Our arrival at vretreat had coincided with a most majestic Sunrise on the backwaters of the quaintly flowing Tejaswini. We had alighted from the auto as dawn was breaking in. Vijayan the friendly manager had greeted us at the gate and we had just checked into our rooms when he came running…uttering two words…’Sunrise’, Sunrise Sir, come and see.’ We rushed out and lo and behold just behind the horizon of trees on the other bank a huge ball of fire rose. It slowly turned orange from its reddish hue and then Golden as it appeared from behind the trees. The waters of the Tejaswini turned into a simmering Golden hue and as the first ferry boat slowly cruised past, the ripples danced on the surface reminding me of an old frame I had many moons ago in my home…’Shine on me father so I may reflect your light.’ We were tired by the overnight bus journey and post tea tried to sleep a bit. The waves crashing on the backyard was too much of a temptation for us to catch 40 winks in this scenic part of North Kerala.
The next few days were spent in idyllic pursuits. The art of doing nothing is something a city dweller must practice with equal ease. Our agenda driven life leaves us with hardly anytime to observe what is happening around us. I was happy to be miles away in this paradise. Nestled between the majestic Tejaswini and even more blue waters of the Arabian Sea. As I connected more to nature and this beautiful strip of land in North Kerala, what was to be a short vacation became more like a retreat that slowed down time and made me more observant. Small observations like around the time I was in Valiyaparamba Island, the sun rose on the dot at 6:20 am. It usually starts with slow daylight breaking in, a vigorous chirping of beds, few fishing dingy’s and canoes floating in the river for their first catch, the glorious sunrise and the first ferry passing by around 6:45 am. As I got used to the rhythm and pace of life around here, my frayed nerves eased and I started making notes of my observations in a small book.
The day use to pass languidly amidst reading, clicking pics , strolling and cycling but soon I realised that what I use to wait for the most is the sunrise and sunset. It became a kind of obsession. Just like I use to wait impatiently for my alarm to ring at 5 am every day (a fact I hated when in the city). No sooner had I got up I use to hear the bhajan’s floating in from the temple on the other side of the river. Soon it was interspersed with the Ajaan’ from the nearby Mosque. A similar kind of obsession gripped me around the late afternoon hours till dusk. I never missed an opportunity to be by the beach by 5:30 pm. Here I was in one of the most touristy places in India maybe on the planet but not a soul in sight. Far on the horizon one could see few fishing boats but no commerce of a large scale. No jet ski’s, no para gliding, no this, no that. Just the endless ocean, the magnificence of the sky and the changing hues as the Sun even bigger now turns into the exact red of the morning and starts setting. One needs time and patience for such pursuits. Two things I found in abundance during my stay at Valiyaparamba. Time, because the mad rush for modernity has evaded this stretch of land. And off course patience that I am always on short supply seemed to have finally said ‘Hello’ to me.
By 6pm on the beachfront the sky turns into a mix of azure blue and red. With continues streaks of other lighter shades depending on the clouds and dust in the atmosphere. Around the time I was visiting Valiyaparamba and stayed in Vretreat the colours were profound. As if an artists canvas has seen a riot of freshly painted strokes. One also noticed a man made phenomenon amidst this splendid natural beauty. Dot on 6:05 pm a jet flew over high up to create a jet stream criss crossing the hues in the sky. Day in and day out I noticed this jet crossing above on the appointed hour. Maybe it was headed for Calicut, the nearest airport many miles away or maybe it was just overshooting Valiyaparamba with its co-ordinates locked onto some far off distant land. One wouldn’t know. Around 6:10 the lower end of the huge red circle touched the horizon of the yon blue wonder. It gets a little tricky from here as my each second and minute the sun is devoured by the sea little by little. Time stops and elapses in equal measure now. One can sea flocks of birds returning to their bases. A lone villager who I became familiar over the days crossed by vretreat everyday around this time. Not knowing the local language is an impediment but the little communication I managed I could understand is that he ran a small shop further down the beach and was returning to his village few miles away. You can watch the sunset without blinking an eyelid and it will be a matter of few minutes which can also feel like seconds as the sun disappears from the horizon leaving a red glow that persists till the blue and read kind of dissolves into black. I remembered a line from one of my favourite writers Vikram Seth. ‘In blue and gold the evening sky darkens, till neither it remains nor I.’ In one of those evenings watching the sunset Vinod asked me…..’Do you think the Buddha ever saw the sea in his lifetime.’ I replied …’Considering the wise one lived in the northern parts of India its highly unlikely he would have. As for me, the sunrise and sunsets here at Valiyaparamba Island is my path to Buddhahood.’ Vinod smiled. It was dark by then and we proceeded for our evening tea and snacks with Vijayan.