Friday, July 31, 2009

Waves………



Several years ago, jaunting to the beach was arguably the most awaited trip as a kid….For anyone who has lived in Trivandrum would have delightful memories of unwinding at the sandy shores of Shangumukhom on a cloudless evening watching the sun kiss the glorious Arabian sea…The Shangumukhom beach is like the home beach for Trivandrumites unlike Kovalam which had long been outsourced to flocking tourists in the city…Infact they are two distinct beach cultures …You wouldn’t find local residents frequenting Kovalam as much as this beach which is much closer to the city….and probably more beloved to the people as well..

Last December during my vacation home I had gone to the beach with my folks at home….Lazing near the beach , caressed by the salty breeze it was tempting to look back in time…..bringing back a flood of memories…. Of a kid who would be holding chappals in his hand even before the bus came to a halt at the beach stop… And race with his bro or cousins to the beach to be the first to dip his legs in lukewarm waves …Today I was sitting at the renovated promenade watching kids doing the same like we did some 15 years ago…Running with the same zeal and enthusiasm towards the wet sand…. pretending to cheat the wave by racing back to the shore in a gratifying game of taming the sea….I was looking at the whole scene…albeit as an observer….longing to generate within me the same unbridled emotions which pulled you towards the sea as a kid….but you are not a kid anymore…you just don’t ‘create’ those feelings, sensible people say….

And then I look behind in a physical sense…In the earliest memories I have of the beach there was no star fish restaurant….there was no sea mermaid sculptured by Kanhai Kunjiraman….There was no children’s park….The place was all about…the coffee house…the stone pavilion…and the sprawling beach….the sparse beach untouched by commercialization.

…………………………………………………………

Sometime in early 90’s………

When cousins came down to town…everyone had just one question in their lips…

“When are we going to the beach??”

The kids would begin a often annual ritual of begging the elders at home to take us to the beach …Believe me the desperation we showed would have set new benchmarks in begging proficiency…It’s a wild gamble coz we considered our elders as anti-beach people…

I remember in particular a trip when my uncle, aunt and cousins came down to Tvm …After several hours of begging and pleading we were finally going to the beach…They had come in a four seater maruti omni….We were 4 adults and 4 kids…As you can expect the 4 kids were dumped to the boot of the van…rather we preferred it that way…Oh Boy!! We had hell of a time…doing all sorts of antics and showing faces at drivers of other vehicles tailing us…occasionally the youngest one among us was brave enough to indulge in some cabaret or a occasional topless moonwalk in the confined space…which ofcoz must have sufficiently embarrassed the adults sitting snug in the business class chamber upfront…

We enjoyed those beach trips all the more when the cousins came down...coz it was in some sense the chance to showcase ‘our’ beach to the people from a beach-less land…and ofcourse it was probably more exciting coz visiting a beach would be a once in a year affair for them…And it was always extra-special to visit the beach in a car since you could wear your beach wear which would mean the ‘branded’ apparels from Ramachandran textiles….And once the car comes to a halt there is an fervent urge to run towards the sea …almost suicidal…The parents would have to maintain a vigil coz the hyper excited kids behave like dogs out of a kennel … Well there is another sub story which probably only myself and bro would relate to…coz my parents were quite strict and we were not really much used to the free culture…it was more like us guys from Iran who were just set free into Las Vegas one fine day….So you know we would relish every bit of the beach glasnost…Maybe for a few hours forget completely that end of the day we would have to go back to the Republic of Iran in Muttada…!!

I have lost my spectacles...chappals…and countless other things to the waves of this wonderful beach….After a hour or two of getting drenched, splashing water at each other, anticipating the waves that looked so menacing at a distance and then mocking at it, throwing stuff to sea and hoping it would come back, doing racing bouts just for the heck of it, chasing crabs and searching for sea shells…the things you could do in a beach!!!
I cannot remember a single instance when we said…

‘Oh…we are tired...lets go home!!’

Infact I don’t know if kids ever get tired in a beach...its simply not possible!!….Then we get the call from Ayatollahs…I mean the parents…. to get back to the shore and dry up…But then …”oru 10 mins” …”oru 5 mins koodi”…..a ritual which would somehow manage to delay the return back to the shore ..it almost felt like you were leaving a country when you had to relinquish the wet sands to the dry shore…then we would idly sit for sometime allowing ourselves to dry….the parents would toss to us salted peanuts or popcorn bought from the street vendors nearby… Then we all squat admiring at the brilliant sunset…The sunset at Shangumukhom is exceptionally beautiful….It is an absolute stunner of a sight to watch the sun going down with the silhouettes of catamarans coming back to the shore in the backdrop ...it’s a sight which painters dream of…

After that we would get up to walk back home…the kids would then want to bid goodbye to the waves and in pretext of wetting their foot would spend a few minutes at the fringes of the foamy waves…Sometimes we go sit on the little hill from where you could see the flights landing and taking off from the Trivandrum airport…Watching the airplanes used to be a crazy passion those days…Its ironic that I now work in a place where they make those flying things and I am watching them daily….Our eyes would trail the flight path until it disappeared in the sky…the thunder of the engines each time a flight took off would reverberate in our hearts….The curiousness of how it might feel to be up in the air…and how the inside of an aircraft might look like…these thoughts would occupy our minds…

Then the entire family would walk to the coffee house…and have their classic masala dosa and coffee….The smell and feel of the breeze from the beach would act like as an appetizer as we gorge on the food…

By night we are at home…back to enclosed spaces… walls…back to tap water….as we clean ourselves up of the sand which has accumulated in our pockets….After a well taken bath we just sit back and relax….tired yet glad about a day well spend…a trip which would be talked about for several days or months to come when all of us get together….a trip which would be explained in detail to other cousins whose envy would give us delirious pleasure..

And this December after we spend a hour at the beach…I said….’Lets go home!!!’
Listening to mappilla song..have a nice weekend ..:-)

39 comments:

thankam said...

Great chekks..yes i could identify every bit of it..u took me back 2 decades..those were the glorious days indeed !!!!!

anN-series said...

i think u r growing old!! :~P


...just like the beach for u, for my sister and me it was the children's park in ernakulam, right near maharaj's college. even today when we pass by that place, for a second we are reminded of coming to the park all the way from alwaye in a bus!! sad but we didnt take Iz to the park...

scorpiogenius said...

Marvellous post man!

Simply outstanding. I could identify myself there, many times. Shankhumugham is a really nostalgic name, however old we grow. even last time I went to Trivandrum, me and my friends went there at 10pm at night just to have a good old chat. The feeling the place evokes is incredible! Mathew, you've just sparked a post in me.

Really hope Shankhumugham wont change like the city has. The sea has an exclusive magnetic charm there, and yes, I enjoyed it more when I went without my parents. Well, I now understand them perfectly if they didn't like to hear the term 'beach' :)

Shankhumugham has always produced the best memories of my life. the omlettes, parippu vada, banana fries, mulaku baji.... yo! not to forget the Icecreams and Bombay sweets which were a craze when we were taken by the elders. I still remember my mother protesting and refusing to allow me when I told her that I'm going to Shankhumugham to see Tsunami immediately after the horrific disaster in 2004..lol..How I loved torturing my mother!

Yeah Mathew, perhaps I should write a tribute to Shankhumugham myself. And wouldn't it be a nice choice if ever we wanted to say hello to each other in real??!! :)

Apologies for the long boring post..

usha said...

mathew! this one was too nostalgic.. the beach, the aeroplane watching, the fruit salads at coffee house, the running around that stone pavilion (is that what its called? i never bothered to know..we were all busy running around that!), the drooling at the roller skating ground, the 5 mins more ritual n all..
btw, ive been to the kovalam light house last time i went home.. the only time ive been there was when they took us from school once. the place looked amazing then.. the hawwa beach n all. now it cut a real sorry pic. there was hardly any beach. btw, thats what i remember of the shanghumugham beach too, the last time i've been there.. the place were we played was all encroached by the sea. :(
btw, i hate that kunjuraman's specimen there. :|

mathew said...

@Thankam chechi
Actually when I wrote it i was reminded a lot about you....and that day in Lourdes church when you were so upset when none of our muthurnavar’s were not ready to take us to the beach ;-P and ofcoz the times when we man-aged to go!! :-) What about a trip this December? Baaki kurushukallayum vilikaam? ;-D

@Ann
LOL!! I felt that when I wrote it…maybe for a brief moment…but now am back to my younger self..:-D
We folks in Trivandrum were lucky to have the beach…and the musueum grounds which are good hangout places for families…

@Anish
I enjoyed reading your comment too..:-)
Yes…that was a different phase…the trips with my friends have an altogether different feel…..Infact during 4 years in college , the beach trips were such memorable parts of our college life….That was a entirely different kind of enjoyment…

Like you said…the thattukada food….we used to go to the valiyathura pier as well…..I remember a beach trip when a day or two before the university exam, we decided to go to the beach when we figured out that last minute studies weren’t going to make much of a difference…and the time…like around midnight…..and to be chased by the police for hanging out in the beach area so late….hehe..

The beach area used to be creative hotspots for skit ideas by the kidilams in our college…

Mom’s are always afraid of their children visiting the beach…in my case since my parents were never at home during my college days…most such trips went unreported…

Well the beach trip with family when we were kids and with later with friends as adults…so different….and yet the same beach was appealing in a different way both times…

I am eagerly awaiting your post….i would never get tired of hearing those stories…
Pinee ofcoz I know where to ring the bell when I visit Ireland sometime!!;-P

@Usha
hahaha..i just called it the stone pavilion for want of a better word…what do we call it in malayalam??
Yeah..i was never a big fan of kovalam….it did not appeal to me much…..and can now where be compared to the awesome beaches in goa!!
And Shanghumukom is a beach which is special not for the sand or the waves…its something else…
And unfortunately its too crowded these days…nowadays it seems everyone is pouring in there…and the sea is encroaching big time….but still…the beach has its own charm……

nish said...

OMG!.. why do you write such nostalgic post!...i'm all chocked up now..

Mishmash ! said...

that's a beautiful piece of writing right from ur heart!

For us , it was the children's park ( the one ann mentioned), then the nei-roast from Bharath Tourist Home and masala dosa for my mother and a visit to our aunt's house...my bro even had a song for that weekend routine....:) chilathonnum orikkalum marakkan pattilla alle ......

Urs....Jina said...

shoo..u made me drool...remember the indian coffee house..whenever I used to go to the beach, i was a regular there..It all seems so far away now..:((

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Awesome. Brought back a lot of memories, from childhood till college days and beyond. Shankhumugham as you rightly said has always been a great place to visit. With or without family i've always loved this beach more than Kovalam. During college days this beach had been the venue of a lot of evenings. This was the 1st beach where i played football with my pals, the 1st beach where i walked with my hand holding girlfriend's hand, the 1st where i've sat for 4 straight hours, the beach where i've had numerous coffee's overlooking the sun-setting in the ocean. It is an amazing feeling to just be there and experience it.

This post brought back all those wonder years back into me.

Divs said...

i could visualize this entire thing!

and just one hour!! ayyo! you growing becoming like one of the uncle n aunties.. err.. uncles i mean..

I can never get tired of the beaches. Love everything about it. The serenity, the force all that..
The long walk on the shore with friends,I treasure those moments!

:)

Dhanush Gopinath said...

If it was Shankumugham for you, it was Calicut beach for me. For us it was rarer than you coz we need to go to Calicut from my home town and then enjoy the sunset and come back.

Truly nostalgic and outstanding post. Beaches really bring back memories. A friend of mine here in Bangalore said once -"Naattilo Chennaiyilo aanenkil vaikittu chumma beachil enkilum poyi irikkamarunnu. Ivide athum illa"

Beach is so refreshing. Should go to Calicut Beach soon :)

nimmi said...

Lovely post ..reminds me of one of our trips to a lesser known untouched beach near mumbai ....the best part of that trip was that the beach had just us ..6 of us ...absolutely clean :))..but I guess now a lot of resorts have come up ...:)We all have this sense of achievement to have visited the beach before it got screwed :)

Ashwathy said...

wow!!! thats like the first description of an outing of shankumugham that completely took me along wtih it... riding the waves! :-)

like u, i have always fond memories of going to the beach... yes way before it was commercialised.. even before that sea-mermaid statue came up. to use a cliched phrase, those were the days!! :D

u have described it beautifully. aaah what nostalgia! :-)

mathew said...

@nish
ayyo...it was a time travel for me as well..;-)

@Mishmash !
I had been to BTH once and have had their famous vegeterian meals..;-)

For us..Chinnus and ICH were the memorable dinner outings..;-)

@Jina
Ofcoz i dont think anyone visits the beach without having a coffee at the ICH...thank god that it is functioning..such a great view from the coffee tables..;-)

@Abhi
bingo...kovalam is more touristy..whereas Shanghumukham is more like a evening out..

aah..so the beach has some romantic memories associated..am sure you will have em etched in your memory!!;-)


@Divs
haha..yeah..we were on the way home after picking dad from the airport nearby..

I am a beach person..or rather i love water bodies...even though there is no beach in Hamburg...we have an awesome river side out here..:-)

@Dhanush
I should have guessed..I have been to the calicut beach once...and i think calicut beach is so integral to kozhikodans..more than Shanghumukham for trivandrumites..... The best part of Calicut beach is the sheer variety of food you could gorge on their..;-D

Well..taking of blore..i never missed the beach there...its just the characters of the beach town is so different..

anyways..today i am goin to the river side near my home.;-D

@nimmi
wow ....untouched beach in mumbai..:-)

I have never been to the tourist or hangout places in mumbai..though i have a couple of my friends out there now...always wanted to visit the place...

yes..its true with the sense of achievement... ;-P

@Ashwathy
thank you...

our trips often were coupled with a trip to a famous church nearby...and nowadays the valiyathura pier is also part of the trip agenda..;-)

thomas said...

The best thing I like about Tvm is its beaches. We would always stop by Shangumukhom after going to Vettukad palli....I believe the children's park you said was that cycle riding park near the beach; been there many many times aeons ago......Echo your feelings, totally. By the way, Shankumukhom ennokke paranjittu Kadal Palathinte photo aane itteekkunne. Non tvm blog readersine okke ithu konde pattikkaam, nammale pattikkaan nookkanda, veela kaiyil irikkatte :P

Meenu said...

Amazing post .... brought back a lot of memories ...
Wetting the legs in the beach, making sand castles which is actually just a "manal koona", begging for just 10 more minutes, sitting on that small hill and eating mulakubaji and tea... My oldest memories also have that cycle park near the beach, but they closed it by the time i grew old enough to graduate from a three wheeler to two wheeler :D You really made me nostalgic. Going home in a week, will ask parents to take me to the beach ... Hope i dont say 'lets go home' in one hour ... :)

BTW its really a nice blog u have here ... i have been your reader for quite a long time but never really commented ... Keep up the good work ... :)

Ravi Mathew said...

chekku... superb one... marunnu varikayayirunnu pazhaya maruthi van. parakkum thalika:)

Praveen said...

shanghumukhom ofcourse is my fav destination in tvm...Till the end of college, we used to go there every week...munch on the mulaku bhaji, watch the sunset and run along the beach..
even now, wen I visit tvm once in a month, a visit to shanghumukhom is a highlight of the trip...
BTW, Did u forget to mention the one and only kadalpaalam?:D

mathew said...

@thomacha
oh..nice to see u alive and kicking..;-D

hehe..foto kadalpaalam aanengilum colloquially athu oru shangumukhom beachinte soul of kerala polle aanu!! ;-P

even our trips start t vettucadu palli...mom in particular is a huge fan of the church..

Yeah..Children's park is the cycle park...any idea whether it still exists?

@Meenu
thanks a lot...and glad to know a reader..:-)

yeah..exactly it would just be a manal koona...
Wetting the legs in the beach, making sand castles and we think its probably the best sand castle ever made..;-P

yeah..infact i meant the cycle park when i mentioned the children's park..though we were always more interested in the beach....talking of food...after the star fish restaurant came up, the cutlets out there were much sought after...though the taste wasnt anythin much to talk off..

and sure..you must visit the beach with your parents in your next vacation..:-)

@Ravi chetta
hehe...athe..ee parakkam thalikaa..remember deepu being chased by Thampy chachan after the cabaret show in the van!!;-P

@Praveen
yeah..used to be a favourite haunt during our college days as well..though for us the college was quite far from the beach.. :-)

the pic in the post was taken at the kadalpalam....well the kadalpalam is a guys hangout place..it wasnt part of the trip when we were kids..

wanderlust said...

That was really nostalgic. Reminded me of my childhood in Alleppey. For us too the visits to the beach were really 'rationed'. I can still remember the excitement when we near the beach through a narrow road and the sky is suddenly bright after a row of trees!
Had gone there a year back and I am not exaggerating when I say the place was completely beyond recognition. Totally commercialized and crowded.
The beaches in Kannur - there a few lesser known ones - are awesome!

thomas said...

No it doesn't. Had read about plans of renovating it sometime back in the papers but due to the 'sincere' commitment and 'determination' of authorities, I think it has been shelved.

Anonymous said...

It's a bird it's a plane oh looks its thommu!! :)

Guess who! ;)

ES

thomas said...

@anonymous: If it's not a bird, if it's not a plane and if it's thommu, then that is "EEBIL SILBERINE"!!! Hehe, ;)

BM said...

@anonymous/ES
If it's not a bird, if it's not a plane and if it's not a thommu, and if it is not a ES..(gasping for breath)..

IT'S MOST LIKELY A BM!!!!. ;-D

thomas said...

Hehe, and the great BM is none other than, I suppose, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0344915/

Athu Belt Mathai alla, kallan Mathai aane.

scorpiogenius said...

Just came back to read it over again.

After posting the comment here I just thought I must really write a tribute to the wonderful place. I've made up my mind, but I may do it only after I go home this year. I miss the beaches terrible here man, the Irish sea has no waves.. :(.. the biggest one would be like a ripple in Vambanad..

Ah, the years bygone,
how sweet... how sweet...
let not the colours fade
let not the memories pass
'coz at the dusk of our time
its only the good times we churn..

heheeeee philosophy.. enganundu??

Annie said...

Our family shifted out of state and now same child I used to struggle so much to make return home before dusk some 15 years back tells me "let us go" just after sitting in the shore for half an hour. Waves of nostalgia is like lowtide but our level of enjoyment is low as we grow high/old.

Shrutz said...

I never liked Shangumugham much- my memories are of Kovalam. :)

Those were the days.

Nona said...

Oh Boy! You sure triggered a torrent of memories.

My (maternal) grandmother's house is very close to the beach. We could see the beach when we looked outside. My mom taught me to write "kadalamma kalli" on the beach. And we waited for the waves to erase it. My mom's philosophy, when you write this on the sand, kadalamma gets angry and washes it off. There is a plot hole in the philosophy. If kadalamma gets angry, why can't she create a really "BIG" wave and kills us with it. :)

Devil Incarnate... said...

Ur post brought back that nostalgic feeling of being at home..
being frm tvm, most of the things u told wher part of my life during childhood days..
i still cherish those times whn i used to go out with family n friends.. infact shankumukhan n veli had bcome a part of my friends day out... beautiful days..

Annie said...

Your "Waves" made me post a peom I wrote during Post Tsunami days. Waves of nostalgia is ebbing .

sujata said...

First time on your blog. Liked the current post and the nostalgia associated with it. The city and the times are so vividly described, I have never been to trivandrum, but through this post, I was there.

Nanditha Prabhu said...

I am reading your blog after a long time ... and you did take me back to the days when we were never tired of playing on the beach .. the same goes for my kids now. still beach is a hot spot for us as a family , but we have to literally drag them home , or tempt them with a restaurant visit. Days have changed, and especially beaches in Chennai are so badly littered with plastic and all garbage... that we stop enjoying the beach and its sereneness. I always wonder why people come to the beach to eat .... and then throw all their waste in the sea....how can we create an awareness? we as a family now have decided... when ever we go to the beach we carry garbage bags and clear up a small area we will use.... a small step towards awareness....we have a long way to go....

Happy Kitten said...

Oh... that was too good a treat...

brought back too many memories.. my Dad's brother's house is near Shangumugham and his treat to us was always the beach and we were those coming from "beachless" places...

nd now our son enacts the same drama if he ever comes near a beach...

that was a lovely account of the good old days.. nd Muttada was it? i lived in Muttada too for a few years...my aunt lives there..

mathew said...

@scorpiogenius
good one!! appo philosphical aavam alle..;-D

@Annie
" Waves of nostalgia is like lowtide but our level of enjoyment is low as we grow high/old." so well said!!:-)

@Shrutz
yup!! so u anti-shangu!!!bleedy beach-racist!!;-D

@Nona
best...if you go by logic for old folklore..;-D

@Devil Incarnate
:-)
I was at veli during the last trip home...should visit both places again this decemeber too..

@sujata
thank you..glad to know you enjoyed it..and for visiting the blog!:-)

@Nanditha
nice to see you here!;-)
yeah its very admirable of you to do such a thing...i have become more conscious after watching a couple of documentaries..and seeing how the people are careful here in Germany with waste management..

@Happy Kitten
home near the beach..wow!;-)
oh..that means we might have been neighbours sometime..though i left trivandrum 5 years ago...

Dhanya said...

wow you have written everything in so detail that I could see it in front of my eyes.. very nostalgic.. I'm not from tvm but in our limited stay there during the final year project days, almost every day we used to visit shankumugham.. Although veli was close to VSSC where we did the proj, we used to take the bus, get down in shankumugham, spend some time there and then catch a bus again n go back to the hostel..

Ashley said...

oh mathew... im just bac from tvm n just blogged bout it too... n now reading ur post reminded me of the sights,sounds n smells of kovalam beach .. there was a famous church there,which was our first stop before the beach..n indian coffee house inde irresistable masala dosa ...mmm... but wen i visited this time along wit frens i was surprised its become so commercial almost oru goa feeling vannu...

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Maria said...

nice read Mathew! this brought back a lot of memories. We used to visit shankumugham beach with our cousins whenever we went to tvm.

btw, are you from muttada? saw u mentioned it here. My aunt is also staying in muttada, santhosh nagar and now my husband's place is also very close to that, ambalanagar.