Thursday, January 2, 2014

Into the memory lane..

Konkan..the word has something in it, that takes me back to my childhood may be because of Hareshwar temple I visited so often as a kid with my family..I always associate it with the endless ocean i am so afraid of and the coconut trees i am so fond of and smell of fish and the konkni accent..

A friend of mine asked me casually, if I would like to go with him to Shrivardhan, a small town in Konkan, and my immediate reaction was yes! And so, the quorum was decided, four natives of Shrivardhan, who had to attend a wedding of a school friend there and me, a tag along..

As Hendre's i-10 grand left Pune, then Mulshi and headed towards Tamhini ghat, though the quality of road was diminishing significantly, my excitement level was increasing out of proportions..i wanted to confront the ocean, perhaps my greatest fear..sit in front of it and hear it roar..

Shrivardhan is a typical konkni town, a small one, with perhaps one school, one hospital, one bank and very simple lies between the two more famous towns i.e. Hareshwar and we entered the town, there was a significant change on the faces of my companions..all talk about politics, songs and cricket stopped all of a sudden...and it was replaced by a profound sense of homecoming...a sense that is so warm and cheerful that its hard not to partake in it..their eyes lit up, there was childish grin on their faces and they started acknowledging their old friends, neighbors, relatives, teachers...! They were so involved in the feel of the town, the smell of the air, a familiar face, a temple they used to go to, their school, vada paav seller, that I felt I belonged there....i felt equal amount of excitement..nothing was strange to me if, it was homecoming for me too!

As everyone reached their homes and me at Abhijit's, there was no tiredness, no exhaustion from a long road journey...we all were feeling quite laid back already..
Betel Fruits
Betel Nut

One of the companions was quite keen on catching the sunset at the beach as he had to go back to Pune, the next day and so I accompanied him to the beach..we took the two wheeler and headed to the beach..the lanes of the town are very small, mostly running parallel, maybe a bit confusing for a new comer..but, very clean...the discipline of the town folks was visible everywhere...on the clean streets, neat houses, the gardens and the beach...we passed many konkni houses, a few hotels and the only high school there, before reaching the beach..Sun, however, had already deserted the town and gone beyond the ocean..but there was still some light and still some activity on the beach...a few families enjoying a nice evening..a few boats crowding up near a dock on the northern shore of the town, a few birds making themselves heard..Dhananjay explained me about the dock at the northern shore, where fresh catch of the day is unloaded on small boats, taken ashore and then auctioned to be sold in retail...he told me that at times he would go there just to see the auction and observe the proceeding..through all the noise at the auction, crowd and smell of fish, he would get a different sense of satisfaction there...peace to his mind! It was very strange but interesting to know this..but I could relate to his feeling...sometimes, crowded places do provide a sense of liveliness and peaceful feeling..particularly, when you are not part of the crowd, but observing it..

I did confront the ocean, but not in the water...keeping safe distance from if i did not want to make it angry...after a while, other 3 joined us and we sat there for a while..listening and observing the waves and police whistles and families retreating back home and a pani puri seller winding up his business for the companions were once again back into the past...similar evenings they spent there as children..

Kamlesh had invited us to his grand house for an authentic konkni dinner of fried fish, fish eggs and prawn curry..i was amazed at the ease they showed towards me..they were all Abhijit's friends and they treated me like a guest of honor...kamlesh also explained me a few details of fish, fish eggs and quality thereof..

The next morning light really made me appreciate the surroundings of Abhijit's house..."Wadi" is a garden containing variety of vegetation, meant mainly for selling..coconuts, lemons, betel nuts, a few fruits...all grown and maintained neatly...we walked through the Wadi, below the green canopy of the coconut trees...Abhijit would point at a particular crop or tree or a small plant to tell us something interesting about it..or give us a few leaves of a random tree to eat...A water well in the Wadi, would start another series of memories for him...his eyes would reflect those memories..maybe, he cried at the edge of the well, when he was learning to swim or after a long day at school, he, along with his friends, would jump in the well and have a bit of water therapy..maybe he wanted all that to come back once again and was ready to trade his present for his past...maybe, all four of them felt the same thing...

Green Canopy
A typical Wadi

Memory Well