him I noticed he really was not interested in the camera settings. I realised, he had wanted to break away from his wife's constant chatter! Then he started his story and he was no less chatty than his wife! He told that he was visiting Germany for the fourth time, to meet his wife's relatives. She was German, and he had married her in 1963 as he was posted in Berlin as US Army Sergeant. He had met her in East Berlin and managed to get her past to West Berlin even as the wall was coming up. I was surprised that I could actually meet a person who had seen the Cold War and had been impacted by it! He had a tough time getting her American citizenship - took seven years. I looked at the lady - she was looking as American as they come, berating her grandson for munching on her french fries. As a US Army personnel, he had served in various parts of the world - Germany, Japan and Guam. "Vietnam?" I asked him. He said in a low voice, "Many trips from Okinawa to Saigon. But I never told this to my wife. She doesn't know it even now!" His son was a Colonel in the US Army, posted in Ramstein, the biggest US Army base in Europe and not far from where we were. But this trip they would not be able to meet. He started telling me his Okinawa stories but I was getting weary. So I started shooting pics of the scenery. But he wouldn't take the hint. So I said, just to needle him, "What's wrong with this Trump guy?" That unravelled a new layer of his rants. He was a Democrat supporter and his rambling against Trump went on and on. By the end of it, I seemed to have developed some sympathy for Trump! Soon, we were at the end of the cruise. The jetty at the destination was overlooked by a large prominent castle on a hill. The cruise journey left me more educated by the American view of the world than about the scenic views of Rhineland and Saarbrucken!

22 August 2018

A journey to Kutchh

As one leaves the town of Bhuj westwards, a wide tarred road leads one into a vast flat emptiness. By mid morning, its not scorching but certainly hot. The road is emanating hot air and it hits one on the face with an unfamiliar warmth. There are shrubs of babool and kikar on both the sides of the road, but they are not tall enough to obscure the view. Albeit, there is nothing much to view. Flat land on both the sides. Featureless brown landscape interrupted by signs of sporadic cultivation and dwarf shrubs. Occasionally, one sees a concrete structure, typically single storied, one room affair. That is the only sign of human habitation. The road is straight and empty, devoid of any traffic whatsoever. The temperature is now high enough for mirages to form in the distance, at the far end of the road ahead. After a while, the journey seems like a dream. A hot, windy, bland dream. If there were an interstellar highway, perhaps it would be this.  One imagines a truck or a two wheeler in the distance, interspersed within the mirage, breaking its continuity. But even after minutes of driving at speeds of nearly 100 kilometres per hour, there is no sign of it. It is actually a mirage! Or a dream! Is there a difference? The only thing that seems to be connected with the reality are the milestones. They display names of unknown towns - Naliya, Jakhau, Narayan Sarovar. Only the kilometres on the milestone changes. After two hours of stuporose travel one hits the non-descrepit town of Naliya. If it were not for the milestones, one would not even notice the town. But here, there is a prominent Y junction. A bend in the road. A wormhole to a parallel universe. Or so it seems. But then, it is more of the same. Since we are now off the "National Highway", the road is a bit narrow and only more desolate. A shiny, chocolate brown Ambassador car appears from the cosmic dust and crosses one in speeds far excess of 100 kilometres per hour. Perhaps, one has actually broken the time barrier and is now in the past. An age of shiny Ambassador cars. The babool and kikar trees are now cloistered over sides of the road. They are trying to encroach upon the road. Trying to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. My companion asks me to steer clear of the thorny bushes, lest we land up with a puncture. My mind dwells on the possibility of a thorn being able to puncture a tyre of a SUV.  I remind myself that anything is possible during interstellar travel. And just to prove this point, an empty camelcart appears, driven by a sad looking teenager, wearing a red t-shirt with the playboy logo. The camel seems like it is grinning. But I don't know for sure. Soon in the distance modern reality starts to dawn. Hundreds of massive wind power turbines appear on the horizon. They are indeed looking like giants, right out of Don Quixote. We do not go tilting at the windmills though. They pass us by, a safe distance from the road. Each of the massive arms of the massive windmills move at a melancholic speed adding to the overall stuporous atmosphere. One tries to remember what one is doing here. Interstellar time travel? Or may be something more mundane? Reason escapes one's cognition. Suddenly clouds appear. The sky becomes overcast. These are not the rain bearing cumulonimbus but, the "castles in the air ", cirrus clouds. 
We have reached the Middle School at Jakhau. It has a neat plastered perimeter wall, scribbled with slogans from the latest government schemes. There is a large iron gate, half open. Half a dozen cows and a couple of donkeys have made good opportunity of this half open gate. They are grazing in the field of this school, undisturbed. A clutch of about a hundred slippers lay outside the entrance, possibly of the pupils of this school. Inside, bright new orange bicycles procured through the state department of education are lined up neatly. I guess not one has been ridden, so far. The principal is a sombre man who is wearing a yellow baseball cap and smiles often. He has pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekanand and curiously, Rajiv Gandhi in his office. We soon exit his office and are on our way to Jakhau. The road deteriorates in between. The melee of the road and its mirage is broken. One starts observing other things. Several birds sitting on the electrical lines. Indian Roller Birds, Drongos, Kingfishers, Jungle Mynahs, Peacocks, all make their appearances. Soon, there are salt pans on both sides of the road. The salt pans are filled with water and there are black necked ibises, black winged stilts and various egrets. Farther away, the water seems pink and mountains of salts are drying. Soon, we are in the Jakhau fishing village. Hundreds of fishing boats lay anchored in the shallow beach. They are waiting for the monsoon to get over. It has been a tiring journey for an unspecified cause. But the rows of red coloured boats with the Jakhau light house in the background is a calming sight. May be, some day there would be a reason to such a journey. For today, there is only the sea and the boats.